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  1. #1

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    Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Hello .
    I've bought a used , DIY built 10"x12" Large format camera and film holder .
    It only cost me 45 , so I'm quite happy with it .
    I need to replace the missing focus screen and make a few modifications to so it can be dismantled for transport and improve stability .

    There's one area I need a bit of advice on though , and that's the bellows .
    Their not leather bellows , there some sort of cloth based one that has stiffened up with age .
    If I were to use them as is , the corners will go in a short space of time . ( I reckon )

    So I need to know what to apply to them to soften them up again .
    I'm in the U.K , so need to know of products that are available over here .

    In the description of the sellers listing for the camera , they had this to say regards to the bellows ;
    "Bellows have stiffened with age and will need conditioning to become supple. They have softened slightly with some silicon treatment but will need to be softened more for proper use"

    So is silicone the right thing to use , and in what form ?

    I have included some photos of the bellows to help identify the material used .

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks in advance .

  2. #2

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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    The camera seems homemade, and good chance the bellows were also... Check if a fabric used for them may have been painted to seal them (look carefully for brush marks etc)... They may have been stiff from day 1... It may benefit from new bellows as camera looks a little flimsy, so the stiff bellows will work against it in use... It's corners are not collapsing correctly, and will hard to collapse completely... Since it was cheap, get a quote from Camera Bellows/UK for a set just out of curiosity...

    But the next bigger issue is how long will the camera extend with your choice of FL lens on it, and will it still focus close and far??? Finish getting a GG on the back so you can test this... Camera doesn't seem to have a long bed/rail, maybe only enough for a WA lens for that format... And stiff bellows won't help there...

    I see there is a lot of room for many upgrades, but maybe too many for practical purposes (like fixing a leg on a chair, where you soon have ended up rebuilding the entire chair)... And camera might be hard to use just for something simple, so maybe better for a prop camera on display...

    Steve K

  3. #3

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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    The camera seems homemade, and good chance the bellows were also... Check if a fabric used for them may have been painted to seal them (look carefully for brush marks etc)... They may have been stiff from day 1... It may benefit from new bellows as camera looks a little flimsy, so the stiff bellows will work against it in use... It's corners are not collapsing correctly, and will hard to collapse completely... Since it was cheap, get a quote from Camera Bellows/UK for a set just out of curiosity...
    The camera is a homemade camera , and no doubt the bellows are too .
    There no way of knowing how old the camera is , but I do think they are much stiffer than when it was made .
    They are not painted , they seem to be vinyl based .
    I will look into new bellows , but I want to see if I can improve these first .


    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    But the next bigger issue is how long will the camera extend with your choice of FL lens on it, and will it still focus close and far??? Finish getting a GG on the back so you can test this... Camera doesn't seem to have a long bed/rail, maybe only enough for a WA lens for that format... And stiff bellows won't help there...
    The camera bed is in two pieces that bolt together , doubling the total length .
    I haven't measured it , but I guess a total of around 40" .
    The lens came with it and is supposed to cover the format , I also have a Symmar 300mm that will just cover this size .
    being a convertible lens , the bellows should be long enough still to suite my needs .
    In the picture above , the camera is set to the minimum distance between the film holder and lens .
    Not because of the bellows material preventing it going any further , but because of the design on how the standards are mounted on the bed .
    This might be an issue when I mount the 10x8 back on it , the widest lens I have for 10x8 is a Fuji 250mm SF lens , and as it is I might need to shorten the feet to achieve infinity focus .
    Until I fit the back , I won't know .


    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    I see there is a lot of room for many upgrades, but maybe too many for practical purposes (like fixing a leg on a chair, where you soon have ended up rebuilding the entire chair)... And camera might be hard to use just for something simple, so maybe better for a prop camera on display...

    Steve K
    I'm not so much planning any upgrades , more improvements .
    Take the tripod mount for example , the bush is screwed into a piece of wood 3/4" thick and only 1 1/4" wide .
    Even on medium format cameras have an area about 3" square for the tripod mount .
    As I intend using it outside , certain areas need to be beefed up to improve stability .

  4. #4

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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Custom Bellows (.com) in the UK makes excellent bellows. Contact them. They just gave me a quote of 99.00 for an 8x10 bellows that I plan to send them.

  5. #5

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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    Custom Bellows (.com) in the UK makes excellent bellows. Contact them. They just gave me a quote of 99.00 for an 8x10 bellows that I plan to send them.
    I will certainly contact them .
    I'm suppressed that 10x8 bellows are only 99 , I thought they would have been much more .
    It would be handy to have some made as the front part of the bellows would benefit from being narrower as the currently rub against the metalwork to lock forward tilt .

  6. #6
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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by neilt3 View Post
    I will certainly contact them .
    I'm suppressed that 10x8 bellows are only 99 , I thought they would have been much more .
    It would be handy to have some made as the front part of the bellows would benefit from being narrower as the currently rub against the metalwork to lock forward tilt .
    I'm quite sure that it must be a quote from 20 years ago - nowadays even the Chinese ask US 250 for a 10x8 bellows ....
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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron (Netherlands) View Post
    I'm quite sure that it must be a quote from 20 years ago - nowadays even the Chinese ask US 250 for a 10x8 bellows ....
    In post #3 , Neil Poulson wrote " They just gave me a quote of 99.00 for an 8x10 bellows " .

    I assume when someone's says "just" they mean recently , not 20 years ago .

    But having seen how much the cheap , Chines ones cost , that's why 99 surprised me .
    I will be getting a quote though .

  8. #8
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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by neilt3 View Post
    In post #3 , Neil Poulson wrote " They just gave me a quote of 99.00 for an 8x10 bellows " .

    I assume when someone's says "just" they mean recently , not 20 years ago .

    But having seen how much the cheap , Chines ones cost , that's why 99 surprised me .
    I will be getting a quote though .
    What is in you opinion 'cheap' - and therefore what price did you see with the Chinese offers for 10x8?
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  9. #9

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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron (Netherlands) View Post
    What is in you opinion 'cheap' - and therefore what price did you see with the Chinese offers for 10x8?
    The Chinese imports tend to be cheaper than goods made in your own country , thus "cheap" .
    Being in the U.K , I don't look at US $ prices , but a quick search has 10x8 bellows at 140 .
    That's less than $200 ; https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282637946...cAAOSwwCJdMip3

    I haven't been searching recently , but I need good quality ones that will last . Buying the same thing twice isn't cheap .

    140 , free shipping , plus 20% VAT , plus a customs handling charge , would put them at around 180 .
    having read comments of that supplier on this forum , there might be quality control issues .

    Custom Bellows in the U.K make top notch bellows , and I would expect them to be much dearer than the Chinese imports .
    Which is why I think at 99 , they are very cheap .
    Though I would need to see a quote from them to believe that figure .
    And I will most likely be getting one after I have a go at renovating the bellows I have .

  10. #10
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    Re: Rejuvenating Camera bellows .

    Quote Originally Posted by neilt3 View Post
    The Chinese imports tend to be cheaper than goods made in your own country , thus "cheap" .
    Being in the U.K , I don't look at US $ prices , but a quick search has 10x8 bellows at 140 .
    That's less than $200 ; https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/282637946...cAAOSwwCJdMip3

    I haven't been searching recently , but I need good quality ones that will last . Buying the same thing twice isn't cheap .

    140 , free shipping , plus 20% VAT , plus a customs handling charge , would put them at around 180 .
    having read comments of that supplier on this forum , there might be quality control issues .

    Custom Bellows in the U.K make top notch bellows , and I would expect them to be much dearer than the Chinese imports .
    Which is why I think at 99 , they are very cheap .
    Though I would need to see a quote from them to believe that figure .
    And I will most likely be getting one after I have a go at renovating the bellows I have .
    Since your in the UK indeed you wouldn't have to count import VAT and handling charges - in Continental Europe however it wouldn't make a difference whether the bellows would come from Britain or China with regard to import duties...
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