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Polaroid 180-4x5 conversion in progess

Troy Ammons , Feb 25, 2006; 10:49 a.m.

I mentioned a while back I was working on one of these and its getting close.

Diwan Bhathal asked me to post the results, and I dont mind sharing.

I picked up a slightly rough camera with a 127mm optar lens for a decent $.

Basically this is a cambo back grafted on to a aluminum shell back to be connected to the 180 body.

Right now it is just pressed into the body.

The polaroid body shell is pretty much stock, except for the front lens carrier. I plan to replace that with a machined part later. It is also out of square so I will fix that at the same time. I will also have to mill a new reciever into the focus link to get the focus range back on track.

I am going to mill a block for the RF to lift it up to the height of the 4x5 back. It will be removable, IE no fold.

The reason I chose a Cambo back is I have 2 cameras already that are cambo compatable. A super graphic and a SC.

This takes a stupid amount of time but the end results are looking good. Without the GG back it weighs 1# 10oz. With the clip in type readyload holder it would weigh 2#-4oz

Description

Frame 1 - The shell after hammer forming and a little clearancing. If you dont know what hammer forming is go here.... http://www.mechwerks.com/Hammerform.htm I used oak for the forms. Hammer forming is not a real exact science and I had no SK or AK aluminum so it looks a little rough.

#2 - Back of the cambo back milled flat

#3 - Top view, milled down the edges quite a bit

#4 - The shell epoxied onto the cambo back

#5 - Top view

#6 - The contraption folded

#7,8 - Front and back views at 1#-10oz

#9 - Cambo GG back clipped in

#10 - Reflex viewer clipped on. Not that i would use it that much, but it works.

#11 - With readyload holder

#12 - With graphmatic

What I have left to do.

Square it up Lightproof it Set up the rangefinder Fasten the shell to the body Mill the new front plate. (This might end up a baby graphic setup) Mill the new reciever for the correct focus range

Take some photos.

Responses


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Diwan Bhathal , Feb 25, 2006; 04:19 p.m.

TROY:

THANKS ! Brilliant ! You have advanced the science. Mine is made with plywood and glue, yours is... brilliant. I have to study the photos in detail, very clever solution for that body.

I understand that you plan to fit the orginal rangefinder. Please, do not put it on the side, as I did, good, but not so practical. Make a thin aluminum plate, put the rangefinder on top of it, with its original hinges, then make a connecting arm from the original rangefinder peg to the RF arm in the new position. This aluminum plate is "floating" and held by two screws in slots, so that RF infinity can be attained by moving this RF plate sideways. The RF should not be too far off, good enough for everyday use.

You have surpassed my solution. Very nice combination. It is a real thrill to me to see that someone has taken an idea and expanded it.

The weight of this camera is really good too, not much heavier than the plastic model.

As to the lens. It should be possible to grind the little "bumps" in the front standard. The lens should fit flush. This should give you infinity with the GG.

I hope that you still have the shutter cocking arm from the original. I have used this one, with its spring to make a shutter release, really practical. In that location, it forces you to hold the camera by the front, which makes for a very stable position. I have never had a blurry negative from this. I have had some using the cable shutter release, too akward for this type of camera.

Thank you for posting. You will love the feel of this camera in action. It fits almost all small bags, and coupled to the Grafmatic, it becomes a wonderful photographic instrument. I have to learn the hammering method for which you courteusly provided the info.

Troy: My warmest congratulations.

Troy Ammons , Feb 25, 2006; 05:08 p.m.

THANKS ! Brilliant ! You have advanced the science. Mine is made with plywood and glue, yours is... brilliant.

Doesnt really matter. Whatever works. Wood works too.

I have to study the photos in detail, very clever solution for that body.

Yes it took some thinking. i finally decided I needed an intermediate plate to get it to work. Now i am debating on screwing it together or gluing it.

I understand that you plan to fit the orginal rangefinder. Please, do not put it on the side, as I did, good, but not so practical.

I am not.

Make a thin aluminum plate, put the rangefinder on top of it, with its original hinges, then make a connecting arm from the original rangefinder peg to the RF arm in the new position. This aluminum plate is "floating" and held by two screws in slots, so that RF infinity can be attained by moving this RF plate sideways. The RF should not be too far off, good enough for everyday use.

That sounds about right. It will just be higher than it is now, but I am not going to hinge it. I am going to make it removable. I still want to use the fron cover.

You have surpassed my solution. Very nice combination. It is a real thrill to me to see that someone has taken an idea and expanded it.

The weight of this camera is really good too, not much heavier than the plastic model.

As to the lens. It should be possible to grind the little "bumps" in the front standard. The lens should fit flush. This should give you infinity with the GG.

I am going to leave the lens in that plane. Its about 1/2" too far out right now. If you know where the circular opening is along the slide, I am going to mill one farther down to allow the entire lens to sit farther back. May do one for a wider lens too, although the RF would not work for it.

I hope that you still have the shutter cocking arm from the original. I have used this one, with its spring to make a shutter release, really practical. In that location, it forces you to hold the camera by the front, which makes for a very stable position. I have never had a blurry negative from this. I have had some using the cable shutter release, too akward for this type of camera.

Yes I have the arm, but this is a normal LF lens someone had pu on the camera. I think its from a super graphic. Anyway I like the red button.

Thank you for posting. You will love the feel of this camera in action. It fits almost all small bags, and coupled to the Grafmatic, it becomes a wonderful photographic instrument.

Your telling me. This thing is lighter than my dslr. The problem now I am considering modifying it even more.

I have to learn the hammering method for which you courteusly provided the info.

It looks harder than it is. You basically measure the part, subtract the thickness of the metal x2, cut out some oak as a form and clamp a slightly smaller piece of wood on top.

Its best to use SK or AK aluminum and aneal it. When anealed those two aluminums are like butter. I see AK alum on Ebay occasionally. You start working you way around the edges a little at a time. When you are through it should be so tight you wont think it will come off. Its great for one off sheet metal parts.

Of course at the same time I just modified a RB67 (slightly) to take a horseman 6x9 back, I have a 8x10 LS camera in the works, and my super graphic is in pieces waiting for a new bellows.

Troy: My warmest congratulations.

Thanks

I will post again when I have more done.

Diwan Bhathal , Feb 25, 2006; 06:48 p.m.

Troy:

Great. The lens should fit fine if you mill the protrusions on the front standard. It is also needed to make the lens hole bigger, this is done with a really thin metal saw and some patience. The lens will fit fine. I put in an Ysarex, which has a Copal 0 diameter or something like that.

As to the rangefinder, if you put the original hinges on a thin metal plate, which is floating and adjusted sideways by two screws, then this will allow infinity setting. Do not glue the rangefinder, as this can be folded, and with some ingenuity, it will fit in the original plastic case front which is very nice and practical.

If you maintain a distance of 1/8 in from the back of the camera to the plane where the film holder sits, and with the lens flush to the standard, this will get you to infinity with a 127mm with no problem. It took me a long time to find this correct postion. If you use a slightly longer focal lengh lens, then shim it and it will be fine. The rangefinder is a problem, since it barely works with a 127mm ( it was made for a 114mm ), but it can be taken apart.

The bottom of the RF has a plate with a slot in an arc of a circle. If you have the patience to make a new plate with a smaller radius arc, it will function adequately ( not quadrangulated and synergized, of course, but adequate).

I am just waiting for the addtional photos of the camera. Great !

Oh! I forgot. You have to name it somehow. The "Panther" theme is in vogue nowadays :)

Troy Ammons , Feb 25, 2006; 07:46 p.m.

Great. The lens should fit fine if you mill the protrusions on the front standard. It is also needed to make the lens hole bigger, this is done with a really thin metal saw and some patience. The lens will fit fine. I put in an Ysarex, which has a Copal 0 diameter or something like that.

All thats done. It had that 127mm lens on it when I bought it.

As to the rangefinder, if you put the original hinges on a thin metal plate, which is floating and adjusted sideways by two screws, then this will allow infinity setting. Do not glue the rangefinder, as this can be folded, and with some ingenuity, it will fit in the original plastic case front which is very nice and practical.

I will check it out

If you maintain a distance of 1/8 in from the back of the camera to the plane where the film holder sits, and with the lens flush to the standard, this will get you to infinity with a 127mm with no problem. It took me a long time to find this correct postion. If you use a slightly longer focal lengh lens, then shim it and it will be fine. The rangefinder is a problem, since it barely works with a 127mm ( it was made for a 114mm ), but it can be taken apart.

That wont work for this back, thus the roughly 1/2 difference but its no big deal really.

Noah Schwartz , Feb 25, 2006; 11:23 p.m.

I have a Polaroid 180 beater camera here that is slated to be format expanded to 4x5 with the new low profile back I've been working on. Have a look on my photos page. http:// www.photo.net/photos/Camera%20Conjurer

You can see the low profile 4x5 back installed on the Polaroid 110B in the background.

Troy Ammons , Feb 26, 2006; 09:20 a.m.

Thats nice. I actually thought about milling a plate to adapt to the camera and using the stock back plastic end plates, but I did not think it was worth the time. Hammer forming is just a fast way to make a metal part.

I also considered milling a back almost down to nothing to keep the width down but I wanted something a bit more versitile. I guess there are a lot of ways to do it.

An lot of work no matter what. If I was selling these contraptions, I would probably do a program to mill the adapter plate.

What sort of back is that. Is that a milled down graflok back ??

Noah Schwartz , Feb 26, 2006; 05:10 p.m.

The hammer forming is great, thanks for the link to that site. Few people know how to do it these days.

The problem with my back is that it won't take film holders without the Graflok slots.

I think the low profile of my back and the smooth positive action might make it worth having film holders made up specially by the manufacturers, though.

The back is made up from scratch, all manual machining, thank you. The most modren concession I'll make is the digital readout on the Bridgeport, and my digital calipers.

I've posted some photos of the machining of this particular back: http:// www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=576092

The back will take Grafmatic backs, Polaroid 550 and 545 backs and Fuji pack flm backs as well as Horseman roll film backs and the like.

You can see how it works and all the different applications I've thought of for it on my photos page.

This is something I've avoided doing for years, and now I wish I'd done it earlier.

I want to make versions of this back for 2 1/4 as well as 5x7 and 8x10.

Diwan Bhathal , Feb 28, 2006; 09:05 p.m.

Dear Noah:

Just an idea for whatever it is worth...

Your slim line back is definitely a great improvement. You mention that it can only accept Graflok devices.

The intent would be to make this back also accept regular film holders.

The solution that I would like to present lies in that the design is too clean to mess up. If the slim line plate is mounted on another plate, a supporting plate, that is permanently attached to the camera, and the thin adapter made to be removable, then a thicker adapter for regular film holders of the same design can be made.

These two adapters will then fit on the permanently mounted plate. I do not think that it is common to mix and match film holders and Graflok devices. Due to this ( assumption ), if one wants to use film holders, then the appropriate plate is fastened to the permanent attached plate in the camera. Same for Graflok devices.

Since both removable film adapter plates are thin and lighweight, it should be easy to carry. I guess that if one carries Graflok and film holders, this should not add too much to the overall load.

Both devices are attached to this permanent plate by a sliding lock, by a lever/cam attachment or thumbscrews. This attachment method is only my speculation. There must be an elegant way of doing this.

The camera is provided then with the permanent attachment, as well as the two slim plates that will be useful depending the choice of use of the film holding device.

The system becomes three parts:

1.-Permanent supporting plate fixed to back of camera.

2.-Slim line adapter for Graflok devices.

3.-Slim line adapter for film holders, polaroid things and the like.

In my mind this system will cover all situations found with 4x5 film holding devices.

...Just a thought.

Thank you.

Noah Schwartz , Mar 01, 2006; 07:55 p.m.

Ideally, I'd like the back to fit any film holder that fits 4x5 without any adapter plates, or shift in the film plane.

Not taking regular film holders, (YET!), is a big drawback, but all it might take is making *** ****** *** ***** the **** *** as *** ***. (This message has been censored by R&D.)


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