Aligning Crown Graphic optical viewfinder?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by altair, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi all.

    I recently took some photos using my 4x5 Crown Graphic, handheld. It was mainly to test out the accuracy of the Kalart RF and to experience how shooting LF handheld would feel like (fun!). Anyway, it turned that the focusing of my Kalart RF coupled with the Optar 135/4.7 lens that I have is more or less spot on. That's great. However, it seems that my top mounted optical viewfinder (the one that's used for composition) is out of whack. I'd frame my subject nicely the way I want it & after processing the film it turns out the top of his/head was cut off and the subject would be off-center to the left.

    I'm not sure what's wrong. As far as I can tell, my front standard is straight. And it seems the optical viewfinder is fixed pretty tightly to the camera body, i.e there's no play or movement whatsoever. So, what can cause it to be out of alignment? And how can I get it re-aligned so that I can use it to compose my handheld 4x5 shots accurately?

    For reference, my Crown looks as per below.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,032
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I prefer to use the wire finder when I use my almost identical Crown Graphic hand held, I do the same with my Super Graphic.

    The eyepiece on the optical finder has a distance scale and rotates to allow for parallax ideally you need to set the camera up on a tripod and using the focus screen check out the optical finder.

    Ian
     
  3. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ian, when you say wire finder, do you mean the 'sports viewfinder frame' or the 'sports viewfinder eyepiece' (I'm referring to a Pacemaker Speed Graphic manual here)? I tried googling 'wire finder' for Graphics and I think the closest match I got was kinda similar to the sports viewfinder frame, but with very thin wires making an X-shaped cross in the center.
     
  4. mdarnton

    mdarnton Member

    Messages:
    317
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I don't see a mask in your optical finder. Notice the little slot in the front top of the silver metal frame at the front of the finder, that permits a cropping mask to be slid down in front of the glass. There are different ones for different lenses. I bet if you compare the wire frame view (which should show basically the right amount) to the optical finder view you will see that the optical finder is showing a lot more area than the wire finder. You need to find the right mask for your specific lens. There are many masks, for different lenses, and different lenses with different roll film holder combinations.

    If this isn't the problem, and I don't know for sure if you do need a mask for that lens, then the tilt of the finder is wrong. I really doubt this is the problem, but if it is, you can slide the finder out of its shoe (there's a little locking tab to depress on the side) and shim under the shoe until things are right. But I really doubt this is the problem.

    The ultimate authority on what will be on the film is the ground glass. If you have to realign things, do it at infinity, on a tripod, using the ground glass as a reference.

    Or, maybe you just had the parallax set wrong, as Ian points out.

    edit: Ian means the swing-up eyepiece on the stalk at the top back of the body, combined with the sports finder wire frame which is on your camera in the picture still nested/telescoped down into the top on the front standard. To get that up, hold the very top things on the front standard and pull them up all the way (There are little knurled tabs on the side to hold onto, I think). Being a film size hole that follows the lens, with a tiny hole over the film--sort of like the camera in reverse, the sports finder field of view will be good with any lens, and you correct parallax by sliding the eyepiece at the back up and down.

    http://graflex.org/speed-graphic/viewfinder-masks.html
    It appears that you need a #4 mask:

    [​IMG]
    (Pacific Rim has the mask, and this photo is on their site)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2012
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,032
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes the front and rear parts of the sports viewfinder. Be aware that the front part has click stops for parallax correction. Sorry to confuse you on some of my other cameras they are literally just wire finders.

    I don'tb think the optical finder needs a mask for a 135mm lens.

    Ian
     
  6. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello;
    Go to graflex.org and do some research. Instructions for adjusting the Kalart rangefinder is there and the correct mask to use on the optical viewfinder. You may have to do some refitting to get the optical finder to work correctly. As other forum members have said, tripod and ground glass is your friend. Have fun, Steven.
     
  7. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

    Messages:
    270
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Location:
    Calgary, AB,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What Ian Grant said. I've been using Graphics handheld for decades, and after a short while using the optical finder I found the pull-out sports finder was way better and easier. The sports finder also adjusts for parallax, there's no need for masks and you can compose with both eyes open, framing a little loose, a good idea using any kind of rangefinder camera.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,032
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Best of all it also works withe different lenses and rise/fall, and tilts and shifts.

    Ian
     
  9. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

    Messages:
    939
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    definitely get the mask----them parallax adjustments in the front don't do anything for me...what I use is the little triangles IN the mask---the mask is set for full frame at infinity with the proper lens...when you get close up like 4' or otherwise portrait distance, I've found the triangles give you a better idea of how the film sees it...in other words--you compose as if the viewfinder is exactly on target, then, for up close, you compensate by moving the camera so the borders of the side and bottom now align with the tips of the triangles and you've just corrected for the parallax.

    I've never seen this written anywhere but have discovered it through use....

    that being said---the peep sight/wire finder is ALWAYS aligned in the vertical direction and it is adjustable for distance, and it's easier to use....yeah...them other ones are kind of a waste....except MAYBE if you got a TELEphoto lens...then the wire finder won't line up right...it'll show you more than the mask will. but then you still have to correct....maybe easier in that case to put a mask on the wire
     
  10. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks very much for your reply.

    I'll check into getting the #4 mask as you suggested. Although as you pointed out, using the sports viewfinder frame & eyepiece could be easier. Thing is, I've just realized the sports viewfinder frame on my Crown is stuck. Somehow the top part won't come up from it's 'base', even though I've gripped the knurled part on the sides tightly & pulled up with all my might :sad:

    And yes, thank you for the suggestion of checking framing by using the GG with the camera on a tripod. Silly me, haven't thought of that.

    One question though, you mentioned one corrects for parallax when using the sports viewfinder frame by sliding the eyepiece at the back (on the stalk) up or down..correct? How do I do that? The eyepiece on my Crown just swings left or right, it doesn't slide. If I swing it to the left, it then nestles into the groove made for it at the top of the camera back.
     
  11. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks Steven.
     
  12. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you for the advice :smile:
     
  13. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for your input, John. I'll definitely try getting the mask & see how the triangles work out.
     
  14. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Ian, thanks for pointing out parallax correction. I've totally overlooked that. However, some of the mis-aligned shots that I took were definitely taken at more than 6-8 feet away, so I'm not sure if parallax is really the culprit. Anyway, I've tried using the parallax compensation dial/distance scale on the back of my optical viewfinder. I see it has marks for 6ft, 8ft, and so on till infinity. The dial rotates fine, and when I rotate it there's a circular mask (?) that I can see rotating inside the rear of the optical viewfinder. But, I don't see how that rotating circular mask does anything. For example, I look through the viewfinder then I rotate the parallax dial..nothing happens! The view doesn't change or anything. Is this normal? Or more accurately, is this the way it's supposed to work?
     
  15. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello;
    Look carefully at the eyepiece of the optical finder, see how the small lens is mounted off center? At infinity the lens is pointed down and to the left, as rotated to 15ft, 8ft, 6ft, the lens moves up and to the right. This is for parallax correction. If you are mechanically inclined the front standard with the sports wire finder can be serviced, do not force anything!! If not, take it to a repairman and have it serviced. Why damage your nice camera! Good luck, Steven.
     
  16. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    snederhiser: Yes, I see that the circular small opening in the eyepiece of the optica finder rotates when the parallax correction dial is rotated from 6-8-15ft then to infinity, but when one looks through the optical finder when rotating the parallax correction dial, should the view that one sees also change? That's what has me perplexed.
     
  17. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello;
    First of all is the lens actually moving when the eyepiece is adjusted? If not the unit is faulty. The camera needs to be set on a tripod and focusing on a target to detect parallax. Second is, do you wear eyeglasses? I do and have to remove them when using the optical finder, sports wire finder, and prisms. You need to get the eyeball close as you can to see the proper framing of the subject. Just a thought and good luck, Steven.
     
  18. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi again, thanks for your reply snederhiser.

    Yes, the lens in the optical finder is moving when the eyepiece parallax dial is adjusted. And no, I don't wear glasses.

    I have yet to put the Crown up on a tripod & check the framing via the GG. Will do this sooner or later. Thanks!
     
  19. reciprocity

    reciprocity Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi,
    altair is it the metal frame of the sports viewfinder stuck or is it the wire frame which pops out of the metal frame?
     

    Attached Files:

  20. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Reciprocity: thanks, that's an excellent picture, btw. On my Crown, its the wire frame which is supposed to pop out of the metal frame that is stuck. I can't do what you show in the photos you attached. :sad:
     
  21. premortho

    premortho Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    Location:
    Bombay, NY
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You won't see the view change when using the optical finder unless camera is mounted on a strong tripod, and aimed at a target. a target like a vertical X on a piece of wallboard/plywood/wall. Mount board exactly 15 feet from the film plane, then turn the paralax control through the various ditances, and you will see the picture in the viewfinder shift to slightly different places on the target.:munch:
     
  22. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    premortho: Thanks for your input! I'll try it out..it's been a crazy month or so for me so I haven't even tried checking the optical finder compo via the GG. Nevertheless, will try that & this out soon enough. Thanks again! One question though, why 15 feet?
     
  23. premortho

    premortho Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    Location:
    Bombay, NY
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    First of all the optical finder will never be as accurate as the ground glass, but it is close enough for snap shots. 15 feet is not a magic number, I just picked it because I think it's pretty well in the middle of the distance the Optical Finders range. When I was a newspaper photographer I set the range of the anticipated shot on the 15 foot mark on the scale on the bed, left the Optical finder at fifteen feet, f32, 100th sec, and a #22 flash bulb on Super Hy-pan film (in a filmpack). The ground glass was used on a tripod for static shots. I hope this helps.:smile:
     
  24. altair

    altair Member

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, thank you for sharing & for your input, premortho.