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Peter York
1-Sep-2011, 14:55
Hi all,

I want to play Weegee and Burnett and Galli, and I have decided to get a Pacemaker Speed Graphic. When I first got into 4x5 I initially disparaged these cameras for their lack of movements. How stupid of me. Their versatility is astonishing!

Anyway, I have a couple of questions that I was hoping you could answer:

1. If I obtained a speed with the top-mounted Graflex rangefinder and had a cam made for the Aero-Ektar, would there be any improvement in focusing accuracy over the Kalart rangefinder?

2. Do you know anyone who can perform extensive repair on these classic cameras (other than Fred Lustig)? Iím thinking of a good cleaning and overhaul of the focal plane shutter and rangefinder. Also, if I end up with the top rangefinder, I will need a couple of cams, and I might even have a Kalart rangefinder installed. I was thinking of skgrimes but Iím not sure how knowledgeable they are with Graflex. And yes, I know there are instructions for most of these tasks, but Iím too lazy to do them myself, and I want the utmost precision.

Corran
1-Sep-2011, 16:24
I'm doing something similar. I think you'll be better off with the Kalart RF unless you really want to get a custom cam made ($$$). I'll have to PM you when I have a chance, I also have an Aero Ektar that I just got mounted on a Speed.

Michael Cienfuegos
1-Sep-2011, 16:27
I have an older Pacemaker, probably 1951, with a side mounted Kalart rangefinder. I found Jo Lommen's site http://lommen9.home.xs4all.nl/index.html to be a treasure trove of information on mounting an Aero-Ektar and also adjusting the RF so that it would work with the AE lens. He also has a great lens mount/hood combo if you want to spend the $. After spinning my wheels trying to make a suitable mount, I finally coughed up the euros for his lensboard and hood. Trying to find/make an RF cam might be an exercise in futility. Also, the top mounted RF Speeds are in short supply and much more expensive. Good luck in your search. :)

m

Neal Chaves
1-Sep-2011, 17:00
The TRF Graphic is an excellent camera and can be set up to focus multiple lenses all with the same "hard stop" at infinity. In addition, the camera is capable of "Big Shot" configuation as I have just described here
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=80067&page=4

Cams are quite easy to cut accurately from stock metal material available in most hobby stores. A cam you cut yourself can be far more accurate than a factory cam. A WWII Air Force vet and photo-optic technician showed me how to do all this and more when I worked for the infamous Dyn Corp. in the 1970s. There should be someone out there doing this work at a reasonable price, but please don't ask me. Tomorrow I will post some photos of my custom TRF cams.

A clean TRF Speed would be very desirable for use with barrel mounted lenses, but it will not be possible to set up very short lenses like the 58 or 65 for RF focusing as you can on the Crown because of the thickness of the body. A 75 might work.

Dan Fromm
1-Sep-2011, 17:18
To help you think about short lenses, the 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic's minimum flange-to-film distance is 66.7 mm.

Neal, you wrote
can be set up to focus multiple lenses all with the same "hard stop" at infinity.

Please explain further. I ask because it seems that this would give up focusing travel for all lenses but the shortest one in the set.

Frank Petronio
1-Sep-2011, 18:56
I doubt/know/have experienced any Graphic rangefinder will accurately focus an Aero-Ektar other than at middle to infinity distances... but it's only money. Taking a picture of a tree and hitting focus is easy... a portrait, not too likely.

Neal Chaves
1-Sep-2011, 19:09
"Hard Stops" means that the lens is focused at infinity and the split image in the RF is aligned when the focus track is turned all the way back against the stops in the body. TRF cameras came from the factory set up like this with the original lens. If you added additional lenses and factory cams, the RF might not align at infinity on the hard stops. If it was short, you set the lens stops at infinity and lived with it. At least you could be sure of infinity focus on the hard stops, and the error at closer distances was probably minor. You could also increase the height of the cam at the high end by flattening it out a bit with a hammer and punch and get the RF to line up. You will find this has been done on many older Linhof cams.

If the RF image moved beyond infinty, the track could be locked down at the point the image aligned and then the lens stops were set. This was called "Soft Stops". My old friend told me that many press photographers adjusted the Kalarts on soft stops because they wanted to "see infinity". I'm sure you have seen 35mm telephoto lenses that focused "beyond infinity" and required caution on the part of the user. You could also file off a bit of the TRF cam high end until the RF aligned correctly.

If you cut your own custom cams for the TRF Graphic you have them all accurate throughout the focusing range, and all reach true infinity on the hard stops.

Neal Chaves
1-Sep-2011, 19:23
The Aero Ektar is 178mm. I could cut a TRF cam for it to focus accurately from infinity to about ten feet and then allow for accurate focusing of head and shoulders shots in the "Big Shot" mode at one fixed distance of about five feet. If the lens was mounted and ready to go, and the camera was in perfect working order, the project would take me essentially a full day with re-packing and shipping. Good commercial assignments are hard to come by now. Pay me my day rate and I would do it, but why can't the experts at S. K. Grimes do it for less?

With my 150mm and on a camera with a 180mm that I set up for another photographer, you can compose two heads close together in horizontal in the Big Shot mode. A 250mm is only capable of one tighter head and shoulders vertically.

Bill_1856
1-Sep-2011, 19:44
Changing the cam on a TR Graphic is a PITA at best, and at worst it can be a total nightmare. It's slow and it's clumsy. It's just not a good design, and was significantly improved with the Super Graphic.
A Kalart for your Aero, and a TR for one other lens is probably the best you're going to do.

rdenney
1-Sep-2011, 20:41
A Kalart for your Aero, and a TR for one other lens is probably the best you're going to do.

That's the approach I'm taking. I already have a cam that is accurate for the 127mm Optar that came on my top-rangefinder Speed (checked at various distances with a 10x loupe on the ground glass). I'm adding the Kalart to be able to focus an Ilex Paragon 8-1/2" lens. I doubt any of these rangefinders are accurate enough for wide apertures and tight portrait distances, but stopped down a bit they should work well enough. The last bits I need are coming to me now :) .

The only hard part is attaching the actuator that pushes the rangefinder actuation arm to the focus track. The necessary threaded holes were not provided on the top-rangefinder Pacemakers.

Rick "not expecting the RF to be accurate for an 8-1/2" lens used at f/4.5" Denney

Michael Cienfuegos
1-Sep-2011, 21:50
I doubt/know/have experienced any Graphic rangefinder will accurately focus an Aero-Ektar other than at middle to infinity distances... but it's only money. Taking a picture of a tree and hitting focus is easy... a portrait, not too likely.

I gave up and for portraits I use the GG and put it on a tripod. It's too heavy anyway, It weighs about 10.5 lb. I'm getting too old to try and shoot it hand held. :p

Neal Chaves
2-Sep-2011, 07:31
That Aero Ektar lens can't be too big for use with a Packard shutter. The best way to go would be to put it on a view camera that can focus from the rear and forget about the Speed Graphic which is not suited for close focusing on the ground glass.

My use of the Big Shot was for quick location portraits of business people and lawyers used in commercial projects, or with professional models comfortable with being photographed. I much prefer to use a view camera when making a large format portrait. In addition to the benefit of rear focus we have discussed, placing the camera on a tripod or stand allows the photographer to get his or her head close to the lens and direct and coach the best expression from the subject. The subject is not trying to relate to a distant person with a machine for a face and is far more likely to be at ease.

I once worked for the photographer Damien Waring who told subjects "Give me the look you give your mirror". He even let subjects trip the shutter themselves with a long cable release, as have I, while watching themselves in a mirror placed close to the lens.

BrianShaw
2-Sep-2011, 07:49
2. Do you know anyone who can perform extensive repair on these classic cameras (other than Fred Lustig)? Iím thinking of a good cleaning and overhaul of the focal plane shutter and rangefinder.

Check out Steve Choi or Steve's Camera Repair in Culver City CA. His web site shows him fixing your camera!

Jim Jones
2-Sep-2011, 08:47
. . . The only hard part is attaching the actuator that pushes the rangefinder actuation arm to the focus track. The necessary threaded holes were not provided on the top-rangefinder Pacemakers.

Rick "not expecting the RF to be accurate for an 8-1/2" lens used at f/4.5" Denney

On both of my TRF models, there are holes for the Kalart actuator. This may be an option that was eventually phased out. You might find a junker that has those holes. I may eventually part out one of mine, but not this month.

Peter York
2-Sep-2011, 09:40
Thanks to all for your helpful comments! Right now I am leaning towards a top rangefinder model, but whatever shows up first will probably be the ultimate arbiter.
Ideally I'd like to get one with the 152mm Ektar.

As for lenses, my shortest focal length will probably be a 100mm. The longest will probably be a 210mm or 240mm. I have a Toho for the wide, long, and landscape stuff.

Neal, I'll keep you in mind when the time comes to deal with the Aero-Ektar.

One final question. Is the peepsight and wire-frame finder designed for a specific focal length (135mm or 150mm?)?

Again, thanks!

Neal Chaves
2-Sep-2011, 09:43
If you couple and adjust the either the Kalart or the TRF to a 210mm lens so that it will track focus to infinity, function of the range finder will cease at the near side long before you get close enough for a good portrait. If you have a properly coupled 90mm lens, you can have accurate focusing to within five or six feet, but you will have to crop the negative to about 6X4.5 to have the head and shoulders composition and pleasing perspective you want.

The range finder is capable of close focus but not with a lens of "portrait length" for 4X5. If you were to adjust the Kalart or cut a special cam for the TRF just for the close up range with a long lens, you still would not have enough track to bring the lens out the required distance from the film plane before the coupling between track and RF mechanism was lost, even with a telephoto lens or a +diopter in place.

An old Sufi saying suggests that "Everything you need is already inside your own house." Just pull the cam out of the TRF Graphic and proceed to set up for the Big Shot as I have described.

The peep and open frame finder will give you accurate composition for all normal formula lenses. That's the beauty of it. The short lens brings the frame closer to the peep so you see a wide view, and the long lens put the frame futher out so you see a narrower view.
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=80067&page=4

Peter York
2-Sep-2011, 09:53
Thanks Neal!

This will not be a strictly portrait camera, so I can live with the limitations of the rangefiner and focusing track.

rdenney
2-Sep-2011, 13:28
On both of my TRF models, there are holes for the Kalart actuator. This may be an option that was eventually phased out. You might find a junker that has those holes. I may eventually part out one of mine, but not this month.

I already have what I hope will work on the way.

Rick "betting those holes are not threaded" Denney

Jim Jones
2-Sep-2011, 14:18
I already have what I hope will work on the way.

Rick "betting those holes are not threaded" Denney

They are threaded, but to something smaller than a 2-56, the smallest screw handy for checking it. If your solution doesn't work, the track from a SRF should accept the rangefinder actuator from a TRF as well as already have one for the Kalart. I've swapped so many parts like this around on SGs that it's hard to decide on which model to call them.

Chauncey Walden
2-Sep-2011, 15:47
Peter, since the wire frame is 4x5, when the lens (non-telephoto) is focused at infinity your view through the peep is what the lens sees no matter what the focal length. Of course, if it is focused closer than infinity the view is proportionally less. As for the Aero-Ektar, I put one on my Speed one time and ended up giving the lens away. It certainly wasn't worth the effort.

Corran
2-Sep-2011, 18:08
Opinions of the Aero-Ektar sure are varied. From my research it seems that the design was contracted out and made by a variety of companies. The Kodak one has the "yellow dot" on the front.

I have a yellow dot one and from my first tests it seems very sharp (in the DOF anyway). Images I have seen here and otherwise show extremely sharp pictures as well.

Professional
3-Sep-2011, 02:20
Where i can find lenses for that Pacemaker SG 4x5?

Neal Chaves
3-Sep-2011, 11:57
Professional,

Any lens mounted on a Pacemaker lens board that will fit a Speed or Crown Graphic will can be used on the Super Graphic, but the range finder cams are quite different. The Super Graphic cams can be easily cut for any lens from stock metal by a knowledgeable technician.

For convenience, compactness and economy, all my lenses are mounted on Pacemaker lens boards. I use them with a Toyo adapter on my Toyo view cameras, but some, due to the size of the rear element or shutter, will not mount on the Crown Graphic press camera.