building a large format view camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Has anyone a set of plans or drawings to build a large format view camera. Format size is not critical as the plans can be scaled to any size. I am familiar with the Bender kits but I am looking to scratch build from some drawings rather than a kit. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

-- dennis babbitt (, January 17, 1998


Check out Jon Grepstadt's site at He has got a fairly comprehensive sit on the design and construction of large format cameras. He' also got some good links too.

-- Ted Brownlee (, January 19, 1998.

I know that this may sound a little strange, but have you considered refinishing an old view camera before jumping in to building one from scratch? A view camera is a very simple camera, but I have found that refinishing an old 8x10 gave me great insight into the little things. I never would have attempted to fabricate my own bellows had my 8x10 not needed new ones. Now I make bellows for all my large format projects. You may also consider augmenting an existing view camera for specific purposes. The old Calumet (Orbit)400 series cameras are a snap to convert to alternate formats. I am in the middle of a conversion from 4x5 to 4"x10" and have a 7"x17" in the works. You should definitely look at Jon Grepstadt's Page he is the master.

Good Luck!

-- Britt Leckman (, January 19, 1998.

I seem to recall that, within the last year or two, View Camera magazine ran an article, including detailed plans, on building a 4x5.

-- Rob Rothman (, January 19, 1998.

The article in View Camera Magazine is in the Nov/Dec 1996 issue beginning on page 48

-- Ted Brownlee (, January 22, 1998.

A view camera looks simple, but the ergonomics of a fine view camera can only be appreciated under the stress of a real shoot. Take the Deardorff 8x10 for example. The locks on the rear swing are wonderful, easy to turn with the thumbs, and don't need to be tightened down too much to be secure. Take the front axis tilt for another example. It's hard to tighten it down so hard that it can't be moved. A flaw? Not at all! That's so you can just reach out from under the focusing cloth and tilt it at will..without having to get out from under the cloth to loosen it. But I've never had it slip during an exposure. (Well, why should it.) So before building a camera I would seriously consider buying an old classic. They're classics for a reason.

-- Peter Hughes (, January 26, 1998.

I built a large format camera from a kit and would advise any one who is considering doing the same to invest the same amount and buy a good, used manufactured camera. As beautiful as my camera is to look at it's hell to focus,hard and uncomfortable to adjust any movements and there's alot of camera shake. The savings I thought I would have were nill due to the many small clamps,additional hardware finishes and fittings I had to find or make.

-- Monty (, April 17, 1998.

I built and used a Bender 4x5 kit, it's a very good camera. I also designed and built a 4x5 folding field camera about 2 years ago, it took about 3 months to design and 3 months to build. I have the, almost complete, design on Autocad. I have really enjoyed the field camera, it takes great pictures.

-- Don Crow (, August 19, 1998.

You will find some information here:

-- Jon Grepstad (, July 25, 1999.

Why is everyone trying to make a buck? I have yet to find just plain old help and instruction on this subjuct. Evey where I go people want money for plans. What ever happen to helping a fellow photographic hobbiest explore a new field such as large format? Having photography as a hobby is expensive enough. It's very fustrating.

-- Jim Cairns (, December 30, 1999.

Please note that the URL of my large format camera building site is now: The old site is no longer updated.

Jon Grepstad

-- Jon Grepstad (, August 24, 2000.

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