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Darkshop Posts

Improved 5×7, now with real five and seven

I was so appalled by the state of my shop at the end of the last project that I decided to clean it up and repair a lot of the worn out tables, jigs, and machinery so it would be all ready to go whenever I’m ready for a new project. I dissembled and adjusted the mill, organized the bits and end mills and router bits, tuned up the drill press and made a decent table for it, rebuilt my table saw/router table outfeed table, trued up all the fences and fixtures, replaced the workbench top, and generally organized and cleaned throughout. The shop still isn’t fit for visitors or even a heavily cropped jpeg tour, but it will be much less annoying to spend time in it now.  Continue » Improved 5×7, now with real five and seven

5×7 bail back

Ever since getting the Arca Swiss last winter I’ve wanted to make a bail back for my shop built 5×7. Unfortunately the design of that camera back doesn’t lend itself very well to adding a bail. The torsion spring housing is on the tall side, so the pivot for the bail would need to be pretty high to bridge that and would increase the depth of the camera more than I’d like. Also I think a leaf spring arrangement would work much better for a bail, which is what the Arca and most other cameras use. Rather that modify the original back and risk screwing everything up, I should probably make a new back. This camera is starting to feel like the ship of Theseus. Continue » 5×7 bail back

Car cabinet

I have a Honda Element, which is a pretty good ride for camera trips. I’ve always wanted to build a cabinet in the cargo area to hold gear. What motivated me to do something about it though was the thought of making an extension platform that will allow for taking quick photos right from the tail gate, without a lot of setup/breakdown. Continue » Car cabinet

5×7 diary, part 3

After almost 4 years of use, I thought I would make a few improvements to my shopmade 5×7 camera.  One thing that always bothered me is the front standard. The gimbal swing is great, and the movements work well, but the rise and fall stanchions are a little anemic, should have used 3/16″ stock instead of the 1/8″, and should have made the anti-torsion bar that joins the stanchions at the bottom a little more burly as well.  There’s too much flex in the standard.  Also, the front shift platform is awkward. I stupidly economized on aluminum plate stock, getting only a 12″ piece of 1/4  bar stock for both the front and back shift platforms, and by the time I was done with the back the piece I had left over was about 1/2″ too short for the front. So instead of just ordering another $5 worth of material from McMaster-Carr I went ahead and used the short piece. Usually I’m not this cheap- maybe I’d already milled the dovetail slot before I realized it was too short. Regardless, the front standard pivot brackets overhang the platform, which not only looks goofy, but there’s also nothing to indicate a neutral position by feel, you have to eyeball the dovetails being flush with the platform. I thought about installing a detent, but due to the location of the dovetail slide and shift slot there’s no good place to install one. The furnace is on the fritz in the house, so as long as I’m cold I might as well spend some time in the shop. Continue » 5×7 diary, part 3

Ground glass / focusing screen

A ground glass focusing screen is something I usually rush through because when it’s time to make one  I’m usually at the end of a tedious camera build and want to hurry up and use the thing already. But I wanted to take some time and make a decent one- after all this is the one thing I spend the most time looking at on a camera. Usually I don’t bother to seam the edges so the little chips along the cuts refract light into the image area and generally looks pretty crappy, so I spent the time to carefully cut the screen, smooth out the all the edges, and bevel them before getting on with grinding the surface. I did this for a recent Arca Swiss CLA, and it turned out well so made another one for my shop made camera.

grit Continue » Ground glass / focusing screen

Arca Swiss Miss

Having only ever used shop-made view cameras I’ve always wanted to try an actual production camera. I saw a used monorail on a forum for sale for $400, so thought I’d treat myself after all the work remodeling and repairing the house this year. 5×7 monorails are relatively rare, and a 5×7 Arca Swiss even more so. This is an older Oschwald-era Arca, but it appears to have a lot of the functionality of the newer F-line models. There were some issues disclosed in the listing- no ground glass, missing light gasket where the back meets the rear standard – both are really easy fixes. It also had a few other issues such as dry spirit levels and some cosmetic damage, but nothing that would impact usage. The important thing was that it had light tight bellows, or so the seller claimed in the listing. Continue » Arca Swiss Miss

Gitzo G1320 center post hack

gifzo

I never really liked Gitzo-styled tripods, but needed an indoor tripod as my homemade one has spiked feet and is usually dirty. The twist legs locks on Gitzos are bad enough, but the center column on some models is especially egregious. I didn’t realize this at the time I bought a used one off Ebay, but it’s impossible to tighten the center lock down enough to keep the column from spinning, or at least it is on the version I have.  Markins has (or used to have) a hub retrofit to replace the the yoke entirely, but decided I would try to modify it before spending an extra $180 on a tripod I wasn’t wild about to begin with.
Continue » Gitzo G1320 center post hack