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Thread: Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

  1. #1

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    Hi All,
    My wife bought me a Graflex speedgraphic pre-anniversary 4x5 camera.
    I'm ashamed to say I have no idea how to use it!
    It appears to be functional, complete with a CarlZeiss Tessar 1:4.5 lens on a lens plate that says COMPUR on it (sorry if this is irrelavent inforation). The shutter speed disc on the front ranges from 1 second to 1/200.
    I've figured out how to set the aperature, open the shutter for viewing o the back plate, move the bellows to focus the image and trip the shutter (there does not appear to be a place for a shutter release cord).
    However, I have no idea what the knobs (a tension number crank and another thumb screw below it that can go from 2 to 6 ?!) on the right side of the camera are for or how to even load film.
    I'd like to give this thing a try (she paid a pretty penny for it) and would greatly appreciate your help. I'm afraid I'll start pulling and pushing on things and break an otherwise fine camera.
    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Northern New Jersey
    Posts
    13

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    John,

    This camera has two shutters, the dial set Compur on the lens and a focal plane shutter built into the body. The knobs that you describe are for the focal plane shutter.

    The knobs are used to set the shutter speed. The tension determines how fast the slit in the focal plane shutter moves and the other knob selects the slit width. There should be a chart somewhere on the body with tensions on one axis, slit widths on the other axis and shutter speeds at the intersections.

    These camers came in several sizes with many types of film backs. Can you provide some details? You should also look at the web site www.graflex.org.

  3. #3

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    Thanks David,
    I'm still looking through google for links too.
    What other details can I provide?
    Yes, there is a chart on the side, right under the tesnsion knob.
    If i understand you, as an example, reading from the chart if I set the tension to 1/8 and the slit to 6, this will give me a shutter speed of 1/1000 on the focal plain curtain shutter?

    How does this work to have to shutters?! I'm having trouble visualizing how (or why) to use two shutter speeds that can be different.

    BTW, I can cranck the knob stamped V counterclockwise and set the tension viewed in a circle stamped F through the settings 0, T , 1 1/2, 3/4, 3/8 and 1/8. I can release this tension with a cranck stamped N.
    The slit widthe thumb screw can be turned counterclockwise two clicks each to set the setting from 1 to 6, viewable in a window stamped G and reset (?) with a trip lever marked P.

    I can give you more details if I know what to look for.
    Thanks for the response!

  4. #4

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    <HTML><HEAD><STYLE type=text/css><!-- TD {text-align: center;} --></STYLE><TITLE></TITLE></HEAD><BODY bgcolor=silver leftmargin=25 rightmargin=25><HR color=#336699><HR color=#336699><H2>The Speed Graphic Focal-Plane Shutter</H2> A representative "multiple-slit variable-tension, single curtain" focal-plane shutter is found in the Speed Graphic. This combination press and view camera, for many years a standard with press photographers, is typical of a shutter family which is quite large. Therefore, the disassembly, reassembly and timing of the Speed Graphic focal-plane shutter will be covered in detail.

    As you have seen, the photographer has a choice of the take-up roller tension and the slit width. Since there are four different instantaneous-speed slits and six calibrated tension settings, 24 possible exposure times may be obtained by varying the two controls. A 'TRADE MARK REG U.S. PAT. OFF.</TD></TR><TR><TD rowspan=2>Tension Numbers</TD><TD colspan=4>Curtain Aperture</TD></TR><TR><TD>A</TD><TD bgcolor=#FFCCFF>B</TD><TD>C</TD><TD>D</TD></TR><TR><TD>1</TD><TD>10</TD><TD>70</TD><TD>200</TD><TD>500</TD></TR><TR><TD>2</TD><TD>15</TD><TD>80</TD><TD>240</TD><TD>600</TD></TR><TR><TD>3</TD><TD>20</TD><TD>90</TD><TD>280</TD><TD>700</TD></TR><TR><TD bgcolor=#FFCCFF>4</TD><TD>25</TD><TD bgcolor=#FFCCFF>100</TD><TD>320</TD><TD>800</TD></TR><TR><TD>5</TD><TD>30</TD><TD>125</TD><TD>360</TD><TD>900</TD></TR><TR><TD>6</TD><TD>40</TD><TD>150</TD><TD>400</TD><TD>1000</TD></TR></TABLE></CENTER>

    By looking down the 'curtain aperture' columns, and across in the 'tension numbers' columns, the effective exposure (in reciprocals of one second) can be read directly from the data-plate. For example, suppose the situation requires a shutter speed of 1/100 second. First, locate the 100 calibration on the data-plate. Now follow this column up to the top, you can see the proper slit is 'B'. Consequently, the shutter-winding key must be turned until 'B' appears in the window. This advances the curtain until the proper slit is just above the focal-plane aperture. If the shutter curtain had been previously set to 'C' or 'D', the shutter-release lever must be depressed, allowing the slits to transverse the focal-plane aperture until 'B' is in position. Of course, if there is film in the camera it must be protected during these operations. Insert the dark slide first.



    Now, follow the column to the left of '100' to find the correct tension. This shows that the tension-winding knob must be turned, or released, until the number '4' appears. Now when the shutter-release lever is pressed, the proper slit will transverse the focal-plane at the correct velocity to effect a shutter speed of 1/100 second.



    Since you know the exposure in seconds for each combination from the data-plate, and since you could measure the actual width of each slit, the 24 different rates of travel may easily be calculated. Foe example, in the 4X5 Speed Graphic, the width of 'a' is 11/2 inches, 'B' in 5/8 inch, 'C' is 1/4 inch and 'D' is 3/16 inch. If you wish to know the curtain rate of travel in inches per second at 1/10 second, your known values would be 1/10 second (exposure) and 1.5 inches (width of slit 'A'). Transposed in the formula, this would be:

    <TABLE width=25%><TR><TD>1.5"</TD><TD colspan=3></TD><TD>1</TD></TR><TR><TD>---</TD><TD></TD><TD>=</TD><TD></TD><TD>---</TD></TR><TR><TD>X</TD><TD colspan=3></TD><TD>10</TD></TR></TABLE>

    Now, to find the value for 'X', you need only cross-multiply: 'X' time '1' and '1.5' times '10'. Thus, 1X=15; or X=15 inches per second, the rate of travel.

    <HR color=#336699><HR color=#336699></CENTER></BODY></HTML>

  5. #5

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    thanks! This is helpful. I now understand the O and T readings on the curtain shutter.

    So does one just use the curtain shutter settings and leave the lens shutter on T (or B)? Or conversly, set the curtain shutter to O and use the lens shutter by using the M mode on the lens?
    Which is recommended?

    If I have that right, then all I need is how to load film (I thought I used polaroids at first) and test a few to see how it goes.
    Thanks for all the help.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
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    1,748

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    I'd suggest using the front shutter for now.. Later on, if you like, you can use the rear shutter with a lens which does not have its own shutter ("barrel lens") or to take advantage of the high shutter speeds,

  7. #7
    Octogenarian
    Join Date
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    Location
    Frisco, Texas
    Posts
    3,526

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    Hi John, or UnsTuck( if you prefer),

    It's very difficult to describe and teach the technique for using any camera with words, not to mention a camera that is seventy-five years old. It would be much more effective if you could find somebody with practical knowledge to show you exactly how the camera operates. Otherwise, one question will lead to another, the message will become garbled, and you will find yourself becoming more, and more confused.

    You posted this same question on the photo.net large format forum and were refered to the www.graflex.org website, as well as a good book on the subject. Those are the places to begin your adventure with your new antique Speed Graphic.

  8. #8

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    Thanks everyone.
    You are right, it is difficult to muddle through via emails and postings. But thanks to folks like you I am getting there.
    Ernest, I agree about using the front shutter for now, I am a little concerned that the tesnsion knob is not well balanced (sometimes it has a hard time "unwinding" to a lower number). Do I absolutely need a shutter release cord to use the lens shutter?

    Eugene, sorry about the cross posting, but I was not expecting such great (and quick) responses.

    I do need to get a film holder, and in some of my readings last night came across some postings where polaroid film had been used. Can anyone offer suggestions/sources in that area?
    Thanks again!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Berkeley CA
    Posts
    153

    Graflex pre-anniversary 4x5 camera

    Another info source: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/
    Yes, you can use Polaroid with a Polaroid holder, good for an instant preview, also, if the Polaroid is good, don't change anything, put in "real" film, and you've got it. Good to start out with Polaroid, you see quickly if you are on teh right track. But, again, look thru the above and the Graflex site, some hours of reading there, all of these starting questions are answered. These sites got me started. Film holders: most common are Lisco, Fidelity, and Riteway, all made by the same company in S California. Used ones may leak light around the dark slide slot, check with a flashlight. Toyo are better and more expensive. Tiltall (on Ebay) are made wrong.

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