Help wanted with Super Speed Graphic

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by David H. Bebbington, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I already own 5 Graphics but have just acquired a 4x5" Super Speed Graphic. It is in solid usable condition but has the following parts missing:
    1) Track lock lever
    2) Battery compartment cover
    3) Detent button for revolving back
    4) Maker's ID plate (inside front bed).
    These are nuisances rather than disasters, except that the battery compartment cover also stops dirt getting into the rangefinder. As the e-bay seller did not mention these points, I feel I have good cause to return the camera if I wish.

    I have 2 questions:
    1) Do I have any hope of finding the missing parts?
    2) Is the Rodenstock/Graflex Optar lens in the 1/1000 sec. shutter a desirable collector's item? It is in very good shape but has no normal flash contact and takes a non-standard filter size, so I probably would not use it much. I also understand the shutter is not very robust.

    All advice welcome!

    Regards,

    David
     
  2. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    David, you might call or email Midwest Photo (http://www.mpex.com). They have a large stock of Graflex parts. Check resources on Graflex.org also.

    I have heard that someone makes a replacement battery door. The rest is quite specific, and may be somewhat difficult to find (pricey too!!!).

    The Super lens has good optics, however, the cocking mechanism and other internal shutter parts are made of plastic. Notorious for crapping out. It's much better to replace the lens if it is funky with a more common tessar, or a modern lens. Cam outlines for your own manufacture can be found Rich's site on:

    http://www.southbristolviews.com/
     
  3. joneil

    joneil Member

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    I've used my Super Speed Graphic for many years without the battery cover or the track lock, and never a problem. You might want to replace / fix the button for the revolving back however. That one could be problematic in the long run.

    As to the missing name plate - hmm- yeah, I think you can live without that. :smile:

    As for the lens, optically good, shutter mechanism is crapola. I dumped mine becasue it would work sometimes, fail others.

    Good luck, either way

    joe
     
  4. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Conventional wisdom on the shutter is to avoid 1/1000. As Patrick said, the internal parts are plastic (I think nylon) and after 40 years, they are generally worn. Fred Lustig in Nevada once rebuilt these shutters, but he had a stroke a few years ago, and I'm not sure if he's back at work. He has lots of parts. Unfortunately, he has no Internet access - one has to deal with him by snail mail. His address is somewhere on graflex.org.

    Good luck,
    juan
     
  5. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

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  6. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I don't know when Fred had the stroke, but he overhauled a roll film back for me a little over a year ago. I had to wait because he had been hospitalized. Maybe that was the stroke... I thought it was a blood clot in the leg.

    As said already, the battery door is available. Having one would be nice, especially if you plan on using the electric release. Without batteries in place, however, it won't stay put. The only part that you are missing that I'd consider important is the revolving back lock.

    Re: the super speed shutter... put it on a shelf as a museum piece. too unrealiable and pretty nearly unfixable. Look for a 135 Optar in Graphex shutter and use that. They are frequently seen at the auction site. If you can find one on a Super Graphic board you can use the electric release mechanism. Otherwise you'll need to use a cable release. I don't think you can put the regular Graphex shutter on the SuperSpeed board but I may be mistaken.
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks to all respondents - very useful information. Re filters - I had discovered that the "lens hood" comes off, but the filter thread is not a common metric size, anything else is hard to find here in Europe.
     
  8. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Alot of times the wiring from the bodies button to the electric board would be bad, so if it is, just use a cable release.

    Fred's been back to work for awhile now that I know, but he had the business up for sale before his stroke. Guess he can't sell it or he gave up.

    I sold my Super years ago which was a mistake, but then my $100 Crown is lighter, but with no revolving back. A quick release handles that.
     
  9. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

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    David-
    No threads at all. Series filters were/are "Universal" once you have the adapter. On the Super G. it is built in.
    bart
     
  10. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    A bit late... And all good answers so far. I would add...

    If you want to use the 1000 shutter, you can synch through the body pins on the lower right side of the body. I outlined how to make a cable for this on the graflex.org site.

    My personal opinion on that 1000 shutter? I saved my working one as a collector's item as I wanted it in working condition. I know people who do use them. I've heard stories of them blowing up... I've also heard stories of "plastic gears". I have two and both are completely metal inside with no signs of plastic anything... The optics are great and if you don't mind saving a blown shutter as a collector's item, then use it. From what I've heard, the 1000 speed is the dangerous one. Anything below that seems safe. I really prefer the 135 Nikkor W on my Super. Best lens I've seen. Finding Super boards to mount lenses is a major problem (and I'm still in need in case anyone has spares).

    I would say 'good luck' in finding the parts. I've kept my eye open for years and they rarely show up. Fred may have some but from what I've heard he doesn't like just selling parts.

    I don't know what you paid, but if it was my camera, I would get the battery door and batteries from mpex ASAP to test the electronics. If that failed, I would return it. If the electronics, wiring, bellows and rangefinder are good, then it would depend on price and general condition.

    The only real annoyance would be the locking arm. I do use that quite often myself.

    If you paid a low price and don't care about the electric shutter release or rangefinder use, then it sounds like a keeper...
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks to Rich, too, for his advice. The camera has gone back to the seller by mutual agreement - I paid £300, in line with my usual policy of trying to get the very best which will work right out of the box and not require me to search forever for parts. I too have a Nikkor 135 so was not swayed by the lens.

    One interesting point - I thought I had seen the rangefinder described as electronic, it seemed to be all-mechanical, with a "computer" function which allows a flash guide number (in feet) to be dialed in to indicate the required aperture as a function of distance. Also, as regards lens boards, I did try to fit a regular pressed-metal Pacemaker-type board and it seemed to be fine. This of course would not allow use of the electrical shutter release, however as the Graflex 1000 shutter seemed to be quite bit clunkier than a regular leaf shutter, I probably wouldn't have used this.

    Just how much "electronics" does the camera have? It would seem just a solenoid to release the shutter - can't quite see the advantage of this over a normal cable release in an anatomical grip. It would make for a faster lens change in press photography situations, with no need to hook up the cable release, but I understand only 2 lenses were ever made with the circuitry for electric release (the 135 and a 270 Tele-Optar?).

    Thanks once again to all offerers of advice - this process has been a crash course in Super Graphic familiarization for me, fortunately without financial pain!

    Regards,

    David
     
  12. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

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    David-
    the rangefinder is purely mechanical. The electric part is the solenoid lens shutter release. The two 22.5v batteries are for this - push the red shutter release button on the upper left of the body. Also works through the Graflex flash gun and finally, it is easy to make a modern electric contact shutter release for tripod work.
    The regular Speed and Crown lens boards fit, but have their "bosses" on the top and bottom. Super boards use "bosses" on the sides. Graflex put the bosses on both top and bottom and sides after the Super was released. You can use old Speed boards on a Super but will have to stamp the bosses in or the board will be loose on the camera.
    Only the 135 and 270 lenses were released in the 1000 shutter but virtually any lens (except the 65mm and 380 plus perhaps a few others at the extremes) could be fitted in an "electric" release Super board. On many the flash contacts were through the board, other, usually larger lens, only the shutter release was through the "electric" board, flash was off the regular shutter contact.
    After Singer folded Graflex about 1972 Toyo bought the rights and tooling and presumably the spare parts for the Super Graphic and re-released it as the Toyo Super Graphic about 1982 with few changes. It didn't last too long.

    The Super Graphic is truly a great field camera - one worth finding a complete, excellent + example to use.

    bart
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks for the info, Bart. Almost all my boards are modern reproduction boards (black finish) with small bosses at top and bottom and larger ones at the side. I am still trying to figure out the practical advantage of the electrical release over a cable release - the beauty of a regular leaf shutter is that all movements of parts are symmetrical, making for very low vibration. As I said, the 1000 shutter seems clunky in comparison. Seems like an answer to a question no one asked. I think I'd rather have the "FocuSpot" feature of the Crown Special, where the batteries in the rangefinder allow you to project two light beams on the subject and focus in total darkness.

    Regards,

    David