Building a film holder...

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Has anyone tried building a film holder?

Here's the back story...

I'm a very handy woodworker and am comfortable building furniture etc. I would like to build my own LF camera when my life settles down. The bellows will be farmed out so the only part that I feel will really give me any sort of trouble might be the small parts involved in building a film holder(s). (I'm interested in going to 7x17)

I understand that different cameras have different specs as per the film holders, but has anyone tried this? Any good ideas as to darkslide materials?

joe :smile:
 

mark

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sandy does it. I have this question on occaision I it seems that there is a reason that they are so expensive. I can't wait to see how Jim tackled the project.
 

Jim Chinn

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Here is the skinny on film holders. The only improtant dimension is that the distance from the rear of the lens is the same measured either from the film plane, or from the front of the ground glass. That distance needs to be the small distance. My measurements are identical because the ground glass in my cameras are built in a frame that is the same as the film holder.

So if you build a camera for yourself, design the film holder and then bulild the back to match or vice a versa.

There are several ways to build simple film holders that keep the film flat and light tight. Sandy and others build holders that have to be able to work with many different cameras and fit very specific criteria. But if you build your set up as a single matched unit it is a much easier task.

I got head for work, I'll post a little about my holders later.
 

donbga

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S&S Film Holders

mark said:
sandy does it. I have this question on occaision I it seems that there is a reason that they are so expensive. I can't wait to see how Jim tackled the project.
Although I may be wrong, I don't think Sandy King actually manufactures film holders himself, rather he contracts with a craftsman that produces the holders for him.

I'm certainly no expert here, but from what I've read it is more cost , time and quality effective to have an expert build film holders rather than to make them at home; but I'm sure where there is a will there is a way.

Don Bryant
 
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I'm certainly no expert here, but from what I've read it is more cost , time and quality effective to have an expert build film holders rather than to make them at home; but I'm sure where there is a will there is a way.

The biggest reason is the challenge of it... Being able to make something from scratch for yourself is very satisfying. I don't expect to actually save money by making my own camera, it is the challenge. (While materials may be cheaper the amount of time involved quickly eats up any possible savings - time is money...)

But there is no denying that if I can make my own holders, that I can shave a major cost off the project. (ULF holders are also very very expensive in comparison to 4x5 and 8x10.)

joe :smile:
 

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donbga said:
Although I may be wrong, I don't think Sandy King actually manufactures film holders himself, rather he contracts with a craftsman that produces the holders for him.

I'm certainly no expert here, but from what I've read it is more cost , time and quality effective to have an expert build film holders rather than to make them at home; but I'm sure where there is a will there is a way.

Don Bryant


Don,

What you write is only partially true. Sam and I am very much involved in the production of the S&S holders, though much of the woodwork is done by a local craftsman. We design the holders and provide production instructions, install the light baffles, and finish them off. I also do the woodwork on some of the custom sizes and do all of the custom work for fitting holders to cameras with non-standard backs.

Basically, what we get from the woodworker is a raw product that requires quite a lot of work to be a good holder.

Sandy
 

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donbga said:
I'm certainly no expert here, but from what I've read it is more cost , time and quality effective to have an expert build film holders rather than to make them at home; but I'm sure where there is a will there is a way.

Don Bryant

Missed this part of your message in my first response.

It is not merely a question of time versus money, but one of how you want to spend your time. I love woodworking and have spent a lot of time at it, including building from scratch several cameras in sizes fro 8X10 up to 20X24", numerous holders, a few cabinets, and a couple of sailboats). I did those things because the activity at the time was fun and exciting, not to save money.

I take my hat off to anyone who wants to build a camera, holder or sailboat, but doing it right takes quite a bit of time, skill and some decent tools. But don't underestimate the job. Having built cameras, boats, cabinets and holders I can tell you that the tolerances for building holders are more demanding than for cameras, boats and cabinets.

Sandy King
 
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rogueish

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Joe Symchyshyn said:
Has anyone tried building a film holder?
I'm a very handy woodworker and am comfortable building furniture etc. I would like to build my own LF camera when my life settles down. The bellows will be farmed out so the only part that I feel will really give me any sort of trouble might be the small parts involved in building a film holder(s). (I'm interested in going to 7x17)
I understand that different cameras have different specs as per the film holders, but has anyone tried this? Any good ideas as to darkslide materials?
joe :smile:

A book called Primative Photography is about building a view camera to the original standards back when photography was first starting. Complete with dry or wet plates.
I also found on the web several people who sell plans to make a more modern wooden view camera. I'll PM you the links if your interested.
Since your comfortable working with wood, it should be (relatively) easy to convert one such plan to the deminsions you want.
 

sanking

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gregdavis said:
Sandy,

I asked you this once, but I lost my notes. What is the t-dimension on your 20x24 holders?

-Greg


The T-dimension on my 20X24" holders is 8.5 mm, or approximately .334".

In fact, this is the T-dimension on all of the S&S ULF holders, with the exception of the 14X17" holders, which have a T-dimension of 0.320".

Sandy
 
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rogueish said:
A book called Primative Photography is about building a view camera to the original standards back when photography was first starting. Complete with dry or wet plates.
I also found on the web several people who sell plans to make a more modern wooden view camera. I'll PM you the links if your interested.
Since your comfortable working with wood, it should be (relatively) easy to convert one such plan to the deminsions you want.
Absolutely, any tips are always appreciated. Thanks!

joe
 

rogueish

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Primitive Photography
A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes
author Alan Greene
from Focal Press www.focalpress.com
ISBN 0-240-80461-9

http://home.online/~gjon/jgcarn.htm
Has pictures of his home made cameras and sells plans to them.
Dead Link Removed
lots of info on cameras, don't recall if any info on building one though. I had 2 others but the pages seem to be gone now.
 

barryjyoung

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Hi Joe:

Some inspiration for you. I just finished the first long parts for a couple of 7x17 holders. It can be done, it is a lot of work but it definitely can be done, but you will need a milling machine. This is because the septum groove is thinner than any tablesaw blade I know of at .072 inch.

Barry Young
Young Camera Company
 

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Joe, if you have good woodworking skills it will make your job easier. Do a prototype and test it. It all boils down to how much time you have. You don't want to be wasting 7x17 film because you are not accurate on your measurements. I'm building a 8x20 based on a Kodak 2-D as is Dan Dozer. I'm going to have Western Bellows do the bellows and Sandy at S&S do me a walnut holder. I know my limits and how slow I work. So for me I'll pay to have someone do these parts. take your time and get it done as time permits. It's a labor of love so don't rush the process. There is a lot of help on the forum by some great builders. Good luck!

Stay Focused ..... or Soft Focused!!

Jim
 

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Joe:

I just bumped into this thread...

I while ago I posted my findings on making some 8x20 holders at:

(there was a url link here which no longer exists)

Having woodworking skill is important, but it's really necessary to "think like a machinist" to hold the precision necessary for good film holders.

The larger the camera & holders, the higher you can hold your head in a world filled with digi-snappers that call themselves photographers.

Have fun.

Reinhold
 

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barryjyoung said:
Hi Joe:

Some inspiration for you. I just finished the first long parts for a couple of 7x17 holders. It can be done, it is a lot of work but it definitely can be done, but you will need a milling machine. This is because the septum groove is thinner than any tablesaw blade I know of at .072 inch.


I made my film holder using a 1/16 inch slot cutter on a shaper. A high quality router could also be used in a pinch but you will certainly want it on a nice router table in the very least.
 

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Some inspiration for you. I just finished the first long parts for a couple of 7x17 holders. It can be done, it is a lot of work but it definitely can be done, but you will need a milling machine. This is because the septum groove is thinner than any tablesaw blade I know of at .072 inch.


Slotting cutters are very available and very affordable and come in some very thin sizes. No need for an elaborate setup with a milling machine. A router / shaper would do well with proper setup.

Curt
 

Jim Chinn

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sanking said:
The T-dimension on my 20X24" holders is 8.5 mm, or approximately .334".

In fact, this is the T-dimension on all of the S&S ULF holders, with the exception of the 14X17" holders, which have a T-dimension of 0.320".

Sandy
Here is one of the big problems with ULF film holders.

I have a page from the Canham website that lists dimensions for several ULF formats. They list a T-dimension of .357 (8.9mm) for 7x17, 8x20 and 12x20. That is a difference of .023 from the S&S holders. That seems to me to be a huge difference. If I have 7x17 Canham camera designed for .357 would I get unsharp negatives with a S&S film holder? Or vice a versa using a holder built to Canham's specs in a non-canham camera?

What is the standard? Or do we simply pray that the holder and GG will be in agreement enough to get apparently sharp results? Or when someone builds a camera should they split the difference and go with .345 for the T-dimension.

I bring this up because I have seen the Canham dimensions brought up many times on APUG and the LF photography forum as the measurements to be followed. I also am aware that there is a +/- tolerance with every format. Maybe .023 fits that range. Seems like an awful lot though.
 

argus

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I guess that the easy way is to adapt the groundglass frame to match the holders you can get.

G
 

argus

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Barry,

I had overlooked your post. I looks like a nice start on the holders.

What kind of septum are you planning to use? I have aluminium sheet in 0.5mm thickness, the septum groove in my (homemade & prototype) holders is only 1mm.
T-dimension is 8.8mm.

Greetings,
Geert
 

Colin Graham

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Holy *, even the ANSI standards are wrong. It calls the exposure window for 4x5 to be 5.002 x 3.882. Saints preserve us!
 

Jim Jones

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Colin Graham said:
Holy *, even the ANSI standards are wrong. It calls the exposure window for 4x5 to be 5.002 x 3.882. Saints preserve us!
The 1951 ANSI specs I have say 3.636 by 4.686 minimum for the exposure window. The 5.0002 is the maximum film length. Cliff's link is to someone's simplification of the ANSI specs.
 

Colin Graham

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Thanks, Jim. Anyway, here's a link to the order page for ISO and ANSI standards, if anyone's interested.
 

jmailand

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rogueish said:
A book called Primative Photography is about building a view camera to the original standards back when photography was first starting. Complete with dry or wet plates.
I also found on the web several people who sell plans to make a more modern wooden view camera. I'll PM you the links if your interested.
Since your comfortable working with wood, it should be (relatively) easy to convert one such plan to the deminsions you want.

I have that book. It shows how to make film holders and a simple box like camera. The type photographers in the mid 1800's would use. The book shows how to make everything from lens to paper negatives. This is very much a primitive, "take hat off lens and count to 10 put hat back on lens" type of camera design if you know what I mean. The plans are designed for wet plates, but they can be adapted for film I think by changing the wood thickness. If you find plans for more modern view cameras, and film holders, on the web you might want to save the money. It just depends on what your into.

James.
 

barryjyoung

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Hi Curt:

I do use machinist screw slotting saws. You cannot turn those saws at the speed of a shaper or router without burning them up. Keep in mind that the gullets on a slotting saw or jewelers slitting saw are tiny and the sawdust has nowhere to go. Therefore heat is the biggest enemy, and you avoid heat by having a slow spindle speed which is why I said you need a milling machine. What is the spindle speed on your shaper?



Curt said:
Slotting cutters are very available and very affordable and come in some very thin sizes. No need for an elaborate setup with a milling machine. A router / shaper would do well with proper setup.

Curt
 
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