View Full Version : Graphic View I , Graphic View II, Grover 4x5

Les Alvis
23-Oct-1999, 09:53
I am ready to move from my Crown Graphic to a true view camera. I'm still learn ing and experimenting, so I don't want to make a big investment. I want a monor ail, and I have found and am considering three cameras: the Graphic View I, Gra phic View II, and a B&J Grover 4x5.

I would appreciate comments from anyone who uses any of these cameras. I would particularly be interested in comparisons between the View I and View II. I bel ieve I am aware of their different features, but I would like to hear about the differences in practical use.

Erik Ryberg
23-Oct-1999, 10:39

I have used the Graphic View and the 8x10 Grover. I think the Graphic View is a much sturdier and better designed camera. I still have my Graphic View and don't shoot much 4x5 anymore but it is really a fine tool. Tough, not too heavy, has all the movements, who could ask for more? And to top it off you can get a very nice one for less than $200 on ebay.

23-Oct-1999, 15:44
Les, I used a Graphic View II for years. Landscape, Architecture, tabletop -- it will do anything, and ask for more. Built like a brick outhouse. Adapters are/were available to use your Crown Graphic lensboard on the GVII. You will need a recessed board to use 90mm lens with any movements. Some of the last cameras were made with a Graflock back, in my opinion this option si worth extra $100. I think the GVI was almost the same, with shorter monorail and less bellows extension. B&J wasn't considered in the same league. Feel free to contact me directly for any specific questions. Good luck. Mitch

23-Oct-1999, 17:27
Additional infomation. Quoting from the 10th edition of Graphic and Graflex Photography:

23-Oct-1999, 17:35
Additional infomation. Quoting from the 10th edition of Graphic and Graflex Photography: "...the focusing panels (of the GVII)are equiped with the Ektalite Field lens for easy focusng and viewing to the extreme corners of the screen. The original Graphic View Camera had a bellows extension of 12 1/2 inches. The model II camera which superseded it in 1949 has an extension of over 16 inches. On the model II, all tilts and swings have centrally located axes which aid in maintaining proper image centering while focus and perspective controls are being adjusted. All adjustments have click stops to facilitate returning to center after use. The camera features a bu8lt-in spirit level on top of the camera, focusing-cloth clips, and a pan-tilt camera bvase which would normatlly be considered part of the tripod. Hope this helps. Mitch

Tony Brent
23-Oct-1999, 22:28
One thing to check on the Graphic View is the locking knobs on the two focussing controls. These are the knurled metal knobs just beneath the black focussing knobs. If they have been forced in the past, the lock threads may have been partially stripped. Get the II if you can, with the Graflok back.

26-Oct-1999, 10:01
Les, check photo.net today (q and a section). There's a guy who wants to know what his grandfather's GV is worth. Mitch

David Honey
9-Nov-2005, 13:05
An American Classic.

After a short internet romance, I got myself a nice Graphic View II off eBay last week, and have been getting to know it and sorting out some mechanical issues. (Much of this will probably apply to the first GV as well.)

The focusing gear always seems to get a bad rap. I agree that the design could be better, but what's obviously most to blame is the years of sitting around that inevitably results in dried-out lubrication, followed by unthinking attempts at operation without any intervening maintenance. Sadly, in just a few seconds, gears and threads can be stripped or galled, and decent manufacturer's reputations go, unfairly, down the toilet.

The first thing I did with my GVII was to disassemble the focusing gear right down to the bushes, and clean, lube and carefully reassemble everything. I was lucky that there was no thread stripping or other damage, and now everything works very smoothly (perhaps not quite like a Linhof, but then you shouldn't compare a 1952 Chevy to a 1967 Mercedes!)

There's an article I read recently about replacing or modifying the original monorail/tripod mount. Don't bother. Save the original for posterity ( it makes a dandy table-top display stand when the camera's not in use!) and just buy a Bogen/Manfrotto Quick Release clamp/assembly #3299 (USA/Canada part no.) and screw it onto your tripod head (you won't need the camera mounting plate part of it). The GV's rail will clip right onto the baseplate almost as if it was made for it, and it'll be QR to boot! It works as a 'dovetail' mechanism on the lower angles of the rail in the same way as does the $100 CNC-milled third-party mount I've seen advertised. (Initially there's a slight amount of tilt to one side, which is easily corrected in your ball or pan-head, and shouldn't be an issue.)

The biggest 'design fault' I see with this camera is the configuration of the monorail itself. It has almost no torsional rigidity, and the weight of the camera on top can set up a formidable wobble. I'm scratching my head now, trying to figure out how that could be improved...

Despite it's faults, I love the classic '1940s USA' look and feel of the GVII, and can see why it's often recommended as a first LF camera. Most of it's limitations will no doubt be overshadowed by my own for quite some time.

I hope this will help new owners; some of it may apply to other cameras as well. I'll post any further ideas as they occur to me, and welcome any comments.

(Oh, and if anyone has a spare monorail end-cap and/or a recessed lensboard -- or even an incomplete 'parts' GVII for sale -- please contact me!)