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Thread: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

  1. #1
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    I am trying to simplify my 4x5 traveling kit in bulk and weight. I use a Wista made Zone VI with Lisco double dark slide film holders.I am thinking of replacing the film holders with several Grafmatic magazines.

    What are the Pros and Cons regarding overall bulk, weight, ease of use in shooting/reloading, quality of film flatness, light leaks and so on.

    All remarks are welcome.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  2. #2

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    A single Grafmatic weighs the same as four film holders. Accidentally opening the light slide will immediately fog the edge of all the film but will only ruin a couple sheets.

    If you bring two, and accidentally re-use one... you double expose all the film on the trip.

  3. #3

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    In terms of bulk a grafmatic takes up about half the volume of the 3 double-sided filmholders it replaces. Weight is probably similar to 3 holders.

    Ease of use is fine, assuming all the septums and straight and unmolested - in which case they are very reliable. I've got 3 and have had no problems with leaks or flatness. However since you've got to put a bit of force through the unit when you rack the drawer in and out when advancing the film it pays to secure the back with graflok sliders in addition to just sliding it under the ground glass, if you camera allows it (my Chamonix does). This prevents you from accidentally pulling the whole thing away from the camera when advancing the film, and hence fogging the film. If you haven't got graflok sliders on your camera or they don't work when the ground glass is still attached then just be sure to hold it firmly in place when advancing the film.

    Loading wise I find them a bit fiddly at first but once you get used to them they're no more difficult or time consuming than normal holders, on balance.

    One downside is if you shoot 4 or5 shots on a grafmatic leaving 1 or 2 unexposed sheets to use on another day/session then that becomes disproportionately heavy and bulky compared to the single film holder that it effectively becomes. It does work very nicely though if you always shoot in multiples of 6 shots! Also works conveniently if you develop in bunches of 6 like in a Jobo 2500 tank.

    Also works best if you're giving all sheets in the grafmatic the same development. Less convenient if you like to push/pull odd individual sheets, as you need to make a note somewhere and then be careful to identify that sheet when unloading.

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    gotta shoot all six shots to process any of them is the only downside for me


    I use them in 'the studio' with my TWR.. makes things go much faster and easier.. also..It's hard to double expose if you first check to see if it is on X

    anyway.. I know that if I start a new one..I better have 5 more shots to take to finish it out for the session.

  5. #5

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    I like them with an SLR camera like the Super D because you don't have to fiddle with holders and dark slides. Always ready to shoot.

  6. #6
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    All good stuff here; thanks everyone.

    On "anothrr site" there was a remark referring to potential light leaks and "non standard" back focus distance. Haven't read any remarks on those items, so I suspect they are sourious issues.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  7. #7

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    I use mine a lot and have experienced the following problems.

    1. Light leaks when I get too ambitious about advancing film. Pulling the drawer too vigorously will dislodge the back from the camera. To prevent this, pull the ground glass holder from the camera and use the slides to lock the graphmatic in place.

    2. Inconvenient to use your ground glass for focusing. Really intended to be used with the rangefinder or the SLR.

    3. Easier to use in landscape than in portrait.

    4. The septums that hold each sheet of film are a bit fragile and can bend easily. Once bent they must be replaced. (Unless you are really, really, really, really good at straightening bent sheet metal.)

    5. I need to use all 6 films before I process. (I can pull unused sheets in a dark bag or darkroom if I really need to develop ahead of time.)

    6. I often use more film with a graphmatic than I would with the standard film holders. (This is often good since I have more perspectives to choose from.)

    7. I rarely use my standard film holders any longer. They sit around feeling unloved and gathering dust. (Not totally true as I use them with the Cambo.)

    8. As with anything there is a learning curve. Practice using the graphmatic before you go out to use it.

    9. I use my Crown like a big snapshot camera now that I have graphmatics. (Not sure this is really all that bad but thought I would list it anyways.)
    The Viewfinder is the Soul of the Camera

    If you don't believe it, look into an 8x10 viewfinder!

    Dan

  8. #8

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    I use them often. I am very careful about using good septums, but the downside for me is occasional malfunctions and jambs. Not often, but it happens, then you have to deal with it. And as many as 6 exposures could be at stake. So I usually make sure I have a changing bag with me.

    I think they index with focus (on a Canham and two Crown Graphics) perfectly. And you'd think dust would be a problem with all that loading and sliding and clacking going on but it isn't.

    They are a snap to load once you get the hang of it and make sure that tab is in the right position when you start.

  9. #9

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    Back in the 80s Graflex was sold to a company in Florida and they were producing the Grafmatic holders and selling them to Linhof in Germany. Linhof had lots of problems with the holders, primarily scratching. Whenever they had a bad holder they would return it to Florida for replacement or credit. This became very burdomsome for both companies so eventually the Florida company decided not to sell to Linhof directly any more. So, since we were the American distributor for Linhof we then started buying them for Linhof and we would ship them to Linhof in bulk. However Linhof was still finding unacceptable defects and when the defect rate exceeded 70% we decided that the Grafmatics being produced then we're totally unacceptable and we ended up returning all of the ones that we had purchased for Linhof for credit and that was the end of Linhof selling Grafmatic holders
    So be careful with there use. Especially for important jobs.

  10. #10

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    Re: Grafmatic : Pros and Cons?

    What was causing the scratching Bob?
    The Viewfinder is the Soul of the Camera

    If you don't believe it, look into an 8x10 viewfinder!

    Dan

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