View Full Version : Busted eye - Radiation - Graflex crown graphic rangefinder

31-May-2017, 10:14
Right, I'm planning on getting a crown graphic as a walkaround, as I really don't get out as much as I would like with my Sinar Norma 5x7 (SURPRISE!).

However, my eye is pretty busted on the right, and so I'm wondering whether the crown graphic is usable for someone with only their left eye working properly?

Also, I am trying to veer away from radioactive lenses and the like (for reasonably solid personal reasons), so I just want to check that there are no THORIUM eye pieces at work here??? (It's hard to find out about radiation with the large format stuff).

Jim Jones
31-May-2017, 10:47
I've always used my left eye for both top and side rangefinders on Graphics. No problem. The optics involved do not demand the sophistication that once made radioactive lenses popular.

31-May-2017, 11:06
Okay great. Just want to be sure I am not pressing up against thorium.

Also, that's good to know about the left eye usage - I'll will definitely look into picking one up then. Anything in particular to look out for (apart from the usual holes in bellows, etc) ?

31-May-2017, 11:53
I'm left-eyed. I think this may be one camera that actually works better for lefties.

Familiarise yourself with the camera, then make sure the one you buy has all the parts. On Ebay, a percentage of them are missing the backs, so watch out for that. Bellows are tough, shouldn't be a problem. Really, there's not too much to go bad on them.

Jim Noel
31-May-2017, 13:41
I have been a left eye focuser since my early days with a Speed Graphic in the 1930's

31-May-2017, 14:36
Great! Lots of left eyed graflex users! I'll get my research done and then perform the jump. Looking forward to getting some city shots before I leave for more rural climes.

31-May-2017, 14:43
I started photography on a Leica rangefinder, and I've always used my left eye for that. You almost have to, with the viewfinder being on the far left end of the camera.

31-May-2017, 22:24
Hey seezee, you got it the wrong way around with the M ;) Vf is on the left so you can use your right eye comfortably without digging your face into the camera back :)

Back to OP. Side mounted kalart rangefinders on Graflex are mounted on the right side so its more "comfortable" focusing with the left eye. Holding the Graflex in a stable position when shooting hand held is a chapter for a whole other thread thou, doesnt matter wich eye you have to use...its difficult but worthwhile imho.

When you buy one, try to get a side mounted kalart (theres top mounted RF too but you'll need a cam for that). That you can calibrate to your favorite lenses. Also make sure you have infinity stops on the rails and that the coupling arm is present (you can see it on the left to the bellows when you look at it from the front.

Good luck with your purchase! I love my Graflexes as much as my Leica Rangefinders, maybe even more.

Drew Bedo
1-Jun-2017, 05:36
Hello Milam:

I am" blind in one eye and can't see out the other." Right eye is useless and the left one'ws best corrected vision is 20/150 to 20/200 ("Legally Blind").

My 4x5 shooting kit is a lightweight Zone VI on a CF tripod. My best work is with table top set ups and still life compositions, but small landscapes sometimes work out for me.

I work a bit slow. Don't use a range finder. I can see the image change from out of focus to sharper on the GG, but cannot really see it snap in. Often I will place a high contrast focusing target (a retail tag bar code ) on the subject and move it around to check how movements affect DOF. When woreking outside, it often helps me to walk around in the subject space while framing and focusing. I can use a 5x loup, but have also used a jeweler's head set magnifier.

I have prefigured the bellows extension for my 90, 150 and 210 lenses to speed things along.

Another adaptive strategy: I only show people the images that turn out really well!

Drew Bedo
1-Jun-2017, 05:47
What about one of the Polaroid conversions that were the rage back in the 2ks?

1-Jun-2017, 05:49
An eyepatch would make you look like a pirate... Arggggh!!! But 3d movies would be out... :-)

(I actually use an eyepatch for astronomy when there is stray light around that can affect my night vision...) But I also close one eye while viewing a scene, and do the framelines thing with my fingers, to view in 2d, like your one-eyed monster (camera) sees...

But seriously, you (or anyone) will have a dominant eye, and you can adapt your VF viewing to that eye with most (but not all) cameras... Try to find a way that both eyes can be open so one sees through the VF, while the other sees around the camera to see if anything is entering (or leaving) the frame... With enough practice, the eyes will merge, but there will be framelines in your IC...

Steve K

1-Jun-2017, 07:57
Maybe check to see that the beamsplitter glass in the rangefinder is in good shape, especially since you'll be using it. They tend to get dirty and cleaned, which can wear off the reflective coating over time. And finding replacement beamsplitter glass isn't usually cheap and replacing them can be a bit of a pain. Also the WWII versions of the Graflex Anniversary Speed Graphic usually come with some bellows made of some weird asphalt impregnated cloth, or something like that. Anyway, they don't hold up near as well as the later Pacemaker versions. I bought one of those and had to replace the bellows, which was a bit of a pain. I eventually bought one of those that that guy from China is selling on the 'bay, which don't say if they're for the Anniversary or Pacemaker models. They're apparently for the Pacemaker, because the rear fits fine, but the front is a bit small. Anyway, with some creative gluing I got it all worked out and now it shoots fine. Also be aware that the shutter curtain material can harden and crack over time. So if you plan on using the shutter of a Speed Graphic (and not get a Crown Graphic), if may be a good idea to inspect the shutter for any cracks or dried out rubber coating. It's easy enough to repair with some lemon Pledge and some Plasti-Dip, but it's a whole lot easier to just buy one without that problem to begin with. Lastly, be aware of the different backs they come with. Some have a standard spring back. Some have the Graflex back, which requires special film holders to use, and some have a graflok back, which uses regular film holders, but also makes switching out to roll film holders a breeze. The front stand on the Pacemaker versions has some front tilt which is nice, especially for the drop bed feature, should you decide to ever use it. The Anniversay versions don't have tilt on their standards, but you can replace the standard bearer on the Anniversary with a Pacemaker version if you just remove one of the set screws to make room for the rangefinder arm while the camera is closed up. Be warned, the bed drops lower on the Anniversary model, so even with the Pacemaker standard bearer attached to the front of an Anniversary, you still won't be able to right the lens board to 100% parallel with the film plane, but you can get pretty close.

As other's have said, I'm left eye dominant as well and the side mounted range finder works perfectly for me! It was a bit of a pain to set up though, and I don't like how on the Anniversary version, it's not easy to swap out lenses if you have the infinity stop set on the rail (it requires a screw driver to remove). The Pacemaker has it right with the flip out infinity stops that don't require a screw driver to remove.

1-Jun-2017, 17:10
Hey seezee, you got it the wrong way around with the M ;) Vf is on the left so you can use your right eye comfortably without digging your face into the camera back :)

Tell that to everyone who's ever poked themselves in the face with one of these! ;-b


Jim Andrada
1-Jun-2017, 20:21
Ditto on Left Eye Only (well, the right is 20/1000 or something like that - quite useful for reading small print at 3" or so from my face.)

And I fully agree with the concept of only showing folks the good ones!!!

2-Jun-2017, 17:18
Ditto on Left Eye Only (well, the right is 20/1000 or something like that - quite useful for reading small print at 3" or so from my face.)
I never use a focusing loupe with LF because I can just peek over my eyeglasses.

And I fully agree with the concept of only showing folks the good ones!!!
If you've every looked at JCB's contact sheets, you'd know the truth of this.