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Crown Graphic: help with date, flash, rangelite, shutter pls

 
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MonkeyBrain



Joined: 05 Nov 2011
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:57 pm    Post subject: Crown Graphic: help with date, flash, rangelite, shutter pls Reply with quote

Hi, got the usual "help me date my graphic" request...

Crown Graphic 4 x 5
Graflok back
Top RF (so that's '55 to '73, right?)
Serial Number: 921677
I can't find any 3 character date code, so unless I just dont know where to look that makes it late 50s I guess?

…but I would also appreciate help on several other fronts, so hopefully these following questions will counterbalance the banality of my opening line : )

First off, my Rangelite doesnt work. Battery compartment all okay inside, no corrosion, and rangefinder double-image seems accurately aligned (vertically), but no beam projecting, even after a fresh set of batteries. I've opened up the RF and everything inside is pristine and bulb looks fine. What else could it be?

Incidentally, I saw somebody mention on here the idea of replacing the bulb with a modern LED light. I was wondering if any of you have actually done this? As I usually end up shooting in near darkness, and consequently often have to use a flashlight to focus, a strong Rangelite could be really useful to me. Any advice?

Secondly, as seems to be common, shutter speed is clearly not accurate. Can't comment on accuracy of fast speeds too much (although they are at least fast, as you'd expect them to be) but slower times are clearly way out: for example the 1-second setting is more like 5 secs. Is this going to be difficult to resolve? I'm not especially technical so if it's delicate I'd probably try find someone to do it for me.

Next: from reading almost the entire Flash forum on here I'm fairly confident that the purchase of a bi-post to hotshoe sync cable will be all I need to get my Crown working with electronic flash (via radio slave on the hotshoe). But I wouldnt mind just checking with you before I spend cash unnecessarily. Lens is an Optar 135mm, with a nice big "X" on the front (but it's just written on the front: there is no switch on the side to select other options such as F or whatever the other setting is these lenses commonly have). That X alone is enough that it will sync, right? At all shutter speeds? And without the need to trigger the flash separately after opening the shutter?

I shoot almost exclusively handheld, with several flash units (though sometimes mixing in a little ambient light), and work as fast as possible, documentary style (hence why I've held off large format for almost 20 years), so it's essential I get flash functioning well, even if it means changing to another lens (though obviously I'd prefer not to, this one looks like it will otherwise be fine for my purposes and the whole calibration thing scares me...).

And this brings me to my last question: given that I need to shoot quickly, can any of you recommend any extras that might make my life easier? I understand that a grafmatic back will allow me to shoot 6 sheets in quick succession, so as soon as I've got some spare funds again I'll be picking up a couple of these. Is there anything I should know about them before purchasing?

Any other suggestions that could make fast shooting easier for me? Any mods you'd recommend I do to my Graphic? It'd be a shame to butcher such a beautiful looking object, but basically my priority is to have a working camera that allows me to produce the images I need, when and how I need to, and if it takes creating some kind of Grafenstein in order to do so, so be it…

Any help/suggestions very much appreciated. Thanks...
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3212
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

921677- is about the middle of a batch of 3000 listed to be made in the last quarter of 1956. It may have rolled off the assembly line in early 1957, no way to tell.

Rangelite: do you have an ohm meter?
http://www.southbristolviews.com/ click on the Graflex Manuals link. There are several service and instruction manuals available for your camera.
Start with replacing the bulb. They can be bad and look fine. Are the batteries installed correctly?

Shutter: http://graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=6105
I do Clean, Lube, Adjust on some shutters. Use the site private message feature to contact me if interested. Your shutter needs a CLA. Faster speeds will be off as well.

Flash: The X means the shutter syncs with Electronic flash only. This includes studio strobes. A BiPost to whatever your flash system connector is cable will get you going, but do a CLA on the shutter first.
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MonkeyBrain



Joined: 05 Nov 2011
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, thanks for taking the time to reply.

Got no ohm meter (but I know a man who does). And got the manuals, thanks. Reassuring to hear the bulbs can appear ok but actually be dead, cos it looks fine but I cant see any other reason for the rangelite not to work, as everything is nice and clean in there and I've played with the batteries endlessly to see if there's a bad connection. Will replace bulb tomorrow and see what happens.

Would love to take you up on the offer of CLA, but sadly I wont even be on the same continent as you for about another year, so will have to find someone more local (Italy).

Thanks for the date. This presumably means my X-only lens is not the original that came with the camera, right? Or was electronic flash already in use by '56/'57?

*edited for clarity and grammar
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3212
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Search engine (google)- history of electronic flash =
http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/history/a-brief-history-of-photographic-flash/
which says the first electronic flash tube was invented in 1931.
Graphic (Wollensak) Optar serial number/ date of manufacture are not available.

Perhaps the history expert will respond.
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MonkeyBrain



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I'll be! Thanks, very interesting. But already so widely in use by '57 that lenses would be produced ONLY for use with electronic flash?

will await history expert...
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MonkeyBrain



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got my Rangelite working, more or less. The bulb was fine, it's just a temperamental circuit: works okay when the RF is removed from camera and turned upside down, but as soon as I placed it back on the camera it would stop working.

I seem have got it going okay (for) now, but there's another problem in that the 2 projected focusing elements are very different in strength. Presumably one is projected directly and the other passes through several mirrors so it's weaker? I saw already someone on here suggesting reducing the power of the stronger of the two with a small filter in order to decrease the contrast between them, but to be honest that wouldnt really help me much (I'd just not be able to see either of them). Has anyone encountered this problem and found a decent solution? Given the difficulty in using the rangefinder to focus in low light (and that I almost always shoot in very low light) I'm probably not going to be able to make much use of this camera until I get the Rangelite working as (or even considerably better than) new.

I mentioned above the idea of changing the bulb for something more modern, such as a strong LED, but would this cause problems? Where is the little element which is projected located? Would changing the type of bulb also change the focus of the elements?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Where is the little element which is projected located?

Inside the bulb.
Quote:
Would changing the type of bulb also change the focus of the elements?

You will probably have to experiment with different bulbs.

The last paragraph of the rangefinder Operation section of either the Top Rangefinder Service Manual or the Pacemaker Service manual describe the rangelite operation.

How good is the transparent mirror? In normal daylight is the fixed image strong, equal to the movable image or is it weaker than the movable image?

The Rangelight is similar to the Kalart Focuspot for the side rangefinder.
Use the site search function for Focuspot. Some have retrofitted them with a laser pointer with success.
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MonkeyBrain



Joined: 05 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS wrote:
Quote:
Where is the little element which is projected located?

Inside the bulb.


thanks, thats what I assumed at first, but looking in the bulb the form looked different.

45PSS wrote:


How good is the transparent mirror? In normal daylight is the fixed image strong, equal to the movable image or is it weaker than the movable image?


Ah, I see your point. Umm, it's not daylight now where I am, but if I remember right the 2 images are about equal in strength. Checking now under tungsten light seems to confirm this.

What else could be causing the weaker image?


45PSS wrote:


The Rangelight is similar to the Kalart Focuspot for the side rangefinder.
Use the site search function for Focuspot. Some have retrofitted them with a laser pointer with success.


Ah, that's great news.

Though I guess pointing one of those things right in the subject's face every time I need to focus might not make me very popular!

Thanks again for your help...searching Focuspot now...



EDIT: found the info about Focuspot mod, and things couldnt have worked out better: the guy who I think first tried this actually did it to a top RF Crown like mine, and better still has a section on his website (in Italian, which luckily enough I also speak) where he goes into all the details. Even a technologically incompetent fool like me should be able to deal with this one. Very happy : )

Italian page is here for anyone looking: http://digilander.libero.it/foto_ras/camera_parts9.htm
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45PSS



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This presumably means my X-only lens is not the original that came with the camera, right? Or was electronic flash already in use by '56/'57?


Take a look at
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/wollensak_16.html
A Graphex is a Rapax rebadged. An Optar is a Raptar rebadged.
A Rapax non sync shutter has no flash sync built in.
A Rapax full sync has built in flash sync for Type M, Type F, and Electronic flash, switch selectable.
A Rapax X sync has built in flash sync for electronic flash only.

Your lens is most likely factory original.


_________________

Recheck your connections inside the rangelite. Reform them so that they fit tighter or touch with more pressure. When attaching the cover to the camera just snug the screws as over tightening may be bowing the plastic housing. Also the housing may be warped from extended storage in high temperature area or sunlight.
Good luck with the modification if you decide to go that route.
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MonkeyBrain



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, doesnt make a huge amount of difference I guess, but it's nice to know a little about your equipment.

I checked the rangefinder image again today in daylight and actually I was wrong: the movable image is in fact stronger (i.e. highlights are brighter) than the fixed one. What implications does this have?
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45PSS



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That suggest or confirms the fixed mirror is going bad. It is a 50% transmission/50% reflection beam splitter mirror.
http://www.scientificsonline.com/mirror-type-beamsplitter.html
is the only source that I know of. The current material is polycarbonate and is cut like Plexiglas.

It explains why your rangelite images are hard to see.


Check this thread http://graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=6103
The disassembled shutter was repaired.
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MonkeyBrain



Joined: 05 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS wrote:
That suggest or confirms the fixed mirror is going bad. It is a 50% transmission/50% reflection beam splitter mirror.
http://www.scientificsonline.com/mirror-type-beamsplitter.html
is the only source that I know of. The current material is polycarbonate and is cut like Plexiglas.

It explains why your rangelite images are hard to see.


umm, i guess it does. will probably end up spending a small fortune in shipping and import duty just to get this microscopic piece of mirror over to italy, but so be it...

thanks for the link

45PSS wrote:


Check this thread http://graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=6103
The disassembled shutter was repaired.


you trying to scare me?

it worked. I'll be leaving the lens work to someone else for sure having seen that!

got myself a laser today (which turned out to be harder than I expected, as while they've been on sale absolutely everywhere in italy over the last couple of years they've apparently just recently been declared illegal and any shop caught selling them will be fined), the problem is the casing is surprisingly well built for cheap chinese junk and I can get into it to extract the diode. Will find a way.

Though I have been giving the mod some second thoughts actually, due to the risk of burning someone's iris out with the thing, as obviously the eyes are exactly where I need to point it in order to focus. Will have to point it close by and ask them to shut their eyes or something.

maybe.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sheared pin was from running a dirty shutter. The broke aperture was from using one that was not moving smoothly.

nuff said?

Although this manual http://www.southbristolviews.com/pics/Graphic/manual-pdf/GraphexShutterService.pdf
is for the full sync version the only difference from the X version is the X's flash sync is simpler, all other aspects of the repair are the same if your service person needs the info.
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MonkeyBrain



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep, nuff said.

thanks for all the help. should keep me busy for a good while...
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