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jesse1996
7-Aug-2016, 00:12
does anyone here have any experience with the 6 sheet Grafmatic film holders? It seems like a pretty awesome way to store more in less space with less weight than the equivalent. And do they make it in 8x10, if yes then id say that would justify making the leap to that and staying up in that format for a while. I'm getting my purchasing list together and i found the aforementioned product. Lastly, Those who use them, how do they perform in terms of film flatness? If poor, what holders or tricks would you suggest of flat film? I hear 8x10 can have some sagging issues and popping when the temperature changes.

Paul Ewins
7-Aug-2016, 00:19
No 8x10, just 2x3 and 4x5. The only test I have seen showed them to be more reliable in terms of film flatness because of the way the septum are held against the frame by the springs. This removes the variation that you would get in a typical bunch of double sided film holders. So while they probably won't be better than your best holder they'll certainly be better than your worst.

Mark Darragh
7-Aug-2016, 03:23
I have five Graphmatics which I have used with varying levels of success. When they behave they are great holders. However, in my experience, unless the septa are straight (they do bend easily), they can jam. Light leaks are also another issue to be aware of. If they fail you stand might ruin six sheets of film as opposed to one side of a double darkslide.

On a more positive note, Peter Dombrovkis, arguably one of the world's greatest wilderness photographers, carried his film in two Graphmatic holders.

jnantz
7-Aug-2016, 06:44
hi jesse1996
i have one ( 4x5 ) and haven't used it in years.
i read something a month ago on another photography forum
that while grafmatics might be a time and weight saver,
there is "focus slop" and there might be a difference
between an actual film holder's "t distance"
and what is present in a grafmatic. while i have never experienced
"focus slop" and when i used my grafmatc, i shoot wide open 90% of the time
the same goes for the bag-mags .. never had the troubles
still there are some folks who report it is real and might cause trouble.

so, ... YMMV

Kevin Crisp
7-Aug-2016, 08:32
I use them all the time. Most of the time the work fine. Sometimes they jam. So I take a very small changing bag on trips just in case. I've never had a film place issue with one and last time I read somebody testing them against regular film holders they did quite well. I never use them with anything other than my Crown graphic.

dasBlute
7-Aug-2016, 09:58
Used them a lot at first, hard to find good ones, always some light leak issues. Buy the best holders you can afford...

Bill_1856
7-Aug-2016, 10:13
There is no weight saving -- a Grafmatic weighs the same or more than 6 modern Riteway holders, but they ARE handier.
I carry 2 or 3 of them, but actually would prefer the old BagMags (unfortunately mine are 3x4).

Alan9940
7-Aug-2016, 11:34
I've used Grafmatics for several years and never had an issue with jams, light leaks, etc. But, you need to be careful when buying; look for straight, not bent septums and, if possible, work the holder a few times to make sure it works smoothly. The weight savings, IMO, is a myth. One Grafmatic is about the same size as two regular holders and, maybe, slightly heavier. Therefore, you only get 2 additional sheets of film when comparing to regular holders. One thing I don't care for is that the counter wheel intrudes into the negative area--sometimes only very slightly and other times quite a bit, depending on the exact position of the film in the septum. I like to compose very tight to the edges of my image area and I've found that, on occasion, the intrusion of the counter wheel ruined the negative for me. But, you learn to work around these things. Nowadays, I just compose a little looser on the side where the wheel is located. Sure, I loose a few millimeters of negative area, but we're talking 4x5 here so no big deal! :)

Anyway, even with the few idiosyncrasies of these holders I still carry and use them; I have about 6. Oh, and I never noticed any sharpness issues.

Jim Noel
7-Aug-2016, 12:45
Tests have shown them to hold the film flatter and at the proper "T" distance better than any 2-sided holder. I check my inserts for flatness, particularly at the corners, after each use. Never a jam because of this careful approach.

Jim Andrada
7-Aug-2016, 13:56
I use them all the time in both 2 x 3 and 4 x 5. As was said above, there is no weight saving, but there is a space saving. I think I get a little less than 2x as much film in about the same space as with regular holders, but they're heavy!

It's also easy to screw up - you have to really remember to cycle the load mechanism after returning the dark slide to its home position. One more thing - the smallest changing bags won't have enough space inside to accommodate the fully open holder. I took a really small Kalt with me to Japan and it wasn't big enough. Fortunately(???) it rained a lot and I had a bad cold and an ear infection so the three grafmatics I took with me were enough. Just in case, I was planning to reload in a hotel bathroom at night, but didn't need to.

IanG
7-Aug-2016, 15:56
I have 3, my first was rather problematic probably why the seller got rid of it :D. It works fine with 5 sheathes but nit six and that put me off.

Last year I bough two more Wray Grafmatics, both are in far better condition - one is in its original box with the instructions. Most here won't realise that they were also made in the UK under licence, or that John Thornton after being ousted from Thornton Pickard in his latter years lived off his film pack Royalites from Eastman Kodak.

The Wray Grafmatics were made fter WWII at a time when imports to the UK were very heavily restricted, so no Pacemaker Graphics but an MPP MicroPress which was effectivelya UK Speed Graphic with mostly US parts, they could be imported.

Ian

Greg
7-Aug-2016, 16:05
Years ago bought and used 2 Grafmatics that cosmetically looked like new and were in their original boxes. Didn't test them but just started to use them. From the first batch of film, discovered that both leaked light. Fortunately was able to return them. Definitely run a test for light leaks before using a Grafmatic no matter how good it cosmetically looks.

jesse1996
7-Aug-2016, 17:13
thanks for the insight guys! I may just go with a few toyo holders since i always hear great things about them.

Drew Bedo
8-Aug-2016, 05:27
Grafmatics are a good idea for some types of shooting. Thousands were made and they are plentiful on the used market.

just wish someone would make a new version with modern materials.

Mark Sampson
8-Aug-2016, 05:48
Having some experience with Grafmatics, I've given them up. My procedure wasn't always perfect, leading to bent septums and lost images. I didn't like the frame counter in the image (although you can remove them). My real problem was the effort needed to cycle the holder in the camera- the lightweight camera and tripod I used then would shift and change my composition. Norman McGrath was the teacher who introduced me to their use; but he had a Sinar and a big tripod, so stability was not an issue. I imagine that they were designed for photojournalists shooting hand-held (with Speed Graphics, naturally), for which they were well-suited. What I miss is Tri-X Pan in filmpack, that was the ultimate in ease and portability. Gone for over 20 years though.

EdSawyer
8-Aug-2016, 14:10
I have 8 of them, and use them as my only 4x5 holders for regular film (not counting polaroid/fujiroid of course). I find them great, really excellent devices. Finding good ones takes some time, expect to pay $50-90/ea for them. Most need a CLA upon arrival. I've had to reglue light traps in a couple. There's manuals for them online, including repair manuals. I remove the counter wheels from all of mine, it's an easy reversible modification.

jnantz
8-Aug-2016, 16:19
thanks for the insight guys! I may just go with a few toyo holders since i always hear great things about them.

before you buy toyo holders take a look at this thread
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?131636-Blotchy-pattern-on-4x5-negatives

Neal Chaves
8-Aug-2016, 17:20
Like so many photographers who have worked in large format over the years, I had my own fling with them in the 1980s. I was doing some aerial black and white work overwith a 4X5 Technika and models in the studio with Technika and a Super D. I won't go into the possibilities of malfunctions, which are always present and must be taken into consideration. Out of the air, I found no real advantage over a standard double-cut film holder. Usually on each pass there is only time for one or two exposures. The double-cut film holder can be changed out nearly as fast as the Grafmatic can be operated. In the studio, there was no advantage and the downside was unacceptable. There is always interest in these devices they hold their price and are easy to sell.

ScottPhotoCo
8-Aug-2016, 22:46
I bought mine specifically to use with my Graflex SLR's and they are perfect for that. As it's an SLR I don't have to remove them to focus. I've only ever had one (out of 7) jam on me and I had several with me so it wasn't a big deal. I, for one, dig mine.




Tim
www.ScottPhoto.co

Jim Andrada
8-Aug-2016, 22:58
And I really like the number dial. YMMV of course. I guess it depends on how tightly you compose. I try not to compose tightly because I always wind up wanting to crop the image after I stare at it for a week or two.

agregov
9-Aug-2016, 00:28
While I agree that the weight savings are negligible, I regularly carry three Grafmatics when doing serious shooting and find it far easier to carry three magazines versus nine standard film holders. I have not had light leak issues but I have had a few holders stuck open in the field--really a drag. They are mechanical devices so it should be expected that some CLA will needed from time to time. If that's that not an interest, then I'd avoid using them. One issue I find slightly annoying, related to the counter encroaching your image, are the boarders of the negative are not clean like with regular film holders. I started using Grafmatics when I picked up a Chamonix Saber. They are brilliant for that camera. I enjoyed them enough to use them with my standard field kit. I would suggest picking one up and use it together with regular film holders and then make a call. On a side note, I know Bruce Barnbaum uses them reliously. On a visit to his studio he mentioned to a number of us he tries to pick up used models any chance he gets.

EdSawyer
9-Aug-2016, 06:55
Andrej, I use grafmatics with my Saber also. (a brilliant combo, as mentioned!) But, the Saber itself imposes it's own edge treatment on the negative (due to the way the bellows frame restricts coverage a tiny bit). Are you sure the border edge issues you are seeing on grafmatics are not from the Saber itself?

LabRat
9-Aug-2016, 08:10
An important to check (if you are handy) is the condition of the light traps... This involves taking it apart by removing the 2 or 3 screws on the inside slide on the pull handle end and the two screws on the plastic stop on the other end of the outer shell, then the inner body will pull out (don't lose the inner bar strips that the screws went into)... Then to remove the darkslide from the inner chamber, insert a feeler gauge where the stop that prevents the slide from coming out to disengage it...

Look carefully at the felt strips to see if there is and bare/wear spots in especially the ends or old tape residue that might gap the light trap... If good, vac the felt, and clean everything in there, and put it back together... Shine a bright flashlight through the traps to check for light leaks during assembly...

The hairy felt on the other side (insertion end of holder) MUST be replaced because it's shedding and will end up leaving it's shadow on your film... The good news is that the closed rubber 3/16" thick X 1/4" weatherstriping tape from you home store is a good replacement...

Remember to always check that the red dot indicator slide is always to be pushed in from the inside chamber or it will dent the sheaths while loading, and insert the sheaths into the holder with the film notch end first in, or it can bend the tips of the sheaths if inserted backwards (on the darkslide side)...

And check flatness of the sheaths on a piece of glass, and test how a piece of old film slides into them without binding first... And check the outside flatness of the camera mating surface with a straightedge...

Steve K

Kevin Crisp
9-Aug-2016, 09:18
Something I have found helpful is to put a pencil check mark on the white tab on the back whenever one delivers a flawless performance. An X when there was an issue. I can easily sort out which ones I know have been most reliable. And on trips carry a small changing bag so you can sort things out without removing the holder from the back of the camera in the light.

agregov
9-Aug-2016, 11:08
Andrej, I use grafmatics with my Saber also. (a brilliant combo, as mentioned!) But, the Saber itself imposes it's own edge treatment on the negative (due to the way the bellows frame restricts coverage a tiny bit). Are you sure the border edge issues you are seeing on grafmatics are not from the Saber itself?

Ed, you're completely right! I just checked some Grafmatic made negs that I know were shot with my Arca Swiss and the edges are clean. I missed this as a good chunk of my last project was shot with the Saber (my first time using it) and just assumed that the dirty boarders came from the Grafmatic. Thanks for pointing that out!

So, let me re-state myself, using the Grafmatics with standard 4x5 kits will give you the same boarders as using standard two sheet film holders. Apologies for adding confusion to the thread.

EdSawyer
10-Aug-2016, 08:14
Andrej, glad to help clarify that. Indeed, the Saber imparts those edges. It's not ideal but given the huge advantages it has as a camera in general, I can put up with the non-standard edge treatment. ;-)

macandal
27-Jan-2017, 14:07
Light leaks are also another issue to be aware of.

...always some light leak issues.

From the first batch of film, discovered that both leaked light.Well, in a way, I'm glad to hear it wasn't me who was screwing up my exposures. I thought the light leaks occurred because my technique (when "forwarding" the film) wasn't good. Can these light leaks be fixed? If so, how?

Thanks.

Bob Salomon
27-Jan-2017, 15:33
As most of you probably know, Graflex, in their later years, had financial problems and went through various owners before they disappeared from the market.
In the early 80s the Grafmatics were manufactured and sold through a company in Florida.
Linhof had been selling the Grafmatic, as well as other Graphic holders for many years. However, in the early 80s Linhof was having tremendous difficulty with the Grafmatic holders from FL and were finding that up to 70% of each delivery of the holders to them were defective. Light leaks and scratches were the most common problems.
For a period of time Linhof would get parts of replacements directly from the people in FL and then QC and repair as many as they could at the factory in Munich. But they would charge back to the company in FL for the repairs.
Eventually the two factories became rather adversarial. So Linhof asked us, as their USA distributor, to act as the intermediary for them with the factory in FL. I got the job of dealing with them, under the theory that since my first language is English and the factory principals also spoke English as their first language. Thus eliminating any translation problems that might have been interfering between the Germans and the Floridians.
That also meant that we would order for the factory, FL would ship the holders to us and we would ship them on to a Linhof. It also meant that when Linhof inspected the holders and found defects they would no longer repair them but instead would ship the bad ones back to us and we would ship them back to FL for credit.
While we did not any charges for doing this to Linhof, other then the shipping charges, we did spend a fair amount of time on the phone over the problems with the people in FL and over receiving refunds for the returned goods that were defective. Unfortunately the percentage of defects kept going up and the credits became more difficult to receive and then, around 83, impossible to get. So that was the end of Grafmatics and Linhof.
So beware, if you get ones made in FL there is a pretty good possibility that they were defective when they were originally shipped from the factory.

macandal
27-Jan-2017, 16:51
So beware, if you get ones made in FL there is a pretty good possibility that they were defective when they were originally shipped from the factory.How can one tell? I'm beginning to think that most of mine were made in FL!!

How can one fix the light leaks?

Thanks for sharing Bob.

Bob Salomon
27-Jan-2017, 17:00
How can one tell? I'm beginning to think that most of mine were made in FL!!

How can one fix the light leaks?

Thanks for sharing Bob.

I don't know. We just ordered them and shipped them to Linhof and to the factory. We were never involved in any other way with them and since 1980 we never recommended them.

jnantz
28-Jan-2017, 06:33
Tests have shown them to hold the film flatter and at the proper "T" distance better than any 2-sided holder. I check my inserts for flatness, particularly at the corners, after each use. Never a jam because of this careful approach.

that is what i thought.


I bought mine specifically to use with my Graflex SLR's and they are perfect for that. As it's an SLR I don't have to remove them to focus. I've only ever had one (out of 7) jam on me and I had several with me so it wasn't a big deal. I, for one, dig mine.

Tim
www.ScottPhoto.co


never had the grafmatics for slr's ( only learned a couple of years ago they even existed )
but i have bag mags, i think i have 4-5 of them and one for glass plates.
i like them, simple and easy to use ( the slr's too )