Larry Floyd

A beautiful 8×10 view camera:







Larry writes:

«This is the view camera I have built using Jon Grepstad’s design plans.

It is an 8×10 camera. Total construction time was 6 months. I spent quite a lot of time examining other homebuilt designs made available on Jon’s web site. This proved invaluable in the end. I made some minor modifications along the way but the overall design is pure Grepstad.

I had available to me the standard range of home tools including table saw, router, drill press and other assorted hand held tools. I’m not convinced building anything other than a rail camera system with these tools will produce the kind of field camera most of us would desire. I put a lot of thought into building a field camera and came to the conclusion that I could not build the camera I wanted without more advanced wood and metal working tools.

Having said that, I am considering purchasing a mini mill and lathe, learning to use them and building a field camera at some point in the future.

All wood is American Red Oak. The stain is also red oak. The finish consists of two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane. If I did this again I’d use a lighter stain. I decided to stick to brass for the standards. When I built the rear standard I used part of John Yoe’s design (see Jon’s site listings) to achieve tilt on the rear standard. Unlike John, I just could not figure out how to get rise and fall and use brass too so I don’t have it on the rear standard. Otherwise, the camera has all the movements we would expect. Actually, I haven’t needed rise and fall in the rear.

On the rear standard you will note some minor additions. Most notably I added small “L” brackets to prevent my ground glass frame from falling off when inserting the film holder. I also added a handle to aid in lifting the ground glass frame away during installation and removal of the film holder. Also note the ground glass protective cover I made. It’s held in place during non use by rubber bands.

I fashioned a little support to prevent sag in the bellows. I don’t like sag!

I have two lenses, both won in bidding on ebay. One is a 16.5” Goerz Dagor Red Dot Artar with an Ilex no. 4 shutter. The other is a Kodak Ektar 12 inch lens. I sent the lenses to S. K. Grimes,, to have a lens adapter made to hold modern lens filters.

I’m fortunate to live in Rochester, New York. This made purchase of everything really easy. I had the bellows made at Turner Bellows,, a local business that has been around for a long time and specializes in bellows of all kinds. The cost was $247.00. The bellows will allow the use of a 600mm lens. The construction of the bellows is worth every cent they charged me, which is in fact quite modest as bellows prices go. It will last a long time.

I purchased the ground glass at a local glass shop for $10.00 dollars. The spring metal and other metal components were at a local supply house. Cost was reasonable but not cheap. It helps to have Kodak and Bausch and Lomb located here.

Other than the lens, which will never be cheap, the bellows was the single most expensive item. Everything else was reasonable to quite inexpensive. I did end up buying a new tripod head to support the weight of the camera, which is 21 pounds with all the components.

My cost to build the camera was $367.00 for wood, brass, ground glass, hardware and bellows. The lens and tripod head came to $682.00. Total cost was $1049.00. I made mistakes for sure, particularly in the amount of material needed, and that cost me perhaps and extra $50.00 or so.

In the end I did not do to badly. Jon’s plans were excellent and I received advice from many along the way. If I have any regrets it’s that I wasn’t more patient with the wood finish work. I could have done better.

I am presently adding little touches like spirit levels on front and rear standard frames and degree and height markers front and rear to aid in knowing how much movement I use to take a picture.

The last item to build is a carrying case for the camera.»

29 February 2008.