This Handmade 20×24-Inch View Camera Has Eight-Foot Bellows


Earlier this week, we shared how photography student Mark Hilton has been hard at work constructing a 20×16-inch ultra-large-format camera by hand. If you found that impressive, get a load of photographer Tim Pearse’s handmade 20×24-inch view camera.

Pearse tells us he constructed the camera last year while he was a student at the Plymouth College of Art in Plymouth, England. His goal with the project was to “answer the question of whether a craft based ethos could be applied to modern photographic practice and whether or not this approach was still relevant in a forward looking, progressivist sphere, the type of which photography is steadily becoming.”


The camera, crafted out of Iroko and Mahogany hard woods, was built over a span of five months, and all the components were made by Pearse himself by hand (all except the lens, that is). To do this, Pearse had to teach himself the skills of joinery, metalwork, and glass making.

He designed the camera to create 30×30-inch and 22.5×26-inch wet collodion ambrotypes, as well as 20×24-inch film negatives.

In terms of size, the camera stands at a whopping six feet tall. When fully extended, the bellows measure eight feet long.

Pearse has been mostly shooting portraits since completing the camera in February 2012, but he plans to take it on a tour of England soon, and hopes to open a London portrait studio with it sometime next year.

Here are some sample photographs he has captured so far using the beastly camera:





You can find more about the project over on its website, including many more photographs Pearse has captured.

Image credits: Photographs by Tim Pearse and used with permission

  • fast eddie

    Pretty rad :)

    If he ever needed a place to sleep, he could extend the bellows and sleep in the camera!

  • DamianM

    This is amazing.

    Dedication and ambition.

  • Geoff

    Oftentimes when a photograph focuses on tech, I find the final images underwelming. But not here. These photo’s are excellent, great lighting, nice posing, wonderful expressions. Bravo!

  • Lisa

    Tim shows true dedication to his craft. Good luck in your career.

  • Miloss

    So sorry to say, but these photos are lame….

  • V5Aussie

    I wonder how many megapixels that thing is… :-p

  • Lok

    Sorry to say, you’re an idiot.

  • Miloss

    OOPS! did you just insult me? What makes you think I’m an idiot? Because I think that the photos are not creative? Well, don’t think you can become a good photographer by getting a bigger camera than the others. Or may be this is your conception of big being automatically good. If you enlarge your penis, it still won’t make you good in bed.

  • Enrique

    What exactly is wrong with them?

  • chubbs

    Well, he doesn’t claim to be an amazing photographer. And nowhere does it say large format photography is inherently better. The portraits certainly aren’t fine art, but they show that the camera works and works quite well too. It specifically states he did this to understand if craft ethos has a hand in photography. Not because he’s on a dick-sizing mission.

    I mean, he built a camera by hand. He built it huge. He also had to learn quite a few crafting techniques. That’s more than I can do and probably you too. And to just come in and say the photos are lame with no explanation, that kinda makes you a jerk.

  • mrchillisauce

    Any info on what he used as a lens?

  • Project_20x24

    I use a Taylor-Hobson-Cooke 760mm f10 Anastigmat. It’s an old process lens from the 1940’s.

  • Greg McKay

    The bellows appear to dip down in the center part and intersect with the light path.

  • Project_20x24

    Yeah, it does tend to, as they have such a long draw. When the camera is in use, the bellows are supported centrally by an adjustable arm connected to the front bed. It’s not shown on these images.