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5x7 Iston wood field camera

Frank Scheitrowsky , Mar 22, 2004; 09:52 p.m.

My photography equipment allocation resourses are somewhat limited by commitments and responsibility to family, so I find myself with a slightly tatty old 5x7 Iston camera as my introduction to wood field cameras. It came with both 4x5 and 5x7 spring backs. As I'm tearing it down for refinishing, I noticed a serial number tag that reads #00051x. It's kind of cool to have a camera with such a limited production or so early in production, whaever the case may be. It's going to look pretty neat all fixed up. The bellows aren't too bad, it's just a cosmetics rather than a functional issue. I realize it's no precision Linhof, but it's what I can afford right now, and you won't be able to tell from the negatives or resulting prints what kind of camera they were made with. Is anyone else out there using a funky old camera like this?

Responses

Deniz Merdan , Mar 22, 2004; 10:06 p.m.

I got myself a 4x5 Anba ikeda wood field(pretty much the same camera as yours) a while ago after getting pissed off at my crown graphic for its limited movements. The Ikeda i bought was basically garbage, but i menaged to fix up pretty much everuthing on it. I am waiting my replacement bellows from camera bellows right now. I made a bag bellows for it that i use with my 127mm Ektar. I love working with wood and it was a joy fixing this baby up.. my next step is a 8x10 deardorff. I can't wait!!

Vinny Walsh , Mar 23, 2004; 01:56 p.m.

I just sold my Iston 4x5 woodfield. Good camera and nice looking but I would check the depth of the ground glass with the film plane. Mine was off by 1/32 of an inch and i didn't discover it for a year. Most of my 4x5 on this site is from the Iston.

Peter Black , Mar 23, 2004; 06:17 p.m.

I just bought a 4x5 Iston off eBay in the UK, but haven't actually used it yet as it has a lensboard for a Copal #3 and my only lens is a Copal #0. I understand that the 4 inch square wooden lensboard is pretty common in the US and that Wisner may even still use them, but I can't find one anywhere in the UK and will have to make one I think. It is very frustrating when it is sitting here just waiting to be used, but I hope to get the lensboard sorted out soon.

Frank Scheitrowsky , Mar 23, 2004; 07:25 p.m.

There seems to be a lot of fuss made over lens boards, including drilling them, like it was difficult or something. Use model makers plywood of the correct thickness, cut to size, and drill out using a hole saw drill bit the appropriate size. I have used cardboard cut with scissors to make a temporary lensboard in order to try out a lens. It's really not that difficult!

Michael Hendrickson , Mar 24, 2004; 11:02 p.m.

Regarding lensboards: You gotta be careful to *really* get the correct thickness of wood! Much plywood is mislabeled as to thickness, so use a caliper if you have one both to measure the required thickness (by measuring depth of lensboard "cut-out" on the camera) and the thickness of the wood.

Another alternative is Masonite, aka MDF (medium-density fibreboard). Most lensboards I've worked with were 1/8" thick. MDF comes in 1/8" thickness. You could cut out two pieces and laminate them to have the light baffle, or glue some wood -- even cheap pine -- to the back for that purpose, or just use it in a single layer. If you can't find MDF at the hardware store, try getting a clipboard made of it. At least in the US, most MDF clipboards are exactly the correct thickness.

Another advantage of this approach is that you really don't need a saw. You can use a heavy-duty utility knife to cut it -- with patience and *with care* not to cut yourself. Just make lots of gentle passes with the knife to score through it. Sand smooth the edges, and voila!

Good luck!

paul beard , Mar 29, 2009; 01:44 a.m.

For making lensboards, a circle cutter on a drillpress works well too. Very fast and you get a very clean hole in any size you need (up to 8 inches on mine!).

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