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Monday, November 9, 2009

How to Build Your Own View Camera


Things You'll Need:

  • Hard wood such as cherry
  • Ground glass
  • Bellows
  • Lens with shutter
  • Film holder
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Glue
  1. Step 1

    Decide what size you want to make your view camera. The three standard sizes in which film is available are 4-by-5 inches, 5-by-7 inches and 8-by-10 inches. These are the sizes the of the negatives, not the dimensions of the camera, but you need to make this decision before you cut your wood and buy other components. While Ansel Adams used the 8-by-10 format, the 4-by-5 is easier to carry and still produces negatives significantly larger than 35mm or medium format camera.

  2. Step 2

    Acquire the parts you can't make yourself such as the lens (150mm lens with shutter gives a normal perspective, the same as the human eye sees), monorail, gears, bellows and other materials.

  3. Step 3

    Cut the cherry lensboard first. This should be 4-by-4 inches for a 4-by-5 camera. Drill the lens hole. Next, cut the board for the rear of the camera. This should be about 6-by-6 inches. The rear board holds the ground glass for focusing and the film slide for exposure, so it needs to be a frame with the inside cut out for placement of the glass. You can glue the ground glass in place or for more stability you can use screw-in clamps, like those used on the back of a picture frame.

  4. Step 4

    Attach the bellows to both the lensboard and the rear board with glue or clamps. It is essential to make this tight to prevent extraneous light from penetrating during exposure. Then attach both boards to brackets made to travel along the monorail. These brackets can be made of the same cherry wood you used for the boards. Cut the bottom pieces to fit the monorail. The monorail, usually metal, is used to move the lensboard back and forth to focus the camera. It also is best to attach a tripod socket on the underside of the monorail since most images will be captured on a tripod.

  5. Step 5

    Attach the film slide to the rear board. This item should generally be purchased and not handmade because it needs to be light tight to avoid film exposure. Attach the lens to the lensboard. You can make this permanent or use a lens mount to allow for changing the lens.

  6. Step 6

    Use a view camera kit if creating your own parts is beyond your ability. A view camera is a precision instrument. Using a kit to build your first one gives you solid guidelines for your project. The prime builder of these kits is Bender Photographic.

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