help with graflex crown graphic in the UK

Chris Frear

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Is there anyone in the UK with knowledge of Graflex 5x4 cameras? After 5 years of hardly getting outdoors with my Large Format camera (its a heavy Monorail camera). I've picked up a Graflex Crown Graphic on a well known online auction website. Its presently winging its way over the Atlantic to rural England. I'm probably going to need to get the lens overhauled. The ground glass has a small crack, but replacement parts seem to be easily available and as such the screen and if needs be the bellows can be replaced quite easily. But the 135mm lens is the sticking point, its beyond my capabilities. I also need to figure out a way of hooking up the camera to a modern flashgun.
 

Ian Grant

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The shutter should have flash sync, if it's the Bipolar US type then a flash lead can be made reasonably easily. I sent you a PM on screens etc.

I fitted new bellows toa Pacemaker Speed Graphic last year for a friend, and some for my own pre-Anniversary Speed Graphic, I've also been able to patch and repair them as well.

Ian
 

Chris Frear

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Parcel arrived late last week. Got to openign it the other night and took these quick photos. Bellwos got holes in, lens stiff as hell. have to lift of fresnel screen back to load film. AS I have only meagre colelction of film holders and none are Graflex, think I may hav to get a spring back. Thoughts please!
 

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Ian Grant

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Needs some TLC, as it has been slightly mutilated, can be done/fixed fairly easily depends how bad the bellows really are.

Ian
 

Martin2475

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I hope your Crown Graphic is up & running by now. I've got interested in the genre as I got a 'baby' Crown Graphic recently, takes 6x9cm dark slides or roll film backs & uses a 101mm Kodak Ektar. How anyone ever used those cameras for handheld news pictures beats me, I have the utmost respect for Weegee & the rest of the old 'lensmen'.

But the most interesting thing about the CG is the focal plane shutter, so any lens without a shutter can be mounted onto them, the f2.5 aerial Ektar 178mm can make hand holding more practical. Great resource on that here;

https://emulsive.org/articles/how-t...ct-part-1-introduction-and-required-materials
 

Ian Grant

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Martin, I shoot with a 5x4 Crown Graphic or Super Graphic hand-held mostly when I'm in Turkey and Greece, it's easier than you think. I have the advantage there that the light's usually very good so on HP5 typical exposures are 1/100 or 1/200 at f22. In fact many of the images are on HP5 bought from a London store . . . . . . . . . . which move south :D

It's possible to shoot wider and slower, I've found it's possibly to shoot at 1/25 hand held but 1/50 is less prone to camera shake. I have a 6" f3.5 Dallmeyer Press (Dalmac) lens on Dallmeyer Press Reflex camera (a re-badged Ensign reflex) this is only just over 1/2 a stop slower than the Aero Ektar, I will use it at some stage on one of my Speed Graphics

There's cheaper and lighter alternatives to the cult Aero Ektas, the Dallmeyer Pentac f2.9 and the CZJ 165mm f2.8 Tessar's turn up every now and again at reasonable prices and need no special dater. There's also the 150mm f2.8 Xenotar but they fetch silly prices. Ultimate for speed would be a165mm f1.8 Ernostar.

Most of my hand held LF work to date is for an exhibition set and needs to match the quality of work shot on a tripod, I tend to use lighter weight small lenses like a CZJ 150mm f4.5 Tessar or a 150mm f5.6 Xenar, also a 90mm f6.8 Angulon, these aren't as sharp at wider apertures as a modern plasmats like a Symmar or Sironar, or Super Angulon. I also use a 203mm f7.7 Ektar for hand held work.

Ian
 

Martin2475

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You certainly have covered the ground on those wide aperture lenses, Ian.
I began looking for a lens which would fit the same niche with the baby Speed Graphic, & found this Kodak Ektar 111mm f1.5 in the US, there seems to be the occasional one comes up.
It was actually made for those X-ray machines us 60 year old's used for frying our feet when checking if shoes fitted in the shoe-shop. I still wonder if we stored up trouble there.
The downside, apart from probably terrible performance is that it uses thorium glass & is rather radioactive as well as yellowish - would probably get stopped and seized at customs on the way out or in.
The baby Graflex also uses a very small panel, so might be difficult to fit need some spares to play about with.
 

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Ian Grant

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A comment from someone who knows a lot about lenses on that Fluro Ektar "It was a memorable lens; some of the worst coma and field curvature I have ever seen. I also recall a fair amount of color fringing. Not a trace of sharpness anywhere on the image." Of course they aren't designed or optimsed for visible light

It's like the fast Oscilloscope lenses typically 75mm to 90mm and f1.5-f1.9 they barely cove 35mm at Infinity, I see them listed and a few selling for 100s of dollars in the US. The reality all they are worth is the value of their shutters. I think I paid about £20 for a Wollensak 75mm f1.5 Oscillo-Raptar last year because I can always use Alphax #3 shutters.

There was a pre-WWII f2.7 Xenar, not sure of the focal lengths or coverage it was a MF lens, it was the forerunner of the Xenotar.

I'd look for a fast 105mm lens off a 6x9 folding camera, there were plenty around usually inexpensive but good performers.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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Not sleeping well I thought more about this Wednesday night :D

I'd found a 5x4 Speed Graphic on Google with a fast CZ Sonnar Projector lens maybe f2.5, no aperture but a Waterhouse stop could be added. That led me to think maybe try a fast 90mm or 105mm enlarger lens would work on the smaller MF Graphics, some will fit a shutter if you unscrew the cells from the barrel, others will screw (whole lens) into the front of a shutter.

Sometimes lateral thinking is needed.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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Martin, you'll remember this shop and I'd have thought Green Lane may have had some as well :D

1552833531622.png

More specifically

1552833596077.png

and a camera for the Pentac or aero Ektar

1552833691242.png

I was buying my "Fresh" bulk rolls of FP3 from them around this time.

For nostalgia

1552833799668.png

A bit before your time there, I last went in I'd guess around 1988 not long before they closed.

Ian
 

Martin2475

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The 35mm bulk film from Haringey was fresh enough. But if you knew anything about sprockets you would usually find it was perforated for cine use, it was bought in the film industry 2000 foot cans, very cheap per foot, hence the low retail price. The packaging was pretty minimal, a light tight bag inside a cardboard box rather than a can. One of my jobs was cutting the big rolls down, working all day in a dark green safelight with a converted cinema rewind table. I remember the market for cheap bulk Ilford rolls was very strong through the 70's into the 80's, but failed very quickly around 1985-86. Not sure why, maybe more money around switched most people into buying cassettes. One of the nails in the coffin for Harringay, then Phototec.

The 'ex-gov bromide paper' was a bit more flexible in spec. though. Coming in 9" rolls for aerial film contacting, it was usually grade 1, & had been around for a while, so probably even softer. There was a paper packing darkroom for ripping it into sheets, then a power guillotine to get it down to smaller sizes, 8x10" was the largest. The standard practice was to label it as 'Normal Grade 2'. Once someone had to have grade 3. No problem, one of the staff (not me) took a box, went in the paper darkroom & stuck a G3 label over the G2 ! There was no complaint afterwards, I think most people's printing standards were a bit lower then.
 

Ian Grant

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I bought my film from either AW Young or Marston & Heard by mail-order and it was always in tins, normal perforation but often no frame numbers.

One reason Marston & Heard, AW Young and a few others eventually went was ex-Government/Military surplus stock had largely disappeared by the mid to late 1970's. There were a number of RAF store bases near where I live in North Worcestershire and the last also the largest was closed by 1977, I'm sure it was the same with the others services and across the country.

As far as I can remember I only once bought paper from any of them, I still have the box somewhere and it was "Waterproof" it was a PE paper - if you tore it there was the plythene, it was a few years beore Ilfospeed and the Kodak equivalent.

Ian
 

Martin2475

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No, those adverts are much older that 1988, everything is in £sd, the AP date is hard to make out but looks like 1968. Also there's a big emphasis on cine, which was more or less on it's way out by 1988 as video recording was just breaking in. One of the adverts is for a striper - Harringay had knocked up their own striper in the 60's for putting a magnetic stripe onto 8mm films, so the user could dub his own soundtrack on. DIY striping was over by the mid 70's, at any rate they'd stopped selling that unit.

Here's one of many snaps taken around Harringay in about 1976 - many people will recognise Roy Knichel in his younger incarnation, this is about 8 years before he set up RK Photographic. The chap in the jacket is Fred Turnbull who was the manager there in the 70's. I can post up a load more if anyone is interested.
 

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Ian Grant

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The adverts are from Sept 1969, I went to I think AW Young first around late 1970 or early 71 while still at school. During late 1976 I went to many London dealers like AW Young, Marston & Heard, Harringay, etc looking for cheap LF enlargers and a camera. Ended up with a near mint Johnsons V45 enlarger from Process Supplies & also a De Vere monorail WP, HP and 5x4.

A few years later 1988 I stayed with a friend just round the corner from Green Lane so went in but I don't remember buying anything.

Ian
 

Martin2475

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What I found particularly interesting about Harringay Photographic was that it wasn't just a shop. Doing the ex-gov auctions was a bit like sending a trawler out to sea, all sorts of stuff came back. A lot of it needed work, & Harringay had a couple of engineers in workshops out the back. They could turn their hands to all sorts of stuff, from making aluminium castings to full maintenance on equipment. This is a shot I did of one of them, Ernie - he had just finished a complete bottom up rebuild of this 35mm projector. They were ex-forces 'portable' projectors, to give an idea of the date of them, they had built-in fire extinguishers in case when running nitrate film it lit up!

Ernie was clearly really proud of the work he'd done on the machine. Probably rather rare to find anyone employed to do that sort of work now, it would have to be a hobby.
 

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Ian Grant

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I mainly remember the large quantities of ex Military cameras, lenses, tripods, cine gear etc at AW Young and Marston & Heard. Many aircraft cameras and lenses, Debrie projectors etc. Some of the items you'd have had difficulty giving away :D

In my garage is a 1968 100ft tin with it's FP4 label, that must have come from AW Young so would have been fresh stock..

Ian
 
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