View Full Version : Seeking information about Graflex 4x5 split shot/sliding back

4-Apr-2012, 12:38
Hi all,

Before I purchase one, I am trying to learn a little bit more about the 4x5 "Split Shot" (read mugshot) adapter produced by Graflex back in the day...

If you're not familiar with this unit, there's an overpriced one on eBay (http://bit.ly/Hgp4N0) right now with some informative pictures, but there are a still a few things I haven't been able to glean from multiple web searches.

There is supposed to be more information about this accessory on graflex.org, but I am unable to locate it because I don't even know what this thing is properly called.

At first, I believed this unit to slide under a graflok back and function as a film holder as well, but upon revisiting the photos, it appears to be a proper back itself... Also, I suppose the years of production on these pretty well prevents it from being made to work with a graflok back.

Can anyone who owns or has used one of these give me a little more information about how to use it? And if this thing is a back and not just a "film holder", am I going to have to remove my graflok every time I want to use it? I am particularly interested to know how to insert a film holder into one of these things (i.e., like a graflok, graphic, or graflex back?)

Any information is greatly appreciated,

4-Apr-2012, 14:02
hi william

i have never used one of these on a 4x5 ...

from the images on the selling page:

it sits between the ground glass back and attaches to he camera body
the top photographs show the hinge / place for the ground glass back itself to latch onto ( the curved metal tabs pictures ).
you pull / push / side the ground glass + film holder, the split back "sticks out" so you can slide "far enough"
and allow it to exposes only part of your film.

to use it, it seems that you need a graflok / international back.
you will have to remove your ground glass/back, and attach it to the sliding back where the curved hinges are
then attach the back itself to the camera with graflock levers, so it stays put on the back of your camera.
the box ( hole ) doesn't side back and forth but it seems the ground glass/ film holder slides ontop of the split back.

i used to use one of these ( or something similar to it ) at a portrait studio. it was used with a 5x7 back.
the main thing when using it is to always "start" with it in the same position so you know what side of
your film is exposed and .. not. they are easily removed and installed ( or the big ones were ) ...
they are useful, if you want to save on film ...

i have almost bought one over the years, but realized it was easier, and less expensive just to use a roll film adapter, and shoot 120 film ...
roll film adapters ( like a 23 ) are not too expensive, and offer about the same size negative
as a split 4x5 back ... 4 sheets of 4x5 film ( 8 "splits" ) are probably more $$ than a roll of 120 film ... depending on what flavor film you use.

good luck !

Dan Fromm
4-Apr-2012, 15:27
William, the listing's first picture shows a device that attaches to, e.g., a Graphic's Graflok back.

The device is attached to a Graphic (look at the other pictures, I can't tell whether is is a Crown or a Speed) by removing the camera's Graflok focusing panel, putting the device on, and sliding the camera's Graflok sliders to hold it in place. The device itself has Graflok sliders to hold a Grafmatic or a Film Pack Adapter. If you look closely, you'll see that it has hooks for attaching a normal Graflok focusing panel. A sheet film holder will slip under the focusing panel. The last two shots show a focusing panel with folding hood in place.

I have a similar back, part of a Sirchie mug shot camera, in my lap. It differs considerably from the real Graflex one in the listing.

5-Apr-2012, 09:34
Thanks Dan and John for the information. Based on your descriptions and the pictures, I can now see that the graflok back sits on top of and slides on this device, but I can't imagine the film plane won't be altered. This is no big deal though, because I do intend to focus solely on the ground glass when using this device. I have been fortunate to pick one up on eBay for only $10 bucks (yow!) since my initial posting, and I imagine everything will become completely clear once it arrives.

Thanks so much for all of your help!

6-Apr-2012, 13:04
Based on my decidedly layman's calculations and the assumption that this device will push the film plane back by about its depth, I figure I should be able to focus a Schneider Angulon 6.8/90mm at infinity provided that the depth of the split shot is less than 37.6 mm or 1.48031496 inches. Does this sound reasonable given that the minimum flange-to-film distance on a Crown is 52.4 mm and the flange focal distance at infinity on the Angulon 90mm is 90mm (according to Schneider's website (http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/vintage_lens_data/large_format_lenses/angulon/data/6,8-90mm.html))?

Here's to hoping,

Dan Fromm
6-Apr-2012, 13:58
That's right.

Why'd you carry the inches conversion to so many decimal places?

6-Apr-2012, 14:01
Why'd you carry the inches conversion to so many decimal places?

Because my calculator does that many. :o

Thanks again,
That should just about cover it...

7-Apr-2012, 15:49
So I got the split shot in today, and everything makes decent sense. For anybody else interested in getting one of these, I believe the device originally came with an additional back. That's right, it requires two graflex-produced (in my case, graflok) backs. You remove the focusing panel from the graflok attached to the back of the camera, attach the split shot with the sliding, accessory-locking tabs, and then you screw a second graflok back into the back of the split shot in order to use a focusing panel/film holder. Kind of a bizarre setup in my opinion, but fortunately I had an extra back from a beat-up Speed Graphic sitting around to screw into it. If anybody out there is thinking about picking up one of these split shot accessories, make sure you keep this in mind.


Also, if anybody finds this at all interesting, the depth of this thing is about 1 1/8", so it will still be useable with my 90mm Angulon on the Crown, but definitely not on the Speed.

24-Sep-2012, 17:56
I just picked up one of these myself and just thought I'd add a bit of info. Mine came with a graflok attached and I believe that is how they originally came, rather than having to add or find a second one. The graflok that came with mine is exactly like a normal graflok except that while it has the contours where the rear part of the wireframe viewfinder would fit, the screw hole for the hinge pin is not drilled for a screw.

As mentioned previously, the unit does move the film plane back, but it also moves the ground glass back, so you can still focus accurately. Ground glass focusing is referenced to the relationship between the ground glass and the graflok, not the back of the camera chassis. The rangefinder or distance scale will not be accurate with this back on however, as they're referenced to the ground glass only when it's mounted to the graflok on the back of the camera chassis.