Camera Building

Building an 8 x 10 Large Format Camera by Hand 

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In August and September of 2019, I decided to undertake building my own 8 x 10 large format view camera out of wood. I bought a small used table saw and got started. Inspired by the beauty of the Beech Forests in Northeastern Germany, I decided to build the camera out of the Beechwood. Since, I mostly use handmade silver gelatin dry plates or the wet plate collodion process, I only needed a camera back to hold glass plates, and with the long exposure times associated with those processes, I wouldn't be needing a mechanical shutter. Therefore, I could make the entire camera body from hand.

I first created the plate/film holder and then designed the rest on the camera based on those dimensions. The basic form came from a 5 x 7 inch camera that I already own. After that, I was able to fine-tune some aspects by referencing the work of other photographers who have built their own cameras. A great resource for camera building can be found here.

I decided to make the back of the camera square and removable, so the the format can be changed from portrait to landscape without having to tilt the whole camera. The lens mount boards are also interchangeable. The final step was building the bellows.

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