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Thread: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

  1. #1

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    Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    Hello!

    I've been shooting a lot of medium format but I'm totally new to large format photography. My uncle sent me an old Crown Graphic from his collection. The spring back of the camera is missing some parts and the lens shutter was sticky at slow speeds. I was able to disassemble and CLA the lens and it's working now, so I think I can try making a photo today, which is really exciting.

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    I have a few questions for the experts:

    1. The back is missing the protective hood leaving the ground glass unprotected. What are my options? I didn't know about spring and graflok backs and bought a Graphmatic, which doesn't fit in the spring back due to its thickness. Is it possible to put a Graflok back from a different camera on this one? Maybe someone has some parts they'd like to sell? Or maybe I should just use this camera as-is with standard film backs while learning and buy a better camera later if I like it?

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    2. The range finder doesn't seem to work at all (the double image doesn't move while adjusting focus with the fine focus knobs). I probably won't be using it but I like fixing things and understanding how they work. I suspect the connection between it and the fine focusing mechanism. Is this an easy fix?

    3. What is the deal with the rectangular wire framing guide that pops up from the front standard? It seems like it could only be accurate for some specific focal length lens and the camera doesn't have a site or viewfinder to position your eye. Is it just there on every graphic but not needed for this rangefinder model?

    4. The focus distance guide that shows infinity, 100, 50, 25, ..., 6 does not seem to be correct for the 135mm lens that came with the camera. I focused it at 6 feet and then backed the subject off to 10 and 15 feet and the focus was not correct by the guide marks. Are they for some specific lens?

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    Thanks!
    Sam

  2. #2
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    You are likely missing the rangefinder cam causing it not to work. The framing guide is called a sportsfinder which was used for framing prefocused quick shots of sporting type action. The focus scale may be off if the infinity stops have been moved, you will need to re adjust them in that case, and being off if the rangefinder did work it would be off since it relies on the lens being set on the infinity stops properly.

  3. #3

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    Welcome Sam

    1. A Graflok back can be added to your camera, easily -- they are on that auction site fairly often. Make sure the one you get is complete, with the original "Ektalite" fresnel and ground glass. If it is just ground glass the spacing will be wrong. The Ektalite installs backward from most fresnels. The grooved side is facing the photographer and it is in front of the gg, closer to the lens. Honestly I've never found it bright enough to really focus with the pop up protective hood along. Compose with it, maybe.

    2. Not that familiar with the top rangefinder ones, can't help you there.

    3. The wire frame is awesome and once the camera is properly set up it adjusts for different focal lengths automatically and is quite accurate for mid and far distances. Note that the rear eye piece has different distances marked on it (up and down) to compensate for parallax. And it is, of course, the clearest viewfinder one can imagine. In other words, if my camera is all set up for a 135mm lens, and I put a 90 mm on there, the front standard is now closer to the film if properly focused off a correct bed scale, which moves the wire closer to your eye, which takes in the angle of view for that lens. There are adjustable tabs on the bed that stop the front standard in a fixed position on the track for different lenses. If you're using one for longer lenses, the nearer ones can be folded out of the way. You slide the front standard out to the bed stop that is infinity for whatever lens you are using and the view in the coiled wire hoop is quite accurate.

    4. There are different bed scales. Most common is 135, then 127, then 90mm, then 150. Or you can stick some p-touch white labeling on the bed and write in distances. My preference is to start with the bed in the back position, as it comes out when you open the camera. Sliding the front standard forward and back, but not messing with the focus knob, focus the lens at infinity. Move the stop to that position so the lens is at infinity every time you open the camera. In that same position line up the bed scale with the adjustable sliding pointer.

  4. #4

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    The back on your camera is a modified Burke & James back, attached to a home-made plywood adapter.
    You will need a complete Graflock back when you go to replace what is there...hopefully there are no non-reversible modifications that could problems if you change backs.

  5. #5

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    Thanks everyone for the replies!

    I spotted this back on ebay:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/4X5-Graflok...r/333713635822

    It has the fresnel but its glass is broken. Would the glass from my camera fit that back?

    What's a good price for one of these things? $100 seems steep as entire cameras can be had for $250 or less.

  6. #6

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    That's the correct back.
    Your ground glass MIGHT fit.
    That's about the going rate for a "complete" Graflok back...buying things as parts is almost always more expensive than complete units.
    Many of us have "spare parts" cameras.

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    4X5 actual GG varies

    I just tried a spare 'Kodak' GG in a Graflok back, doesn't fit and the difference is too small to cut off
    2022

  8. #8

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    In my medium format photography, I take a lot more portrait photos than landscape. Is there a revolving back that would fit my Crown Graphic?

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    No. you mount the camera sideways
    2022

  10. #10

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    Re: Crown Graphic w/ Missing Back Parts

    ... or trade up to a SuperGraphic.

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