Bellows project tailor-made for you

The above application will create a .pdf file with the design of a bellows according to the specified measurements and send it to your email.

Scroll down and check the complete video with instruction from measuring your camera, filling up the above form and finishing your bellows with a layer of black ink.

Meaning of variables:

  1. bt is the width of the frame where the bellows will be glued, marked in blue in the diagram. If this measurement varies on your camera, choose the smallest one so that the bellows flaps are not larger than the frame.
  2. ft allows you to make the first three pairs of folds a little thinner. This is useful on some folding cameras that have a very thin frame on the film side. If set equal to bt, all pairs of ribs will come out the same.
    Example of using the ft parameter:

    This is a typical bellows for an Ikonta-type folding camera, from Zeiss Ikon, for example. The frame where the bellows is glued to the film side is very narrow. But the folds of the bellows themselves are something like 10 mm. In the drawing above I put 12 mm to show the effect more. So the first three pairs were set as 9mm to facilitate gluing. Note that the pairs on the right are narrower than the rest.
    But don’t exaggerate this difference. The design will come out right but think that later it will be very difficult to fold if the edge is too narrow. I think up to 6mm is still doable, unless you are a master of origami.
  3. Fw, Fh, Lw and Ln, F stands for film, L stands for lens, w stands for width and h stands for height. Keep in mind that the bellows seam is always at the bottom of the diagram.
  4. El, stands for extension length, is the distance between the film and the lensboard in position of maximum bellows extension. If the camera moves the lensboard and/or film plane to focus, El must match the distance when nearby objects are focused.
  5. Bf, means Bellows Factor, if you put 1 it means that with the bellows fully stretched, with its sides all flat, it will have the length given in El. But ideally the bellows should never be so stretched . With Bf you can add some extra extension in order to keep it always a bit folded. A typical value for Bf is 1.3, that leaves the creases not too stretched when the bellows is at full length.

The drawing

The drawing is already on the 1: 1 scale, that is, if it is printed, creased or cut, it will already be in the correct size to make the bellows.

  1. The black lines correspond to the folds lines and serve for the option in which the folds of the bellows will be creased. It is the general case of small bellows made of paper.
  2. The red lines correspond to the cut lines to create the bellows’ “ribs” or stiffeners, the ribs that ensure the fold happen in the correct place. It is the commonly adopted option when the bellows material is very soft and needs to be structured, such as fabric, leather or leather imitations, for example. This happens more often in cases of large format bellows.
  3. The example drawing below has 5 sides. This allows you to choose how and where to cut the face where the joint will be done. The green lines suggest where to make the joint. You have to cut a bit beyond them in order to get your desired overlap for gluing it. Bear in mind that when you shape the sheet like a tube, if you make the two green lines come together, you will get a perfect joint.
  4. The 5-sided option is virtually mandatory for bellows that will be creased. Bellows that will have ribs cut and mounted over a wood template can be printed with only 4 sides. The advantage of printing 4 sides is that in the case of larger bellows the size of the sheet will be smaller (the side marked A is eliminated) and it will be easier to find suppliers with smaller printers or even laser cutting tables. In addition, the cutting service tends to cost less for a smaller sizes.

How to use it

There are several ways to make a camera bellows once you have the right drawing. Find below the one that better fits your project and available materials.

1 – Small camera paper bellows

This is a video tutorial with the following steps:

  1. Measuring your camera
  2. Entering the figures in the application form
  3. Using the printed bellows drawing to make a bellows with black paper
  4. Painting it to improve opacity and give it more structure and resistance.


2- Bellows with template

This video tutorial is still in preparation, but coming soon. Subscribe the youtube channel to be informed when released.

3 – Larger Bellows without template

This is a video from Lost Light Photography channel. You will find there a very good workflow for a bellows using an inner fabric, paper ribs and an outer cover.


Terms & Conditions for the drawing

  1. The price of a project, whatever its size, is R$ 25,00 Brazilian Reais. It is roughly USD 5,00. Please check current Paypal exchange rate to you local currency.
  2. No need to have Pay Pal account, one can pay with almost any credit card within the Pay Pal environment.
  3. Check the measurements in advance. It will not be possible to get another project without  new payment. The price was set low enough to allow a second try for corrections or improvements.
  4. The project comes by email in a link to download or open in the browser and save later. The file is very small and has in general less than 200 Kb. For those who do not remember, this is the same as 0.2 Mb.
  5. It will be archived and, in case of loss, you can request a new copy within a week. For this you need to have the project number and get in touch through the contact link above on main menu. After this time, it may even happen that it is still available but I cannot guarantee.
  6. The design is for individual use and non-transferable. The low value charged aims to allow broad access to photographers worldwide and serves to help in the maintenance and expansion of the site. Please do not distribute or share it.
  7. Responsibility: Please, always check the measurements of your project in the .pdf file even before printing it. I will offer you a new one or refund you in up to 30 days after purchase in case the specs on the top of the page do not match the ones in the drawing.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I have a Gandolfi 10×8 wooden camera
    Bellows have been completely destroyed
    The camera is purely ornamental
    I have tried making paper bellows with out much success
    Any help would be much apricated

    • 10×8 inches is too big for paper bellows. You will need a bellows with stiffeners. I am testing currently available materials and intend publishing instructions on how to build those.

  • Hey!

    I ordered a bellows to repair a Voightlander Perkeo I and I’ve just installed them. Thank you for this tool! It was a solid afternoon of work, and I’m just putting a test roll through it now, but the instructions were clear and the results are great.


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