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New Mini Speed Graphic owner with questions

 
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grat



Joined: 17 Feb 2021
Posts: 14
Location: Gainesville, FL

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:41 am    Post subject: New Mini Speed Graphic owner with questions Reply with quote

I have just become the 3rd owner of a 1940's vintage Miniature Speed Graphic (376646) and kit. It's got the retrofit graflok back, rangefinder, and the 101 Optar in a Graphex shutter. Also included is a couple of grafmatics (one has a broken spring), a film pack adapter, a stack of assorted film holders, a roll-film adapter, the flash assembly, a Kodak set of 3 Series VI filters with case (and box), assorted original manuals, and a case to put it all in.

My first question was going to be "Where's the serial number?", but while I was checking the shutter, I found the number inside the case etched into the top panel. Looking at the serial number list, this means sometime mid to late 1945? The lens appears to be from 1946 if the Wollensak table is accurate.

The former owner says it was given to him in 1963, and he put it in a closet in 1968. Must be quite the closet-- while the optics are generally filthy (except the lens itself), and the camera is in need of a general clean, everything seems to work except the tubular finder (it clicks, but... I'm not sure it's doing much). Both shutters seem reasonably accurate, although the FPS needs a little more tension on it-- on "O", it closes fully, but a bit sluggish, and doesn't "snap" closed.

So the questions... first, being from the 1940's, I'm assuming this is actual leather on the outside? I've got some quality leather cleaner / protector. The leather's a bit scuffed in places-- do people touch this sort of thing up, or leave it as a "survivor"?

Similarly, for the paint-- in a few places the paint's rubbed off. I'm not opposed to touching it up, or even doing a full restore-- the question is, should I? Basically, the camera's in what I would consider 7/10 condition-- but mechanically is closer to 9/10.

The ground glass assembly-- I wasn't expecting to find a Fresnel lens. I was even more surprised that the ground glass faces *away* from the lens-- the rough side is in the middle of the sandwich. Is this standard? It seems to correspond with the rangefinder.

How smooth should the focusing rack be? This one feels a little stiffer than I would expect, and has a faint "metal on metal" feel-- which makes sense, since that's what it is, but since I have nothing to compare it with, I don't know what's normal and what's "service me for the love of god!!".

Finally, I know one of the limitations of the Mini Speed Graphic is the lack of front movements-- "rise" being about the limit. Has anyone redesigned the front standard to add tilt/shift? Doesn't look like it would be that tough.

Pardon the rambling nature of this post-- As I wrote it, other things occurred to me. All in all, looks like a fun little camera, even though it's a bit heavy.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1609
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations on your acquisition. You'll have some fun with this camera!
The tubular finder indeed doesn't do much (at least, not for me on the Century Graphic). I think they're a waste of time, frankly. The sports (wire frame) finder is much more practical, in my experience, for hand-held work. But in most of my work I use the Century like a view camera, i.e., tripod-mounted with ground glass focussing. The limited front rise is useful, but any other perspective corrections I make in Photoshop (I scan all of my negatives in the digital darkroom!). I shoot only 120 roll film, in 6x7 format.

On my set-up, the orientation of the fresnel/ground glass sandwich front to back is fresnel with ridges facing ground glass, IOW the smooth surfaces of the two panels face outward, with the fresnel panel closer to the lens and the glass closer to the viewer.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3996
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were multiple entries in "the book" for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 Speed Graphic Cameras listed in January 1946, yours is in one of them.

Quote:
I'm assuming this is actual leather on the outside?

XXX Moroccan to be exact.

The paint is lead based, hard to match today.

Henry is correct, fresnel smooth side faces the lens, ground glass etched side faces the fresnel ribbed side / lens.

Quote:
How smooth should the focusing rack be?

Smooth enough you can turn the focus knob without damaging the skin on your fingers but firm enough to prevent the yoke moving forward with the lens focused at any distance and the camera pointed down toward the ground. (90 to the horizon)

The Miniature Speed service manual is available at https://learncamerarepair.com/product.php?product=846&category=2&secondary=28

The Graphex Shutter service manual https://learncamerarepair.com/product.php?product=113&category=2&secondary=35
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grat



Joined: 17 Feb 2021
Posts: 14
Location: Gainesville, FL

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All good info, and appreciated.

What's the recommendation for cleaning light surface rust? I've only found it on the lens retaining ring so far.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3996
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://www.homedepot.com/p/3M-3-7-8-in-x-6-in-x-5-16-in-9-84-cm-x-15-2-cm-x-0-79-cm-Very-Fine-Hand-Sanding-Pads-2-Pack-7447/301117170?MERCH=REC-_-searchViewed-_-NA-_-301117170-_-N
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grat



Joined: 17 Feb 2021
Posts: 14
Location: Gainesville, FL

PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far, so good (aside from what I did to the poor focuscope lens....). As near as I can tell, I have no light leaks in the camera, the bellows, or the roll-film holder.

I've got the rangefinder dialed in, most of the optics clean, about 50 years worth of grime removed from the leather, and with any luck, I'll be out shooting film this weekend (Only 120-- the sheet film won't be here 'til Monday).

Speaking of the rangefinder, at least one of the mirrors is kinda grungy. I presume these are front-surface mirror(s), and as such, the silvering is very fragile? What would be acceptable methods for cleaning? I would think any kind of friction would be bad. I can air-dry it with an air blower, but is there any type of solvent I can use safely?

Related, while I've got the rangefinder pretty well dialed in (I adjusted the "foot" part of the linkage until it and the ground glass agreed on focus), there's a small amount of horizontal offset. How difficult is this to correct?

The Kalart service manual at learncamerarepair references "lateral adjustment screw MS73-I", which is shown in the diagram as being on the front of the rangefinder above the "NG" in "RANGEFINDER". That seems to be the same model unit as I have on my camera, with a corresponding screw in the same location.

I assume, but wanted to verify before I touched it, that this is the lateral adjustment I need to tweak?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3996
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the movable mirror a mirror (older version) or prism (newer version).
These can be safely cleaned with isopropyl alcohol or window cleaner on a cotton swab.
The top, fixed mirror is a 50/50 beamsplitter. The older coatings have a tendency to rub off with wet or dry cleaning with a cotton swab if touched. Modern beamsplitters are thinner than the older ones. The coated surface faces the front of the camera. Shim new ones on the rear with the front closest to the front of the camera.

The lateral adjustment is at the base of the beamsplitter mount. Later versions have a lever attached that fits into a slot in a screw accessible from the exterior of the rangefinder. Sometimes the lever has to be repositioned on the adjustment screw.
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