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Prism on Graflex SLR, Installment No. II

 
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serdukoff



Joined: 03 Dec 2004
Posts: 13
Location: Boston Massachusetts USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Forum,
Indeed, it has taken me close to a year to get all the things together. Tonight I am sitting here peering at the view of my kitchen through a brand new prism attached to the top of a Super D. Not to say I can’t believe my eyes, but … still, this is a bit of … surprising, shall I say, to see that all my calculations have worked just fine, and I am, finally, the owner of a 4X5 Graflex equipped with a prototype creation of mine, allowing to shoot … action, shall I desire. The design is such that I am looking down at the 62 degree angle, a bit steeper (more vertical than Mamiya or Hassy) through a binocular (Hurrah!!!) viewer, allowing for a beautifully magnified and completely correctly oriented image of the Beattie screen of my Super D. The creation is not pretty yet, the Baltic Birch plywood box is still just that – a plywood box. Inside there is a mirror subassembly attached to an aluminum alloy framework, with the provision for critical alignment of exact 90 degree angle between the main first surface mirrors of the porroprism. The critically tuned mirror assembly is attached to the inside surface of the box at only one point, so that even serious beating and dropping of the camera with the prism attached to it would not result in it getting out of alignment. Now I have to think of a good way to make a face seal to lean against, to completely isolate myself from any exterior light, when viewing the image. But – that is going to be simple comparing to what is done by now. … Anyway, just wanted to share the joy of having accomplished the task that was met with a fair share of skepticism by the Graflex community… some time ago. What still completely perplexes me is that nobody seems to have created something like this before. I have seen photos of homegrown Graflex SLR-based “Big Berthas” here and there, but the shape of the prisms on top of them suggests that they were simple reflective viewers with just one mirror, like the stock accessory for the Mentors, which are useless, in my opinion… Well, I expect to keep all of you up to date with my project, and plan to show the pictures of the new accessory with its innards, when … when I will figure out how to post images to this forum. I am sure I will, when I get to it. Thank you all for your support and advises Thank you, [Dan Fromm] – I hope I remember correctly the name of one of my quintessential correspondents, who suggested to look into both Mentor and Arca Swiss Reflex. I now have them all (Arca is on its way from Europe), and also have some other exotic large and transition-sized SLRs. The latest discoveries in those cameras are making me to reconsider the standing of Graflex SLRs as the best platform for making a line of custom fast acting large format SLRs, let’s just call them portrait SLRs with movements. The internal limitations of Graflexes make them less desired for this type of surgery than some other cameras. When the time to complete that part of my project comes, I will gladly share that information. Meanwhile – Stay in touch…
Dmitri Serdukoff
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jjwalker



Joined: 05 Sep 2003
Posts: 29
Location: upper midwest

PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So where are the pictures of the viewfinder and pictures you took with the viewfinder on your Super D? I am interested in how you did it. Why is viewing through the prism more verticle? What stopped you from making it work at 90 degrees from the ground glass?? Sounds cool. I love hacks like that which really don't change the operation of the camera or deface it. After all you can pop the hood on and off right?
I like your ingenuity. I will await your reply!
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serdukoff



Joined: 03 Dec 2004
Posts: 13
Location: Boston Massachusetts USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, “jjwalker”, for your reply.
You seem to be the first person to exhibit at least some interest in my project. That’s encouraging. Now to your questions. There still are no pictures, neither of the prism, nor the pictures taken with the modified camera. Honestly, proving to myself the concept that day, I haven’t touched the prism project since. I am still climbing out of the trap I put myself into over five years ago, when I (my family) bought the house and moved out of the nice condo, leaving my fully functioning darkroom behind. I still have no darkroom, still do the stuff on the corner of a file cabinet, surrounded with still unpacked boxes full of books, house wares, enlarger pieces, etc. Unfortunately, with full time engineering job, rebuilding the house, raising children, I am moving my projects at a snail pace. Still no 4X5 processing capability, only dreaming to get back to it. Since my post I bought a used JOBO CPP-2 processor with the expert tank for 4X5 and resumed my work on mating my line of singlet lenses to the PENTAX 645 NII. This project is closer to completion anyway, will deliver more, and – most importantly – I currently have capacity to scan medium format film on my Minolta Scan Multi Pro scanner. As I also noted in my post, since my discovery of Arca Swiss Reflex and MENTOR cameras that I bought, I will be reconsidering validity of Graflex as the platform to build my custom creations from. Besides, the very fact that I had ZERO replies to my last post, was discouraging to the degree of not wanting to continue the prism project. I thought that people would react more enthusiastically, and I would be able to offer the prism kit *******. The prism, actually, was designed with the provisions for simplifying small scale mass-production. It was also designed (and I am happy you noticed that) so that not to affect the stock condition of the camera, short of removing the chimney and the hinged top. I realize that a picture is worth a thousand words. I simply didn’t have time to photograph, develop, scan a few shots to show the contraption to …. whom? No one seemed interested anyway. Now to the viewing angle. The bigger you want the image of the ground glass of your camera to be, the closer you should get to it. The prism lengthens the optical path from the GG to the eyepiece dramatically. There are infinite number of ways to fold that optical path to attain any viewing position. With the eyepiece of certain focal length (I think, 6”) that I had, the number of ways to shape up the path was more limiting. The horizontal position of the eyepiece, besides me not liking it with such a heavy camera, is not practical because the room for rotating the back has to be provisioned for, that is eating precious space. The 45 degree viewing is optimal, I think, no wonder it was adopted by several major medium format makers. They too could implement any angle, but chose 45. In my case the length of the optical path and the desire to stay within the footprint of the camera body (its vertical projection) were my limitations and dictated that angle to be somewhere around the angle I finally chose. I can share the AutoCad file with the ray tracing, should you be curious. Whatever else you want to know, don’t hesitate to ask.
Regards,
Dmitri Serdukoff
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jjwalker



Joined: 05 Sep 2003
Posts: 29
Location: upper midwest

PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dmitri- Don't give up just because people don't seem interested. Maybe they are but feel for some reason that "good enough" is better left alone. In other words the GG is good enough and they don't want eye level viewing. However I am not a purist or happy to settle for good enough. I like the thought of taking a design and indepenently modifying it or improving it. The beauty of graflex is that they are really simple in design. and the materials are easy enough to modify or reproduce most of the time. For instance, my 3 x 4 super d has its shutter speeds off and on "A" wound to "high" It only squeezes out 1/45 of a second. The next setting of "B" at low is something like 1/120th on high 1/135. As you seen there is nothing in between! I want something like 1/60 at least on the low end especially the way that the mirror slaps up and shakes the whole camera! So what I am doing now is taking the first shutter opening (1 1/2 inch) and making it about 1 1/8th wide. I tested this and it has increased the shutter speeds at "A" by a significant amount now the shutter will running at 1/50 to 1/70 range. Much more usable. I also do not have to retension the roller or something drastic like that. The beauty is this change in the slit size also does not effect any of the other speeds, just the "A" range.
Now back to you, Keep going and if you have a digital image of the prism send it to me or I guess I could use the AutoCad version too. On a realated note I am thinking about mating a cheap hassy or kiev prism to one of my old TLRS. Trying to shoot in bright daylight drives me nuts frankly. I know Rollei had a prism for some of its TLR's so why not give it a try. By the way is your design a "roof" pentaprism?? That would invert the GG image to its real orientation correct?? Keep up the good work my man, people ARE listening. Johnnie
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zone0



Joined: 11 Feb 2006
Posts: 1
Location: indiana

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey there, I am building up a 2x3 RB. I've stripped the leather off and am almost done refinishing the wood. I've modified the back to accept a Graflex XL 2x3 rollfilm back and now wish to place a lens on the front that is a between the lens shutter style. I'm just not sure what I should look for or try to use for this??? A guy at photo.net told me to check with you. Any thoughts on this?
Peace,
Jon B.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1889
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2006-02-11 16:24, zone0 wrote:
Hey there, I am building up a 2x3 RB. I've stripped the leather off and am almost done refinishing the wood. I've modified the back to accept a Graflex XL 2x3 rollfilm back and now wish to place a lens on the front that is a between the lens shutter style. I'm just not sure what I should look for or try to use for this??? A guy at photo.net told me to check with you. Any thoughts on this?
Peace,
Jon B.
Hi, Dmitri. Guy on photo.net? Not a guy, ME!

Cheers,

Dan
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serdukoff



Joined: 03 Dec 2004
Posts: 13
Location: Boston Massachusetts USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello John B.,
I do not know what to suggest, as your description is not very clear. I guess, you have to know the main objective of your retrofit. If you are more or less just restoring the camera, enjoying varnishing and buffing its mahogany body, it is one of many approaches you can take. I would greatly enjoy that too, but usually try to discipline myself and want to get to the ultimate result. What would the ultimate result be for you? In terms of shear functionality, any lens would do, as long as its back focus is sufficient to deliver imaging at infinity. Faster lenses are, obviously, better. What’s wrong with the stock lens you got? And, more importantly, why do you want a leaf shutter to be part of your arrangement?

Hello Dan Fromm,
How have you been? Since you qualify as the aficionado at this forum, I may want to use this chance to plug a few questions for you. Recently my Arca Swiss Reflex body, getting ready to receive an international 4X5 back and a prism (yes, they are not quite dead yet) on top, had played tricks on me. As peculiar as this piece of Swiss engineering happens to be, the shutter is very agile and robust. Alas, after increasing difficulty of changing the shutter speeds, something inside gave in and the camera is stuck at 1/25 speed doing bulb exposure at that. As busy as I am with my numerous projects, I have no desire to harm the camera further, as I rarely ventured into the innards of focal plane shutters. In short - I am looking for a qualified pro who would be willing to help me. The camera has a “real” shutter, Leica-style, instead of the simple strip of cloth with slits as we see in Graflexes. In other words, it is a lot more challenging to work on it. I can do a Graflex no problem, but am truly afraid to ruin the precious Arca.

My second source of headache is the Mentor. Yes, the very camera I have discovered and purchased per your suggestion. I owe you my gratitude, but you owe me to fix mine. Hey – just a joke. It fails to do bulb exposure and lacks overall willingness to live. I had its side plate off, fiddled with its guts for a couple of evenings. Replaced a few weakened springs, straightened some levers, cleaned, lubricated. I am still puzzled as to what exact function is attributed to each lever in the mechanism. Overall, it looks very perverse and overly complicated for what it does. Again – “I am looking for a qualified pro who would be willing to help me.”

As far as my prism project goes, I have been steering further and further away from Graflex cameras lately, still concentrating on large format SLRs with movements. I still have not built my dream setup, although I got more components and lenses and bodies than I need for the “purpose”. Since my last post I have discovered during the process of fine tuning my prism, that the mirror stock I used is not sufficiently flat for this purpose. More exactly, it has slight overall curl to the sheets, which I was aware of and was trying to use portions of the sheet where the curling was minimal. Next time around I will do what I was planning to do, but didn’t – I need to attach the mirrors of the prism to light aluminum subplates that will give the mirrors some guidance. Furthermore, flatness of the mirrors can be (and I have tried this in the lab) fine tuned with an array of strategically placed set screws, for one time alignment. The natural curling of the mirror sheet is well approximated with an arc, and is easy to deal with. Fortunately, the stock I use is free from waviness, which would have been a major detriment. Anyways, the few 4X5 Super Ds that I got I may equip with the prisms just to sell them. All the metal hardware for the prisms has been fabricated long ago, as I made several sets of parts. Whenever I get to them, I may try to gage the interest through ebay, or may try to offer them through Seth at cameraeccentric, because he already has established customer base and has welcomed my developments. On the other hand, the benefit of a Graflex with the prism, however nice the setup is, is very limited due to the non-charismatic lenses and lack of movements. In the hands of a true master the movements and fast lenses do miracles. Had I had interest in my cameras, I could offer mating any super lens to the customer’s super D, installing a “real” 4X5 back (I prefer TOYO), making a totally custom solution. My past intention of making nearly every part as custom component gradually gives way to purchased hardware. This is so because I begin to understand that unless I have a team of toolmakers working on my projects full time, I am not going to accomplish much. I watched other custom camera makers, and have noticed that many of them seem to be of the archetype of an eternal tinkerer, who get driven with the shear pleasure of handling components that have been designed by them, are beautifully finished and so on. Photography plays pretty much no role in the objectives of many of them. I am sorry if my generalizations may offend someone. I guess, I’d better stop philosophizing.

Oh – almost forgot to mention this little fact. Recently I have discovered that there are certain commercially available camera prisms that mate beautifully with the ground glass of large and transitional size SLRs. They provide very nice and very well magnified view. The difference between them and my prism is that mine provides binocular view. It is not a stereo view in strict terms, but affords the luxury of looking at the same portions of the image on the ground glass from two vantage points, that results in brighter and much more evenly lit picture, at least side-to-side, with the top and bottom of the viewer still having some artifacts of vignetting. On the plus side is simplicity of fitting a commercial prism, instead of relative complexity of making my own. But I am not giving up on my idea just yet!

With kind regards,
Dmitri Serdukoff
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1889
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2006-02-11 21:56, serdukoff wrote:
Hello John B.,
I do not know what to suggest, as your description is not very clear. I guess, you have to know the main objective of your retrofit. If you are more or less just restoring the camera, enjoying varnishing and buffing its mahogany body, it is one of many approaches you can take. I would greatly enjoy that too, but usually try to discipline myself and want to get to the ultimate result. What would the ultimate result be for you? In terms of shear functionality, any lens would do, as long as its back focus is sufficient to deliver imaging at infinity. Faster lenses are, obviously, better. What’s wrong with the stock lens you got? And, more importantly, why do you want a leaf shutter to be part of your arrangement?

Hello Dan Fromm,
How have you been? Since you qualify as the aficionado at this forum, I may want to use this chance to plug a few questions for you. Recently my Arca Swiss Reflex body, getting ready to receive an international 4X5 back and a prism (yes, they are not quite dead yet) on top, had played tricks on me. As peculiar as this piece of Swiss engineering happens to be, the shutter is very agile and robust. Alas, after increasing difficulty of changing the shutter speeds, something inside gave in and the camera is stuck at 1/25 speed doing bulb exposure at that. As busy as I am with my numerous projects, I have no desire to harm the camera further, as I rarely ventured into the innards of focal plane shutters. In short - I am looking for a qualified pro who would be willing to help me. The camera has a “real” shutter, Leica-style, instead of the simple strip of cloth with slits as we see in Graflexes. In other words, it is a lot more challenging to work on it. I can do a Graflex no problem, but am truly afraid to ruin the precious Arca.

My second source of headache is the Mentor. Yes, the very camera I have discovered and purchased per your suggestion. I owe you my gratitude, but you owe me to fix mine. Hey – just a joke. It fails to do bulb exposure and lacks overall willingness to live. I had its side plate off, fiddled with its guts for a couple of evenings. Replaced a few weakened springs, straightened some levers, cleaned, lubricated. I am still puzzled as to what exact function is attributed to each lever in the mechanism. Overall, it looks very perverse and overly complicated for what it does. Again – “I am looking for a qualified pro who would be willing to help me.”

As far as my prism project goes, I have been steering further and further away from Graflex cameras lately, still concentrating on large format SLRs with movements. I still have not built my dream setup, although I got more components and lenses and bodies than I need for the “purpose”. Since my last post I have discovered during the process of fine tuning my prism, that the mirror stock I used is not sufficiently flat for this purpose. More exactly, it has slight overall curl to the sheets, which I was aware of and was trying to use portions of the sheet where the curling was minimal. Next time around I will do what I was planning to do, but didn’t – I need to attach the mirrors of the prism to light aluminum subplates that will give the mirrors some guidance. Furthermore, flatness of the mirrors can be (and I have tried this in the lab) fine tuned with an array of strategically placed set screws, for one time alignment. The natural curling of the mirror sheet is well approximated with an arc, and is easy to deal with. Fortunately, the stock I use is free from waviness, which would have been a major detriment. Anyways, the few 4X5 Super Ds that I got I may equip with the prisms just to sell them. All the metal hardware for the prisms has been fabricated long ago, as I made several sets of parts. Whenever I get to them, I may try to gage the interest through ebay, or may try to offer them through Seth at cameraeccentric, because he already has established customer base and has welcomed my developments. On the other hand, the benefit of a Graflex with the prism, however nice the setup is, is very limited due to the non-charismatic lenses and lack of movements. In the hands of a true master the movements and fast lenses do miracles. Had I had interest in my cameras, I could offer mating any super lens to the customer’s super D, installing a “real” 4X5 back (I prefer TOYO), making a totally custom solution. My past intention of making nearly every part as custom component gradually gives way to purchased hardware. This is so because I begin to understand that unless I have a team of toolmakers working on my projects full time, I am not going to accomplish much. I watched other custom camera makers, and have noticed that many of them seem to be of the archetype of an eternal tinkerer, who get driven with the shear pleasure of handling components that have been designed by them, are beautifully finished and so on. Photography plays pretty much no role in the objectives of many of them. I am sorry if my generalizations may offend someone. I guess, I’d better stop philosophizing.

Oh – almost forgot to mention this little fact. Recently I have discovered that there are certain commercially available camera prisms that mate beautifully with the ground glass of large and transitional size SLRs. They provide very nice and very well magnified view. The difference between them and my prism is that mine provides binocular view. It is not a stereo view in strict terms, but affords the luxury of looking at the same portions of the image on the ground glass from two vantage points, that results in brighter and much more evenly lit picture, at least side-to-side, with the top and bottom of the viewer still having some artifacts of vignetting. On the plus side is simplicity of fitting a commercial prism, instead of relative complexity of making my own. But I am not giving up on my idea just yet!

With kind regards,
Dmitri Serdukoff
Hi, Dmitri, thanks for the update. sorry about y'r shutter woes. Y'know, Arca Swiss are still in business. I believe that they're in Besancon now. I suspect that they might be willing to help you. About the Mentor, I have few, if any, clues. Les garcons on the french lf forum might be able to direct you to shops that know what to do with Arca and Mentor shutters. Take a look at http://www.galerie-photo.info/

If all else fails, check your private messages. I've given you the e-mail address of one of my pen pals in Frankfurt who may be able to help you with the Mentor, or at least direct you to help.

In part because of you, I've contemplated buying a 2x3 Graflex and modifying it to work with long lenses. Every time I get really serious about doing that, though, I flinch.

Oh, yes, taking pictures and making equipment can really conflict. So -- message to myself, here -- can accumulating equipment and taking pictures. But that hasn't stopped me from getting my tandem camera built and working. For a look at it, see http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00CycD It works, I have four lenses for it. 360 Apo Saphir, 420 and 480 Apo Nikkors, and 450 Lomo RF-5. The RF-5 is a bit redundant.

Best regards,

Dan
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