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Thread: Project Log: DIY Film Camera

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Brampton, Ontario
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    579

    Default Project Log: DIY Film Camera

    Hey guys,

    I decided to start working on a project that wasn't another tool or machine accessory, after feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel. I'm trying to rekindle one of my other obsessions, film photography, which has fallen aside to machining as of late.

    I enjoy using my 4x5 camera, except when I don't, because it is large and heavy. Even with modifications and stripping it down, the kit with tripod is still 20lbs and it's no fun lugging around. Its also tripod-only and has no conveniences for shooting with a 6x9 roll film back, which I enjoy working with more than 4x5 sheets.

    I like shooting wide angle landscape and architecture, so I think this camera will be a nice unit for that kind of work. I'm using a Schneider Super Angulon 65mm f5.6 lens, which offers a 105 degree field of view and can cover 6x9 and 6x12 well, and barely covers 4x5 when stopped down, which is great. It has a flange focus distance of only 71mm so it allows for a pretty compact camera.

    I've done a starting point design in Solidworks and will probably be making some tweaks as the build goes and as I come up with better ideas and solutions for things, but the basic design is locked in.

    The lens will have a stowed position using a square sliding way and a dovetail slide actuated by a screw for focusing.

    The handle will be removable and can be mounted on either side.



    The film holder/roll back/ground glass will be held with two thumbnuts that just get snugged up to hold them in place. This is simpler than trying to reinvent a graflok-style back and I think it will work alright. The ground glass will be made in a frame similar to a film holder that will slide in and out rather than lift or swing out of the way like many 4x5 cameras feature, for simplicity.


    I'm planning on making a leather bag bellows which should suffice for the limited tilt, rise/fall and shift that I'm looking for.


    The back can rotate for landscape/portrait shots, instead of rotating the camera. It will be held in place by spring latches and 1/8" diameter steel pins which will engage in holes in the base plate and spring latches at the top. This is how my Graphic View II 4x5 works and I think its quite elegant and effective.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2016
    Location
    Brampton, Ontario
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    Default

    Couple more pictures




  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Brampton, Ontario
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    Started working on the wood portion of the main camera body, out of some prefinished red oak.

    Used my clamp-in-mill-vise drill press table in the mill, since I don't have a drill press that can handle big hole saws or run them slow. This table works great for quick and dirty drilling.

    I'm not a great woodworker so we will see how this goes.








  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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    Lovely idea for a project! ! ! !

    Do you have the film backs? I'm thinking that they should not be too hard to find for fairly cheap these days.

    I was >< THAT CLOSE to starting up my own B&W darkroom. But I never quite got it up and running mostly due to the lack of a spot in the house at the time to set up a dark room. Had the enlarger, enlarger lenses and even the trays. Everything I needed but the dark room with running water and the chemicals. I went through a vintage camera phase of buying and using such cameras and always liked the idea of a 4x5 combined with a 6x9 roll film back. So this will be a fun project to watch.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Ivins, Ut
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    I agree, Matt, this is something different. Please don't leave out the details, like how you keep the rotating back light-tight, etc.

    This takes me back a ways. I've processed hundreds of B&W and color transparency prints in years (decades) past, but never got involved with large-format equipment. I'll be following your build.
    Last edited by chipmaker4130; 09-11-2018 at 05:33 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    10,235

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    great idea for a unique project. Enough of making 123 blocks - do something creative entirely unique and yours, I like it. Keep the photos coming.
    .

  7. #7
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    Dec 2007
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    South Wales
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    I still like monochrome, I had a durst enlarger and used illford multi grade paper, my bedroom stank, or a bit more than normal.
    I worker in a drawing office when leaving school, cameras were standard tools, what was interesting was this camera called a shift camera, you could adjust the front plane relative to the back to alter perspective, the guy who did that was quite an expert, it looked like yours obviously with a bellows between!
    Brilliant keep up the good work
    Mark

  8. #8
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    Dec 2004
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    East Coast, USA
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    Don't forget to add USB support.
    Work hard play hard

  9. #9
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    Jan 2012
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    Barrington, NH
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    This is an awesome project! Really looking forward to following this one.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2006
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    Phoenix
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    Matt,

    I expect you know about the Scheimpflug Principle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle, which can achieve perfect focus on any subject plane, even when the plane is not parallel to the film. Incorporating this would involve allowing for front standard tilt as well as swing. But that is mostly for close-ups, and I don't suppose you will be doing table-top set-ups with this, which looks to be a fine camera.
    Allan Ostling

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