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build a 35mm camera


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#1 forsammyray

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 09:53 PM

Has anyone here ever tried to build their own 35mm camera? I have been searching for plans to build my own using parts, etc ... but seem to be getting nowhere. Surely someone has tried this before.
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#2 Nate Downes

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 12:33 AM

Yes, but not finished with it.
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#3 Bruce McNaughton

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:12 AM

Yes, but from a blank piece of paper, not existing parts

Bruce
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#4 forsammyray

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 10:35 AM

Well, I meant either from scratch or with existing parts :)

Are there plans anywhere on how this can be done? Do you have any prototypes or pics of how you designed and built yours?

After several thorough searches, I am really surprised how little information exists on this topic - I guess people find it too daunting to try and build their own 35mm movie camera. I think it would save tremendous amounts of money, and also give you a working knowledge of the machine in order to repair it, etc.

Any help you guys can provide would be most appreciated!
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 10:48 AM

Well, I meant either from scratch or with existing parts :)

Are there plans anywhere on how this can be done? Do you have any prototypes or pics of how you designed and built yours?

After several thorough searches, I am really surprised how little information exists on this topic - I guess people find it too daunting to try and build their own 35mm movie camera. I think it would save tremendous amounts of money, and also give you a working knowledge of the machine in order to repair it, etc.

Any help you guys can provide would be most appreciated!


Hi,

Why not just buy an old Mitchell? modify it to your spec. Fries Engineering made a business out of that for 25 years. They were hand made to a very high standard.

I had a friend who used to build animation cameras at the rate of 4 a year!

Stephen
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#6 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:12 PM

Its not that the theory is difficult, its the machining that needs to be exact, and the complication of the moving parts. I suppose if you have another camera to go by and a machine shop with exact tools for another business you could do it.
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#7 Mitch Gross

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:53 PM

As hard as it may be for some to believe, there are vast amounts of information not published on the internet.
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#8 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 02:45 AM

Hello,

I'm no expert but I've learned this much: Cine cameras are precise devices. There's no approximations in them. It's not just a matter of precise tolerances, the parts have to be cut in a certain order and in a certain way to make it through the hardening step and still fit together. As well, some parts have to be hand lapped after hardening. That's a specialized skill. That's why there are only a few places in the USA that can even do the modifications on existing designs. Cine cameras ain't your daddy's Buick. I've had to learn that the hard way.

Good luck,
Paul
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#9 Rob van Gelder

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:24 AM

"I think it would save tremendous amounts of money,...."

I think that's a good one!

Why do you think this? Why do you think a fimcamera that actually performs GOOD, (there is no way you want to have an "reasonable or acceptable" camera for your production) can be made for less money?

Did you really research this or is this just a guess? Though I admire everybody who is going to make such a thing, it is just not something that can be done for cheap. Not if you want to stand behind the product and garantee it's performance!

Look around, go to the library, there are books which will show you what a camera is made of and the knowledge you need to have about so many things, materials, film-dimensions, accuracy etc.

oh, one more thing, filming is expensive, always, it will never save YOU any "tremendous" amounts of money!

Happy New Year, good luck inventing!
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#10 David Sweetman

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:41 AM

Yeah, even if you make a camera for free, why don't you figure up the costs of film, processing, and telecine for your movie and see if it's still a cheap deal.

Unless you plan to make your own rolls of film too...

Anyway, it ain't something you can do in your garage with a saw and a hammer. The absolute cheapest camera you could get would probably be one of those spring-wound WWII cameras.
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#11 dd3stp233

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 04:42 AM

The easiest way to build your own camera is use the mechanism from an already existing camera then modify it to your needs. Possibly an old broken camera can be salvaged or canabalized for parts. Note you do have to be mechanichally inclined to do this. Actually I process and print my own film. It costs me pennies on the dollar of what a lab charges. Mix your own chemicals and save even more. A 100ft roll of black and white 35mm negative film costs me about 65 cents to delevope maybe less. 100ft of color costs a couple dollars with the ability to push/pull, cross process, and bleach bypass with no xtra charge. Processing print film costs about the same. It mainly takes a lot of time, to do this yourself, which is something a lot of people don't have. Also by control of film processing some very old filstocks can be used. For instance, by special processing, I have some 60 year old nitrate film that I've been shooting and I can still get usable good looking negatives from it.
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#12 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:11 AM

I don't know...I think it's cool to play with camera parts as a hobby or to experiment with DIY processing and printing, but somehow I can't imagine doing something like this yourself to save money. Personally, I didn't get into this industry to save money. Just my $.02.
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#13 Mitch Gross

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:26 PM

Do you think you could build me a car from scratch that would be cheaper and yet work just as well as a Toyota?
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#14 dd3stp233

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 05:09 PM

A friend of mine hand built a custom car from the frame of another car. I don't know if it was cheaper but it was definitely faster and better looking then a Toyota. Experimentation is basically where all the new ideas come from. Regardless of if it was made out of necessity or for the pursuit of art or money. If you are satisfied with what's currently availible, you won't have the motivation for making things better. Like a next generation super camera.
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#15 forsammyray

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 06:28 PM

Gee whiz, guys .... calm down! I was just asking.
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#16 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 03:34 AM

Hi,

If there was money to be made building 35mm cameras there would be more people in the game. Just look at the Accounts of Panavision, its clearly not profitable.

Stephen
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#17 Matt Pacini

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 01:34 AM

I'm not sure why people assume that building something themselves is always going to be cheaper than buying it.
I'm a recovering DIY-er myself, and I've found that damn near everything I've ever built myself, ended up surprising me that it cost more than buying it, and was inferior.
Certainly the more technologically advanced it is, the more this rule applies.
Building a precision device like a camera would take a looooong time, lots of work, lots of money. And I doubt it would be better than anything out there as well.
You can get a used older Arri 35mm for around $4K-$6K, for crying out loud. Doubt you're going to build anything better than that!
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#18 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 11:21 PM

It reminds me of when I visited the factory where they make Martin guitars. Well, in the gift shop they had these kits where you could build your own acoustic guitar. The kits cost about 300 bucks. You could also get that same type of guitar, that is to say, a very low-end, outsourced "Martin", for about...300 bucks. I would buy a busted-up motion picture camera on ebay and fix it, but only because I would find it to be an interesting and rewarding experience. I can understand modifying something to create a prototype for some sort of custom look or fit, because it has been done (in fact there is a thread somewhere on here about modified Arriflex S cameras!). Then again my father makes his living by renovating existing property and then selling it for a higher value than what it was initially worth, so maybe I'm biased in my thinking that you should stick to modifications if you really want to learn how this stuff is put together. In which case, let me know what you come up with!

I must say you are not alone in your desire to take things apart. I myself have taken apart and reassembled the following: a speaker, the bridge of an electric guitar, a distortion pedal, a synthesizer, a few computers, a Bolex, a Steenbeck flatbed 16mm editing machine (this remained disassembled. It's a long story involving where I used to work and some broken gear we decommissioned), various skateboard setups, various Arri viewfinders, a Bell & Howell Electric Eye, a set of Burton Freestyle snowboard bindings, a grasshopper in 7th grade science class (this also remained disassembled for obvious reasons), and who knows what else. :huh:
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#19 Nick G Smith

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 05:18 AM

About 15 years ago a filmmaker in London, Steve Farrier, built a 360 degree 35mm camera/ projector. The camera would spin around on its axis and expose 7 inches of film horizontaly for each 360 degrees. I can't remember from which camera he got the mechanism from. The feed mag was above the aperture/gate and the take up below. He would project the film with the same mechanism onto a 360ยบ circular screen with the audience in the middle with the camera/ projector. As can be imagined the image on the screen did not have persistance of vision but with the image spinning around you and the machine spinning dangerously at your back it was a wonderful and terrifing experience at the same time. For some reason it never caught on in the wider world. Nick
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