View Full Version : Need help to adjust Kalart Rangefinder on Graflex Crown Graphic

tom thomas
23-Feb-2011, 17:01
The Kalart rangefinder on my Crown isn't anywhere close when the image on the GG is perfect focus at infinity. The infinity stops appear to be correct. The range scale agrees with the focused image at infinity as well. I'm using steep roof peak of house at least 1/2 mile away for infinity.

I'm having problems understanding the procedures for adjusting the cam. I do have the Kalart manual which describes how to do it but very confusing. The manual says to focus at infinity using the Rangefinder "first." Mine won't focus anywhere along the rack.

It also says that the Pacemaker Graphic camera's must have the track racked forward to access the adjustment cam on the right runner of the camera track. A photo in my manual shows the arm on the rangefinder shaft making contact with the cam when the track is racked all the way forward. No so on mine. There is about an inch between where the arm stops and the cam when it is racked out enough to make the adjustment. Same thing on a 23 Speed Graphic.

Do I check focus, rack out all the way, adjust cam, rack back into the infinity marking, check, then repeat process?

Or is mine out of whack inside the rangefinder housing itself?


tom thomas
23-Feb-2011, 17:23
I had to end the thread to start dinner. I'd mentioned that the cam arm that normally contacts the cam is about an inch away inside when the track is racked out. Same on another. The arm is stopped behind the pivot arm that secures the cover and track so it loses contact with the cam long before the track is racked out all the way. The picture in the manual shows the arm contacting the cam when the track is all the way out.

I included a photo in my first post. My second question is which four screws hold the cover on. Are they the two on top and the two on the bottom. Or the one in front and the rear at the top of the flash mount?

Dinner is ready.
latr, tom

23-Feb-2011, 18:07
hey go to http://www.graflex.org
then to Speed Graphic,
then to Kalart Side Mounted Range Finder

Kalart Side Mounted Range Finder [Up to 1955}that where you can find 3 different adjustment procedure

Wayne Crider
23-Feb-2011, 18:34
The description I used to set mine up.

If you focus the RF to infinity you adjust the infinity stops for infinity on the GG; This of course with the bellows drawn. I racked my rail in all the way as you will probably not get both ends, infinity and close distances perfectly correct, so set the Kalart for closer distances with the racked in rail for infinity. You must make range-finding adjustments by measuring your distances to an object. Get out a tape measure.

The arm should not contact the cam when the rails are racked forward all the way. It doesn't on a 4x5. With the rail out that far the Kalart could never adjust to such a close distance even if it did.

It's really a do it, and do it again adjustment till your right or close enough. Hope this helps.

tom thomas
23-Feb-2011, 18:43
thanx Banjo. I'd been there already, and any other site offering adjustment help. They each just say to rack the lens frame forward to access the adjustment screw. When I do that, the arm on the rangefinder itself is about 1 inch back and no longer making contact with the cam. I even tried to move the lever arm itself while looking throug the rangefinder. It never focuses, off about an inch, ie distance between the two images that should overlap at focus.

The picture in the online Kalart adjustment manual at graflex.org, (like my manual) shows the arm contacting the cam when the track is racked out all the way to allow access to the eccentric screw. Mine is back about an inch, on two different cameras, not longer making contact with the cam.

Has anyone else encounterd this while trying to adjust the focus at infinity?

The screws on the rangefinder have some black paint over them, not original. I have to wonder if someone didn't misadjust the rangefinder and then only using the ground glass to focus.

I'm hoping to use this camera with the 120 23 roll film adapter so was going to try to use the rangefinder. Can't right now.


Frank Petronio
23-Feb-2011, 19:35
I've tried adjusting the Kalart rangefinders before and given up. I think there is Voodoo involved. I've sent them off to be calibrated by experts and while they work, I never found them trustworthy enough for closer, short focus work. The old press photographers used flashbulbs and f/16 for good reason!

I have to laugh at the dudes who think they can shoot an Aero Ektar at f/2.5 from five feet away solely by using the rangefinder... haha right.... But for medium distances and reasonable apertures go for it.

Ivan J. Eberle
24-Feb-2011, 15:13
I have an levered arm that connects the Kalart to my Meridian 45CE. It was frustrating trying to adjust until I realized the collar that attached the arm to the thru-pinion shaft of the Kalart had slipped. Finding the right initial setting for this and then putting a flat on the pinion shaft to secure the collar was a crucial first to adjustment (once I'd installed a new split image semi-silvered mirror, that is).

Another adjustment that I needed to do to get coincidence at infinity was the screw under the prism.

Jo Lommen's Kalart Adjustment page describes the process pretty well, at least from a Graflex perspective, FWIW.

Also, a red LED laser greatly speeds up and simplifies the adjustment routine.

tom thomas
24-Feb-2011, 16:01
Frank, I'm just about ready to agree with you. Adjusting rangefinders isn't easy, especially with the 1950's tech instructions out there.

Banjo and Wayne, I have a slightly newer edition of the Kalart rangefinder manual than the one you've referred me to. Adds better instructions for adjusting Linhof's, Press KIngs, Busch, etc but same lack of good instructions for the Graflex.

I've also hunted all over the web for instructions. I did find a nice infinity chart at http://southbristolviews.com which allows one to set infinity in the rangefinder with the camera lens 12 and 24 inches away.

Obviously can't set the GG infinity on it but after verifying GG focus at infinity, it is easier to work with rather than standing out in cold rain adjusting the Kalart. It still doesn't help with this camera. I can see the two stars moving together and the word parts of Infinity between to move together but they stop about 1 inch from correct adjustment. I checked my 23 Speed Minature and it is very close so I know the chart works, I also checked a 23 Speed Graphic which is close but needs some adjustment. It has spring back with a 120 roll adapter mounted. I didn't want to take the time right now to verify just how far off.

I did measure the distance from the film plane to the front edge of the lens on all three cameras as the Crown bellows extends out quite a bit further than the two Speeds. All are 4/25 inches give/take my eyeball so the racks/infinity stops seem to be near correct on all three. All three have the Ektar f4.5/101 lens in Kodak Flash Suprematic so comparable I think.

Wayne, I checked infinity with the rack all the way in, lens/bellows slid out to the Infinity stops. When clearly focused, the rack is out about 1/8" inch from rear stop. Infinity marks line up at this point so agree with the GG. Would it be worthwhile to loosen the screws on the infinity stops, rack in the remaining 1/8 inch,tighten? Probably won't help as the rangefinder is way out of whack.

But, the movable rangefinder image of focal point (building peak) is about 1 inch low in the viewfinder. Won't adjust anywhere near right even running the track all the way out and back in. I can see it moving a bit but stops long before approching Infinity. So, I guess the rangefinder needs internal adjustment.

Or the actuator arm is badly adjusted which still means internal adjustment is needed. Right? I'd like to take the cover off but not sure which screws to remove. Two on bottom, OK, but not sure which ones on top. My camera has the Optospot mounting option with the little cover held by a screw. Do I remove the two screws on top or the two on the front and rear sides. I don't want to have any loose pieces rolling around.

I'm just about out of time to fix it. Leaving for France in one week so have wife dictated priorities, ie packing.

I do have a neat little portable rangefinder, called an Ideal Rangefinder that agrees perfectly with the GG and the range scales on the track. I can always use it and the eyeball plus F-stop to get close. I only plan to use the camera for landscape, perhaps as close at 10-15 feet. No close up portraits work so perhaps I can get by.

This camera does have the Graflok back though so I could use tripod, remove the 120 film holder, install GG back, focus, then remove, etc. Lot of work so I'll probably avoid close ups.


tom thomas
24-Feb-2011, 16:19
Oops, I meant to say that the lenses were 4 1/8 inches from film plane, not 4/25 inch.

Ivan, thanks for the info. It's this lever on mine that appears to have slipped or has been maladjusted. A bit like me I guess. I at least know I'm slipping.

Fun? thing is that the E-Bay seller said; "The rangefinder is very contrasty and clear as well it is properly coupled and calibrated to the lens." No way. I should have taken this statement with a ton of, not a grain of salt. It is clear though so perhaps the mirrors are OK shape.


Wayne Crider
24-Feb-2011, 18:58
Ok, first off make sure that the Kalart is set for the lens focal length. (If it's the original lens you shouldn't have to do anything.) If it's not, check it. It's an internal adjustment if necessary to the settings in the chart in the instructions. You take off the cover screws at top and bottom. The guts are screwed in underneath and remain on the camera. All your taking off is the cover.
Secondly, and from what I have noticed in the past, if the set screw at the Kalart shaft is loose for the arm, it's a whole new ball game. That shaft is spring loaded and has to be turned before you tighten the arms setscrew. Check by pushing the arm back by finger. You should feel the tension. It is a pain in the butt to fix if necessary.

The following adjustment is done only if necessary. Skip if unnecessary.
To set the Kalart for the lens an internal adjustment is done to the front and back scales. The rear scale is set by loosening a brass screw first. You'll see it. The problem is the brass screw breaks at the slot and, well your screwed. :p Be very careful, do not force it. A drop of penetrating oil on a toothpick and left to set would be smart if it is tight.
The is also a third adjustment for registration which shows as a focus spot mis-aligning to the side. This is done to the top mirror.

So first you rack out the rail till the rangefinder shows focus at infinity. You then set the bellows showing focus on the GG. Wherever the rail is is right. Set the infinity stops. From there you measure to 25 ft and set focus on the GG by racking the bellows. If the rangefinder is out you have to adjust it by the instructions. Do not waste your time and try to adjust to 8ft. If your good from 25 ft for a long lens or 12-15 ft for a shorter one, out to infinity consider it done. Do not do any more adjustments then necessary. The adjusting cam on the rail should be set at a neutral position to begin, or just try it where it is. It may have never been moved. Read page 5 in the link I gave for adjusting infinity when out, by adjusting this cam. If you have to adjust the cam, you have to reset infinity adjustment. You adjust back and forth till your right.

tom thomas
25-Feb-2011, 09:42
Thanx Wayne,
I'm not sure the lens is original to the camera at the moment. The body serial number is 427676, the lens is ES9490. The lens is a Kodak Ektar, f4.5, 101mm in Graphic, Kodak Flash Supermatic Shutter.

Using Camerosity, the lens is 1947. Can someone help me out with the year of the camera body?

I also have an Optar f4.7, 101mm on other shutter that I intend to use. Using GG and range marks, both are in focus and agree with the range marks. Rangefinder is nuts on both.

I won't mess with internal adjustments at the moment but will take off the outer cover later to see if something has obviously slipped.

I had tried to adjust the eccentric but have it back close to where it was. Doesn't allow any adjustment anyway.

thanx tom

Kevin Crisp
25-Feb-2011, 10:14
When you say you know the infinity stops are in the right place I'm not sure what you mean. With the bed tucked to the full rear position, and the camera just opened and the front standard pulled out to the stops, are you saying on the ground glass shows sharp with a loupe at infinity? If so, then your infinity stops are in the right place. This isn't really spelled out in the instructions, but makes perfect sense for the rapid field work of a press photographer. Open it, pull it out, and with no focusing you're good to go at infinity. If you're stopped down when you open it,, you've got a point and shoot. Highly desirable for press work.

After the camera is set up as above, you check the rangefinder to see if the images coincide at infinity. If not, then you need to make an adjustment to the screw that is really a cam behind the front standard down low on the left. (Figure "A" in the instructions.) It can be hard to get to depending on your lens, you may have to focus the front standard out to get to the screw, make a slight adjustment, rack it back in and check, then repeat.

The rangefinder does have to be set for the right focal length lens at the beginning of the process. #1 biggest mistake is turning the screw marked with the circular arrow the wrong way and breaking it. This may have been done for you, unfortunately.

Ivan J. Eberle
25-Feb-2011, 11:06
A restored/working Kalart RF used with a roll film camera handheld is a thing of beauty. GG focusing is a PITA in comparison, what with having to swap out backs on a tripod, etc. The wire hoop viewfinder can be very useful too.

The Kalart RF cover is held down to the camera body with 4 screws, you're going to need to remove it to adjust the ranges. You'll probably also want to have a nice set of precision screwdrivers of the right lengths and blade widths.

Some of the screws used in my Kalart were odd English/American number sizes-- definitely NOT Metric! #1 sized, if I recall. I do remember that my old-timey local hardware store still had a pretty good selection, just last year. You may want to replace the one holding the lever arm to the RF pinion with a small socket head cap screw (this one's a more standard size-either #2-56, I think as it will accept more torque without the head stripping out than will a recessed setscrew.

If a replacement mirror is needed, Edmund Scientific sells semi-silvered mirror stock (though it's a bit thinner than the stock mirror and may need a little shim installed in the channel it's glued into. It will also need to be cut down to size.)

tom thomas
25-Feb-2011, 16:12
Ivan, I do have several sets of jeweler screwdrivers. I'm a tool nut so try to plan for any problem. Thanx. You are right though, screws seem be SAE or metric, ie the thickness of the slot varies so that it is easy to slip using the wrong screwdriver and wreak havoc on the screw.

Kevin, you understand correctly. Track racked all the way in towards the back, front standard pulled out to the existing Infinity stops position, focusing on the GG with a magnifier. My infinity is so close at that point, about the width of the etched Infinity line on the scale. I'm not going to move the infinity stops at the moment as my targed is estimated to be at least 1/2 mile away but being viewed thru trees (no leaves) and window glass so I'm not going to mess with it.

I did finally venture to remove the rangefinder cover. Brass screw in great shape, no evidence of screwdriver marks. The screw holding the rangefinder to the camera body however is badly dinged. Someone removed it in the past I guess.

I believe I've found the real problem. The Lateral adjustment lever was probably not aligned in the slot on the adjustment screw. I found it off on one side. I recentered it, cleaned the mirrors gently (top one has been over rubbed) and put the cover back on. Now Infinity in the rangefinder is very close to GG infinity and I can see the mirrors moving when I adjust the focus knob.

When I started, I'd noticed the lateral (double side image) was horrible. Now looks good, ie a tree trunk looks like one, not two separate ones. No wonder I couldn't get the focus to work.

I also found that the Kalart adjustment manual I have must be for early ones as there is no mention of adjusting the Lateral mirror image as there is in the Kalart manual at Graflex.org. My manual has the same Figure 7 showing the lever which is (13), the locking screw (12) and the adjustment (9) but no mention of how to adjust it.

I checked too, all three of my Graflex 2X3's have the later rangefinder with the Lateral mirror adjustment screw accessible on the front cover of the rangefinder.

I guess I can offer a hint for others with the same model. Should you remove your rangefinder cover to clean mirrors or view glass, look inside the cover and note the position of the slot in the adjustment screw. If necessary, carefully move the Lateral Mirror Arm to the same approximate position before replacing the cover. It sure will save you a headache and a long thread like this one. I'm going to take a close up photo of the screw in the cover and will post later. I haven't found any pictures of it by browsing the web. You can see the head of the screw on the cover in the photo I posted earlier of the camera.

I should be able to fine tune the eccentric screw now. It wouldn't react at all before.
Now it does and is very close at infinity. Now I can check 4 and 15 feet for accuracy.


tom thomas
27-Feb-2011, 15:58
Good news, after removing the rangefinder cover, resetting the eccentric image level back to coincide with the slotted screw in the cover, my rangefinder is close enough for government work.

Here is a photo of the eccentric screw in the rangefinder cover. Should anyone in the future have similar problems,this screw is vaguely described but not pictured anywhere.


tom thomas
27-Feb-2011, 15:59
oops, it's "lever", not level.

31-Dec-2011, 14:47
BUMP need help here. A few posts up some one mentioned "breaking" the screw that locks the rear adjustment slide. Um......I JUST did that. does anyone know where I can find a replacement OR just the thread size itself so i can buy it and cut it down to size???

Kevin Crisp
31-Dec-2011, 15:26
Post a photo of the one that is broken.

2-Jan-2012, 18:12
If you have the nerve and dremel tool with a felt polishing point........
disassemble the whole thing and polish every sliding part. get rid of 50 years of tarnish!! then these work really nice.

2-Jan-2012, 19:43
here's a PDF of my Kalart brochure. It covers adjustment for several camera models.


The scan was done at 600dpi, so the quality is quite good, but the file is about 37MB. I'll see what I can do to make it smaller without compromising quality.
If I succeed I'll post the revised PDF as a replacement on the server so the link above will still work.

- Leigh

30-Jun-2012, 19:38
The following adjustment is done only if necessary. Skip if unnecessary.
To set the Kalart for the lens an internal adjustment is done to the front and back scales. The rear scale is set by loosening a brass screw first. You'll see it. The problem is the brass screw breaks at the slot and, well your screwed. :p Be very careful, do not force it. A drop of penetrating oil on a toothpick and left to set would be smart if it is tight.

Has anyone ever found a suitable replacement screw for that crappy little, left-threaded set screw?