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Thread: Graflex Series B 5x7

  1. #1

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    Graflex Series B 5x7

    Anyone here have experience shooting with one?

    I just acquired a beautiful one from about 1928 if the serial number resource I have is correct. Aside from a few scuffs to the leather it is in incredible condition. Lens only has a bit of dust, bellows and curtain are both light tight and move freely, and the shutter speeds even seem to be accurate, at least compared by ear to my speed graphic that I know is correct.

    I am quite familiar with how to shoot it, but I did have 2 questions. First, does anyone know where to get a decent Fresnel for the ground glass? While I assume it may require some adjustments to the film plane, I would be interested into looking into whether it is worth the time and effort to get a slightly brighter image edge to edge on the ground glass. Second, does anyone have experience with shooting one on its side? I shoot mainly portraits, and seeing how the 5x7 Series B does not have the same rotating back as the RB's and Home Pome Portrait Graflex's I will need to lay the camera on its side to get portraits. Aside from the physical logistics (tripod, viewing the ground glass via sideways hood, etc) I was wondering if there are any functional concerns I should be aware of. I often shoot my speed graphic in portrait without issue, but given the larger shutter curtain and the addition of a reflex mirror I was wondering if there were any issues with the 5x7.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Also, if anyone knows any good forums etc to post for sale/trade threads that may be helpful as well. If I find it will be too large a hassle to shoot portraits with the Series B 5x7 I may be looking to trade it for a Series D 4x5 or a Home Portrait Graflex 5x7, but don't know where to start.

  2. #2

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    Re: Graflex Series B 5x7

    As for the Fresnel, I'd suggest just getting one of those page magnifiers you can find at any office supply store for a few bucks and cut it down. You can cut them pretty easily if you do it like glass. Flip it over to the back (smooth, non ribbed) side, score along the line you want to cut with several passes of something sharp (like a nail will work). Then lay that score over a hard and straight surface like a counter top and put something sturdy and heavy over the counter top side like a book, and then bend the other side with firm and even pressure. It should snap along the score line. Make sure to get the center of the page magnifier (easily seen because that's where the circles are centered) in the center of your 5x7 cutout. I did this with my Speed Graphic, and it made a huge difference for about $10 and an hour of work. I even have it held in place by the ground glass shade frame, so it's no hassle to use! As long as the Fresnel is on the outside of the ground glass, it won't effect focus, just brightness.

    You may also want to consider regrinding the ground glass. Get yourself some silicon carbide or aluminum oxide powder at around 600 grit and a blank piece of glass and grind the old ground glass to make it look almost like new. Once again, as long as you install it with the ground side facing in, it won't effect focus. Those two techniques are cheap and easy ways to get a few stops brighter over the original setup.

    I can't tell you if it's okay to shoot it sideways. Those mirrors are big and heavy and probably not designed to do that, and being as old as they are, I don't know how they'd respond to that. You might try the guys over at Graflex.org. That's kind of their thing.

  3. #3

    Re: Graflex Series B 5x7

    I had one of the Chinese ebay sellers custom cut a fresnel for my Home Portrait Graflex. It wasn't cheap but it is very bright and works very well, with no focus changes. Another thing I did to brighten up the camera was to have the mirror resilvered. All that said, I would be very worried about putting the camera on its side. The springs and fabric are almost 100 years old, so keep the stress to a minimum.

  4. #4

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    Re: Graflex Series B 5x7

    Will placing the Fresnel above the ground glass (viewing side) have the same effect in brightening the image as placing it below (taking side). I only ask because my anniversary speed graphic is designed/calibrated with a Fresnel on the taking side and my Toyo does not have a Fresnel, so I have never used one with it on the viewing side.
    Last edited by robertraymer; 31-May-2018 at 19:02. Reason: correction

  5. #5
    Randy's Avatar
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    Re: Graflex Series B 5x7

    Robert, I am guessing your 5X7 has the same viewing hood as my 4X5 Series D. I found it very difficult to focus with both eyes as extraneous light could get in, illuminating my face which would then reflect off the ground-glass viewing screen. My solution can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/rsweatt/rb_mods

    As for shooting in "portrait mode" - I would suggest perfecting shooting 5X7 in "horizontal portrait mode" - it can be done:







    Otherwise, just shoot horizontal and crop in printing, wasting 1.5" of film on each side.

    As for the "For Sale" section - there is one here on the forum - after 30 days of membership you should be able to access it.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

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