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PRISM ON GRAFLEX SLR ?
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serdukoff



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

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello out there !
Please welcome the new member.
Just got myself the 3 1/4 X 4 1/4 SERIES "B" R. B. GRAFLEX :
<<>>
I am not a collector and bought this camera for real work. As sad and as wrong as it may sound, from the collector's point of view, I want to modify this camera, and maybe other Graflex SLRs I plan to acquire to my particular liking. This means - I want to fit fast (~F2. long lenses onto the boxy bodies for wide-open aperture work. I already have (just got it too) the Kodak Aero Ektar F2.5 / 12" (305mm). Also am getting the 6" Aero Ektar. Plan to get others. I want to use full array of geared camera movements on this large format SLR. Think Mark Tucker's PlungeCam, only bigger and better. Already have goniometers, all kinds of rack and pinion sliding assemblies to begin design and fabrication of the setup. In the rear of the camera I plan to use a 4X5 Grafic back to have something like a square 3 1/4" X 3 1/4" frame, which I plan to be able to use with either a rollfilm back or with the sheet 4X5 film. I am not a "purist" of the kind who must have trendy border ala Avedon in their 4X5 photographs, so lack of ability to use the whole 4X5 field doesn't bother me. Now - I want to ask all of you, the experienced Graflex users - why don't I hear a word about equipping your cameras with some type of a pentaprism on top ? I thought this would be the first thing one would want to begin upgrading their cameras from. Obviously, to those whose point is to enjoy the process and spirit of using this legendary camera the original way (all my respect to purists) my appeal will remain futile.
Sincerely,
Dmitri Serdukoff



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An Artist, Engineer, Tinkerer. Interested in cooperation with innovative thinkers, both artistically and equipment-wise.
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serdukoff



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

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry - link to the camera I just got disappeared. Trying again :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=3855093237&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT
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semihemi



Joined: 25 Oct 2003
Posts: 85
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm.... not sure that I am entirely convinced that a prism would qualify as an "upgrade". What benefit would you think it brings to the table?

JC
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1887
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2004-12-03 19:38, serdukoff wrote:
Hello out there !
Please welcome the new member.
Just got myself the 3 1/4 X 4 1/4 SERIES "B" R. B. GRAFLEX :
<<>>
I am not a collector and bought this camera for real work. As sad and as wrong as it may sound, from the collector's point of view, I want to modify this camera, and maybe other Graflex SLRs I plan to acquire to my particular liking. This means - I want to fit fast (~F2. long lenses onto the boxy bodies for wide-open aperture work. I already have (just got it too) the Kodak Aero Ektar F2.5 / 12" (305mm). Also am getting the 6" Aero Ektar. Plan to get others. I want to use full array of geared camera movements on this large format SLR. Think Mark Tucker's PlungeCam, only bigger and better. Already have goniometers, all kinds of rack and pinion sliding assemblies to begin design and fabrication of the setup. In the rear of the camera I plan to use a 4X5 Grafic back to have something like a square 3 1/4" X 3 1/4" frame, which I plan to be able to use with either a rollfilm back or with the sheet 4X5 film. I am not a "purist" of the kind who must have trendy border ala Avedon in their 4X5 photographs, so lack of ability to use the whole 4X5 field doesn't bother me. Now - I want to ask all of you, the experienced Graflex users - why don't I hear a word about equipping your cameras with some type of a pentaprism on top ? I thought this would be the first thing one would want to begin upgrading their cameras from. Obviously, to those whose point is to enjoy the process and spirit of using this legendary camera the original way (all my respect to purists) my appeal will remain futile.
Sincerely,
Dmitri Serdukoff



Why not a pentaprism? Large, heavy, not a stock item and therefore very costly.

Y'r little camera won't focus a 12" lens, it is too short. It will have difficulties with a 6" lens, it is too long. What you can do, if you must have reflex viewing up to the moment of exposure and must use long lenses is hang the box on the back of a proper view camera with bellows long enough to focus the long lens. If you must use short lenses, well, you're doomed to frustration.

They are very rare, but you might be better off looking for a 4x5 Arca Swiss reflex. These are essentially a monorail view camera with an SLR mirror box containing a focal plane shutter at the rear. Much more flexible tools than Graflexes. Also investigate Mentor reflexes. These east german SLRs are little known here, but still might be better suited to what you want to do than a Graflex.

Good luck,

Dan
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David A. Goldfarb



Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 142
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, every time you add a mirror to the viewing path, you lose light. It's easier to become accustomed to the reversed image than to have to focus with an image dimmed by the SLR mirror and pentaprism. It's not as much of a problem with 35mm cameras, because the lenses are generally faster, and the groundglass screen is small, so it's not as costly to make a high-end bright screen.
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serdukoff



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

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1.
Thank you all who replied. Obviously, my ideas are met with zero enthusiasm. I realize that some people just may naturally prefer the chimney finders on their SLRs, including the ultra-modern cameras. I am not one of those people, though still open to learn about benefits of this approach. Regarding inherent inability of the 2X3 Graflex to focus a 12” lens I want to clarify that I meant to add new [bag] bellows in the front, a new focusing mechanism external to the body of the camera – specifically built for and around the F2.8/12” lens, effectively dedicating this particular Graflex box to that lens. The angular lens movements, tilt and swing, would be realized externally to the camera, with the axes of those movements coincident with the back of the lens. By placing the pivoting axes of the lens where I said, the lateral lens shifts can remain unutilized. Reason for that is : the relatively wide image circle of this lens would allow to control placement of the plane of sharp focus, not causing massive vignetting by the “throat” of the Baby Graflex, which I just learned yesterday, is not very wide. On the other hand, should the qualities of the images obtained with this setup be intriguing, they may warrant further steps. The front of the camera can be modified (=”butchered” for some) to make it much more open to the lense’s cone of light. The full size 4X5 body can be modified the same way, not just the “baby2X3”, on which I want to execute my first try.
2.
The undertones of your people’s replies make me want to ask my novice’s question to all of you – what are those idiosyncratic qualities you are looking for in your Graflexes? What do you do with them that can not be done with a modern medium format SLR, even fitted with old lenses with their unique rendition, like do some photographers? Is it the sheer jump in negative size, from 6X7sm to 4X5”? Or is it truly that spirit of using the old tool with its unique aura? Please – really – share some links to distinctively Graflex SLR-made, yet modern images you yourselves or other photographers produce.
3.
Dan – thank you for the leads to the 4x5 Arca Swiss reflex and to the Mentor SLR. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much on either, except that they are indeed very rare and very expensive. I have also heard of a Linhof large format SLR. On the other hand what you suggest by saying “…hang the box on the back of a proper view camera…” essentially almost amounts to my modification of the Graflex’s front – cutting away extra material from around the lensboard opening, sides and bottom of the camera. That is, if I understood correctly as to what you meant by the “hang the box”.
4.
Thank you all again. By no means I want to disregard the baggage of knowledge and experience of this group. I am sincerely trying to learn what modern Graflex SLR photography is all about. I hope to find some help here.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1887
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2004-12-05 00:20, serdukoff wrote:
1.
Thank you all who replied. Obviously, my ideas are met with zero enthusiasm. I realize that some people just may naturally prefer the chimney finders on their SLRs, including the ultra-modern cameras. I am not one of those people, though still open to learn about benefits of this approach. Regarding inherent inability of the 2X3 Graflex to focus a 12” lens I want to clarify that I meant to add new [bag] bellows in the front, a new focusing mechanism external to the body of the camera – specifically built for and around the F2.8/12” lens, effectively dedicating this particular Graflex box to that lens. The angular lens movements, tilt and swing, would be realized externally to the camera, with the axes of those movements coincident with the back of the lens. By placing the pivoting axes of the lens where I said, the lateral lens shifts can remain unutilized. Reason for that is : the relatively wide image circle of this lens would allow to control placement of the plane of sharp focus, not causing massive vignetting by the “throat” of the Baby Graflex, which I just learned yesterday, is not very wide. On the other hand, should the qualities of the images obtained with this setup be intriguing, they may warrant further steps. The front of the camera can be modified (=”butchered” for some) to make it much more open to the lense’s cone of light. The full size 4X5 body can be modified the same way, not just the “baby2X3”, on which I want to execute my first try.
2.
The undertones of your people’s replies make me want to ask my novice’s question to all of you – what are those idiosyncratic qualities you are looking for in your Graflexes? What do you do with them that can not be done with a modern medium format SLR, even fitted with old lenses with their unique rendition, like do some photographers? Is it the sheer jump in negative size, from 6X7sm to 4X5”? Or is it truly that spirit of using the old tool with its unique aura? Please – really – share some links to distinctively Graflex SLR-made, yet modern images you yourselves or other photographers produce.
3.
Dan – thank you for the leads to the 4x5 Arca Swiss reflex and to the Mentor SLR. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much on either, except that they are indeed very rare and very expensive. I have also heard of a Linhof large format SLR. On the other hand what you suggest by saying “…hang the box on the back of a proper view camera…” essentially almost amounts to my modification of the Graflex’s front – cutting away extra material from around the lensboard opening, sides and bottom of the camera. That is, if I understood correctly as to what you meant by the “hang the box”.
4.
Thank you all again. By no means I want to disregard the baggage of knowledge and experience of this group. I am sincerely trying to learn what modern Graflex SLR photography is all about. I hope to find some help here.

Look for Mentors on german eBay, they're not that uncommon.

"Hang the box" meant, remove EVERYTHING from the front of the Graflex. Bellows, lensboard, focusing mechanism. And then attach the remains -- mirror box, focal plane shutter -- to the rear of a view camera that will give you the movements etc. you want.

I don't see the point of preserving, in particular, the Graflex' front standard. As you pointed out, the front standard will vignette the cone of rays emerging from the lens and may limit the focal length -- or close focusing distance -- of the lens you can use.

I also note that few users of view cameras use movements with long (for the format) lenses. What applications do you have in mind for y'r AeroEktar?

And if you're going to use movements, what are the benefits of shooting an SLR instead of focusing on the ground glass? For me, SLRs' big advantage is speed.

So you'll know my prejudices, I shoot 2x3 Graphics. Also have a 600/9 Apo Ronar bought because the price was right and in contemplation of using it and a 2x3 Graflex to create a "Baby Bertha." I've since decided that for what I do it would be more cost effective -- cash outlay, amount of gear to tote -- to build a tandem camera rig that incorporates my two 2x3 Graphics and a Zenit (yes, for 35 mm) bellows I happen to have. Its designed, I have to have a couple of pieces that I can't do myself made.

12" isn't very long. You'd be about as well off making a support and extension tube for your AeroEktar. I shoot a 12"/4 Taylor Hobson telephoto, G. H. Cook design, on my 2x3 Speed. 12" ain't much on 2x3.

"Big Berthas", as you have in mind to build, seem to have been shot straight ahead, i.e., with no movements.

Good luck,

Dan
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David A. Goldfarb



Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 142
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



I use a 5x7" Press Graflex, because I like having an SLR that produces a negative big enough for a decent sized contact print. I do use older lenses on my MF SLR, but the effect is different in terms of grain, DOF, the look of out-of-focus areas. I also have other large format cameras (4x5, 8x10, and 11x14), but the 5x7" SLR is handholdable and suitable for more dynamic compositions than are possible with a view camera or even a press camera like a Graphic or Technika (I also use a Tech V).

Many classic lenses were designed really for negs that were to be contact printed, so they don't always hold up well to enlargement, but for contact prints they often have a look you can't get any other way.

[ This Message was edited by: David A. Goldfarb on 2004-12-05 20:20 ]

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Barney



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 47
Location: Lewistown, Montana

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Goldfarb:
Do you need some 5 x 7 Graflex cut film holders?

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David A. Goldfarb



Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 142
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barney--Thanks for the offer. I've sent you a private message.

Best,

David
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djon



Joined: 05 Nov 2004
Posts: 174
Location: New Mexico

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might be pleased by the results your large negatives would produce, scanned directly in contact with the top of a recent model flatbed Canon or Epson scanner and printed digitally.

I think you'd experience "contacts" rather than "enlargements" because there would be no loss to an enlarging lens...but if you chose to digitally enlarge, they'd appear identical to the "contact." The scanning lens in these flatbeds is so small that it has tremendous depth of field, making film flatness less relevant than in an enlarger (I do lay a contact print glass over the old rollfilm negatives (Kodak #103: 4X5) when I scan, and
anti-newton glass over 120, but that's not necessary with flat sheet film).

I've recently been working with 100-yr-old negatives and have been amazed at the superiority of this process over conventional enlargement.
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David A. Goldfarb



Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 142
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen some outstanding digital prints, and they have their own look, which can be interesting, but they don't look like silver prints, and I'm interested in making silver prints.
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serdukoff



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

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for the input. Now – this is mainly for Dan – ‘been to ebay/Germany, took a look around. A bit tough to navigate, I only know a few words of German. Have yet to see what that Mentor SLR looks like to appreciate the idea. But, in hindsight, I can say that a month ago I was all into designing the view camera capabilities into my PENTAX 645NII, whereas only two months ago I was doing the same thing for the NIKON F100 body. From 35mm to 3X4” and 4X5” in two months. Should you wonder what warrants this approach, I can explain.
Recently, after a couple of years of using my self-made monocle (singlet) type lenses on 35mm, always shooting wide open, with aggressive movements, I was ready to go up in terms film format. The particular lens elements I had were covering more than 35mm frame and confining my coverage to the frame of my F100 felt like depriving myself of even higher degree of peripheral defocus areas, so beautifully rendered with assistance of huge chromatic and coma-type aberrations. I love the effects of both and have learned to use them creatively. It’s all like in the early days of photography when pictorealists were moving away from sharp lenses. Unfortunately the widest angle of lenses of this type on an SLR is limited by the distance between the lens mounting flange and the film plane. For the 35mm SLR my widest is about 40mm fully open at about F1.0. Outdoors it requites very fast shutter and even with the slowest films of today the 1/8000 of F-100 comes very handy. I also use neutral density filters to subdue the amount of light. A bit off-topic – the highly diffused (~non-sharp) areas of my negs often fool my MINOLTA Scan Multi Pro, so that it doesn’t recognize them as any image and does to them some bizarre things on its own.
Then came the PENTAX. The great thing about the 645NII is its soft mirror action and motorized film advance, both making work with this type of optics, not attached firmly to the camera (to get the most from the lens movements) easier.
At this point I rediscovered for myself what can be done with conventional, sharp rendering super fast lenses if one uses swings and tilts. But to do the same as what I do with singlets using the “normal” lenses requires more control. This prompted the design of something resembling the front standard of a view camera, mounted in front of my SLRs. This is nothing new, except that I wanted to get a lot closer to the camera opening that Horseman, Calumet or Zoerk gadgets permit. I bought myself a few oddities – old projection lenses, process lenses and Aero Ektars – all very fast optics.
Then I realized that to make depth of field even more shallow I have to go up in negative size. For a given angle of coverage the depth of field is smaller with big format – everyone here knows that. Plus, with 4X5” one can hope to experiment with different lenses on the cheap and maybe accidently to discover real gems with idiosyncratic bokeh. That’s where I am now.
Thus, Graflex SLR. And thus tilts – for selective placement of the plane of sharp focus, even with long lenses – even more so than with short ones. Your idea with a stationary monorail camera is OK, but not for dynamic photography, not for portraiture.
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t.r.sanford



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

PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I recall aright, one of the early Graflex cameras (perhaps the "Naturalist" model) had a secondary mirror in the hood, for eye-level viewing of an inverted image. I've seen a similar arrangement in a postwar "Rolleiflex Automat."

I've wondered whether it would be practical to couple a simple diagonal mirror like this with a unit-power image-inverting telescope to provide eye-level viewing with a 4x5 Graflex reflex. Perhaps one might imagine a binocular system...

Today's first-surface mirrors can be very good indeed, absorbing practically no light.
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serdukoff



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

PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may start laughing, but I also use a videocamera for viewing the ground glass image in awkward situations. A unit power telescope-type arrangement ? Hm... I suggest you get some insight by studying the viewfinder arrangement of the PENTAX 645 bodies. I wouldn't be surprised to find out if their very compact prism is not the roof type. The image inversion in their case seems to be taking place in the long tubular Keppler-type viewer, much like you are suggesting. By the way, Hasselblad's prizm designed to work with bulky 70mm film magazine may be of the same type, I am not sure. Besides, PENTAX 645 has one similarity with GRAFLEX - they position the ground glass at an angle, thus limiting the angular travel of the mirror, which sweeps the angle smaller than typical 45 degrees. Very clever, but it has its own drawbacks.
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