LF camera kits

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I've discovered, via their Website, that Bender Photographic Inc offer LF camera kits.

Are there any other manufacturers that offer LF cameras in kit form?

Have you built a LF camera from scratch, or from a kit? If so, I'd welcome any advice you can offer. I'm considering building a 4x5. Initially, it would be used for pinhole photography, but later (as funds allow) I'll add lenses.

Any comments?

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 18, 1998


I just finished building a 4 X 5 Bender. It was a realy great project. It was also a huge investment of man hours. If you want a camera fast buy a used one or buy a Calumat Cadet for $400. The Bender will cost you almost that in the end with all the stuff you will buy making it. And of course the lens is not included. The finished camera is something I would never sell. I just got my first photos back from the lab and so far I am pleased. Bender offers great support. Guess what! They make a pinhole camera kit.

-- Mark Schumann (schumann@ecentral.com), February 19, 1998.

Many thanks for the feedback. I'm curious to know why it took so long. Is there anything apart from varnishing and assembly that I'm not aware of? I enjoy woodwork and wouldn't mind spending time making something worthwhile. I think the Bender looks more elegant than the Calumet Cadet. I've just finished making a fixed focal length 4 x 5 pinhole camera and I'm thinking of making a Bender fitted with a pinhole turret.

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), February 23, 1998.

The estimate time to build a Bender is about 40 hours. I believe that to be a underestimate. Going to the hardware store and building sanding blocks and other things should be taken into account. If you really want to build a perfect camera I think 80 hours is more like it. I would recommend buying 2 - 12 inch bar clamps and about 3 - 1 inch spring clamps in addition to the C - clamps.

-- schumann (schumann@ecenral.com), February 28, 1998.

I have built two Bender Kits, one my own-the other for a friend, and the quality of the parts is first rate. I would recommend re-enforcing the bolts for tightening the standards on the rail. I used a long threaded rod and two knobs on mine. If you like wood working, this is a great project, but it is fine wood working - like cabinet making. Clamps, fine sandpaper, good finishing materials are a must. I easily spent 80 hrs and about $40.00 on the extras to finsih the camera. THe hardest part was getting the bellows straight on the frame. Because of the nature of its construction, upgrading or modifying the camera is fairly simple. Good luck-Mike Baker

-- Michael Baker (mbaker@vre.org), May 26, 1998.

Thanks again for your replies. I'm definitely going to order a Bender kit, as soon as funds allow. Meanwhile, feel free to jump in with more comments. Seems Bender is the only company that sells kits, or am I mistaken?

-- Ron Hughes (rhcc@compuserve.com), May 27, 1998.

I built my Bender 4X5 three years ago as my entry nto LF photography. I figured it would be an inexpensive way to start and then if I felt a need for a more sophisticated camera or go back to 35mm, either way I didn't have a huge investment. Also, I thought building it myself would be a great way to get to know the camera. I promised myslef to work with it for a year before making a move either way.

The camera took me 60 hours to construct (I kept a log), including the part I had to redo because I didn't read the instructions all the way through first. I suggest you do.

After three years, I still really like the camera. I am ready for a commercially-made camera now, thinking of an Arca-Swiss or Canham metal-field. The Bender will be stored safely and bestowed upon on my children when they outgrow their Fisher-Price 110 camera. A very worthwhile investment.

-- Ian Dodd (Ian Dodd@aol.com), June 08, 1998.

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