Has anyone built a Bender home madegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
Hi to all Has anyone ever tried to build a bender 5*4 camera I'm thinking of building something and this seems to be the best or only kit oout there. are there any others (i don't want to serach for parts) any help would be gratefully recieved
-- Alan Chandler-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000
There are several reviews of the Bender on this website. Check the 4x5 roundup section. I built one. It was not hard to build, but it is not stable. In other words, after you get your various movements all set up and are ready to take the photo, when you put the film in, you never know if your settings stayed put until you develop the negative. Things moved enough times that I quickly moved on to another camera. I still have it. It is very light. I plan on screwing all the movments on the back standard down (the front movements always stayed put)and using it when weight is a real issue or I'm concerned about damage or theft. I think it might also make a nice portrait camera in my girlfriends studio (as long as the back movements are screwed together).
-- Paul Mongillo (email@example.com), February 03, 2000.
I built one about 6 months ago. While it was fun, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
I used it perhaps 20 times, and got decent negatives with it. I had no knowledge of woodwork. (As a result I had to do some piece over). So it does work.
But it's not easy to use. It's nearly impossible to get the standards parallel. Unless you do a great job the friction focusing is difficult. WHen you go to lock down it will probably move a little. My standards tended to rotate forwards a little. It is essentially as light tight as you make it: it took several iterations to get mine reasonable light tight (i.e. it takes more than 50 times as long as the recommended exposure to noticably fog the film. I.e. if my exposure time is 1 second I can reasonably keep the darkslide open for 50 seconds without fogging. At shorter speed this can be a problem, but I don't shoot at shorter speeds :)
I no longer use the camera. I bought a user cambo SC for $500 (only about $150-$200 more than the bender after buying all the stuff) and it is way better in practically every way.
So if you're looking for a fun project, try it. If you're looking for a cheap view camera, skip it. In my experience a) you can never get the great deal you're looking for AND get a really usable camera, and b) taking large format pictures is inherently expensive. I spend thousands on film and paper every year, so saving $200 on a one-time cost (the camera) doesn't make much sense. Also, I feel that my cost-per-usable-exposure is way lower with the cambo. I am much more likely to get a usable shot, the first time.
I don't really _regret_ building mine. It makes me appreciate the cambo all that much more. And it was light enough that I carried around greece for a few weeks. But not light enough that I'll ever do that again :)
-- Rusty Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 03, 2000.
For the information of readers of the above answers...... the problems sited by these camera builders are solvable problems related to the actual construction job they did on the camera (and would not even take much time or effort to correct). The movement of the rear standard components after "locking" is due to the movements not really being locked down. This can be caused by only a couple of things, each identifiable and easily correctable. Rather than pronounce the camera unuseable, wouldn't it be better to just correct the problem? All of the problems listed above are of this type....FYI. If you have any questions about the specifics of this or any other questions, feel free to contact us directly at (800)776- 3199. Thanks, Jay Bender
-- Jay Bender (email@example.com), January 25, 2001.
Well, I have been wanting to get started in Large Format and decided this was a good way to do it. I just started building one recently and so far, it looks pretty straight forward. It just takes patience. It's an excellent kit that requires no specialty tools.
I'm certainly not expecting anything fancy, but I'll let you know how it works out. I believe that it will be like comparing a sailboat to a power boat. Both can get you where you want to go, the question is how much of a romaticist for what you're doing are you?
-- Rick Gould (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 17, 2001.
Jay, et al.....
I too looked very seriously at the Bender when I was thinking of entering the LF world. It is very enticing for the novice, or someone who knows nothing about LF cameras to have the "package" approach. And it can be a nice looking camera (at least in the brochures).
I nearly bought one. But luckily, I had the chance to see a few (and yes, they were VERY well constructed and finished, by very experienced folks) and get my hands on them. I was extremely disappointed in the "slide and lock" focusing - it is difficult to get precise focus adjustments. And the wooden rail clamps are pretty funny. If you are starting to get bored with your photography and want a novelty project, or something to put in your den as an "I did this" display, then it might be a fun thing to do. But if you are wanting to start into serious LF photography, especially outside the studio, you definately want a camera that will not flop around and one that is sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of the field. You would think that, with manufacturing capabilities, the Bender would at least be better than something homemade by a novice - but it is not. I have seen a number of cameras based on the same design that were much more sturdy, and of higher quality - built by rank novices with only a few power tools. I highly recommend buying a fifty+ year old camera for approx. the same price. For beginners, there is no better way to go. When you are ready to move up you can almost always get your money back.
-- Matt O. (email@example.com), May 14, 2001.
If youre in a hurry, then its not for you. If you cant follow instructions then its not for you. If youre thinking of building your own 4X5, then this is the simplest way to go. You dont have to build or buy the bellows and figure out the hardware.
I build one. Did not encounter any light leaks for the pictures I took. (Have not tried the "star trail" 30 hours exposure type though.) The end product is a bit crooked here and there but I only used it to take pictures of old planes and cityscapes. (I tried to take a picture of my 2 year old nephew but without predictive auto focus and fuzzy logic magizmo, its virtually impossible.) Most critical part is the ground glass to film distance.
I dont have a problem with the friction focusing. If you follow the instruction on how to build the monorail riders, it should be smooth. You can always contact Jay Bender if you have any question during your project.
I suppose the rise, fall and shifts feels rough since it is wood to wood contact. Probably having brass or some kind of metal with slits would be better. But then it cost only 300 dollars. If youre Michael Jordan, Bill Gates or Mr. Super Duper Lawyer who charges 350 dollar an hour then itll cost more because you'll have to factor in the few weeks it will take to complete the camera.
The camera for me does not pack small. It takes some time to set up as well. The reason is because I dont like to remove my standard riders from the monorail. I have made them quite tight and I've also shim them up with tracing paper. So to break down, I would remove the screws and take off the monorail and riders apart from the standards.
After all I've said, I still want a Linhof Master Technika. Yummy!! (must repeat the mantra, its only a box, its only a box ... must keep reminding myself...DLC, MQC, ...lens is the key, ...TK45s ...)
-- Mat Sabu (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 22, 2001.
So, Alan, what did you decide? I have both the 4x5 and 8x10. I hope you took the harsh criticisms with a grain of salt. Sure the wood flexes a bit, but the camera is NOT SUPPOSED to be (or capable of being) as rigid as a Sinar or Arca Swiss monorail. Compare it to other 3 lb. cameras, not 6-10 lb. monorails. As for the comment that LF is expensive so why not buy the camera you really want, you're missing the point. Maybe you're different, but we don't all have the money for the Master Technika right now. Care to loan me your spare cash?
As for operation, friction focusing works just fine. The ONLY problem I've had with the operation of the cameras is the commonly encountered issue of unwanted tilt on the rear standard (esp. with the 8x10). Don't feel bad, other cameras costing up to 10 times as much have the same problem (see all the comments on the Canham DLC45, likely my next camera). Solution: crank down the knobs more or put some gritty material between the washers and the wood. That has always solved the problem.
Bottom line is that if you want to spend only a few hundred on a view camera, it's a truly functional camera and fun to build. I can't tell the difference between the images made with it and my Calumet which costs hundreds more. I'm interested to know what you chose to do. Please email me if you like.
-- Tony Karnezis (email@example.com), September 21, 2001.