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Thread: Grafmatic Back Operation

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Potomac, MD
    Posts
    75

    Grafmatic Back Operation

    I have a couple of 4x5 Grafmatic backs, and I keep getting issues with double exposure and missing shots. When I test them outside of the camera, everything works exactly as one would expect, every time. I think the procedure is this:

    1.) Start on X
    2.) Turn the dial to 1. The latch pops up.

    3.) Pull the dark slide all the way out
    4.) Push the dark slide all the way in
    5.) Expose
    6.) Push the latch down
    7.) Pull out the carrier
    8.) Push the carrier back in. The latch pops up.
    9.) Go to 3.), and repeat until the dial is back on X.

    When I have double exposures, it looks like the same number on the number wheel is exposed twice. So, somehow, it's not advancing when I push the carrier back in.

    Any suggestions? I must be missing something sometimes, but I'm not sure what that is. They look clean, all have all 6 septums, and everything slides and clicks easily. I don't see anything that looks bent or worn.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    St. Simons Island, Georgia
    Posts
    734

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    That looks right to me. I’d only add to be sure the camera is more or less level front to back when operating the Grafmatic so the springs and gravity can move the septums properly.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    1,196

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    Your sequence looks good to me. As j.e.simmons already commented, I would stress to have the camera pretty much level when you cycle the back as I've found having the camera pointed down is generally problematic; pointed up not so much. Regardless, if my camera position is pointed up or down to take the picture, I'll return it to level to cycle the back. It's a bit of a pain if you want to take multiple exposures, but will minimize jams, double exposures, etc. Oh, and a nice smooth not-to-fast, not-to-slow pull works best. Kinda like the old Polaroid 545 film backs!

  4. #4
    Andrej Gregov
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    165

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    I don't have any experience with double exposure with my Grafmatic shooting. That said, I have abandoned using Grafmatics. I gave it the old college try but I would have random jams out in the field. Having the dark slide jammed in the out position would make it near impossible to continue to shoot. In this example, either you remove the back and expose all your taken images/film or make your way to a black room/changing tent with the whole camera to remove the back. Note, not encouraging to stop shooting with them. But keep track of incidents so you can make a call whether the benefit outweighs some of the costs. Bob Salomon has written a bunch about Grafmatics in the forum and provides a pretty good overview of their reliability. Worth searching some of those threads out. Cheers.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    194

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    When you pull the dark slide out and push it back in again, the septum is now fully forward and is unshielded. If you pull the dark slide out again, and push it back in again, then nothing has changed (septums didn't change position), so you could double expose.

    This gets a little tricky with grafmatics compared to regular film holders. With a regular film holder, if you decide not to take the shot after pulling the dark slide, you can just put the dark slide back in and be back where you started. This doesn't work with a grafmatic. If you decide you don't want to take the shot after pulling out the darkslide and pushing it in again, you're now in a dilemma. The darkslide is no longer protecting the film, so you can't remove the grafmatic without exposing that sheet. You could advance the sheet without exposure, but then you've got to keep track of that somehow. It can get complicated. Leaving the grafmatic in the camera is another option, but that can get complicated too if you forget that you didn't advance the septums after the last exposure. There is a little tab that tells you if a septum is not shielded, but it doesn't tell you if it has already been exposed.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Chapel Hill NC
    Posts
    305

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    The double exposure issue is the septum not being seated when shuffling. Be sure the carrier is pulled out fully and you hear the septum beinhg pushed o the back of the graphmatic, so it will be shuffled to the back and a fresh sheet is up next. I too had this problem when initiall using G'matics, and I found that gently bending the four springs pushing the septum to the back have enough tension was important. Be careful you don't jam the septums when shuffling.

    Before putting the G'matic in the camera hold it on edge and gently tap to make sure the film has seated. If you get a jam and take the holder out of the camera without progressing the film, you will expose the sheets under. I always carry a dark cloth or BTZW hood to drape over the camera, carefully take the lense off, then reach through the front standard and see if I can get things sorted. I can usually get it to the point of putting it back in a light proof pouch and deal with it later that night.

    Mike

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    2,495

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    There have been recent post about these, so search this site...

    Steve K

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Potomac, MD
    Posts
    75

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    Quote Originally Posted by j.e.simmons View Post
    That looks right to me. I’d only add to be sure the camera is more or less level front to back when operating the Grafmatic so the springs and gravity can move the septums properly.
    Quote Originally Posted by sharktooth View Post
    When you pull the dark slide out and push it back in again, the septum is now fully forward and is unshielded. If you pull the dark slide out again, and push it back in again, then nothing has changed (septums didn't change position), so you could double expose.

    This gets a little tricky with grafmatics compared to regular film holders. With a regular film holder, if you decide not to take the shot after pulling the dark slide, you can just put the dark slide back in and be back where you started. This doesn't work with a grafmatic. If you decide you don't want to take the shot after pulling out the darkslide and pushing it in again, you're now in a dilemma. The darkslide is no longer protecting the film, so you can't remove the grafmatic without exposing that sheet. You could advance the sheet without exposure, but then you've got to keep track of that somehow. It can get complicated. Leaving the grafmatic in the camera is another option, but that can get complicated too if you forget that you didn't advance the septums after the last exposure. There is a little tab that tells you if a septum is not shielded, but it doesn't tell you if it has already been exposed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Rosenberg View Post
    The double exposure issue is the septum not being seated when shuffling. Be sure the carrier is pulled out fully and you hear the septum beinhg pushed o the back of the graphmatic, so it will be shuffled to the back and a fresh sheet is up next. I too had this problem when initiall using G'matics, and I found that gently bending the four springs pushing the septum to the back have enough tension was important. Be careful you don't jam the septums when shuffling.

    Before putting the G'matic in the camera hold it on edge and gently tap to make sure the film has seated. If you get a jam and take the holder out of the camera without progressing the film, you will expose the sheets under. I always carry a dark cloth or BTZW hood to drape over the camera, carefully take the lense off, then reach through the front standard and see if I can get things sorted. I can usually get it to the point of putting it back in a light proof pouch and deal with it later that night.
    OK, I'm beginning to see how this all fits together. Yeah, typically the unexposed frame was the first one. That points to an issue with the initial seating. And then I can see how they could get hung up shuffling. Thanks!

  9. #9

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    Just add "all the way" to your number 7. Everything else is correct. I've had 8 Grafmatics for many years and they are all I use for 4x5 (other than Kinematics, but that is another story) and I have not had any of the problems others have described. I am careful in loading the septums and make sure the far end of the film is secured in the grooved end of them.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    226

    Re: Grafmatic Back Operation

    When I got my first grafmatic (a 2x3 for my little cameras) the first thing I did was to remove the septums, use a pencil to write a number (1-6) on the film side of the septums, then load them in the camera (with no film) sorted in ascending order. Then I operated the grafmatic so I could see which septum was exposed. I did this several times, first because the whole thing was new to me and I wanted to make sure I was operating it correctly, but also because I didn't want to waste 6 sheets on something that didn't work correctly. Anyway, from your standpoint, doing something similar may help you chase down whatever is causing your issues.

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