Do It Yourself gear

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ksmattfish, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    In another thread, Mitica100 said "The more I think the more I believe in all being hand made..."

    Absolutely! I am constantly trying to cut down on equipment costs by building it myself. What sort of good DIY tips and projects have folks used or run across? Here are a few of mine.

    Flash Bracket: I built a flash bracket for my Rollei TLR using a 1" diameter oak dowel, a piece of 1"x0.25" aluminum, a cold-shoe with a tripod hole in the bottom, a long 0.25" bolt, a plastic knob with a 0.25" bolt, and some 0.25" washers.

    Cut the wood dowel to the size you want your handle to be, and drill a 0.25" hole through the center. Cut the aluminum to the right size to run from the handle to the tripod hole on your camera. Drill a hole at the handle end, and drill additional holes where ever you want to mount your camera. Run the long bolt through the aluminum, through the handle, and into the cold shoe. Cut it to the appropriate size; use washers to tighten it up. Attach your camera using the plastic knob (bolt cut to right length) and a washer.

    I built this myself because I just couldn't handle spending $30+ on another flash bracket (I have a nice, manufactured model, it's just too big to haul around all the time, and the Rollei doesn't have an on-camera flash shoe). I bought everything at the hardware store, except the cold shoe, which I got off the bargin table at a camera shop. Admittedly, all the stuff probably cost about $30. But I have enough left over stuff to build 2 more brackets or whatever, and it's really turned out to be a great flash bracket. It's really compact; it fits in my smaller camera bags. It's measured to fit my hand, the camera, and my shooting style exactly. And it's really study; I tried out a similar manufactured model recently, and it just seemed flimsy compared to mine. After I built it I added foam tape (for bike handlebars) to the grip and some sticky cork sheet to the aluminum bar where the camera rests.
     
  2. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hi KS,
    I'm certain you made a fine job but I'm betting you prefer the bracket not only because it fits you but mainly because you made it.
    If you cost your time and add it to the parts cost it has to be a losing proposition.
    I also used to keep leftovers and in all fairness they often came in handy but eventually the storage costs outweigh the usefulness.
    What are you like at thin film vapor deposition and injection molding because I'm thinking of building a digital camera, care to help?
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Well, I'll defend my DIY flash bracket by saying that they just don't make smaller sized flash brackets for solid metal TLRs and big flashes these days, and if I went to EBAY and had to buy one that actually says "Rollei" on it, it'll cost $300+. I tried several brackets and they all had flex. And the ones made for MF are bigger than I wanted.

    But there is lots of other stuff. I found myself looking at a $150 background stand, and wondering if I could make something cheaper. I mean, geez, it's aluminum poles.

    Here's another one. I need a 16"x20" print washer, but spending $500 on a printwasher isn't anywhere near as exciting as spending $500 on new lenses, bodies, etc... The cheapest new 16x20 print washer I've seen is around $350. It's a square bin with plastic dividers and rubber hose.

    I built a tray style printwasher with a drill, a print tray, some PVC pipe, and a washing machine hose to get me by until I can figure out how to build something really nice. I'm still investigating all the print washing theories, but that's another thread.

    Another idea that is sort of related is, do you have an alternative source for supplies. I use plastic trays that I get at building supply places for my print trays. They have taller sides (less spillage) and cost less than half what official print trays run. Buy a big T-square at the art store and pay $30; buy the same T-square at the hardware store for $9.
     
  4. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well that sounds to me like you're advocating smart shopping and DIY smarts and who's going to disagree with that?
    BTW, I wasn't denigrating your efforts on the bracket I was simply pointing out that one's "spare" time has a value. In my case it's extremely valuable and typically I'd rather pay someone to do it for me.
    A while back when I had my own place and a fairly well set up workshop I would often build something just because I thought I could do it better and often did but that was then etc.
    It also seems from some of your latest examples that there well could be some significant cost savings to be had in certain cases and if that means more bucks to spend on real goodies likes camera bodies and lenses then more power to you.
     
  5. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Oh yeah, I keep forgetting to mention, I love your avatar!
    Please forgive my ignorance but what's the story on that camera?
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    That's a pic of an Anniversary Speed Graphic press camera (made in 1947). I got the photo off www.graflex.org and tweaked it in PS to make it avatar-friendly.

    Speed graphic press cameras are probably most familiar from movies and commercials depicting the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Once upon a time every news photographer used a Speed Graphic. Probably the most famous is Weegee.

    Now days a used Speed Graphic is a cheap way for folks to get into large format photography. My first, and still most used 4x5 body is a beat up Anniversary Speed Graphic that was given to me by a photog friend. I bought a monorail camera, but ended up going back to the Speed Graphic for most work because it's much more portable. I use it mostly on a tripod for landscapes and a few portraits, but I have stuck it on a flash bracket (<--commercially made) and hauled it out to the local bar for some hand held action.

    The Anniversary model has fairly limited front movements; pretty much just rise. I am looking for a deal on a Super Speed Graphic body (you can see one of those at the above mentioned site) to upgrade to (yes, I'm looking to upgrade to a camera built in the early 1970s).
     
  7. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Wow!
    Many thanks for the explanation, it's certainly an intriguing piece of equipment and seems to epitomise you and your endeavors.
    I feel awed by anyone using something like that, good luck on tracking down that equipment.
     
  8. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What about those large format kits in the back of the camera magazines?
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I'd need more info. Do you mean like a Bender build it yourself kit?
     
  10. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, but did not know that name at the time.
    I was unable to find any ads in my latest copy Shutterbug.
    So I did search EBay and Google and found
    http://www.alettaphoto.com and http://www.benderphoto.com

    The Bender is a far better looking camera that the Aletta IMO
    Or am I being deceive my good look?
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I was quite interested in the Bender about five years ago. The info I gathered suggested it was a nice project and a good camera. I can't remember what the cost was then, but I decided that it just wasn't worth it. I think that if you are into doing a little woodwork, then it could be a fun project.

    Although I am into wood working and building stuff, my main reason for being interested in DIY equip is for cost savings. I can spend my valuable time (rather than money), because I have it (at least sometimes). There are several 4x5 camera options that I am familiar with that are cheaper than the Bender. Nice, used LF lenses tend to run $350+, so I wanted to save my money for the lenses.

    Some day I do want to build my own hardwood, brass, leather, and rinestone field camera, but I'll probably spend as much on it as a new camera. It's gonna be a beauty!

    Kodak, Calumet, and Graflex have all marketed an inexpensive, steel monorail view camera in the past. There are a few different models, but all could be described as gray and heavy. These days they go on EBAY for under $200 (without a lens). I bought mine at a garage sale for $70. Here's the link for info on Graflex models. http://graflex.org/articles/graphic-view/

    I have a Calumet model. It's built like a tank, has a full range of movements, a rotating back, and a long, cylindrical rail. Longer rails allow for close-up and macro photography. I love it, it's perfect except for one thing; it's big and heavy. That long rail doesn't collapse, and the whole camera is really made of solid steel. More expensive monorail and field view cameras are made from aircraft aluminum, but that drives the price way up.

    Since most of my LF photography requires that I get out and hike around I needed a more portable camera. A Speed Graphic was perfect. There were many LF and MF models built throughout the 20th century ( www.graflex.org ). These go from about $100 to $500 on EBAY depending on the model and condition. Older models don't have all the features that more recent models have. The camera folds up into a box about 4"x8"x8", and they were built for professional, press, and military use so they are tough. Right now I have a sort of middle age model (1947); I want to find a Super graphic body, which was the latest Speed Graphic (early 1970s).

    I also have been trying to get info on Shen Hao cameras out of China. Their 4x5 field camera looks really nice, has some good reviews, and runs about $625 new (no lens). They are too new to have much of a used market yet.
     
  12. Tyjax

    Tyjax TPF Noob!

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    Back to the idea of DIY. My limited budget has required that I DIY several items. When I was looking at processing trays for 11x14 the prices were in the 25 apeice range. So I went to walmart and bought a 1.19 dishpan. Cut it down to 3 inches deep. Heated the rim and curled it. Heated on corner and crimped it for pouring. Heated the bottom and dimpled it for elevation of print. Total cost pans, razor blade, propane, 4.00ish. Time 1 hour.
    Print washers were annoyingly expensive. So I went back to walmart and bought a large dishpan. 3 feet of aquiarium hose and a dishwasher faucet adapter. Modify the pan a little, Attach hose to adapter with clamp. Viola. A few dollars and another hour.
    Print drier. The top half of the dishpans for trays with fiberglass screen stretched and glued. 30 mins.

    Hmmm, Neg carriers out of card stock. Chemical storage out of various plastic bottles light proofed with duct tape. etc... yawn.
     

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