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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2009

    Just received first LF... some questions about the equipment?

    Hi, I've had the body for a couple months, a Calumet 400 I believe. Just received a 150mm Symmar-S today. I mounted it on a lens board that came with the camera.

    I have a couple simple questions:

    1. the lens board has a bit of play when on the camera. Meaning, I can shift it left or right a few millimeters or so in the recessed mounting section. I've never really handled a large format other than this, so is this an issue in terms of taking the picture [shift of image, light-tight?]

    2. The attachment of the film holder seems odd to me. The piece with the ground glass shifts back and the film holder is put in the space in between [a metal spring-like mechanism holds this all together]. How do I know that the film is lined up properly? Also, is this how most large format cameras work? It seems like light leaks could happen pretty easily if something is misaligned or there is even a bit of space between film holder and the back of the camera...

    I don't have a digital camera, but if this is hard to understand I can try to take cell phone pictures.

    Looking forward to taking my first 4x5 pictures...

    edit: Oh! and what kind of a cable release should I be looking at?

  2. #2
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Milton, DE, USA
    4x5 Format
    Blog Entries
    1. It will be an issue. Can totally thorw your perspective. Might see about a new lensboard or some means of shoring it up a bit.

    2. Yes, all Graflex style GG's and most others I reckon work like this. The film must be where the forward focusing surface of the ground glass was. as to being in place, if the holder clicks into the groove built under the glass, it's in place.
    Thank you.

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  3. #3
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Elk, California
    Plastic Cameras
    You can put some tape on the front of the lens board to shim it so it is tighter.

    Practice putting the film holder in all the way. There should be a bail that opens the back up to easily insert the holder.

    Mendocino Coast Black and White Photography: www.jonshiu.com

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Multi Format
    Sometimes lower end cameras do this lens board thing. It is just on account of sloppy tolerances in design and manufacture. It is minor; it amounts to a millimeter or two of lateral shift if it happens between the time you compose and when you take the shot. Every old metal Calumet or Graphic View I have used has done it a little bit. The board won't shift when the photo is being made unless you move it by accident with the cable release. If you want to be doubly sure, use some gaffer tape or masking tape to hold the board in place. I never had a problem with my own GV, or any of the borrowed Calumets I used, though.

    Another option might be to install a thin strip of material on the left or right edge of the lens board hole; it will take up the gap. I'd probably do it with slices from a piece of construction paper or a Pee Chee folder, and use tightly-applied Scotch tape to stick it on. You could use metal shim stock if you want to make it a more "professional" rig job.

    There should be a slot near the edge of the back from which you insert the film holder. A tab on the film holders fits into that slot. The film ends up where the ground glass was (hopefully ), so everything ends up just like you saw it on the ground glass, even though the ground glass moves before taking the pic.

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  5. #5
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Saint Paul, MN
    Multi Format
    As for the cable release, any standard one will do, but I have found that the better ones with a metal weave exterior are best. With cheaper ones I have had the exterior stretch out and the release no longer work properly. Here is an example: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...red_Cable.html

    What I ended up doing was having a short cable release attached to each lens I owned, it was a real time saver in the field not to have to change cable releases from one lens to the other.

    As for the play in the lens board, I think the only issue there is if it is so loose that it moves while you are releasing the shutter . Here is an exercise to try to get an idea of how much of a difference it really makes. While looking under the dark cloth at your ground glass, move the lens board from side to side. You will see just how much it changes your perspective and also you should be able to see whether any light leaks in while you are doing this. If there is a light leak, or if the board moves to easily and messes with your composition, then use tape to hold it down or shims to remove the play, as advised above.

    Have fun!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Live Free or Die
    Multi Format
    As others have said, the board movement is only an issue if it moves during the exposure, or it moves so much that there is a light leak. If the board is a Calumet board meant for the camera the light trap built into the board or mounting should take care of any light leak problem. If it really bothers you use some tape or shim it some at one edge. Don't shim behind the board though, or you could introduce a light leak. In practice, slight movement is generally no consequence.
    If the holder isn't seated in the ridges and groves you will get light leaks, but if it is inserted correctly there is no problem, that's why the ridges are there. Beyond that, the spring tension holds the holder tightly in place. Just make sure you insert the holder fully. When it is, you will see that it's pressed tightly to the camera top and bottom.

    For positioning, the critical dimension is the distance from the top surface of the holder to the film plane. Everything is designed so that the ground class sits at that same distance. Some very old cameras, required holders that were specific to the camera, but in the 4x5 realm, by the time your Calumet was made all that got sorted out and standardized, and had been for many years.
    If you encounter wood holders, just make sure they are not warped. Generally the plastic holders are pretty robust.

    The interesting thing about view cameras is that since everything is made to move in just about every plane anyway, tight precision though nice, is not a requirement. As long as everything can be locked so that it doesn't move at the wrong time, it doesn't matter how much movement there is otherwise.



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