Could you build a 4x5 camera with fixed focus, shutter speed, and aperture?

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grahamp

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Seems a lot of bother. Why not just set an existing camera once, and leave it alone. And leave the light meter at home.

Actually, 4x5, fixed focus, fixed aperture, and an effectively arbitrary shutter speed and no light meter sounds like a pinhole.

So, yes, it is possible in many ways :cool:
 

btaylor

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Wasn’t that basically the concept of the Will Travel? I think there is someone else who has a 3D printed camera of similar design, 90mm lens, scale focusing. Work the Sunny 16 rules and you should be good to go. Those old exposure tables that used to come on many cameras or film data sheets worked pretty well too.
 

MattKing

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It is called a pinhole camera ........ 😲
 

AnselMortensen

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I built an 8x10, fixed-focus, fixed-aperture (wide-open) camera with a Packard shutter.
It was a pitiful husk when I got it, and I had parts-a-plenty, a little creativity, and some woodworking skills...so why not? 🤓
And it just so happens, I shot film with it for the first time yesterday. 👍
 

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Chan Tran

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Fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed doesn't mean you don't have to meter. You have to meter to find the scene that has the correct brightness. Same thing with fixed focus you have to find good composition at the correct distance.
 

Philippe-Georges

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A pinhole is getting near your desire, and just a wet finger to determine exposure...
 

AnselMortensen

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Fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed doesn't mean you don't have to meter. You have to meter to find the scene that has the correct brightness. Same thing with fixed focus you have to find good composition at the correct distance.

This. ^^^^

It doesn't make it easy, it makes it difficult.
Focusing by moving the tripod.
Matching proper exposure by choice of film stock.
A lot of bother. 😬
 

Chan Tran

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This. ^^^^

It doesn't make it easy, it makes it difficult.
Focusing by moving the tripod.
Matching proper exposure by choice of film stock.
A lot of bother. 😬

That is why we want cameras with full exposure and focusing controls. But yeah we can tak great images with cameras with fixed control when we can pick the right subject, the right environment. Cameras with lots of controls because it makes things easier.
 

blee1996

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I have a Will Travel 4x5 with 65/8 lens. Although I do have both shutter and focusing helicoid, you can definitely fix the focus to hyperfocal, f/16, 1/125s, ISO 100 film, and shoot away in good daylight. With developer like Diafine, you might be able to tolerate plus minus a few EVs.

 

Don_ih

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Speed Graphic with a flash bulb. Those guys had the focus and aperture set, got where they needed to be, and always used the flash. Flash fixes everything. Not so great for photos of Mount Fuji - but super for photos of movie stars getting out of cars.

1698056343489.png
 

Donald Qualls

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You don't need to focus by moving the tripod or meter to find the scene with the correct brightness. Aside from flash (as in the comment above mine), you set the focus to hyperfocal like any other box camera, set shutter speed to overexpose by one or two stops in "Sunny" conditions (to allow for "not Sunny" to some extent), load up your Grafmatic(s) and go shoot. Use Foma 400; it's cheap and grain won't matter much in 4x5. Build for f/16 or f/22, Foma 400 will give you two stops over at 1/100 or 1/50 (depending which aperture you choose), use a 105 mm lens (nice and wide and has good DOF at f/16, never mind f/22, and a cheap triplet will just cover and be plenty sharp), and click away.

Ten bucks worth of thin plywood, a couple cans of black spray paint, some basic tools, and a Graflok conversion back (there are a couple places that 3D print these) so you can mount your Grafmatic. Done.

Don't forget to give yourself a tripod mount and B shutter with cable release socket...
 

awty

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Its not hard to make a camera, its just a light proof box with a lens up one end and a piece of film up the other end.
Its not hard to learn how to use a manual camera and light meter.
The real difficulty is being able to make a good picture with your knowledge and tools. This requires a lot of work and great skill.
Lazy people make lazy pictures.
 
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maltfalc

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you could, but why bother? unless you also add an auto thyristor flash or only take photos under specific, repeatable lighting conditions, most of your photos will be junk.
 

GregY

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you could, but why bother? unless you also add an auto thyristor flash or only take photos under specific, repeatable lighting conditions, most of your photos will be junk.

Exactly.... I had a beautiful black walnut 4"x10" box camera....but used a 90mm Super Angulon XL in a helicoid.... Why make it difficult considering the cost of film & paper.... IMG_4828.jpg
 

DWThomas

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I've almost done the camera wished for, it's what Matt King suggested -- a 4x5 pinhole. One could replace the flap shutter and pinhole clamp with a lens and adjust the registration dimension to some sort of hyperfocal distance and you're there. But cheeze, to do that much work, far better to use a shutter mounted lens, offering shutter speed and aperture. And then, I personally would far prefer some sort of focus capability. I mean, how much trouble is it to make an adjustment or two?!
1698198371772.jpeg


I also own a 6x9 (cm) camera with more or less no adjustments -- it's a Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 my parents gave me circa 1950. It still works, but I've probably used it once in the last forty years or so -- mostly to see if it still works. That's a hint of how useful I find it for my current photographic interests. We should probably also bear in mind that the no longer available Verichrome (Pan), a popular film in the heyday of box cameras, was a multiple layer emulsion that provided a lot of exposure latitude.
 

grat

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So, you want to take a large format camera that produces beautiful, high resolution negatives, and take away all the controls for making a good exposure?
 

Dustin McAmera

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The OP never suggested any such thing. He said build a camera. I imagine he means a simple wooden box with a slot for a dark-slide.

A lens to cover 4x5 wouldn't be hard to find, but one already fitted in an 'I'-and-'B' shutter might be. The project might turn into an exercise in copying the shutter from a Brownie box.
 

Chan Tran

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I use the Polaroid 150 and shoot 4x5 sheet film in it. It's cheap enough. No need to build anything. Although the image isn't 4x5 but rather 3.5x4.5 but good enough.
 
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