In an attempt to learn large format photography, I have collected a number of old cameras. I selected from these cameras an old Burke and James view camera for the platform to conduct my experiments. Some of the considerations in choosing a camera (and many old large format cameras share these traits):
- The camera had cost approximately $50, so I was not overly concerned with experimenting with it.
- It is simply constructed, so fabricating and attaching a special back was simple. Note that standards could be raised enough to accept the full size of the scanner and still allow enough room so the movements could be used although limited.
- Working with a bellows camera allows for focusing as the film plane changes - that is sort of obvious, but a simple fixed focus box camera with lens could be used, but would limit the experiments that could be made.
- It is very easy to fabricate lens boards for this camera and this need will become more important as I work with it in the future.
In constructing the fixture, I took several parameters into consideration including:
- That it would not be a permanant attachment to the camera and could be easily removed.
- The scanner could be installed and removed again easily so that it could be tested at each step of the modifications.
- The fixture itself could be readily modified - the box that holds the scanner is screwed together.
- By extending the back a larger area than 4 in by 5 in could be scanned. When doing this type of construction, please be aware of such things as lens focal length and lens coverage. I will address these things as I progress in the Notes section.
I intend to make the following changes and enhancements to this camera:
- Construct an additional support for the fixture holding the scanner to take some stress off of the rear standard.
- Construct additional lens boards to remount the existing 135 mm lens both flush and recessed so that the bellows can be extended even if just slightly. The 135 mm at infinity requires the front and rear standards to be virtually touching because of the slightly extended lens board that came with the camera.
- Construct additional lens boards to hold longer lens that I have and experiment with them particularly in regards to their coverage.
- Obtain a lens that will cover the entire scanner surface and experiment with how much of the surface I can use. Because of reflection that I have not been able to eliminate from the internal rail, I may be limited to the height of the scan, but should be able to use nearly the full 14” dimension. I might in that case also realign the fixture so that I am working with the center of the lens.
- Attach a viewfinder to the fixture.
- Modify the fixture so that it can be used vertically.
- Modify a LIDE 25 scanner to increase the optical scanning capability to 1200 dpi.
- And I should add, construct a system that will work on a Grafloc back.