In recent years I’ve turned into more of a do-it-yourself kind of guy. From starting leatherwork a few years back, to getting knee deep other crafts, hacks and mods. Whilst I’m not the kind of person you’ll find extolling the virtues of customizing Ikea furniture, if I feel I can make something myself, then I’ll give it a try…even if I end up purchasing the object I tried to make further on down the line.
It’s something I do partly in the name of getting exactly what I want and partly for the unique buzz I get from the “pleasure of finding things out” I’ve mentioned many times before.
Moving into large format photography has been quite the catalyst for encouraging this kind of behaviour and I love being able to completely tear-down and rebuild my camera (a c1957 Graflex Speed Graphic) on a whim. So, in the spirit of the community, I’d like to share one recent “hack” with you; a grid overlay for 4×5 and 8×10 large format cameras.
In the file below, you’ll find a 4×5 grid overlay with 6×6/7/9 and 12 frame lines in landscape and portrait orientation, as well as an 8×10 version with extra 6×17/24 frame lines. The image above shows version 1 of the overlay, which has since been revised a couple of times and currently sits at version 3.
Simply download, open and print the PDF file (certified malware free if you download it from the link on this page).
The included designs are best printed onto A4 transparencies using a laser printer. You can use an inkjet printer but I find the print doesn’t hold for as long.
The PDF file contains a printer’s bleed of 5mm but this should not affect your actual print.
I’d recommend you wash and dry your transparency both before and after you print in order to remove any material, or chemical that could impair the quality of the print, or visibility.
Once you’ve printed the grid overlay, remove your focus screen and while centered over the transparency, use a craft knife to cut your print to the exact shape required for your camera.
After that, it’s a simple case of reinstalling the screen and overlay, with the overlay sitting on top of the focus screen and facing out of the back of your camera.
Note: if you’re worried about the overlay affecting your focus, don’t. As long as it’s installed on top of the screen, it won’t change a thing.
Let me know how you get on in the comments!