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Accessory rangefinders?

 
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davebias



Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Posts: 43
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2003 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thinking out loud. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Having given up trying to calibrate my Kalart to my main lens, and realizing that it probably wouldn't work at all with my other lenses, I explored some other options.

There are a number of different accessory rangefinders on the market that attach to a flash shoe. They're inexpensive and relatively easy to find.

So I thought that it would be better for me to grab some extra infinity stops and focusing scales to attach to my rails, screw a flash shoe on the top of my Century, and pick up an accessory rangefinder that isn't coupled to any specific lens.

Now I haven't done any of this yet, and finding the extra scales has proven difficult, but I feel like my logic is sound.

Am I right in my thinking? Will this work?

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bertsaunders



Joined: 20 May 2001
Posts: 577
Location: Bakersfield California

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dont give up on that RF just yet....email me, I may be able to help
bsaunders1@bak.rr.com
Bert
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1881
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2003-12-17 21:51, davebias wrote:
Thinking out loud. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Having given up trying to calibrate my Kalart to my main lens, and realizing that it probably wouldn't work at all with my other lenses, I explored some other options.

There are a number of different accessory rangefinders on the market that attach to a flash shoe. They're inexpensive and relatively easy to find.

So I thought that it would be better for me to grab some extra infinity stops and focusing scales to attach to my rails, screw a flash shoe on the top of my Century, and pick up an accessory rangefinder that isn't coupled to any specific lens.

Now I haven't done any of this yet, and finding the extra scales has proven difficult, but I feel like my logic is sound.

Am I right in my thinking? Will this work?

Um, er, ah, are you aware that there's more than one focusing scale for each of the nominal focal lengths they were made for? This because lenses' nominal and actual focal lengths often differ. And this is the case even for astronomically expensive process lenses. For example, I have a 260/10 Process Nikkor with the quality control certificate. Its measured focal length is 266.6 mm. A scale, if there were one, for nominal 260 mm would have my lens perpetually out of focus.

Go price infinity stops, making sure that the vendor includes the screws. Then take a cold shower.

After you come out of the shower give up on your Century and get a Linhof Technika. And when it comes, make sure that the three lens serial numbers marked on its RF cam match the three lenses you use on it.
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davebias



Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Posts: 43
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The big prize goes out to you, Mr. Fromm, for your Arcane Statistical Quote of the Day. I sincerely hope that you and your Nikkor take beautiful pictures together, because you speak so proudly of her.

To one such as myself who uses a beater $75 Century body and $30 flea market lenses, quoting the specs of your "astronomically expensive" lens is quite simply beside the point. And inviting me to "jump ship", in so many words, is just plain unfriendly.

I'll email Bert and not occupy your time any further with this obviously nebbish and unworthy question.

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clnfrd



Joined: 26 Mar 2002
Posts: 616
Location: Western Kentucky Lakes Area

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave...Anything you can come up with that works for you makes sense. You might, with Bert's help, adjust your Kalart to your favorite lens...and use an auxiliary non-coupled rangefinder for your others if you can find focus scales that are accurate, as you have suggested. Or do as a lot of us do, use the ground glass for focusing for your lenses that are not compatible with your rangefinder. You may already know this, but there are complete instructions on this site for adjusting your Kalart. Fred.
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davebias



Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Posts: 43
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Fred. The issue for me is more one of practicality in hand-held usage. It seems that the minute I start setting up my tripod here in NYC, some security guard is telling me to put it away, so I'm forced to hand-hold a bit more than I'd like.

I often like to switch lenses mid-roll, which means swapping back to my ground glass, and refocusing, and the whole process becomes more juggling and less snapping photos.

It's all completely do-able, and I've in fact become fairly adept at one-handed back switching, but my brain immediately starts cooking up new, more practical ways to stay in focus. Hence my posting...

The Century I use these days has no rangefinder, and to be honest, I was happy to lose the weight because like I said, I had given up trying to adjust my previous camera's RF, and I had no extension scope which made it very hard to use with the roll back in place. More to the point, I couldn't get it adjusted for more than one lens. So again, the brain asks itself, "How do I keep in focus with more than one lens and no Kalart AND without having to juggle backs constantly AND without abandoning my beloved beater Century for a more modern or efficient camera?"

Answer, says brain, set up more focusing scales and get a nice Voigtlander (ie.) rangefinder to pop on top...

And very soon I will be building a website for Jurgen Kreckel (certo6 in eBay-speak) and he will be paying me with two of his lovely folders, and Isolette and a Billy Record III. So if I can use one rangefinder on both of these AND my Century, well, that will be a bonus.

So that's the long-story long of it... I guess the question I'm REALLY asking here is, "Do those accessory rangefinders work as I assume they should for simply measuring distance, regardless of the lens I'm using?"


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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1881
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2003-12-20 01:38, davebias wrote:
The big prize goes out to you, Mr. Fromm, for your Arcane Statistical Quote of the Day. I sincerely hope that you and your Nikkor take beautiful pictures together, because you speak so proudly of her.

To one such as myself who uses a beater $75 Century body and $30 flea market lenses, quoting the specs of your "astronomically expensive" lens is quite simply beside the point. And inviting me to "jump ship", in so many words, is just plain unfriendly.

I'll email Bert and not occupy your time any further with this obviously nebbish and unworthy question.

Dave, if you don't have the right scale for a lens you're guaranteed to be out of focus when you focus by scale. Lenses' marked focal lengths rarely match nominal, which is why Graflex matched scale to lens when assembling a camera with an RF.

You can't just grab a scale for a focal length and expect it to be right for your lens. What you can and should do is, once you have your lenses and auxiliary RF in hand, make your own scales. Focus on the ground glass, read distance from the RF, mark the front standard's position on the bed. Do it this way and you don't need more bed stops.

I mentioned the Supernatural Grand Lens only to make the point that every lens manfacturer misses the target. Take another cold shower.

Cheers,

Dan
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, please don't misinterpret Dan's posting. He was simply explaining things...

Now my suggestion.

There's no reason why your idea wouldn't work. To focus the camera without the GG or built-in RF, all you need to know is the distance and how far the lens has to be from the film to be in focus for that distance. Since I can sympathize with your position, I would suggest a home-brew solution. Make your own focus scales!
Many people do this with tape. Simply put the lens on and focus to infinity using the GG. Mark this position on the tape. Then start focusing at known distances and mark those. Duplicate the existing scale's measurments or use your own. It will be as accurate as your marking ability! And you can use both sides of the rails for the markers.
As for infinity stops, Dan is quite right that they are very expensive. But you can also put marks on the rail for where your front standard should be. Place the standard at the infinity point and make a mark with a black magic marker. It's not as easy as a true infinity stop, but just as accurate as long as you are consistent.
Many other people do this and it works very well!


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davebias



Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Posts: 43
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had actually considered making scales from plastic, but the tape method is right up my alley. Cheap and seemingly very effective.

And hash marks on the rails are already my preferred method installing "infinity stops". I mentioned buying some because I had just visited Stephen Shuart's site and saw that they were available (at what is certainly a high price compared to the cost of my camera body, but not too bad).

The question still in my mind is about the accessory rangefinder. Are these in any way beholden to the film format or focal length of the lens? Or are they simply JUST a way to measure distance... Oh, and while we're at it - are there some that are better than others?

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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing I would recommend as far as tape is _not_ to use a rough textured tape like standard masking tape. A white plastic type tape would be better. I have a roll of 'freezer tape' here that would be good, but I'm not sure how well it would stick. The smooth texture would allow finer markings...

My favorite rangefinders are the old flash distance finders. They can be found rarely in some of the on-line sellers sites. As usual, I can't remember the names at the moment and since I don't actually use them, they're in some box somplace at the moment. These did come in versions to be placed in hot shoes but I've only seen one of those. The rest are handheld. There's no connection with any film, lens or camera. All they do is measure distance and some have scales for flashbulbs. The smallest one I have is about the size of half a fountain pen. These old units ru in the 10 to 20 dollar range. The fancier new models can get very expensive and I never had any interest in them.
http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/ was always a good source of these...


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t.r.sanford



Joined: 10 Nov 2003
Posts: 812
Location: East Coast (Long Island)

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were a lot of accessory rangefinders around in the '50s. I got a used "Century" (with rollfilm back, but without Kalart RF) when I was in college, and did just what you propose to do: bolted an accessory clip onto the camera (actually, onto the viewfinder, which is metal; I was and am reluctant to try to drill through "Mahoganite" plastic, whatever that may be) -- and slid a used Walz rangefinder into it. And white paper artist's tape makes a very good distance scale; use a long enough piece, and you can scribe scales for three lenses onto it.

A caution -- those old handheld rangefinders often are fairly primitive in design. The two I've examined simply use a fine-thread screw to push a short, spring-loaded lever that rotates the secondary mirror. The knob that turns the screw has a disk set into it, marked with the distances, and this can slip around when you're not looking, so the whole thing goes out of whack. It's not difficult to correct, but it's tiresome.
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Home brew focus scales work just fine, are a no cost, easy solution.
Just set up a target at 6 feet and focus on the ground glass. Mark your scale and repeat at as many distances as you like. The hand held rangefinders work well enough that you should have good results at smaller apertures. I always aim just in front of the subject and let depth of field carry it. My prefered finder is the "Ideal" by Federal Instruments. They show up frequently on e... for ten bucks or so.
Enjoy!

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"Wyoming - Where everybody is somebody else's weirdo"
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