converting graflex rb super 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" to 4" x 5"

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by pablogustav, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. pablogustav

    pablogustav Member

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    Hello there,
    I have both a graflex rb super 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" and a graflex rb series b 4" x 5". I was wondering if there is a way to modify the 3 1/4" to accept the 4 x 5 back? I realize that the image on the negative would be cropped, but it would be much nicer for me to have just the 4" x 5" to deal with in terms of my local shop that develops the negatives for me (does not like to do the 3 1/4" and the carrier size of my scanner; (epson V700 with only 4 x 5 carrier size), and the better variety of emulsions available in 4 x 5. I would imagine that the ground glass would also have to be masked off as well? Any insight on this would be great and much appreciated!
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    you actually get most of the 4x5 image. There are people who have done this.

    http://johnminnicks.com/

    that guy has done it before
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I suggest that you post your question on www.graflex.org and email 45PSS on that website.
     
  4. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    I'm currently inquiring Bert Saunders on exactly this topic. Will get back to you when I hear back.
     
  5. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Wow... thoughts of butchering another 3x4 Graflex. Why not just go get a 4x5 Graflex?
     
  6. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    Is it just me of does his work look very shoddy? Looks like he enjoys hacking up some nice cameras too.

    The instagram style photos on his site put me off from the start.
     
  7. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    Don't know about the OP, but here are my reasons:

    With the 3x4 Graflex

    1. You can't get 3x4 film (or are very limited in options)
    2. You can't shoot 3x4 Polaroid (which is idiotic)
    3. It's smaller than the 4x5 sibling with almost all the coverage of 4x5
    4. The body is short enough to mount the Kodak Aero-Ektar 178mm f2.5 and still get infinity focus (see John Minnick's creations linked to above)
    5. Most importantly, the Graflok mod is 100% reversible
     
  8. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    I contacted Bert Saunders a week ago, he is no longer in the graflex repair and modification business.
     
  9. pablogustav

    pablogustav Member

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    thanks for all your input on this subject. I do have the 4 x 5 series b that I enjoy very much. But the automatic iris feature of the super 3 1/4"x 4 1/4" is just great for taking photos of my kids (with them always changing position, never sitting still and all)! I just thought this would be a good avenue to explore because I have looked at getting an auto 4 x 5 and the prices for them are getting pretty silly and way out of my range. I just love using these cameras though. I have a burke and james 4 x 5 that I hardly ever use anymore because these cameras are so much fun.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Pablogustav welcome to APUG!
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi pablogustav

    i have a series d (4x5 ) and have been known to chase my kids around the yard with it :smile:
    why not sell the camera you have and get one that requires no modifications ?
    you might get what $$ you need for the super ?
    or use a roll back so you don't need to deal with sheet film and holders ?
    ( i have a roll back taped to the back of my series d and use it all the time )

    modifying a 3x4 to 4x5 doesn't seem too difficult. you need to remove the old back
    and probably shim the new one so it is the right distance to focus correctly.
    maybe ... someone who has done this can tell you the right size shims to use
    and all you need is a back, and a screw driver and some lathe ?

    good luck with your fun project !

    john
     
  12. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    All,
    Must be a lack of imagination on my part. You want to replace a smaller film holder with a larger one. You can't put a intermediate plate in there as that changes the length from the light beam separation path at the divergence point. You can't mount the larger back on the smaller body unless the mounting points are within the 4x5 frame area.

    Shimming? Shim what? Move the ground glass on the viewing port? Shimming the back compounds the problem.

    Sounds like a hack job to me. Maybe it's just my lack of imagination.

    tim in san jose (no, you cannot have my 3x4 rb)
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey tim

    i have heard of conversions where the camera had what looked like a funnel
    attached to the 4x5 back to choke it down to 3x4 ..
    and i was under the impression from what people who had this sort of thing done
    ( well sort of half done seeing the fellow who was doing the conversion had a massive stroke
    while the camera was apart on the bench )
    the back needed to be shimmed to keep the film to mirror distance and ground glass to mirror distance
    the same ...

    maybe they were pulling my leg, i am pretty gullible ...

    john
     
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  15. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    Umm, OK although I'm not 100% sure.. again I need to hear back from Bert (at least his advice), but, I've converted the Graflex back on my 4x5 Series D to a Graflok back using an adapter kit that Bert sent me. It's 100% reversible, and it takes less than 1 hour to do. You're taking off the Graflex mount that's attached to a rotating plate and attaching a Graflok mount. Pretty straightforward stuff.

    My guess is that it's a pretty similar situation for a 3x4 to 4x5 mod, in that the thicknesses of the 3x4 Graflex mount is probably not that different from that of a 4x5 Graflex mount, and if the rotating plate on the 3x4 is at the same or very similar distance to the film plane as is the rotatin plate on the 4x5, then it's just a matter of fitting the larger 4x5 mount on the smaller plate.

    Now, if there is a slight amount of 'shimming' that's required, well, it's an SLR, why not shim the ground glass? There's room enough in the GG mounting area for adjustments, at least the mm range.

    The only thing that a conversion is going to do is to *add* to the distance between the flange and the film plane (i.e., the modified 4x5 film plane ain't gonna get any closer to the lens; if anything, it's gonna get farther away.)

    What that means is that to achieve proper calibration in the focus, you just need to set the ground glass an appropriate distance away from the mirror. Again, such a modification would be easy (relatively speaking) and 100% reversible.

    The only non-reversible modification to my eyes with John Minnicks's conversion is the two semi-circular side notches he makes on the sides of the front to accommodate the two knobs on the front standard to allow for tilt. I think that's a fair tradeoff.

    What would you prefer? A 3x4 that doesn't get used and stays on a shelf in all it's original glory, or one that gets heavily used albeit some relatively harmless modification?
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  17. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    My guess is that the "conversion plate" mentioned in the link above comes from Bert Saunders :smile:
     
  18. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    It's not the thickness... it's the size. A 3x4 rb is not the same size as a 4x5. The adapter plates probably won't fit without an adapter panel of some sort. If you have an adapter panel, you have now changed the distance from the film plane to the splitter point inside the camera. Hence the focus mechanism for the 'reflex' will not focus correctly. Kinda like using Mamiya RB67 roll film backs on a 2x3 Graphics. They fit... but the focus is just off.

    tim in san jose
     
  19. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Tim, there is no beamsplitter in a Graflex SLR. There's a mirror. 100%/0%. All of the light goes to the GG, or all of the light goes to the film.

    Most of the recipes for replacing a Graflex SLR's Graflex back with a Graflok back require that the ground glass be shimmed to adjust for the different flange-to-film distance.
     
  20. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    The adapter plate IS what is provided by Bert.

    I'm attaching a couple of images from the instructions that Bert sent me when I converted the 4x5 Graflex to a Graflok back.

    STEP 7.JPG

    This is the plate that makes the Graflex back a "Graflex". This is the part that you will remove for safekeeping. You will attach a Graflok back that you acquire yourself; Bert does not supply the Graflok back. You attach the Graflok to the conversion plate, which is the product that is provided by Bert, which in turn attaches to the rotating plate/mechanism of the R.B., seen below in front (the back plate is the plate shown above)

    STEP 1.jpg

    The thickness of the conversion plate is made so that the film plane will be in the same exact spot as would have been the case with the original Graflex back.

    Now, my understanding is that with a 3x4 Graflex --> 4x5 Graflok conversion, it's the same exact idea, except the conversion plate has to be catered to the smaller rotating mechanism plate of the 3x4 Graflex. I'm rereading one of the Emails I got from Bert back when I purchased his kit and this is what he says:

    " You have never said if your "D" model is a 3x4 or a 4x5....need to know that, as the opening and the 14 screw circle pattern on the RB back is different for the 3x4 vrs the 4x5!"

    So I'm pretty sure it means that the configuration of the conversion plate will be different, but the basic concept and the results will be the same; you convert either a 3x4 or 4x5 Graflex to a 4x5 Graflok back, and Bert fabricates the conversion plate accordingly.

    And, to repeat, even IF some adjustments need to be made, it would only involve "shimming" the GG upwards (away from the mirror), which is, so far as camera modifications go, pretty simple and quite harmless.
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Bert Sanders built a custom Graflok adapter plate for my 4"x5" Graflex Model D. All 4"x5". No 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" film here.
     
  22. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Dan,

    I know there is no beam splitter. There is a point where the image beam either goes up to the viewer or back to the film plane. That's the split point. They are tied by geometry. Change the distance to the lens for one, you need to change the other. By adding distance to the back to put an adapter on, it changes the length to the lens. The distance to the viewing screen does not change. What is in focus on the view screen, is not in focus on the film plane.

    I'm tired of trying explain it. When your pictures come out fuzzy, you know why.

    If some guy has built an adapter for the 3x4 that does not change the length from the film plane to the lens, go for it. Me? I'll just use 3x4 film or my 120 roll film adapter.

    tim
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i know what you mean tim
    it seems like an awful lot of work
    to ... waste 1/4 of a 4x5 sheet of film ..

    pablogustav: is the main reason why you want to convert the camera because
    your lab-guy doesn't want to scan your negatives ? using a roll back will allow you
    to shoot a larger variety of film and still remain friends with your lab guy :smile:
     
  24. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    I'm pretty sure everybody here understands the concept. We just seem to disagree how big of a problem that is to overcome and/or the utility of doing it :D
     
  25. pablogustav

    pablogustav Member

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    Yes, thanks for the welcome very much; I have lurked on here for a while and have always enjoyed the brainstorming that goes on in this forum and this is a great example of it. I took photography in high school in the 70s and my first camera was a Canon Ftb that I bought brand new when I was 16 after working summers on a farm picking string beans for $2.20 an hour. I had a darkroom in the basement that my brother and dad helped me build that ended up instead being my solitary haven by telling my parents that they couldn't come in when the safe light was on; so I could basically get stoned in there instead...ah those great teenage years and the fun photos. I then loved super 8 for many years, making movies in college and still do enjoy it. I have 3 girls and for the early years when my oldest was quite young I still used a Nikkormat to document her progress. After my twin girls were born and I was hallucinating from sleep deprivation for 5 years straight, I embraced digital photography as it was easier and the results were quite good for documenting all the chaos that dominated the household. My enthusiasm became muted though, as I saw the millions of photos on computer screens that only live in computer screens; I sadly lamented the wonderful photo albums or personal loving scrapbooks lost, that no one makes anymore. My wife has wonderful black and white photos of her ancestors in wonderful formal clothes for the special occasion of a portrait and how come these look so much better than anything achieved with all the latest technology? As my kids have gotten older (one 16 and two 10years), we began to discover and enjoy together Buster Keaton films and an old stereo photo viewer that I have with wonderful old stereo prints. I realized that I was starting to form their aesthetic appreciation, as they were not as impressed as they used to be with a CGI hollywood movie and would enjoy more watching the original version of "20,000 leagues under the sea" instead. I began to really turn into an obsessed Luddite and jettisoned most of my super 8 cameras and now only use wind up mechanical regular 8 and 16 mm cameras. These cameras are engineering marvels that are built to last and are a joy to operate (even if my good results are only about 50%). I now see myself taking a parallel path with still cameras, as I have sold the Mamiya 7II and the Pentax 645nII that I was so in love with and now only want machines of castings, machinery and wood. Last year I got a Graflex National and just love screwing around with this thing; and when one shot by chance happens to come out great it is so meaningful. I have this one photo of my eldest daughter who is Gluten intolerant standing in a wheat field scowling that is worth more to me than most of the digital photos I have ever taken. I have no idea what I am babbling about and some of the responses to my query have left me amazed just by the sheer technical mastery of these machines that I have yet to comprehend. Perhaps I feel a little bit intimidated now, that I was being hasty in my thoughts about the Graflex RB. I just have been having so much fun with the 3 1/4 with the auto diaphragm. I would like to purchase, as some have suggested an auto 4 x 5; but the last two I watched on ebay went for over 1k and the 3 1/4 I purchased for $200....Even if my problem or puzzle does not get solved, I want to thank all for their help and obvious commitment to these classic methods and machinery; for all these creations I think give us the needed therapy for exiting, for a brief respite anyway, the crazy, technical and sometimes unsympathetic world.
     

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  26. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    Hmm, that's quite ridiculous. I recently sold my Super D to someone over at Large Format Photography for $500 (or was that $450? :D ).

    Well, you can wait a while and see how I fare. I'll update you when/if I hear back from Bert.