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Thread: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

  1. #1

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    How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    I'd like to calibrate the focal-plane shutter on my new-to-me Anniversary Speed Graphic. Without using up a lot of film...
    It does seem to work properly and I can see no pinholes.
    Ideas, anyone?

  2. #2

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    For me the answer was to use a roll film back to keep the film cost down.

  3. #3

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Try searching the forum for Audacity. It's a free software download that can hear your shutter through your computer's microphone and record the sound on the screen. You'll read a lot of pro and con comments about using the tool. The one thing that nobody could argue away though is the cost... Time and effort to use it is minimal depending on how you are with following the installation instructions.

    One advantage I found with the sound method is that it helped detect a bit of a shudder as the curtain slit swept across the sheet film... a kind of "shutter shudder" if you will. It caused a bit of a banding effect on the negative. There was a clear sound record on the screen that corresponded with the anomolly on the negative.

    There are other free or very cheap apps and programs that do a similar job...

    Bill

  4. #4

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Thanks, Bill. I'll try that. Brian, a good point; but this is a sheet-film only camera, and it needs some other maintenance before I put film through it.

  5. #5

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Unless you are extremely methodical in your processing procedures, doing a film test will be more hassle and less reliable than using one of the numerous shutter speed testers that are out there. You can build your own, borrow or buy a shutter speed testing device -- search around...

  6. #6

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_4606 View Post
    Try searching the forum for Audacity. It's a free software download that can hear your shutter through your computer's microphone and record the sound on the screen. You'll read a lot of pro and con comments about using the tool. The one thing that nobody could argue away though is the cost... Time and effort to use it is minimal depending on how you are with following the installation instructions.

    One advantage I found with the sound method is that it helped detect a bit of a shudder as the curtain slit swept across the sheet film... a kind of "shutter shudder" if you will. It caused a bit of a banding effect on the negative. There was a clear sound record on the screen that corresponded with the anomolly on the negative.

    There are other free or very cheap apps and programs that do a similar job...

    Bill
    Audacity will not work with the focal plane shutter in a Graphic or Graflex.

  7. #7

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Mark, when I first got my 2x3 Speed, I tested its FPS with E6 film. I assumed the shutter would run slow. I took multiple shots/frame, picked an aperture that would give 2 stops over with 8 shots, 1 stop over with 4, bang on with 2, and 1 under with 1. 1 shot with the dark slide fully out, 1 with it one quarter in, 2 with it half in, and 4 with it three quarters in. Same idea as a test strip when printing. YMMV, I found my Speed's FPS was bang on at all speeds, didn't have to retest with smaller steps got by adjusting aperture as I went.

    I take it that your Anny has a spring back. Get an Adapt-A-Roll 620 to fit a 4x5er. I assume you have a 4x5er.

    Alternatively, borrow, beg or buy a Calumet shutter speed tester. These work with Graphics FPSs. I'd have done this back when but didn't have one and couldn't beg or borrow. At the time buy was out.

  8. #8

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Dan, I like your thinking. Thanks for thee Calumet recommendation. But this is a 3-1/4x4-1/4 (don't tell the moderators) so no roll back is available- and I won't even have film until October if Ilford is on schedule. I'm restoring the camera after its decades-long sleep in someone's damp basement, and want to have as much right as I can before I start exposing HP5 at $3/sheet. I admit that this is not, perhaps, the smartest way to do things, but I'm going to try anyway.

  9. #9
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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    I tested a few Speeds by using a DSLR. I removed the GG panel, set the shutter to T, and setup my DSLR right behind the Speed, both on tripods, and focused an image. I set this assembly aimed out a window. Using the aperture on the lens, I made an exposure at 1/30th with the DSLR. Then I set the DSLR to a 1-second exposure, cocked the shutter to 1/30th, and in succession shot the DSLR and then tripped the FP shutter. I then compared the images / histograms to see how close the exposure was. I then did the same thing at all the speeds available.

    This is of course limited to only the small area seen by the DSLR but unless the FP shutter is travelling jerkily across the frame it shouldn't be much different. It worked for me anyway, and I determined my Speed was about right on all speeds.
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  10. #10

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    Re: How to test Graflex FP shutter?

    Mark,
    They are usually OK at the medium speed settings... But a clean-out of the bearings (and roller blind bearings) with a tiny amount of lighter fluid, followed with a little oil is what is needed... You can usually tell if there is a lubrication problem when it sounds squeaky when the shutter fires, but should be cleaned/lubed anyway... A re-tensioning is a good thing... (Instructions are at Graflex.org...)

    One problem I have seen on some old cameras is that if the shutter is good, but left tightly wound, sometimes the shutter "ribbons" along and next to the curtain openings can stretch a little so at a given tension, some speeds may be fine, but some "slower"... I got lucky with my RB Super D 4X5 when that happened, but was VERY lucky because the 1/300 setting dropped to almost exactly 1/250th, and the 1/800 setting dropped to 1/500, so easier to use in the modern world...

    I had gotten one of those Calumet shutter testers by a freak chance, cheap, years ago, and I can't imagine what my repair life would have been like without it!!!!

    Good Luck, and have fun with that SG!!!!!

    Steve K

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