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Thread: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

  1. #1

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    Oct 2019
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    Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    I recently picked up a Grafmatic back, and I haven't had a chance to use it yet. I have to say, though, that it's a really neat piece of engineering. It reminds me of one of those false door magic tricks where you put the coin in the slot and tap it with your wand, and it disappears. I've watched a few videos on it, and I'm really looking forward to taking it out in the field.

    As neat as it is, the moving parts are mostly bent metal, and it seems like there could be come gotchya's to them. I certainly don't want to bend a septum. So what do I need to watch out for, either to avoid ruining my film, or to avoid breaking the Grafmatic?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    IMO, the best two things you can do to avoid issues is to keep the interior clean so that it runs smoothly and don't bend any septums. A bent septum, even just slightly off, will probably cause it to jam. I have about half dozen Grafmatics that I've used for years without a single issue.

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    I have had problems but by calming down recently I find the same ones work fine now

    Be deliberate and look for Red is Ready to expose
    sin eater

  4. #4

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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    You can damage the septums by three issues...

    Dropping while handling (can bend corners)...

    Make sure red dot is covered before inserting septums (if the end of the red dot slide inside chamber is not fully pushed out of chamber, it will dent septum touching it... Get into the habit of pushing away from chamber before inserting until you feel/hear a solid click)...

    When film is loaded into septum stack, insert stack into holder with film notch end going in first (toward light baffle side)... inserted the other way can cause septum open end to get hung up or damaged as open end is thinner and there are places it could get caught (and get bent)...

    These can jam by the film slipping from septums while vertical shooting, when septum can bang inside, and the film holding fingers can allow film to slip away a little and prevent advancing cycle... If film is oriented correctly in holder (notch up) and slide end is up, gravity helps keep film in place, but if film tends to be very loose in septum, you might have to add a dot of tape on the open end or some double stick tape under film...

    On the end of holder that inserts in camera, inside chamber end is a piece of very fuzzy felt that can get dirty over time, or some of the fuzz can shed, so shop vac that end carefully, but if still shedding, felt can be replaced with rubber foam strip tape if needed...

    Re-insert darkslide before exposing, as this will put pressure on back of septum being exposed (especially if the septums are not perfectly flat), and cover other septums inside if there is a blast of light that is fogging top sheet...

    Not trying to paint a grim picture of these holders, but a through education and careful use will keep these working for a long (er) time...

    Steve K

  5. #5

    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    What Steve said. I have 8 and no problems. Two more things for you. One is I lubricate the moving surfaces/contact points with Ice Wax. This is a bicycle chain wax that dires hard and non sticky. A very thin film is all that is required and that mostly on the edges of the septa. You can see from the wear patterns where it is needed. The other is that should you have a bent septum edge it can be straightened/reformed by sliding one of those 6 inch stainless rules in the slot to reform and support then slot and gently applying slight pressure using both hands and your thumbs in the needed locations to reflaten the septum.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    Excellent. Thank you all. I might even load one tonight.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Bremerton, WA
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    Others have hit all the main points about care and maintenance. I just wanted to say that I have a dozen Grafmatics and I haven't used any other kind of 4x5 holder since I first discovered them almost 45 years ago. I do have a couple of broken ones that I bought for parts at a swap meet, but I've actually never needed parts. If you exercise some care, they're really pretty robust.

  8. #8
    popdoc's Avatar
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    Dec 2014
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    How many of you have removed the internal exposure counter/numbered disc?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9

    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    I have fond memories of using my Graphmatic 25 years ago with my 4x5 Norma. So now I am buying more of them; I now have six 4x5 and six 2x3. The 2x3s I will use with my Sinar Norma Rapid Adapter (automated sliding back). Particularly speedy setup! Thin based films (I'm enjoying playing with XRay film!) slide around in the septums and can jam the Graphmatics. Happened several times so far. Not a prob with landscape format but Man it's not good with verticals. I'm unwilling to modify the septums, I'll carry some Fidelities and Liscos for verticals. Or shoot photo film.
    “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
    ― Mark Twain

  10. #10

    Join Date
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    Re: Grafmatic Back - How to Break 'Em?

    The dark slide handle can break

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by klw; 29-Sep-2020 at 06:13.

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