Material for camera bellows : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Dear Forum, I am a beginner in the field of large format photography. I would like to build 4x5 camea. I found few very helpful sites on the web. The only question which I have is about material for camera bellows.All sites which I found give examples of materials which can be used instead of orginal one. Does anyone know, what material camera makers use for bellows? Thank for help, Tom

-- Tom Banasikowski (, January 18, 2001


Leather. The bellows are actually a laminate of thin leather for the outer skin, and a lining of tightly woven cloth.
Why not just buy a ready-made bellows? Camera Bellows, of Birmingham, England will supply them from about $70. You can get an online quote to your own specification.

-- Pete Andrews (, January 19, 2001.

I too am investigating the materials to use to build an LF camera. As for the outer bellows material, I've been considering using bonded leather used for book making. Do an internet search to find out more info on this material.

You might also want to consider reading or joining the cameramakers DL. Here's their info page.


-- doug mcfarland (, January 19, 2001.

You might also contact Flexible Products Corp. down in Clearwater Florida. they make bellows for both camera and other things that need bellows. they might be willing to sell you some material or tell you where to get what you need. Another place you might want to try is Universal Bellows company over in Freeport New York. their phone number is 516-378-1264. Good luck. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, January 20, 2001.

I built a tachihara 4x5 copy (got a brochure and creatively reverse engineered it). I was looking at using vinyl, and was in the process of getting some from an apolsterers, when he showed me some kangaroo leather a customer had sourced. He managed get organise me a black hide. It was very soft and floppy, but I gently beat the folds into it with a mallet and it could just hold it's shape. After a few months in the camera it took on the bellows set, and now holds it shape very well.

My camera has rather limited bellows draw, but it will do 300mm lens board to film at a stretch. I only have a 140mm f168 (two rolleinar's taped to a brass plate with aperture, and the whole set up is amazingly sharp for a NZ$45 camera (Leather, screws and scap brass).

Do you have a 4x5 enlarger? If not, consider building a 5x7 or 8x10. The ablity to contact print at a useable size would be great. The difference in building a camera is not going to be an issue.

-- mark wrathall (, January 22, 2001.

Hi Tom,

As someone already said, some manufacturers use thin leather (such as Wisner). Today, however, most companies use coated nylon or cotton. Porter's darkroom cloth is quite good, as is thin types of coated cotton used for player piano bellows.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter De Smidt (, January 24, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ