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Large-Format Camera Construction


formicula 18x24

This is my home-built view camera, a monorail construction with full adjustment capability.
It is rock solid, but not too heavy to be carried around.
(The GIF image shows the original version of "formicula". Here is a more recent JPEG picture of my "formicula 2" camera,
with an improved monorail and an improved 3D-tripod-head.)

Drawings of the "formicula" LF-Camera

New: Now I do provide drawings of my camera design. I also have a short discussion of some design decisions.

Drawings converted to low-res GIF

Ready for download is the bitmap formatted version of the plans (a GIF file of 112KB, showing 7 full pages of drawings).
The problem with this file is that it does noct have the full detail, it is only 72 dpi for screen viewing, so some fine lines melt to one big line.
Also the image is too large to be conveniently viewable in some web browsers, so you should download it to your disk and view it with a
dedicated image viewing application (like JPEGview on the Mac, Corel Photo-Paint or Alchemy Mindworks Graphic Workshop in Windows, xv in Solaris).
Other bitmap and CAD formats: ...discontinued because of space restrictions... :-(

Drawings in PDF format

I have a PDF version of the plans (still rather big, sorry).
The PDF format preserves full detail. You can view the file, zoom in, or print it out using the freely available viewer "Acrobat Reader" from Adobe.

Ask for availibility of other file formats if you cannot use these files.

My tripod is a commercial one, made for land surveying. (Surveyor tripods are very solid and much cheaper than photo tripods,
but they don't have the standard mount for photographic equipment. So I built the tripod head myself.)

This camera supports film sizes of 13x18cm (5x7 inches) and 18x24cm (approx. 8x10 inches).
As usual for large format photography, in order to be able to use other formats, like 4x5 inches, or Polaroid material,
only the camera back has to be modified (i.e., add a new adapter frame).
I have now prepared drawings of the back of the camera too.
This is included in the above mentioned PDF document.

7-2001 New: 8x10' Camera Back

Because it gets harder and harder to get 18x24 cm sheet film, while it is still possible to get the U.S. size 8x10'
(called 20x25 in German, it is in fact 20.3 x 25.4 cm, a rather sqare format, I cannot help,
I have some problems to like it, it is like 4:5 instead of the used-to 3:4) - finally
I decided to switch to the American format.

My old 18x24 camera back is to small to accept a standard "international"-style 8x10' film holder,
so I had to design a new camera back, now in the "international" dimensions,
compatible with the rest of the LF world.

2001-07-05: The new back is just finished, today I shot my first test photograph.

Here you see how the camera with its new back looks like.
Note the whole camera including the back is now in the same black design with some red accents. ;-)

film holder insertion into new camera spring back film holder insertion into new camera spring back film holder insertion into new camera spring back
Insertion of the film holder into the new camera back... (intentionally overexposed to make the construction clear)

film holder insertion into new camera spring back
... and taking it out again.

More images of my camera are here.

Links to other homebrew LF sites

For another homebrew large format camera project, see the WWW pages of Jon Grepstad about his wooden 4x5 inches design.
A successful user of his design can be found here.
Or look into the pages of Doug Bardell who has built several 4x5 and 8x10 field cameras and interesting darkroom equipment,
and a very detailed instruction for building bellows.
Another site is WESTMARK by Helmut Weber with ideas and parts for your own projects.
And here is a site with 8x10' architectural color slides, made with an interesting and
beautiful homebrew 8x10' camera, by my email-friend Harry Martin
. I admire him developing his LF slides (color E6 processing) himself.


No longer new, but useful:
I have a (simple) FAQ, a list of frequently asked questions, in text format.
If you have questions about large format photography, especially about building your own camera,
you can look at this FAQ text.


Back to rudolf mittelmann
last edited on August 21, 2001

small change on Sept. 05, 2001

26201 visitors since 7th Oct 2002.

- this WWW page created on Apple Macintosh -

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