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11-21-2009, 10:33 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Ilford Monobar Tilt Shift View Camera DSLR conversion!

Some time ago I came across and obtained a Kennedy Instruments / Illford Monobar 35mm view camera. Most view cameras are large format so the Monobar is rather unusuall. I will not go to far into the details and history of this camera as there is a good writeup here: Kennedy Instruments Monobar.

Since I obtained the camera I have been meaning to put som film in it and take it out for a play. However I have never used a view camera and so there were a number of things that put me off trying it as it was. These were mainly related to having to wait for film to be developed before I can get any feedback as to what I have just done and the cost of experimenting a lot using film.

For these reasons I started thinking about whether I could convert the camera to take my DSLR body instead of the film back. These thoughts developed slowly over about 6 months untill I had formed a plan. As the camera is quite rare and valuable I didn't wan't to do anything permanent to it so any conversion would involve making new parts rather than modifying the existing ones. I set to work and over a couple of months I built a new rear standard and made a new bag bellows.

In order to make the movements usable it is necessary that the back rotates about a point in the centre of the film / detector. If it rotates about a point away from the film / detector plane then every time a tilt / swing adjustment is made it must be re-focussed and this can make it so much hastle to use that it is hardly worth it. In order to make the rear tilt / swing pivot about the centre of the sensor I had to make a gimbal mount to roughly the dimesnions of the original back. This was made from a mixture of scraps of steel and aluminium. The camera mount was scavenged from a broken Carinar 200mm M42 tele lens so almost any camera with M42 adapter can be fitted. I have put a flanged M42 to K adapter on it so I have a K mount view camera.

I can now try out the camera and experiment with the movements without cost of film and I get instant feedback from the Live view to see what I'm doing!

Bellow are a few photos of the conversion.
The first 2 show the camer before in its original condition.
The third photo shows the new gimbal mount and bag bellows.
The last two pictures show the camera with the new parts fitted.

I haven't tested it much yet as I hasn't stopped raining since I finished the conversion. As soon as I have an results worth showing I will post them. I will take and post some pictures of the camera with the DSLR body fitted later.

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Last edited by MattGunn; 11-21-2009 at 10:45 AM.
11-21-2009, 12:57 PM   #2
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This looks interesting, waiting for sample pics what can be done with it...
11-21-2009, 01:51 PM   #3
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As a tilt/shift freak, this is effin awesome!! Likewise looking forward seeing some results :-D What's the lens you got mounted there?
11-21-2009, 01:58 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RawheaD Quote
As a tilt/shift freak, this is effin awesome!! Likewise looking forward seeing some results :-D What's the lens you got mounted there?
I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do myself, just got to wait for the rain to stop - this is not weather proof!
The lens is a Rodenstock Yasarex 105mm f/4.5. It won't work with a lens much shorter than 90mm unles its being used for macro, otherwise the back focus distance won't allow any movements.

11-21-2009, 03:46 PM   #5
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Some more pictures of the setup showing the converted camera with a DSLR body attached.

Even the bulky GX20 is hidden behind the large bag bellows as shown inthe first photo.
The mount is rotatable so that the DSLR can be adjusted from landscape to portrait format as shown in the second and third photos.
The last two photos show the camera with some arbitrary movements applied to show the range of movement
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11-21-2009, 03:51 PM   #6
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I am in total awe...both of the original camera and of your conversion. Too bad you don't have a wide angle with enough coverage.

Steve

(Totally wants the camera...)
11-21-2009, 03:58 PM   #7
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Holy smokes. That looks cool. I'm really looking forward to some pics!

Could you lift the veil and tell us something about the price of this amazing piece?
11-22-2009, 06:30 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by thomascdk Quote
Could you lift the veil and tell us something about the price of this amazing piece?
I really don't know what its worth, I got it in exchange for some other bits of optical equipment I has accumulated. There have been a few sold at auction and there was one on ebay a while ago but it never reached the reserve price.

The rain still hasn't stopped so I raided the kids craft box and took a few close up shots. These were all taken at f/5.6 so the DOF is quite shallow as can be seen. Adding a bit of tilt moves the plane of sharp focus coincident with the objects and they are instantly all in socus without changing the aperture.

The liveview makes setting the thing up quite easy, much easyer than calculating the tilts or trying to focus using the rather small ground glass screen with my head under a black cloth. Its going to take quite a lot of practice before I can set it up properly though.

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02-18-2010, 07:08 AM   #9
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Monobar

I'm really impressed about the conversion, if you read my post today ( my first, I'm a new member ), you can see that I used a Monobar for many years in my professional career.
By the way how mich did you have to pay for the original camera ?
Emrys
02-18-2010, 11:36 AM   #10
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Thanks, the conversion was an entertaining challenge.
As I said previously I got the camera in exchange for some other optical equipment which I had accumulated. I really must spend more time playing with this, I'm sure some really interesting things could be done with it with a bit of practice.

Edit.
Do you have any photos from your time with a Monobar? I would love to see what it can do in experienced hands.

Last edited by MattGunn; 02-18-2010 at 01:09 PM.
02-19-2010, 11:25 AM   #11
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Monobar

Thanks for your post, I'm sure I'll gradually get the hang of it.

At the moment I'm writing a short resume of my use of the Monobar in Medical photography for Maurice Fisher, not sure if you know him, to use on his web site, also contacting Douglas McKee in Scotland who has offered to buy my Monobar.

As regards pictures, well I have a few which I use for a lecture I've given a few times on Medical photography, but I think it unwise to put them on a general forum for ethical and copyright reasons. But if you would like to contact me direct by e mail

emrys@agas77.freeserve.co.uk

we could discuss things further.
I look forward to hearing from you...Emrys
02-19-2010, 03:02 PM   #12
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I wonder how this would work with the 645D. That would help the wide angle aspect.
02-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #13
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Although the sensor in the 645D will presumably be a lot bigger than APSC, the mirror box and thus the registration distance will also be proportionately longer and so even longer focal lengths would be required. The only way to get really wide tilt and shift is to have a sensor back withiout a mirror box i.e. not a DSLR. One of the new digital range finders could be interesting to try but that are way too expensive.
08-31-2010, 07:08 AM   #14
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Monobar Serial Numbers

Hi,
I am, along with several others, putting together an article for Photographica about the Monobar. One area we need help with is collecting all the 'serial numbers' from existing monobars. Can you tell me from your unit:

Body type F or U
Number on base of P&T head (Maybe similar to 8-U-24)
One end of rail (Blank or Made in England)
Other end of rail (Maybe similar to 10-3024-30)

Many thanks

Andy
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