Crazy idea for a adding a laser to a Kalart Rangefinder on my Speed Graphic

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mattk, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. mattk

    mattk Subscriber

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    So I am sitting here just enjoying my camera--I truely enjoy using it and have recently started to use it more hand held. The side RF that came on it has a functioning lamp for "use in low light" or so the manual says. I have been just slightly frustrated by the lack of contrast between the two images in the RF. Looks like new beam splitter glass is on order. Anyone ever try to remove the lamp and install a small laser pointer as a light source? I just envision two crisp dots sitting out there in space just waiting to be brought together by a spin of the focus knob. I think I'll give it try--anyone else fool around using the lamp for a focus aid?
     
  2. ragc

    ragc Member

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    Hmmm... not a laser expert here, but I hope you don't do portraits!
     
  3. mattk

    mattk Subscriber

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    No, I don't plan on searing the retinas of any unwilling subject. Just a landmark for where the point of critical focus is.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've pointed a laser pointer through the eyepieces of various rangefinders to test the principle, and it works.
     
  5. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

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    That gives me an idea - I bought 10 of the little guys from a Thai fellow on FleaBay some time ago and have been looking for a project.

    How about a visual rangefinder (with two dots) - merge the dots and read the distance? That could be rather useful.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, that's how the Focuspot works, by using the rangefinder in reverse. The light shines through the rangefinder and projects two dots on the target, and when they join together, the lens is focused. A laser is even clearer to read, and you can conceivably look through the viewfinder and focus with the rangefinder at the same time.

    The Focuspot instruction sheet (it's probably available at graflex.org somewhere) would show the photographer pointing the dots on the subject's chest, even though it used an ordinary flashlight bulb and not a laser. Just don't point a laser at anyone's chest at any mafia weddings.
     
  7. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I was thinking of doing this (I posted about it a while back).
    It's actually how I align my kalart side-rangefinder as well.
     
  8. razzledog

    razzledog Member

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    I have been toying with the idea of incorporating a laser into the Polaroid's finder for some time...but honestly David, what you said here really breaks me up....:tongue:
     
  9. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    isn't part of the beam coming back into the viewer's (eg photographer's) eye?
     
  10. mattk

    mattk Subscriber

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    Yes I suppose if one actually looked into the viewer. My goal would be to simply point, merge the dots and shoot. I don't plan on using the RF to compose, rather the finder on top of the camera.
     
  11. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    I think that guy who uses a Speed Graphic and an Aero Ektar for politician's portraits has already done this. Can't think of his name though...
     
  12. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    David Burnett? If that's the person you're thinking of, I wasn't aware..
    The side-mounted Kalart with Focuspot, i've never used.
    The top-mounted RF one I have. Even with a good unused bulb and fresh batteries, clear glass and mirrors; It can be difficult to see at times.
    The laser dot is much easier to see. There are laser modules that will accept 3-6vdc and are very conveniently sized (so as to replace the lightbulb inside the top rangefinder).
    Also there are dot, line and cross beams. I've only tried the dot.

    For the side-kalart, a piece of yellow acetate over the window helps to focus too.. Gives contrast to the double image.
     
  13. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I can say though, if you are using an aero ektar and 4x5 speed handheld (can be done!), you want to make it as quick as possible unless you are like strong like Thor.
    I am strong like computer geek, I can only lift it up so many times before i'm throwing my back in to it.

    At one point I had it calibrated to the rangefinder. Perfectly spot on. Then I realized that any swaying back and forth, movement, anything.. and the dof would be off. Essentially I was shooting the thing at f4.
    Beautiful color pictures though, i've some 220 portra vc that I forced through my graflex rh12 back.
    I got a lot of blurry ones back, but the ones that are sharp are sharp.

    To me, the laser is the best deal for calibrating those damn side-mounted kalart finders.
     
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  15. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Why not use just high intensity LEDs and not LASER LED's? I would imagine the net effect would be the same without loosing a retina...
     
  16. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    David Burnett! Yes thank you. I read about him in college. In one of his interviews he joked that he was suprised the Secret Service didn't manhandle him after he used a laser beam in his sidemounted Kalart. I want to say that was for the John Kerry pictures, but I can't remember.
     
  17. Bob Eskridge

    Bob Eskridge Member

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    I have used a laser to do a quick calibration of the side Kalart rangefinder on my Busch Pressman at portrait distance. Works fine.
     
  18. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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  19. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I have also used a laser pointer to calibrate my rangefinder and it works great.. Been looking for a way to mount it on my graphic for a while..
    Best i have been able to come up with is to mount a small prism on the top hole of the kalart rangefinder and then mount a tube going across the top of the camera (with the viewfinder taken off). The laser pointer would then be mounted on the left side, so that the button is where your thumb rests when your left hand is in the strap.

    I wouldnt worry about blinding anyone as long as you dont point it in their face.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Sounds fun. Just don't focus on eyeballs or airplanes!
     
  21. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    They make laser modules that are so small.. you could most likely mount one in place of the bulb in a kalart focuspot, or in place of the bulb and one battery. I believe there are tiny laser modules that can function off of 1.5V (if the focuspot takes two AA's, i'm not sure)
    Make sure it's one with an enclosure and lens.

    For a top-mounted rf, you could most definitely stuff one of these laser modules (look on ebay) in place of the bulb. A little bit of bluetack/putty whatever.

    It's also possible that you could find some narrow tubing, pvc or the like, maybe even an elbow/right angle that has a diameter which would fit the Kalart hole and jam it in there. If you look at the threading of the hole and the focuscope, it's very simple and you could probably rig something pretty easily. Anyhow, you could put a laser module and battery in the tubing, or at least hold the module and wires to a separate batter pack mounted on top of the camera.

    What i'd really like is a DIY focuscope with optics as finding a focuscope on ebay is painful (almost easier to buy a camera with one!)

     
  22. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    But you want the eyes in focus, don't you? :smile:
    j/k, bad idea!
     
  23. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    This is an old thread I dug up to avoid opening new ones. After reading all the posts in it, and now some time has passed, does anyone know of a feasible direct replacement for the bulb in the top-mounted Graphic finders and the Kalart Focuspots? My complaint is that in many instances the normal bulb filament is just too dim. Given a nice bright beam on subjects can translate to a true point-and-shoot camera without having to do anything more than holding the camera up and giving nothing more than a cursory glance through the pull-up sportfinder, and click.
     
  24. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Take an old bulb, remove the glass from the base, and solder/epoxy a high-intensity LED to the base.
     
  25. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Superbright LED's has LED equivalents for most flashlight-type bulbs, no particular need to drag out a soldering iron. Though you could probably end up with something brighter if you use the DIY approach.
     
  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I don't recall what bulb the FocuSpot takes, but I'm pretty sure it's a screw base. Flashlights haven't used these in decades, although the bulbs are still available.