Thursday, April 23, 2009

The 1st draft design of the 1st 4x5 folding camera is complete! (almost)

A while ago as I was starting to look into 4x5 photography, I flirted with the idea of building my own camera. It quickly become obvious I would need a lot more time, skills and knowledge then I had. That didn't stop me from buying materials, some tools and after quite a few frustrated evenings, they all ended up in a box. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

So, relatively recently I decided I will design and sell camera kits, so others like me can make their own cameras, but with much greater success then I did. The idea is not new, Bender cameras where around for a while, and now there is another kit, Buldog for a simple LF camera. I didn't particularly like neither of them, the Bender seemed rather crude and the Buldog, well, it's made of MDF for crying out loud.

Fast forward a few months, and the design of the folding version of the camera is nearly complete. It's a camera made of wood and metal. I am planning to offer the parts in a variety of materials, so people can make the camera based on their own aesthetic preferences. The metal parts will definitely be offered in brass (which can be polished or brushed) and I'm considering aluminum (probably powder coated), titanium, stainless steel and chromed brass. The wood parts will probably be cherry but I am planning to offer kits in limited numbers in exotic woods, like ebony, cocobolo and others.

The concept I'm trying to achieve is design a system of cameras which share parts as much as possible, which can be configured as basic versions which can be upgraded later with more advanced features. For example, for the folding camera shown, as shown it includes a variable axis tilt & swing for the rear standard. A less complex mechanism, at a lower cost will be made available. A beginning photographer could purchase the absolute basic kit and update it's features as needed, if needed. The system is designed so many parts are interchangeable between different camera configurations. For example, the front standard from the folding camera could be used as front & rear standard for a 2x3 monorail. The bellows from the 2x3 camera could be used as a lens shade for the 8x10 camera. The back of the 4x5 camera is the same for the folding camera, the monorail and the wide format camera.

My rendering skills need some more polish, so I will likely update these, but here are a couple of views of the camera, rendered with cocobolo wood and chromed brass. Note that the wood grain is all over the place, I'm still working on how to make that look as it should.

Here are a few of the camera specifications, these are not complete (and probably not final), but it should give you an idea.

I would like to start a dialog with the potential clients, to see what they would like to see in such a camera, and what they wouldn't. To provide feedback on the design, or to state wishes, please add a comment to the Comments & Wish list page. The format of the website will definitely change at some point, but I will translate all contributions to the new format.


  1. I think that there is a need for cheaper and well made ULF Film holders especially since most are so darn expensive and are over priced... I would love to see a design in 12x20 and 8x10 that could accept 6x6 boards and extra long bellows would be a plus so that one could use 90mm lens and higher maybe up to 1200mm... Why did they delete your post on

  2. Apparently has a very strict ban on (unpaid) self promotion.

    I will look into creating kits for ULF holders. A quick research shows that there are no real standards and most camera have (slightly different) sizes for the holder and the position of the film plane. A kit would have to take this into account.

  3. Sorin, I would love to see your design on a 12x20 been wanting to get one for a while they are just to darn expensive... If you made a kit I wouldn't mind testing it... As for the ULF and ven regular LF filmholders all you really got to do is measure the ones that are available now and go from there...