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Category: cameras

5×7 Part 4, errata

Camera turned out well, but though I would compile a list of the things I wish I could do over- and probably will have to do over at some point. Will update the list as new ones are discovered.


 I cut the shaft flush with the bed, and tapped and Locktite’d 6-32 studs into each end for the focus and lock knobs. Would have been better to leave the shafts long on the focus side and pin the knobs to the shaft, as done with the gears themselves. The studs are fine for locking knobs, but probably too weak to handle the torque from the focusing knobs over time.

Continue » 5×7 Part 4, errata

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

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

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

Assembly Day


(5×7 Diary, pt 2)

OK, more than just a day, I actually started assembling this a few weekends ago. I always forget how tedious, how long, and how exasperating making a camera can be. 12 weekends, more or less. Continue » Assembly Day

5×7 diary

Rear Standard box joints

The creative slump continues. Rather than waste gas and film, I thought I would make some improvements on the 5×12>5×7 conversion I made last year. Except I’d really rather just start over.

I like much about the 5×7 conversion.  Well- no; it’s heavy, the back design is among the worst I’ve made or seen, and the movement hardware is bulky and heavy without being especially rigid.  But I do like the bellows- I’ll keep the bellows. Actually if I had more thin bellows cloth I’d redo the bellows, but I don’t so I like the bellows. Actually, I just remembered that I ordered some Deardorff bellows cloth. Whatever. I wasn’t sure if I would like the format before I made it, so I didn’t spend a lot of time or effort on it.

I’ve actually been kicking ideas around for a few weeks. Not much inspiration to speak of. So I started to mill some wood to rough dimensions. Maybe I’ll think better when I’m working in the shop instead of sitting in front of a CAD program.

Continue » 5×7 diary

Bellows blow…

But I found if I don’t whine too much and just do it that bellows only take a few hours. I had just enough of the old Porter’s fabric for one more set of bellows, so no point in asking me where to get the cloth these days- I wish I knew.  For the patterns I’m using 90lb Revere Platinum paper- they need to work out the manufacturing issues with this stuff before I waste any more precious metals printing with it… glad I only bought 10 sheets. But 22″x30″ is a good size for 5×7 bellows patterns. Plus the sizing helps keep it from buckling and deforming when the glue hits it. And hey, the bellows should be archival. @-]

Continue » Bellows blow…