View Full Version : Graflex cameras and modern lenses

29-Sep-2003, 07:26
Hello to the born again forum,

Can you put modern lenses on Graflex cameras and still use the rangefinder? Do you need then to put the cams in the lens? Do you have to adjust the rangefinder? Is the rangefinder adapted to a given focal distance. I looked for the answers in the famous Graflex site but couldn't find them.

My idea is to use Crown graphic or similar to take handheld portraits when I don't want to carry the tripod + Arca Monoball + other accesories. I would use a Rodenstock Sironar 150/5.6 I already own (and use on a different camera). These cameras are pretty cheap. Can this be done? Thanks!

Kevin Crisp
29-Sep-2003, 08:01
Miguel: The ease of doing this depends on which model you buy. If you have a Crown (lighter and thinner) or a Speed Graphic (rear curtain shutter) and you have the Kalart side-mounted rangefinder, you can follow the available instructions and adjust the rangefinder to fit a wide variety of lenses, including 120's, 135's and 150's. In my experience, IF YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER, especially the part about putting a target on the wall for the close up adjustment, the rangefinder can be very, very accurate. Just because you've gone through the adjustment procedure once doesn't mean you are done, recheck and readjust at least one more time as one adjustment can affect another, and any adjustment of the side infinity screw throws everything off. There is a side-mounted Hugo Myer rangefinder and I've never seen clear instructions on that one and don't know if it can be adjusted easily to match a lens. If you have a top mounted rangefinder, then you need to find or make a cam which matches your lens. This is not impossible to do, but a lot more trouble, in my opinion. An additional complication with the top mounted rangefinder is that all of the 135 lenses, for example, aren't really 135's, they are 134's, 139's, etc. so a custom fit may be necessary. Original equipment included cams which were different by a mm or 2. I think the side mounted Kalart is the way to go, and generally they are a bit cheaper too as buyers and bidders seem more excited by the top mounted rangefinder, which admittedly feels more like working with a handheld 35 mm in that respect. A proper bed scale for the lens you have is a real plus, by the way. And not impossible to find. A mm or 2 here are there won't affect the accuracy of the bed scale. I assume you know about the Graflex.org website?

j. kelly adams
29-Sep-2003, 09:37
Kevin: I assume the bed scale is the one with infinity through 6 feet or so with marks of various distances between. I have on the other side of the "tracks" a set of marks with infinity on both scales and the f/stops spaced at different distances on each scale. I am clueless, any ideas of the function of this scale. TIA Kelly Adams

Dan Fromm
29-Sep-2003, 11:27
j. kelly adams has "on the other side of the "tracks" a set of marks with infinity on both scales and the f/stops spaced at different distances on each scale."

They sound like an unofficial homebrew depth of field scale. Does this seem reasonable when you have the camera in hand?



tim o'brien
29-Sep-2003, 16:22
Ya just do like Weegee did...

Two focus points, 6 feet and 10 feet. Use lots of flash and stop down to f22.

This makes sense, the focus points on most of my MF and LF equipment is around 11 feet @ f16.

Using large format as a handheld street camera? Read 'Naked City' by Weegee himself.

tim in san jose

Kevin Crisp
30-Sep-2003, 12:03
I had the good fortune to get a crown outfit with the 135 and 90 mm schneiders, with both bed scales, and with a optical gizmo which makes the viewfinder wide angle. So I don't know how hard it is to get the right bed scale for your lens, but there were different scales for the 127mm ektars, the 135's and the 90's, at least. I am sure there was a scale for the 150mm-152mm class of lenses at well. Typically this is on the left side of the bed if you are holding the camera in the using position, you loosen microscopic set screws to get it to the infinity position when it should be, then it reads properly as the lens moves forward for closer subjects. Homemade scales would help but I'd sure prefer the real thing. As a time saver, I think it makes sense to store the lens all the way back in the box (bring the focus rack in all the way, then loosen and slide the lens back into the storage position), and have the infinity stops and rangefinder all adjusted so merely opening the front and pulling the lens out until it stops means you are dead on for infinity.