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Thread: How to get into ULF?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    How to get into ULF?

    I'm looking to try and get into ULF, but don't have a lot of film camera experience. I'm pretty good at fabrication and have access to laser cutter, milling machine, and 3d printers.
    Is building my own camera a practical idea, and if so how much can I expect to spend?

  2. #2

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dpatt711 View Post
    I'm looking to try and get into ULF, but don't have a lot of film camera experience. I'm pretty good at fabrication and have access to laser cutter, milling machine, and 3d printers.
    Is building my own camera a practical idea, and if so how much can I expect to spend?
    Talk to Jim Fitzgerald on this forum. Jim has extensive experience in this regard having built several cameras for himself. He can surely get you in the right zip code on such a project. ULF throws a wide net so it would be a good idea to narrow your interest down to a particular format in this arena and if you want to venture into one of the panaromic formats or the rectangular formats. Good Luck!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    6

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kadillak View Post
    Talk to Jim Fitzgerald on this forum. Jim has extensive experience in this regard having built several cameras for himself. He can surely get you in the right zip code on such a project. ULF throws a wide net so it would be a good idea to narrow your interest down to a particular format in this arena and if you want to venture into one of the panaromic formats or the rectangular formats. Good Luck!
    Okay I'll give him a shout.

  4. #4
    Foamer
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    Oct 2010
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    South Dakota
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    2,134

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    It would be cheaper to build ULF and shoot wet plate rather than film.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bellingham, WA (displaced Canadian)
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    429

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    I built my 11x14 camera for ~$500 and then another 250 for a couple film holders. It was two year and an absurd amount of trail and error. There was probably an extra $100 in there of stuff that I thought I'd use and then didn't, because, again, trail and error.

    Cherry wood for both standards & long arca-swiss plates for focusing rails and front & rear shift and a arca-swiss clamp pan head on the front standard for swing.

    But I did it all with a box saw, a drill, and a detail sander, and I'm not good at fabrication.

  6. #6
    Angus Parker angusparker's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
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    870

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    The problem in ULF is the film holders. Always buy a camera with holders, they are almost always non-standard. The cheapest option is a 7x17 banquet camera.

    If you are building a camera I would also start with a holder on hand for the format you want. Also consider the availability of film, unless you are doing wet plate.

    Some info here for those on the search for best ULF format: https://www.angusparkerphoto.com/blo...format-for-you

  7. #7
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    Vancouver Washington
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    3,739

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dpatt711 View Post
    I'm looking to try and get into ULF, but don't have a lot of film camera experience. I'm pretty good at fabrication and have access to laser cutter, milling machine, and 3d printers.
    Is building my own camera a practical idea, and if so how much can I expect to spend?
    Building a ULF camera is possible with the tools you have available that is for sure. You need to decide on which size you wish to build and then find a design you like. I do not use any plans so don't ask for plans from me but rather I study a camera design and build from the pictures I have of it. For my recent 14x17 I think I spent just under $1,000. Now I have connections for some of the difficult parts and have a full woodshed and I'm a decent woodworker.
    You need to get the film holder first and work from there. There is so much information on this site and on the web as well. Do your research! That is what I did for each build. It will make you a better builder as there are no shortcuts. I've built nine cameras and seven of them are ULF so research is key. Purpose build it. By this I mean don't put a huge bellows on the camera unless you intend to do still life close ups. Will it be in the studio or the field?
    For bellows, Custom Bellows in England is the place to go. By all means have fun as you go.
    Now if you wish I have a 14x17 which can with a back built for it do 16x20 as well available. It comes with the backpack, two S&S film holders, a 25 sheet box of J&C 200 or Bergger 200 I can't remember, a 24 inch Artar on a 9 inch lens board, a complete system for $3,000.00 plus shipping. You will not find a better deal anywhere on a system like this. You can shoot 14x17 X-ray film as well.Just supply the tripod and you are shooting ULF. It is built from extruded 80/20 aluminum with a Walnut veneer. If you are interested pm me. Best of luck. BTW the camera I'm showing here is my new 14x17 and NOT the one for sale.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails fullsizeoutput_3cf0.jpg   fullsizeoutput_3ce4.jpg   fullsizeoutput_3d03.jpg   fullsizeoutput_3cec.jpg  

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    308

    Re: How to get into ULF?

    Iím reading this after I just came back from a long day hiking with my 8x10, carrying 3 lenses, 6 holders, and the usual accessories.... plus food, water, etc, and the prospect of doing something like what I did but with a 11x14 or larger camera is simultaneously as captivating as is frightening. The weight is barely sustainable as is with my 8x10 pack.... but I envy you guys and your big guns. Now, if I was into portraiture Iíd be all over ULF.

  9. #9
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Re: How to get into ULF?

    I still manage to hick although not as far as when I was younger with all of my ULF gear. With ULF you don't carry but one holder, one lens and some snacks. It actually weights less than my 8x10 system because like you I carry more. I workout a lot and stay in shape and at 70 I'm still getting out there.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    308

    How to get into ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Fitzgerald View Post
    I still manage to hick although not as far as when I was younger with all of my ULF gear. With ULF you don't carry but one holder, one lens and some snacks. It actually weights less than my 8x10 system because like you I carry more. I workout a lot and stay in shape and at 70 I'm still getting out there.
    You are right that an 8x10 system can weight more because.... well simply because you *can* actually carry more holders, lenses, etc. Whereas perhaps it isnít really an option if you go any larger (unless youíre a bodybuilder, lol). Perhaps I need to think of carrying only one lens and one holder with the 8x10 as well, which would make the hike a lot less demanding...

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