Super D/Aero Ektar Combo

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Snowball Earth, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. Snowball Earth

    Snowball Earth Subscriber

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    I'm right in the middle of fitting an 178mm AE to a 3x4 Super D. Has anyone tried this?
    Yesterday I successfully bored out the inside of the camera to make room for the lens and tilts. My first lens board is very close to being like it should be but I will have make another with the hole a touch lower to better clear the mirror. John Minnicks has successfully altered the mirror to allow it to swing even at infinity, but as a portrait photographer I'm very tempted to leave that part alone and simply use the GG if I need to shoot at infinity. I may however need to find a way to prevent the mirror from crashing into the lens if I happen to be to close? Maybe a simple indicator could work? Any opinion on this?
    I've been tearing down Speed Graphics and putting them back together successfully for a long time but this thing is way way more complicated.
    Dwayne
     
  2. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    I've built a few of these type of rigs. I am working on one right now with a 4x5 RB Super D and a 8" pentac combo. I also have one like that I did with a 3x4 RB Super-D, fitted with a 4x5 Graflok back (Aka Minnicks-style aero liberator), with several different lenses.

    Which is yours? (4x5 or 3x4?) I considered shortening the mirror but didn't need to when using the Pentac. That's the biggest pain-in-the-ass part of the AE/SuperD combo. Without having the mirror hit you can only get out to between 6-12ft focus distance with the AE/3x4 SuperD combo, depending on how you have the lensboard set up.

    Getting a new mirror cut to specs is not hard, I got a replacement one made for my 4x5 SuperD for $45, cut to a trapezoid, fits great - it's a beautiful thing. The harder part is the swinging support for the mirror would also need modification. Again, not too hard but a bit of a hassle. At that point, you give up the ability for that (the mirror) to be a light-trap. In stock form, the mirror acts as a light trap so that when down, the rear of the camera is light-tight. This allows resetting the shutter (which is not self-capping of course) without exposing any film that happens to be there. If you give up the idea of the light trap, and just make sure to rely on the darkslide of the film holder for light-tightness, then you can shorten the mirror without impairing the function of the camera, really.

    I fitted an AE to my Arca Swiss Reflex, which also has the issue of the mirror interference - I can focus it out to about 12-15 ft before mirror issues, which is enough for a nice head-and-shoulders portrait usually. I don't have a solution yet on how to limit inbound focus travel to prevent the mirror from hitting. I was thinking about that too. Maybe some sort of adjustable physical stop that can be turned backwards from the front standard, and prevent it from drawing back into the camera beyond a certain point. Something like a small piece of stiff wire, the right length, screwed to the top of the front lensboard/standard (or the side of the front standard). When using the AE, rotate it (on a pivot, like a screw) 90 degrees so it points back towards the camera body. Make the length correct such that when it gets to that point that it touches the camera, it prevents any further rearward adjustment of focus, thus limiting the focus travel and preventing the mirror from hitting lens.

    I didn't bother to hog out the innards of the camera to allow tilt/swing, nor did I built a front standard to allow it, though I have considered it and have the materials (aluminum) to do so. I just haven't had the time/energy yet, and in general, I am not sure I see the need for it. Yes, tilt/swing can add some cool effects (fake miniatures, etc.) but in general the DOF is so shallow on these combos anyway, extra shallowness is rarely needed. I could mainly see a use when doing a shallow DOF portrait, to add some swing to get both eyes in focus when the sitter is not directly facing the camera. Maybe there are other good reasons too... ? Generally the bellows is going to be the limiting factor in those cases anyway, I would expect tilt/swing to be limited to maybe 15 degrees or so, which should probably be plenty.

    keep us posted on your efforts. Here's a pic of the 3x4 one I built: http://www.largeformatphotography.i...rsion-to-4x5&p=1058026&viewfull=1#post1058026

    I actually think the RB Super-D is simpler than the Speed Graphic, as far as tweaks and modifications. the Speed has the complex folding front with focus track, etc., the Kalart (or other type) rangefinder, etc. The Super-D is simpler in many regards, once you are familiar with it. I had my 4x5 one stripped down completely (and I mean really stripped - nothing but a simple wooden box left at that point), and even taking the shutter stuff apart was not that bad compared to the SG, I think (which has a shutter governor vs. just the tension adjustment of the RB, for example).
     
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    Snowball Earth

    Snowball Earth Subscriber

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    Wow Ed, you bring up lots of great points. I'll get back to you on this a little later when I have more time.
    Thanks
     
  4. OP
    Snowball Earth

    Snowball Earth Subscriber

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    My Super D is a 3x4. I took everything off of it except the mirror because it looked like I would damage some of the glued in light seals if I did. After reading your reply Ed about altering the mirror I may reconsider. I would not mind at all if I had to use the dark slide to change shutter speeds, really small price to pay to get the mirror to work at infinity. I will probably start by checking to see just how low I can get the lens mounted in the lens board and still get good coverage on the GG. The mirror I have is in great shape so I may be able to remove it and grind it down carefully.

    As for tilt I expect that part to be easy because all I have to do is add clamping knobs to the center of either side of my wood lens board. I don't care so much about the swings for the same exact reasons that you mentioned, however you make a great point about getting focus on both eyes on an angle. One thing I am a little worried about is shooting without a loupe, I shoot art nudes all the time with a Speed G and I always rely on the loupe for spot on focus. My Super D has a perfect hood, including perfect frissies, so it would seem that my eyes will be kinda far from the GG. Maybe I can rig up a flip up loupe like in a Rolleiflex somehow.

    If you do decide on the tilts and swings hogging out the inside was no problem, I used a 4'' hole saw bit in a drill press. It took out as much as possible without cutting out the space for the bellows to mount to. The next move after I work out the mirror issue is to peel the leather off and glue in more mahogany on the back to mount the graflock back on to Minnicks style. I guess I will use a grinder to take the bottom portion of the Graflock down.

    I really appreciate your input by the way Ed. Have you ever had any parts re chromed?

    Dwayne
     
  5. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Member

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    The mirror is relatively easy to disconnect. Yes you have to disconnect some light seal at the top of the mirror frame but it can be done without destroying the light seal. The view hood and ground glass have to be removed or the focal plane shutter and image box sides have to be removed. The image box side are attached to the body with wood screws and are what the mirror frame rest against when in the set/view position.
    The mirror itself can be removed from the mirror frame by removing the 4 screws on the back side of the mirror frame. There is felt glued down on each side of the mirror that should come off easily.
    There are 3 screws at the top edge of the mirror frame that hold it to the mirror shaft, they can be difficult to remove. The mirror return spring is housed in the brass cap on the left side and is held by 3 screws. Remove 2 of the screws, hold the cap with a spanner or similar via the empty screw holes, remove the 3rd screw, release the spring tension, and pull the cap off. The mirror return spring will only work correctly installed one way, it will go in 4 ways, 2 slots in the cap, 2 spring ends. Once the screws are removed from the shaft and the return spring is removed pull the shaft from the body and remove the mirror frame from the body.

    Leave me your email address and I'll send you my Graflex SLR shutter servicing instructions.
     
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    Snowball Earth

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    Snowball Earth

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    IMG_0784.JPG IMG_0785.JPG IMG_0784.JPG IMG_0785.JPG So far so good....
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    Snowball Earth

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    Thats awesome, thanks
     
  10. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    That stand really is fantastic, it moves the camera any way you want like it was weightless.
     
  11. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    Thanks, I got the mirror and assembly out with no problem.
    D
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    uh huh, qwite possible the best camera stand ever made
    made by a photographer, for a photographer
    when boxed, ready for shipment 95# and costs only $25 ! :smile:
     
  13. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    Will reply in more detail tomorrow, but there is no need to add wood to the back, it is easily mountable w/o doing so, and cutting down the graflok back can be done with carbide blade power tools. I have used a 12" dewalt miter saw with carbide blade to cut down at least 4 graflex gralfok backs. The back casting is made of magnesium.
     
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  15. OP
    Snowball Earth

    Snowball Earth Subscriber

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    Good call on the miter saw. I think I will stick to adding the wood on the back though, it's a 3x4 so the graflock is way to wide. I discovered something yesterday I wasn't expecting, this particular super d I'm told is the so called "German version" and the flash sinc is on the left side of the camera instead of the right like all the others I've seen. The problem is they mortised a flat piece of brass about 3" long or so into the wood to complete the circuit on the outside under the leather. So I guess I will have to sand that out and put it back inside of the camera. Or abandon a functioning sinc, that's not very useful anyway.
    D
     
  16. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    I never found the sync that useful, given it's about 1/10 or slower. I have never heard of that german version. I will take sme more pics of my 3x4 version, I was able to cut down the graflok enough that the overhang was only 1/4 inch or so, I think. Btw, the best way to mount it is vertically with the darkslide pointing down. It gets the most coverage that way, and allows use of things like polaroid backs easier, I think. Coverage will only be about 4x4 1/4 or 4x 4 1/2 at most.

    I haven't Ever had anything we chromed. I do have an industrial buff at my house so I can smooth metal down to a mirror finish, which is handy.

    For my bone stock RB 4 x 5, I made a magnifier for the viewing hood, with a +3 close-up lens. I mounted it on a small board, and tucked in to the top of the viewing hood when being used. I find that's the only way to easily get accurate focus on the ground class when using the hood. My minimum focus distance for my vision is such that I can't have my face completely against the viewing hood, in stock form, as I can't focus my eyes that close.

    Thanks for the info regarding hogging out the Center for tilts and swings. I may try that someday.

    Regarding the mirror, I would not waste time and risk trying to grind it down. For 40 bucks you can have a brand-new perfect one cut exactly to size, which is far more reflective and better than any stock one to matter what kind of shape it's in. I was shocked how much nicer it new mirror made the entire experience. I got mine from firstsurfacemirror.COM, I will doublecheck that but it was easy to order online and fast shipping. They have an online configurator, where you can spec out the exact trapezoidal size you need. Thickness is 1 mm, which is less than the 1.6 mm of the graflex. I spaced it up with a few shims behind it to equal out the distance so that the overall thickness came out the same. If I was going to cut down mirror, or order a smaller shorter one, I would also consider making an entire new backing plate for it. That way you could always go back to the stock one without a modification that's permanent.

    Will post some pics soon.

    Ed
     
  17. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    I decided to stick with landscape for the graflok, could be that I'm being fooled somehow but the entire ground glass is well covered by this lens. This may not be the case when I build the new lens board with a recess in it to get the Len close enough for infinity. Anyway here are a few pics I took right after I glued up th new mahogany to mount the back onto.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Member

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    The body covering thickness was calculated in for all the components in the camera. The roller bushings, mirror spring cap, wind plate, tension plate, focus shaft plates, release plate will need to be shimmed out from the bare body the thickness of the original body covering.
    Graflex used XXX Moroccan Leather from 1895 through 1946, Naugahyde from 1947 through end of production in 1973.
    Some 1947 cameras may have leather as the last of the supply was used up.
    The serial number for that camera is on the view lid, what is the serial number?
     
  19. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    shutterfinger nailed it on the thickness needing accounting for. I ran into that with my Woodie version I am working on. Definitely needs attention, especially the caps that are the bearings/bushings for the rollers and all the others he mentions. I used washers in most of these places.

    Landscape mounting of the back will give a 4x4" image. remember, 4" was the long dimension on the 3x4 camera but the short dimension on the 4x5 camera. putting the 5" horizontal on the 3x4 is going to limit it to the 4" width, where putting it vertical gets you the extra half inch or so.

    -Ed
     
  20. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    The serial number is 284584. Good call on the shimming, I've actually been though this doing similar things to speed graphics.
    D
     
  21. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Member

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    Its listed as a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 RB D in 1941. It is near the end of the first order for 200 cameras listed April 1, and two orders for 600 cameras each were listed later in the year, one in June and one in September.

    Major Graflex Product list http://www.graflex.org/graflex-products-list.html shows bodies under #300,000 to be made from 1941-1943.
     
  22. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    Thanks for that! Have you ever heard of this so called "German version"? The flash sinc is located above the release plate?
    D
     
  23. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Member

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    No. It is not referred to in any available documentation. I believe the "germ man version" is a shade tree jisters term.
    The Graflex SLR Instruction Manual http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_8.html page 25 states the flash sync connector to be on the Left side of the camera body and the newer model has it an integrated part of the Shutter plate.

    http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_16.html may be of interest.
     
  24. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    ok, here's a few pics that might be useful.

    First, a stock Graflex RB SuperD 4x5 that I converted to Graflok and gave a minor restoration to (it was pretty mint already, now it's museum quality probably):

    http://edsawyer.com/lens/graflex_superD

    Second, the current RB SuperD 4x5 Woody that I converted to Graflok, and fitted with an 8" pentac on a Jolo lens board, and an RZ67 prism with modified optics to get basically full coverage on the ground glass. Also a fresnel and new-style focus screen that is ridiculously bright. This one is almost done, I have some 1/4" solid mahogany that I will use to fabricate a top-cover board to finish off the top of it better. I may also rebuild the prism tower out of mahogany if I get inspired.

    http://edsawyer.com/lens/graflex_superD_pentac_woody/

    Third, the RB SuperD 3x4 that I converted to 4x5 Graflok. The Graflok is mounted vertically, and overhangs the body by about 1/4 or a bit more on each side. I could have probably cut the back down even further but this was my first one of these I did, so it's a bit sloppy with some RTV Silicone to take care of light leaks at the edges. I drilled new holes in the back to allow mounting through the holes used in the stock brass plate that is attached to the camera, so this conversion is in theory fully reversible, w/o damage to the stock 3x4. I also mounted an RZ67 prism, which covers about 60% of the ground glass. I made a new front standard (mahogany, of course, but painted black) to allow mounting of DIY lens boards. I have a Pentac on one of these boards, also this Nikkor-T 270mm on it's own board, and an additional universal mounting flange that allows various other lenses to mount. The boards are just 1/4" masonite.

    http://www.edsawyer.com/lens/graflex_superD_3x4/

    Hope it's helpful.

    And yeah, you should post pics and details of that nice looking stand-mounted beast of a camera! ;-) And some of your SG conversions, etc.

    -Ed
     
  25. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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  26. OP
    Snowball Earth

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    Thanks for sending all of those pictures, really interesting for sure. I'm going to take your advice and get a new mirror, when I work out what it's going to look like.....I built a new lens board today placing the lens a touch lower (I now realize it may be to low to fit the bellows) and recessed about 1/4" farther into the camera trying to get to infinity. Turns out it's not quite enough and I'll need to go farther yet. The alarming thing is the lens is already almost 1/4" past the leading edge of the mirror frame and I still need to go farther! So I'm wondering how much mirror I'll have left?
    I mounted the graflok about a strong 1/16" proud of the body because it allowed me to keep the viewing screen more or less where it was originally, so now that's working against me a little I guess. I've heard of people grinding a little brass off the top of the rear element of the lens to get the mirror to clear but that would be a drop in the bucket at this point.
    I'll give it another shot tomorrow....