Grafmatic or regular holders for an upcoming trip?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by anikin, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    We are going to Hawaii next week and I've been thinking of taking my Meridian 45B point-n-shooter on this trip. Up to now, I've been always using regular 2-sheet holders with this camera. However last week I bought three grafmatic holders and I've been contemplating to take these instead of the regular holders to save the weight/volume. I have not used this type of holders before and I don't know how well these particular holders work. I'm a little worried about using new to me equipment for what might be valuable photos. So I'm looking for advice: should I or should I not take these instead of the regular holders? What are the gotchas with this kind of holders? Anything I should check and or do with them before the trip?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    If the Graphmatic is new to you and untested, I woudn't consider using it for anything real... yet.
     
  3. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    I agree with Brian. If you haven't tested them go with what you know and with which you are comfortable.
     
  4. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I'm with Brian--stick to the regular holders for a big trip. I wouldn't shoot anything important until you've tested the holders and using them becomes second nature. On my first outing with a Grafmatic, I left the dark slide pulled out when I exposed the film. It seems obvious to leave the dark slide out when you expose, right? :smile: Well, not such a good idea with Grafmatics, since you'll fog the sheets behind the one being exposed because of the septum notches.
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I agree with both above posters. If you don't know how to use one it's a nightmare, and you might wind up damaging it.

    Stay with what you are familiar with and works for you.
     
  6. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Sounds like consensus :smile:. Is there anything to watch out with Grafmatics? Do the break/jam easily? Scratch film? Light leaks, etc...
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    If in good condition, they work perfectly; they're tough, reliable, don't leak light or damage film. Watch out for bent septa. They were made for news and sports photographers. It helps to read the directions.
     
  8. Nokton48

    Nokton48 Subscriber

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    The corners of the septums can bend easily, being light metal.

    That's another reason not to mess with them until you can test and get confident with them.

    Read the instructions, and practice loading them with the lights on.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Practice and use the Grafmatics before you take them on a trip. You want to be able to enjoy the trip, not fight your equipment. I thought that I knew how to use them, but the first times I used them, I found that I did not really understand them completely.
     
  10. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    I ran 6 sheets of Arista EDU this week-end. The exposures looked fine and the holder seemed to be reasonably easy to use. I did notice a few faint scratches on the back of one of sheets. I guess some cleaning of the septums is in order. Is PEC pads and some isopropyl alcohol OK?

    Also, some septums have a little bend at the end where it gets inserted into the holder. Is it wise to try to straighten them out, or is it better to leave them as is?

    I always shoot two sheets of film - one color and one B/W. I think for the trip, I'll use grafmatic for b/w and regular for color (or wise-verse). This way, if I screw up, I won't lose much...
     
  11. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    I love my Grafmatics to death because, unless you are REALLY stupid and cycle through all six slides, you really can't screw up with unintended double exposures. And being able to prepare 6 sheets in one package instead of 2 is awesome. I always take 3-4 of them on my trips.

    The bends can be straightened relatively easily; what I do is take a pair of pliers and slowly & gently straighten out the tips; then, if the pliers have pushed down on the slits so that you now have a tight entrance for your film, just take a screwdriver or an exacto knife and spread it out a little. I think it's better to keep them as straight as possible, since having the bends may cause more problems (getting stuck, bending more septum's, etc.).

    As for cleaning, they're just metal; I'd wash them with dish soap in hot water :LOL:

    One thing to remember: unlike normal holders, once you "set" the film for exposure (take the slide out and put it back in), you can't "unset" it… you have to take the shot, or move onto the next frame. This can be a HUGE problem when you're working (like me) with a barrel lens on a Speed Graphic, because once you set the film for exposing, you can't (easily) change the shutter speed any more, because that involves letting light into the camera, and there's no way to shield that from the film as you could with a normal holder.

    The only way to work around this without wasting a frame is to cycle through all the film and come back to the frame number you were at. So beware; "set" the film for exposure when you are absolutely sure you're going to fire that shutter :smile:
     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Bin thar dun dat!
     
  13. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    As long as this thread has some legs. Here are the problems I have run into over the years.

    Light leaks are pretty uncommon with Grafmatics. One thing to watch out for is the felt pad at the end of the chamber can come loose. I had one that folded over. When I figured out the problem it was a quick fix but there was some head scratching before then. The light leak will show up in the shape of the cutout of the septi.

    The septi can bend so look at them before you load film You want them to be as straight as possible. I use my fingers if there is a problem. I wouldn't use pliers as mentioned above. You don't want to mark them and cause scratches/wear on the mechanisms.

    Make sure the film fits snugly in the septum. I have had film come loose before and it jams the mechanism. I adjust them so that the film is just difficult to load. Also, check that the film goes under the end of the septum. If you have strong hands this can all be done with your hands and not tools. There are two kinds of septi that I have encountered. One has the folded over edge go the full length of the holder and the other has a kind of friction pressing and the far end. Neither is better than the other in my experience. They both should be adjusted appropriately.

    Don't forget to push the dark slide back in. The septum rests against the darkslide to position it properly for the exposure. I had a friend for whom I had built a Polaroid conversion complain to me about unsharp images with the Grafmatic. It turned out he was leaving the darkslide open since that is what he was used to doing to avoid light leaks while shooting with regular holders.

    Every so often I lube the channels in my Grafmatics with wax. It keeps them running smoothly. The first time I did it made a big difference. You could probably use other lubes as well. Obviously you would want something that is dry.

    If you ever get to a point when you are out shooting and the Grafmatic jams or the darkslide is met with a lot of resistance, tilt the camera back and try to jiggle it a little to let gravity do its work. Never force anything with a Grafmatic. I have only had one jam in the years I have been using them and it turned out to be a loose sheet of film as I mentioned above.
     
  14. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    I would take at least a few regular holders as backups if you take the grafmatics. The grafmatics are nicer to walk around with. On the other hand, if a grafmatic fails, it's 6 sheets possibly damaged or 6 sheets worth of space out of commission rather than just one or two.
     
  15. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    This is great feedback! Thank you guys very much. Now I'm a lot more confident. I will take both and use some regular holders as a backup.
     
  16. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Anikin, I bought one G-matic in the late 80s to use while hiking, or when I need to reload fast. I lucked out and got a good one in as-new shape for $25.
    I've never had a single problem with it, ever. They're that good, if in good condition. They also have exemplary film flatness and registration if the septa are good.
    Just make certain yours are in good condition and you are familiar with their use/operation.
     
  17. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear anikin,

    If you're still watching this, my best advice is to hold the camera in the normal shooting position when advancing to the next sheet. When pointed down, the odds of jamming seem to go way up. Otherwise, I have few if any problems with my 6 Graphmatics.

    Neal Wydra
     
  18. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Hi Neal,

    What do you mean by pointed down? Do you mean that the holder would be flat horizontally?

    Eugene.
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    If the septa are flat and straight, and the springs good, it will work in any position.
     
  20. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Yes. Exactly.

    Neal Wydra
     
  21. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Got it. Thanks!