solid oak

DIY wooden large format camera

If anyone reading this has been following me for a while you will know that I have built up several large format cameras for wet collodion over time.
I’ve always considered this a feather in the cap of my portrait and fine art photography. A self-made large format camera, in fact, will always introduce small imperfections that will be its signature over time. A unique signature that will stand alongside mine in every work we create together.

The latest arrival in order of time is an 8×10 solid oak entirely designed and built in the small workshop that I have created under the house.

Solid oak large format camera

DIY 8×10 large format camera solid oak by Collodion & Co

From design to realization

This large format camera is very different from all its predecessors in aesthetics and mobility. In fact, the first ones built were aesthetically inspired by traditional view cameras. The work, in this case, was also focused on the aesthetic reconstruction so that they resembled in all respects to optical benches of the late 1800s.
I built several examples, each with slight differences.

As I said, the latter instead differs in a very modern line, with clean and thin cuts that make it attractive and, at the same time, light and easy to handle.
I also introduced the tilting of the focusing glass (strictly glass and with a Fresnell lens coupled to improve performance) and consequently of the plate holder, in order to fully exploit the creative potential of such an optical bench..

The wood

One of the crucial choices in building a handcrafted wood view camera is undoubtedly… the choice of wood. This must be resistant but light and beautiful to the eye.

The choice, in this particular project, was oak. It is a light, hard wood that ties in beautifully with the modern line designed.
The chassis can accommodate a large plate up to 24.5 x 24.5 cm and, thanks to specific adapters, supports all the lower standard formats (8×10, 5×7, 4×5 as well as Instax Wide instant films).
Soon I plan to build an adapter for 4×5 flat films to be used both with this view camera and with the smaller ones of the series.

The bellow

The bellows, also designed and self-made is red faux leather (color that characterizes the entire production of my optical benches) and extends to about 580mm.

During the entire construction of 8×10 view camera, I had fun taking photographs and small clips of the work in progress that I present below. The last clip is a time lapse of the final assembly.

The bellow