Cameras and Wood chips
What does a wooden view camera and a power tool have in common? That is a very good question indeed! let me brush a few wood chips and sawdust outta the way and I will tell you about another camera modification . . . if your a collector of vintage cameras you may want to go read some other blog and pass this story by . . Cameras & Wood chips an adventure begins . . . As you may have read I came upon an eBay special I just couldn’t resist and my G.A.S. affliction kicked in in high gear and I whipped out my plastic to acquire my latest treasure. An Eastman 5 X 7 View No.2 Improved Model of Century View and Empire State No. 2 camera. Well it showed up with a 4 X 5 reduction back instead of the wanted 5 X 7 back. A few weeks of searching proved that finding a 5 X 7 back might be a lengthy quest . . . However I did find several 8 X 10 to 5 X 7 reduction backs. After another week of searching I made a purchase of one of the reducing backs with the intent of cutting it down to fit the camera I have (this is where some collector is falling out of his chair and all I can say is sorry, I want a 5 X 7 back) . . . Well I am a few weeks down the road now after purchasing the candidate for modification. I carefully eased out screws and removed the view screen, frame springs and frame . . . then using a miter saw I rough cut the major portion of the wood away from the basic 5 x 7 back.
The next step as you can see above, was to use a router and remove enough of the frame (and size it down about 1/4″) to fit into the camera back. I also needed to route a guide / light trap on the back about 1/8″ thick which once that is finished I will then drill and insert new brass register pins so the back will lock into the retainer spring clips.
I am learning much about camera construction doing this and really admire those photographers from back then. Imagine this, they did not have the benefit of modern power tools as I do today. How labor intense photography was . . if you broke something or needed to do a repair . . . well it just wasn’t simple. The simplicity of the equipment, the wide forgiveness of the medium. Today’s precision is required, as the film plane of a digital camera is measured in microns . . . not fractions of an inch or millimeters . . . the film medium now replaced with a slab of silicon . . . well you get my point don’t you? You can’t work on a modern camera with power tools from a wood shop.
I am now finishing the repairs to the film holders and am eager to get some paper and cut it down to fit the holders . . . always fun things to do.
Now that the hard part is done and the dust has settled a bit, yes I admit, it is not a pretty modification to the 8×10 reduction back so it would fit the Camera body, but I must remind you this is a field camera and an experimental platform for use. I had no intent on original restoration, as such I may make other mods that will allow different uses. For now, I can finally see the experiments with paper negatives and other light sensitive materials . . . this means . . . FUN of course.
I will post again when I take my new (old) 5×7 on an outing and make a few photos, more to follow
P.S. 2 points if know what “The Scheimpflug Rule” is.
Tim . . . . aka “Digipainter”