I'm considering entering the bidding on a 4X5 Black Graflex Graphic on e-Bay.
My concern is the bellows at full extension. I don't know if there is a point at which a sagging bellows needs replacement and I don't want to bid only to win a camera that needs repair out of the box.
Can anybody tell the condition by looking or must it be tested?
I can't tell the condition of a bellows simply by looking. The problem, as I see it, isn't so much one of sag but one of pinholes in the corners. The test for pinholes has been discussed several times here and other sites so I won't revisit it again. Insofar as bellows sag, one could always prop the bellows up in a variety of ways should that be a problem. I would ask the seller if he warrants the bellows as being light tight.
Bruce, this camera looks to be in excellent shape. The bellows sag you mentioned seems to be because it is at full extension and does not look like a problem to me. You would not be using this much extension with a "normal" lens unless doing a very tight close-up shot. With a 150mm lens there would be no problem at all. Even with this amount of sag, the node to film plane would not be an issue, as the lens projects from its center. If needs be, you could use a roll of bubble wrap between the rail and bottom of the bellows to get a little lift and make things right. Depending on the actual selling price, it seems to be a good camera in excellent shape and would do anything you asked of it.
The only down-side I can see is that it would be a bit heavier than a field camera (and not as easy to pack while hiking) and might require a bit more setup time depending on circumstances. For table top work it would be a great choice with plenty of movements. The graflock back is also a plus. Wonder what it will actually sell for? Good luck. tim
My first LF camera was a GVII with black bellows. It is an excellent camera, built like a tank, and a joy to use. This one appears to be in excellent condition. The bellows will sag a bit as shown at full extension, but should not be a problem. I'm not sure I'd pay over $250 or so for a nice one though.
i had and used a red-bellows graphic view II for close to 12 years, and really liked the camera. it is rugged, and with the fiber box you should have no problems lugging it around. i'm not sure which box it comes with - the one that came with mine was from the army signal corps. it had compartments for 12 film holders; cutouts for filters in the top-foam; and a compartment ( that snapped shut ) for 2 lenses on lensboards. the camera went upside down and the rail rested in v-cuts in the center. it was very well designed, and i wish someone made something like that box today, i would rather use IT than the tenba case i currently use.
one thing to think about is that the widest lens you will be able to use with the graphic view II is a 90mm lens. you will need to find a recessed lensboard ( or make one yourself ) if you go the buy-one-route, they can be hard to find, or command more than $50 for one used. the bellows are fixed, so you won't be able to use a bag-bellows with this camera if you wanted to use a wider lens. with the 90mm and recessed board, you are pretty squished, but you will still be able to get movements without too much of a problem. the camera was able to use a 210/370 symmar with enough extension.
from what i remember the problem that often happened with my camera was the standards' lock-down sometimes did not allow them to slide freely on the rail. you can either loosen the knobs and push/pull the standards on the rail, or you could pull the knob out ( there is a spring in there ), and it released the standard to move back/forth. sometimes the metal sleeve would move a little bit without the rest of the mechanism.
the compendium is pretty hard to find - i looked for years and eventually gave up.
its a nice camera, and if you don't see yourself needing a super-wide angle lens, or something really long, you won't be sorry you bought it!
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It does look to be in pretty good shape, and as the others have said, the sag is normal, and it's a pretty heavy camera. If it comes with a trunk case, you can wheel it around Brooklyn with tripod on luggage cart.
I am fairly sure I know who the seller is, despite the 0 feedback (the pictures, writing style, and kinds of other items for sale are familiar). If he is who I think he is, he's very reliable, but had some disagreement with eBay, and they closed his account, and I suspect he's opened a new one. PM me if you want more info.
Bellows Sag: Conc.
The auction ended and the winner went for $402. All of your responses helped me conclude not to bid on this item because it really isn't what I think I want. I will exercise greater discipline and concentrate on flat bed/field type cameras.
Thank you very much (and my wife thanks you too). You saved us some money.