RE: Building 15x15 camera
> Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 12:04:38 -0400
> From: email@example.com
> Subject: Building 15x15 camera
> CC: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Hello all
> I just got an old Nikon barrel lens that throws an 18" circle and am
> hoping to build a 15x15" camera using it. I have an idea of how to
> build the film holder for it but am unsure of the best approach for
> the actual body and bellows (which I have no money to buy and will
> have to shimmy together). Does anyone have any suggestions on the
> basic design and or any online plans for such a camera? I'm hoping to
> get it built in the next two weeks as I'm enrolled in a semester of
> palladium printing... (exciting!)
Time for a little math...
15" x 15" has a diagonal of sqrt(15^2 + 15^2) = 21.21" (21 1/4 for all intents and purposes). Your lens doesn't quite cover.
Assuming no fall off at the 18" (not really realistic but a starting point), the largest square format it would cover is about 12 3/4" by 12 3/4". But lets say the light fall off is objectionable past about 16" so in that case you end up with 11 1/3" inches for a square format.
So, choices to be made:
1) Go with 15x15 and realize you will see the edges of the image circle. Fun but might be bothersome after a while
2) Go with 12 3/4" square and live right at the ragged edge.
3) Go down to about 11 x 11 and things will probably be pretty even (this is a WAG = wild-ass-guess by the way).
The simplest camera you could make to use this lens would be a fixed focal length box. Depending on what you plan to use for film ("real" film like FP4+ cut down to size, APHS Lith film, B&W photo paper, etc) you could just skip the film holder all together and make this a one-shot-wonder. You would need a dark room or changing bag to reload.
Or you could step it up a notch and make something along the lines of the sliding box cameras and holders found in
Primitive Photography: A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes by Alan Greene (amazon.com link is http://www.amazon.com/Primitive-Photography-Making-Cameras-Calotypes/dp/0240804619)
You might find it in a local university library. He also covers the making of simple film holders but with an emphasis on using them for callotypes.
Another choice for nearly ready made plans is a set of books by Otto Dippold where he outlines a simple tailboard 1/4 plate camera suitable for wet-plate work. But his basic plan including holder could be made to work for film and scaled as needed. Root around over at www.collodion.com/forum (this search should help http://www.collodion.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=1983&KW=otto+camera) and eventually I think you will find Otto's contact information and how to get a copy of his books.
And one last thought, if you really want to do this on the cheap but still make nice big in-camera negatives, ditch the lens altogether and think pinhole camera! Eric Renner's book is good. So is some time spent browsing at www.f295.org. And a jillion other web links on pinhole cameras. If you dont' mind a curved film plane, perhaps one of the large novelty popcorn tins might work for you. A little spray paint for the inside, a pinhole shim and a flexible refridgerator magnet for a shutter and you are off to the races.