My 10X8 camera!!

For ages now I have wanted a 10×8 camera, the larger neg size would be great for alternative processes such a Salt Prints and Van Dyke prints and also for my new love wet plate collodion, but here in the UK they seem to be few and far between or at least way beyond my small budget. So inspired by fellow photographic blogger Cary Norton I decided to build one myself on a shoe string using some very basic materials. 10x8 camera 047

I already had a lens which would just cover 10×8 so a quick shop on fleabay for some sheets of A2 5mm foam core board and I was away. I had a good idea what I wanted to build but thought it would be best to get something down on paper first.

10x8 camera 048

Basically the camera is made out of three intersliding boxes, the first box forms the main body, the second holds the lens and is designed to slide back and forth to focus the picture and the third is there to make the camera light tight. To stick the foam core board together I simply used my partner’s (Helen) hot glue gun and some book binding tape.

10x8 camera 052

Here’s a picture before the lens panel is glues on and slid together. Though I started with everything planned out pretty soon I was having to make it up as I went along but I was pretty happy with the construction.

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I made a simple back based on universal dark slides.

10x8 camera 057

My camera was almost finished, but I was worried I had made the body of the camera a little too deep for the 215mm lens and I wasn’t sure I would be able to focus to infinity, so I recessed the lens panel by about 5mm, bit of a bodge but it seems to have done the trick!

10x8 camera 065

A few hours work with some valve grinding paste and an old piece of glass from an unused picture frame and I had a focusing screen. I was so keen to try the camera out I couldn’t wait till I fitted the tripod mount so I balanced it on a pile of books and took a quick exposure through the living room window of the garden.

10x8 camera 095

To test the camera and put it through its paces I decided to use Ilford Multigrade RC paper to make negatives rather than waste expensive film. I exposed the first picture at ISO 6 for 5 secs at F16, the developed the paper in Fotospeed Varigrade print developer mixed 1:9 for 1min. The results were a little over exposed but for first go I was really pleased. It was pretty sharp the lens had good coverage and there was no light leaks!!

Porch 1

Next job is to make the tripod mount and take the camera out on its first real field test. So there will be more to follow!!




7 comments on “My 10X8 camera!!

  1. simon0252 says:

    Great craftsmanship, Graham. Marvellous photo from the camera, looking forward to seeing the results from the field test.

  2. paul says:

    very neat.
    I’m about to make a pinhole camera out of the same materials, but the idea of a lensed camera from the same is rather enticing … with a suitable £20 barrel lens it would be a marvellously inexpensive .
    [Although I have no idea how I’d select a suitable lens and I can’t quite read your plans in photo #2 🙂 ]

    • grahamvasey says:

      Thanks Paul it well worth having a go, I was really pleased with how stable a rigid the final camera turned out though I must admit that a lot of the construction was very adhoc and I had to improvise along the way!! I already had a lens which I knew would just cover 10×8 but there are plenty of lenses out there, and because this is such a simple style of camera you don’t need to find a lens with masses of coverage. Most vintage large format lens over 250mm or 8 inches will roughly cover 10×8 but a quick search on google through large format forums will give you all the info you need. One word of advice if you do want to use a lens make sure the camera will focus down to infinity, so if you have a 250mm lens build the camera body with a depth of 230mm that way you will definitely be able to foucs the camera properly. Hope that’s some help Paul!



  3. paul says:

    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply,Graham, I really appreciate it.

    I’ve been using a Zero45 pinhole with a 6×7 back and got some good results, but have been hankering after trying 10×8 contact printing for ages.

    Once I’ve built the pinhole cam and got some experience with that, I might have a go at making a LF “box” camera – fixed focus, hyperfocal only, no ground glass to make.

    You do nice work, judging by your flickr & ipernity streams: “my sort of thing”, so I’ll keep an eye open for what you’re up to

    thanks again


  4. paul says:

    A wee update: I managed to find two Agfa Repromaster lenses (a 150/9 and a 213/9.25) for under £15 the pair (plus a working densitometer thrown in), so I’ll be experimenting with those over the next few weeks once I work out how to mount them securely. I know from LFF that the 213 covers 10×8, but the 150 is a bit of an unknown quantity in that regard. Though it would be ideal for a fixed-focus box camera even if there’s a heavy vignette.

    anyway – thanks again for the fillip finding your blog about this gave my researches

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