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Darkshop Posts

Quick, dirty

Just bought my first lens in about 5 years. And what a beast it is, the shutter fairly dwarfs a Copal 3. It just arrived today, and while opening the box I remembered that I dismantled my crappy drill press for that studio stand mock-up,  and now I have no quick way to bore a lensboard.

Ground glass shield

I’ve never broken a ground glass, but I’ve probably been pressing my luck. I’ve also never caught my camera on fire with the Fresnel.


Pretty basic. Just two pieces of 1/16″ Delrin attached to a scrap of mahogany with 8/32 screws and threaded inserts. The inner piece of Delrin could be a lot shorter, it only needs to be in range of the ground glass frame’s spring tension to hold it in place.  Extra holes were drilled to improve the grip when pulling the shield out of the back. I planed a 5° taper to the outside mahogany face for a little spring action to help hold the outer piece of Delrin against to the camera back, otherwise it flapped annoyingly.  The Delrin is a nice material for this because it’s so low friction, it slides in and out with damaging the wood finish or neoprene light trap. It’s also relatively rigid for its thickness. ABS might be a better choice for this, the Delrin is is really glossy and scratch-prone, but I dulled the gloss down with some synthetic steel wool, which helps to hide scratches. Before assembly the wood was sprayed with lacquer, then I used some double stick tape to attach a strip of velvet where the handle butts up to the ground glass frame.

“Studio” “Stand”

Having a small house in a rainy climate, I spend a lot of my time indoors rearranging furniture to take photos. A tripod can be a major hassle in a small space, both for the size of the leg footprint as well as the tedium and awkwardness of adjusting the camera height. I recently took a photo in my kitchen that required a ladder, a chair, two  shortened tripod legs on the countertop, and one extended one wedged against a cabinet. I looked around online at the studio stands available and saw that even the cheapest full-range stands were ~$1000. Even if I could find one used, most are still way too big for for my house, and I’m not sure if I’d even like using one. I made a mock up from some locally available parts and some stuff I had laying around.

Bathroom 2

No darkroom attached to this one, but it was way too much work not to document. Including the cabinet building it worked out to about 8 hours per square foot of floor space.

Tripod remodel

Old tripod with (even more) updated hardware

Finally having a metal lathe is great, even if it means having to remake all the things I made when I wished I had a lathe. The cobbled together spikes on my tripod is one such thing, made from a mix of plumbing parts and lag bolts, so I made some new ones from .75″ stainless round stock and some off-the-shelf hanger bolts. They weigh about the same as the old arrangement.

“Shop” “upgrade”

I finally got a mini metal lathe, as well as a new mill. I really wanted a used 10x toolroom lathe, and searched on and off for one for about 4 years now. But after getting realistic about the expense of shipping an industrial lathe from somewhere in the Rust Belt, how worn-out a machine in this class and my price range would probably be, rewiring my shop to use a 3 phase machine, and insulating and heating the shop to protect such an investment,  I finally just bought some new import machines that will run on my shop’s 120v/20A circuits.

Compendium shade

Since these shades are available second-hand pretty cheap, this is a silly thing to make unless you have an oddball front standard. I’d made one years ago for my old 5×7, but it was a little bulky to use for my new camera. After spending the morning trying in vain to find the outside dimensions of the Toyo-View compendium hood I just made one out of materials I had on hand.  Why do retailers list the size of the bloody box it comes in, and not the sizeof the unit itself? I went through the same thing trying to find a low profile cold shoe.

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.