Large-format cameras typically allow lenses to be interchanged by mounting each lens on a lensboard. If you have a lot of lenses, you need a lot of lensboards.... Beyond that, if you want to mount any of multiple lenses that have the same screw or bayonet mount, you shouldn't need a lensboard for each -- why not have just one lensboard with the appropriate mounting flange for your lenses?

This Instructable shows how to build your own high-quality wooden lensboards. We'll show a simpler construction that works for some large-format lenses, the standard construction, and a variant of the standard that provides an interchangeable mount accepting any of a wide range of lenses -- without the need to swap lensboards.

This instructable is the logical inverse of http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Format-Adapter-For-Your-Mirrorless-Camera/ . There, a back was created to allow a mirrorless body to replace the film in a large-format camera. Here, you'll learn how to build a front lensboard, including a special type that allows any lens that could mount on a mirrorless body to mount on your large-format body. Why do this? Well, lenses designed for smaller formats will not cover a large format at infinity, but this adapter will allow you to use them as tilt/shift macro lenses -- and many will cover 4x5 at macro focus.

Step 1: Stuff You'll Need

The first thing you'll need is the large-format camera for which you want to make a lensboard. Actually, the ideal situation is that you not only have the camera for test fitting, but also one workable lensboard for it that can serve as a reference. Many large-format cameras have somewhat standardized 4"x4" or 6"x6" lensboards -- all the examples here are for my B&J 4x5, which uses a 4"x4" lensboard.

The next thing you need is an understanding of which of the three types of lensboard is appropriate for the lens(es) you want to use. The photo shows examples of all three types: barrel lens with mounting flange, barrel or shutter mount with rear locking ring, and generic (E-mount) bayonet flange. This is roughly in order of increasing build difficulty, although none is all that hard to make. Step 3 only applies to thick lensboards that must have thin edges. Each of Steps 6-8 is specific to one of the three types of lensboard shown in the photo here.

So, what else will you need? Read the complete Instructable before building anything, but here's a rough list:
  • Material for the board; probably scant board (you can get various nicer woods for a few dollars via the Internet)
  • A saw, etc., and sandpaper to cut and finish the board to size
  • An adjustable hole saw or other device that can make a hole in the board
  • Paint and brush or other finishing materials
Only if you're building the third type of lensboard, you'll additionally need:
  • A cheap extension tube set -- the kind with front, back, and three screw-threaded in-between segments
  • Glue for setting the extension tube in the board hole
The total cost is quite small -- probably less than $10 even including the extension tube parts. It can take a couple of hours to make one lensboard... or a half dozen.
View camera's are getting to be kind of rare anymore. But I think they are fantastic. I majored in Photography at SIU , which is pretty close to where you are, and I spent an entire semester working with view cameras. <br> <br>Something you might find interesting to try --- <br> <br>I used to put photo paper in the film holders and shoot it like film. You need to experiment to get the speed right as the paper is much slower than film. To develop it you just process it like any print. Now that we have digital scanners you could take the print, which is actually a negative image and scan it and reverse it into a positive. Paper has different light properties than film so you might get some really interesting effects and its a lot cheaper than using film.
<p>You can make a Pringles Chip can camera! Honestly, there is no secret to view cameras. All they are, are just big shoe boxes with a couple movements. Honestly because the idea here is to make a functional camera, the desire to make one is closer to the idea of this Instructable than others. Make one with basic movements for under $50, with simple skills in screw, glue, n poo. ;) </p>
Interesting point. I exposed paper negatives that way long ago, but I never tried making high-resolution digital scans to print them. Film speed, tonal scale, and color sensitivity profiles for paper are very different from most films, but that could be a very interesting and relatively economical thing to try....
This is beautiful. You did a really good job with the constrution and documentation of this project. I adore large format photography, perhaps one-day i will have my own.

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Bio: I'm an Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor at the University of Kentucky. I'm probably best known for things I've done involving Linux ... More »
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