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How To Make A View Camera

By | 19/10/2022

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This FAQ aims at apprentice photographers and woodworkers who are because building a large format camera. The first version was published in Baronial 1996. Last updated October 2018.

  1. What skills are needed for building a view camera?
    The basic principles of a view camera are simple. The skills needed depend on your blueprint. The blueprint in plough may be adapted to your skills. Instance: Advanced woodworkers may dovetail the corners of the front end and rear frames; less avant-garde woodworkers may miter the corners. Boilerplate
    woodworking skills will get a long manner. Patience and accuracy are vitues that will be reflected in the terminal object.
  2. What tools are needed for building a view photographic camera?
    Mainly ordinary woodworking tools: an electrical drill (a drill pressis useful, but not necessary), bits for woods and metallic, a bench vise,various saws (e.g. backsaw or tenon saw, fret saw, coping saw and hacksaw), probably a miter box, a carpenter’due south square (engineer’s
    try-square), directly tip and cross-head screwdrivers, metal files, forest files, clamps (miter or corner clamps are useful but not required), a smoothing plane, a knife, chisels, callipers, a metal ruler, sandpaper of assorted grades. For some designs a soldering iron may be needed.
  3. Should I build a monorail camera or a flatbed photographic camera?
    Monorail cameras and flatbed cameras differ with regard to features. Flatbed cameras accept more than limited camera movements than monorail cameras, typically nearly 18-20 degrees dorsum tilt and swing. Flatbed cameras usually accept base tilt of the back (the back tilt centrality is at the
    lesser) and base of operations and on-axis tilt of the front end. Monorail cameras often have on-axis tilt (the rear frame tilts on the optical axis). About flatbed cameras fold up into a box; monorail camera exercise not. Monorail cameras are easier to build, partly because the camera is not designed to fold up.  Monorail cameras may have friction focusing or geared focusing. Collapsable flatbed cameras need rack and pinion focusing. They unremarkably crave more metallic piece of work than a monorail camera. Flatbed cameras are oft referred to as field cameras, though many monorail cameras may be used in the field too.
  4. How much exercise the materials cost?
    The reply depends on your design and your choice of materials. Hardwoods suitable for cameras are cherry-red, mahogany, teak, walnut, oak,and ash. All woods has to exist well seasoned so that it does not warp. Many commercial cameras are fabricated of red. Expenses also depend on whether you brand a bellows yourself or buy the bellows. In general the materials of a view camera are not very expensive.
  5. How long does it take to build a camera?
    Your first camera takes more time than your second. The starting time time y’all build a camera you lot will spend considerable time pondering over details and looking for suitable hardwoods or metal parts. This is part of the pleasure of building your own photographic camera. Building a camera may take 50–100 hours.
  6. What are the most disquisitional measurements in a view camera blueprint?
    The positioning of the ground glass is the virtually critical item in the design. The focusing surface of the ground glass has to exist in the same position as the emulsion of the film when a motion-picture show holder is inserted. The disquisitional measurement (the distance from moving picture emulsion to the surface of the movie holder) is 4.8 mm or 0.190″. The ANSI standard for the depth of a standard 4 10 5 inch film holder is 0.197″ plus minus 0.007″. Most motion picture has a base of 0.007″ . When film is loaded in the film holder, the depth is 0.190″. This is the measurement used by Sinar cameras. Wisner cameras use a compromise of 0.192″ to allow for wear on the wood and because Tech Pan film, used past some photographers to achieve ultra-sharp images, has a base of 0.004″. The ANSI standard for 5 x 7 and viii x 10 inch film holders are as follows (picture show thickness has not been deducted):
    v 10 7″ 0.228″ + – 0.010
    8 10 10″ 0.260″ + – 0.016
    These measurements may be checked with a Vernier calliper gauge or a micrometer (available in some hardware stores). Vernier callipers take measurements to 0.one mm or less. Film holder formats: http://home.earthlink.net/~eahoo/page8/filmhold.html
  7. What points should I pay special attention to when deciding on a design?

    Camera movements:
    When choosing a design you should call up of how much camera movements yous want (tilt, swing, shift, ascension and autumn). Camera movements distinguish large format cameras from rigid-bodied cameras and make possible control of perspective and depth of field. You may have to choose between on-centrality tilt (the frames tilt on the optical centrality) and base tilt (the frames tilt on an axis most the bottom). Read about camera movements earlier you decide on a design.
    Authentic and comfortable focusing:
    Focusing must be accurate and easy to operate. Friction focusing, i.e. gently pushing or pulling the sliders which carry the front and rear frames, works well with monorail cameras. Flatbed cameras commonly need rack and pinion focusing (gears).
    Like shooting fish in a barrel irresolute from the horizontal to the vertical format:
    The dorsum should have a lock which makes changing from horizontal to vertical format piece of cake.
    The optical bench of the monorail camera or the struts of the flatbed camera should be sturdy. Inserting a film holder should not change your focusing.
    Tilt axis:
    During the construction y’all should likewise pay particular attention to accurate positioning of the tilt axis of the forepart and rear frames.  The tilt axis of the front and rear frames should be level to ensure accurate camera movements.
  8. Should I make the bellows myself or buy a bellows?
    Some apprentice photographic camera builders make the bellows themselves, others buy a standard bellows or accept a bellows custom made. Standard bellows tend to be expensive. The nearly reasonable standard foursquare bellows suitable for a iv ten 5 inch monorail camera, is probably a Cambo bellows. A custom made bellows for 4 ten five may be near US $ 150.Making a bag bellows for broad wide-angle lenses is easier than making a pleated bellows.Useful instructions for making bellows are found here:

    • Kurt Motweiler zip file (Jack Deardorff)
    • René Smets
    • MakingBellows (YouTube)
    • Doug Bardell [The Internet Annal]
    • Franz-Manfred Schüngel (High german)
    • Instructables
    • Stockhomviews.com
    • Salihonba
    • Photo Studio (French)
    • “Arca Irish” 8 ten 10 bellows construction
  9. Can I make my own ground glass?
    Commercial ground glass for 4 x five cameras is fairly inexpensive. For larger formats information technology is pretty expensive. However, for any format you lot canmake first-class ground drinking glass yourself at hardly any cost. Get some # 600 carborundum or # 500 corundum. Put a piece of drinking glass on a flat surface. Mix about a teaspoonful of carborundum/corundum with water to make a paste. Put the ii mm piece of glass which is going to be your ground glass on top and move information technology in pocket-sized circles every bit y’all exert some pressure. Grinding a 4 x 5 ground glass may have v–10 minutes. An 8 ten x ground glass may take twenty–30 minutes depending on your feel.

  10. Where practice I find plans or instructions?

    Grepstad, Jon.
    Building a Large Format Photographic camera.
    Second, revisededition. Oslo 2000. 85 pages. ISBN 82-993938-1-7. (Instructions andplans for a 4 ten 5 inch monorail camera of hardwood, brass and aluminum.)Hoover, Edward A.
    Uncomplicated Big Format Camera Construction. An

    Illustrated Fabrication Transmission. Sanford, Florida 2002. 111 pages.Gutierrez, Al. “Build a View Photographic camera”.
    Popular science do-it-yourself yearbook. 1992. Northward.Y. : Popular Scientific discipline Books : distribution by Van Nostrand Reinhold 1992. pp. 111-118. ISBN 0-696-11111-X (Instructions for building a Bough or Bender-similar photographic camera.)Captain, Peter.
    Selbstbau einer Grossformat-Fachkamera.
    Titz-Gevelsdorf: Verlag Peter Captain, 1989. 6th edition. 84 pages. ISBN 3-88673 -000-X. (Basic instructions for making a simple monorail camera of metal.)Håkansson, Patrik and Lundell, Kurt. “Bygg din egen storformatskamera”.
    Aktuell fotografi
    seven-8, 1988, pp. 64-68. Stockholm 1988. Also see correction in
    Aktuell fotografi
    9, 1988. (Article with sketches for edifice a 4 ten 5 inch monorail camera of wood and metal.)

    Jahr, Wolfgang. “nine x 12-Kamera aus der Hobbywerkstatt”.

    2, 3, iv, 1986. Hamburg 1986. (Series of articles with sketches for building a four x v inch monorail camera of wood and metallic. Also instructions for converting the photographic camera into an enlarger.)

    Layton, John. “Designing and building your own camera”,
    View Camera, March-April 1995, pp. 38-44. Sacramento, CA. (Article with photographs for building a 4 10 v inch flatbed camera of hardwood.)

    Layton, John. “Build yous own 4 ten 5 field-view camera”.

    Camera, November-December 1996, pp. 48-56. Sacramento, CA. (Instructions for building a 4 x five inch flatbed camera of hardwood.)

    Mönks, Thomas.
    Grossformatkamera selbst gebaut.
    Stuttgart: Lindemanns Verlag 1991. 3rd edition. 38 pages. ISBN 3-928126-17-2. (Instructions for making a very elementary wooden monorail camera.)

    Partridge, Graham.
    5 ten iv Camera.
    Henly-on-Thames, 1992. 35 pages. (Plans for a simple non-collapsable flatbed camera. Besides plans for a tapered bellows.)

    Robinson, Mike. “How to build a photographic camera bellows”.
    View Camera, July-August 1996, pp. 52-55. Sacramento, CA.

    Romney, Edward H.
    Bellows making text. 14 pages. Drayton, SC. 1990.

    Romney, Ed and James Tannehill.
    Build a view photographic camera. 23 pages. ISBN 1-886996-63-vi. (Plans for a ii x 3 metal view camera, expandable to iv x 5.) Drayton, SC. 1979.

    Spreadbury, S. “Into View. A Home-Fabricated four x 5 in Photographic camera”.

    Photographer, 13 March 1982, pp. 127-128. (Article and photographs for edifice a monorail camera made of metal and wood.)

    West, Bert.
    Build your own view camera.

    Highland Park, IL: Dogstar Publishing, 1995. 112 pages. ISBN one-886757-07-0. (Instructions for building a simple 4 ten five inch monorail camera. Also instructions for making a bellows.)

  11. What sites are at that place on the net?

    • Jon Grepstad (monorail photographic camera made of forest)
    • Rudolf Mittelmann (monorail camera made of wood and aluminum)
    • James Vail (8 10 10 flatbed camera, the Net Annal)
    • Edward A. Hoover (simple big format photographic camera)
    • Gavino Tavera (flatbed camera, in Italian)
  12. Where do I detect a forum for cameramakers on the net?

    • The Photographic camera Maker’s List (Yahoo)
    • Large Format Photography Forum (LF DIY)
    • Manus made film camera (Facebook)
  13. Where exercise I find pollex nuts/screws, gears or other metal parts for my camera?

    • W. G. Berg Inc.
    • Smalls Parts Inc.
    • Essentra Components
    • McMaster-Carr
  14. Where exercise I detect a reasonable lens for my photographic camera?

    • eBAY
    • L-foto (Sweden)
    • Foto.no (Kingdom of norway)
    • MrCad (Great Great britain)
    • Robert White (Great U.k.)
  15. Where exercise I find data about big format lenses?

    • Complilation of links
  16. Where can I accept a butt lens mounted in a shutter?

    •  S.Thousand. Grimes
  17. Where tin I accept bellows made for my camera?

    • Turner Bellows
    • Custom Bellows

  18. What adept sources are there for the history of view camera


    Coe, Brian.
    Cameras. From Daguerrotypes to Instant Pictures.
    Gothenburg: Nordbok, 1978. 240 pages. ISBN 91-7442-0313Stroebel,Leslie D.
    View Camera Technique.
    5th edition. New York–Boston–London: Focal Printing, 1986. 310 pages. ISBN 0-240-51711-3. (The archetype reference work on large format photography.)

8 x 10 camera

Source: https://jongrepstad.com/building-a-large-format-camera/view-camera-construction-faq-2/