View Full Version : Lens for oddball Graflex RB....

30-Apr-2012, 02:37
Hey guys,
I've got a heavily modified Tele-Graflex RB in 4x5, and I'm trying to decide on what to use for a lens... Here's the camera:


At some point in the past, someone built a heavy support bed for the front standard, so it's supported on rails all the way out. It'll take a hell of a lens on there...I'm guessing this was built for an Aero Ektar or something really heavy. The front standard is an aluminum plate with about an inch of wood behind it. The hole is something around 5" I think. It's huge anyway. Whatever lens I put on there, I'm going to need to build a custom mount. The bellows is toast, and the body is kind of beat, but the shutter is in good working order, and the back was converted to a standard Graphic back (which is great since I don't really need two collections of film holders). Sooo...I need to pick out a lens. There's no easy/practical way to make it interchangeable, so it'll be semi-permanent. I'd mostly like to use this camera for portraits. Don't envision using it for much else.

Here's what I've got for lenses now that I could use:

Schneider Componon 240mm f5.6


It's an 8x10 enlarging lens, so it'll have an enormous image circle...on 4x5 it should really be using the sweet spot. Focal length is about right for what I want. Anyone ever use one of these? I'm guessing it should be a pretty sharp lens (too sharp?)... The flange it's mounted on just covers the hole in the camera, so it might be possible to use it. Won't focus to infinity on the RB--I can get maybe 20 feet, which is ok.

Dallmeyer Pentac 8" f2.9


Bought this just to use on this camera...it's big, kind of hazy, and covered in that black paint the British liked to slather all over their war material. I didn't have any luck taking it apart to clean it...looks like someone with a pipe wrench also tried without success (it's got bite marks on it). Only problem with this one is it's not even close to infinity on the RB--it's more like 5 feet. I held it up on my Crown Graphic, and it seems like a much better fit. I may just have to get a Speed to put it on. With the RB it would require some extreme creativity to mount it and get enough distance between me and the subject (it would have to be set down inside the hole pretty far).

Option three: Elgeet 10" f4.5


Really a nice little lens. Well, not that little I guess. It's mounted on a Graphic board, but when I put it on my Crown, it used up almost the entire bellows just to get to infinity...not sure what you do when you need to focus any closer. It's a better fit for the RB, which is so thick to start with. I think it will focus to around 20' on the RB. Anyone shoot one of these? Focal length and speed are pretty good for what I want. Can't seem to find much info on it though.

About the only other option I've looked at would be a Wollensak 15" tele...seems like it would be a good fit for what I want.

Thoughts? Suggestions? The camera can handle the weight of just about anything you could mount on it...

30-Apr-2012, 11:30
I use a 210 Schneider componon on mine, and also remove the front lens and use it as a convertible (370mm ?). The 240 componon should work fine.

Lynn Jones
30-Apr-2012, 11:48
Hi Scott,
B&J made the "Big Bertha" super telephotos custom modified for Graflex SLR's, perhaps up until the 1950's. The one in your photo I'm quite sure is not from B&J, their base was quite a bit longer and I think could handle up to 600mm. Strange, however, I worked as VP for B&J but not that long ago.

1-May-2012, 13:50
Thanks for the input guys! I've been thinking about it, and I think I've figured out how to make a sort of interchangeable lens system... I think I can probably secure some studs in the existing holes in the front standard, then use some sheet steel to make lens boards for different lenses. Drill holes for the studs to go through and then secure with...some sort of nut. Wing nuts would work, but look pretty bad...acorn nuts would look nice, but require a wrench (not that it would be that big of a deal). I'll give it some thought and see what else I can come up with. I'd bet 14ga steel would be plenty strong for pretty much any lens. 16ga maybe even. Some flat black paint, and away you go :). Not exactly quick, but at least I can change it once in a while. Not sure how light tight it would be without a trap of some sort, but hey...throw some gaff tape on there and it'll match the rest of the camera :D. It shouldn't be too hard to make boards for both the Componon and Elgeet.

And the bed is sort of "Bertha-Like", but as you said much shorter. I'll see how I can make this work and keep you guys posted...

1-May-2012, 14:09
Closely examine the circumference of the barrel on the Pentac. Check that the grub screw is removed (and that some joker has not squirted super glue in to it). Oh and it looks like the wrench marks seem pretty standard. . .