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Thread: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

  1. #1

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    DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

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    I was a hobby photographer since the 80s and after a long break I had started to take analog pictures again. Large format photography was still too expensive for me in the 90s, but always a dream. Last year I started again with the excuse that my daughter wanted to take analog pictures. So I took out the old SLR and 6x6 cameras and the enlargers and bought me an old 4x5 large format camera (WISTA 45N). After some time of very good experiences with 4x5 I was curious about the 8x10 format. Contrary to the used 4x5 cameras they were quite expensive on eBay. The modern crwodfunding and kit versions were efficient and well thought out, but too "pale" for my taste. That's when I missed the personality of the camera. So I decided to build one after the classic field cameras models myself. The goal was a camera that allows all movements, but does not use alternative components like drawer guides or threaded rods. I wanted something à la Shenhao, Tachihara, Deardorff etc. With lots of shiny parts.
    Since I have a well equipped workshop (I also build guitars) I started to plan. First I bought some film holders and a lens on eBay. I decided to improvise and didn't make a construction drawing, but only rough geometric calculations so that at least the worst mistakes could be avoided. Then I looked for as many pictures as possible and started to combine elements of some cameras.
    I decided to use birch and spruce plywood boards as well as beech wood strips. Not as noble as cherry etc. As a hobby guitar maker I have rosewood and maple in stock, but it was a pity to use these and the pieces I use for the guitar are too big or too small. That would have given too much waste. I painted the wooden parts with wood glaze, smoothed them with steel wool, waxed and polished them.
    The metal parts were cut from aluminium profiles (not anodized), partly milled and polished. Different knurled nuts (m6, m6 and m4) I found in the hardware store, so at least this one did not have to be turned.
    I was able to make a bellows myself (tedious job), but it was not flexible enough (too thick material used), so I will use it for the 8x10 enlarger (which I still have to build). So I bought a custom made bellows on Aliexpress. This one is very smooth, even if not cheap.
    The camera is with 33cm width a bit bigger than the models I had looked at. That's because in the beginning I made the self-made bellows 1.5-2cm wider than usual. That resulted in the width of the frame. Difficulties to find a suitable gear rack for the micro-focusing gave me the idea to use a GT2 belt (often used in 3D printers) and appropriate pulleys. This was only partly a good idea: I kept the system, but since I glued the belt to the middle wooden frame, but the pulleys didn't grip well enough. These are designed so that the belt wraps around them. Therefore, when focusing, a tooth "jumps" from time to time. Maybe I will use a m0.5 rack or a closed belt. But then the middle slide cannot move in both directions equally. The font plate has arbitrary mass (18.5 cm) and is rather a bit big. For the vertical shift and tilt I tried to install the knurled nuts for this so that both are on the same axis.
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    The search field is made of ordinary 2mm glass with glued opal foil. It is not very bright, so I will make a new one with grinding powder. As a mounting for the tripod I made two aluminium discs with ¼" thread.
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    From my fund of material for building guitars and amplifiers I had some leather grips which seemed to be very suitable.
    I made a first test photo and everything is lightproof. So far so good.
    I didn't take too many photos of the construction phase, but I hope someone finds them interesting.
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    I will come back when the 8x10 enlarger is built.

  2. #2

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Thanks for posting this nicely executed crafting, it is a good reference to keep in mind by anyone wanting to do something in that way.


    Quote Originally Posted by elgatosuizo View Post
    I will come back when the 8x10 enlarger is built.
    In that case, you may consider upgrading a 5x7" enlarger with a DIY 8x10" conversion, in particular departing fron a Durst 138S would provide a solid mechanic base. While it can be done from scratch, departing from a solid mechanic platform may have an advantage, for a 8x10" enlarger you require a lot of clearance, the 138 allows to lower the table to the ground if necessary. I suggest that because a 8x10" enlarger also requires a refined alignment and easy handling, using a preexisting platform may allow more dedication to what's important in the enlarger's head, well... just telling the path we found good for us in a similar project.

    The 138S we are to convert to 8x10" came from Switzerland, Geneve . It had been serving for many decades at Geneva School of Art and Design, IIRC.


    An alternative may be an horizontal 8x10"...

  3. #3

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Thanks for posting this nicely executed crafting, it is a good reference to keep in mind by anyone wanting to do something in that way.




    In that case, you may consider upgrading a 5x7" enlarger with a DIY 8x10" conversion, in particular departing fron a Durst 138S would provide a solid mechanic base. While it can be done from scratch, departing from a solid mechanic platform may have an advantage, for a 8x10" enlarger you require a lot of clearance, the 138 allows to lower the table to the ground if necessary. I suggest that because a 8x10" enlarger also requires a refined alignment and easy handling, using a preexisting platform may allow more dedication to what's important in the enlarger's head, well... just telling the path we found good for us in a similar project.

    The 138S we are to convert to 8x10" came from Switzerland, Geneve . It had been serving for many decades at Geneva School of Art and Design, IIRC.


    An alternative may be an horizontal 8x10"...
    I have already build an 4x5 enlarger (see my post here https://www.largeformatphotography.i...D-light-source). I will use the same pole and table and change the head. It's quiet easy and fast to disassemble an put away. There are actually no existing enlargers that have this feature that is a basic need for my small darkroom (it's a bathroom that sometimes I have to clear within minutes from all my gear). The 138S can be disassembled as well, but mine is in my opinion a much "faster" design. I am aware of the bigger size with 8x10, but I have almost all material ready so I give it a try. I use 12mm steel rods as linear guides. These are massive ans steady and preserve any alignement

  4. #4

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Quote Originally Posted by elgatosuizo View Post
    but mine is in my opinion a much "faster" design.
    Sorry if I insist too much, only saying that the 8x10 conversion from a 138 is straight with nothing to modify from the basic mechanics.


    By only removing 4 bolts in the 138 you remove illumination and you have a clean platform, you only need a pyramid trunk to expand to 8x10, think that a 8x10" should be quite more robust than a 4x5, then the 138 provides spring suspension of the table and of the head, making the enlarger's operation quite agile and refined, anyway see how direct is a 8x10" diffuser conversion for the 138:


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    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...o-8x10.163251/


    The drawback is that the suspension systems of the 138 can be a bit clogged from lack of lubrication, but this is easily fixed.

  5. #5

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    With only removing 4 bolts in the 138 you remove illumination and you have a clean platform, you only need a pyramid trunk to expand to 8x10, think that a 8x10" should be quite more robust than a 4x5, then the 138 provides spring suspension of the table and of the head, making operation quite agile and refined, anyway see how direct is a 8x10" diffuser conversion for the 138:


    Click image for larger version. 

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    I see. I'm sure it works well... if I had a 138 I would consider it. But the only 138 I see starts at 700€ plus several 100€ shipping on eBay. Out of my budget.

  6. #6

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Beautiful camera. I'm both impressed, and envious.

  7. #7
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Great job!
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing You Don't Already Know

  8. #8

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Absolutely sensational work, well done you

    regards

    Andrew

  9. #9

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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    God damn! Sorry, for the religious folks. But dang, that's good work!
    --

  10. #10
    Foamer
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    Re: DIY "classic" 8x10 field camera

    Impressive.


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

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