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.
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.
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.
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.
I made a simple back based on universal dark slides.
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!
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.
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!!
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!!