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5x7 Speed Graphic project
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: 5x7 Speed Graphic project Reply with quote

Hello,

I have a 5x7 top handle speed graphic that I've been meaning to use more. It's in good working condition but has plenty of wear and tear so I figure it is a good user. Specifically I am interested in turning it into more of a press style camera.

My camera is essentially identical to this Folmer & Schwing branded camera seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/werra/7756731838/in/photostream

I have a couple questions about it, which are as follows:

1. I (stupidly) lost one of the lugs screwed to the inside of the box that the strut slides on as you open and close the door. Therefore when opened, the lens housing is fairly unstable since the strut on one side isn't attached. I'm wondering if anyone here has or knows where I can get a replacement lug? I've asked around and searched the hardware store for a similar part that would be functionally identical, to no avail. I'll post a close-up tonight when I get home of the remaining lug I still have.

2. I want to be able to hand-hold this camera at least some of the time (which I've heard has been done). I realize it's going to be fairly awkward, but being able to leave the tripod in certain situations would be a huge advantage. Therefore I wish to install the following:

- A viewfinder - My camera does not have the flip-up viewfinder in the camera pictured above, though it does have screw holes in the leather where one was mounted in the past. I am wondering what type of viewfinder I should look into adding to the camera. The lens I have now is 190mm but I am thinking about getting a ~210mm in the future, which I believe is "normal length" for 5x7. I'm not sure a regular 4x5 speed graphic viewfinder would work, since the aspect ratio is so different. 5x7 is closer to 35mm so I've thought about some of the 35mm multi-finders out there. The original viewfinder for this camera looks really cool but I have no idea where I would get one. Any thoughts?

- A rangefinder - Again, I'm really not sure what rangefinder to get or how to install it. I have heard internet tales of 5x7 speeds with rangefinders that coupled to the rack and pinion focusing knob. I have no idea how this would work. I don't think coupling is an absolute necessity, as I can probably create a distance scale and tape it onto the camera's door, and scale focus based on the rangefinder reading. I'm just not sure what kinds of rangefinders are out there, how they are mounted, etc. Help?

I realize that just getting a regular 4x5 speed would solve all these problems, but I prefer to contact print and I think 4x5 is too small for that. I am aware that there is a 5x7 Technika camera equipped for hand-holding, but those seem to go for well over $1000.. out of my price range. I've already invested in the 5x7 speed and I like it a lot, and would prefer to modify it to fit my needs, if at all possible.

Any suggestions about people or places that could help me with this project would be greatly appreciated!

Here are some photos I've contact printed so far:












Thanks,
James
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, nice work, jimcon! These images tell me why the National Park Service specifies 5x7 format for their Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) documentations (although in recent years they have allowed 4x5 also). Where were these shots taken? What film?
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Henry! The photos were taken in central Maryland, the first one in a large plot of land (future housing development) adjacent to a new overpass of I-95, and the other three around an asphalt production facility near Laurel, MD. I used Ilford FP4, tray developed in rodinal, and crudely contact printed in my basement. I am sure with greater skill and a proper darkroom setup this camera could yield much better results.
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This picture shows the part I am missing - the lug that is attached inside the camera box that the strut slides along. I have one side but not the other.


[/img]
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jimcon, don't push your luck: those prints look fine. I'm especially fond of the third and fourth ones. As for enlarging them, of course you'd need a 5x7 enlarger, which I'm betting is not cheap (although in this digital age you never know what you'll find used). OR: What I do is scan my b/w negs on an Epson V700 with transparency lid, move the scans into Photoshop Elements, adjust contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights, and sharpen, then print out on an Epson R2880 with pigment inks. This printer will go up to 13" wide.

I'm a big fan of Ilford XP2 Super chromogenic. That's all I ever shoot for b/w in my Century 2x3 with 120 rollfilm back. The local photo store still processes C-41 color chemistry, and as long as Ilford keeps making the film and I can get it processed, I'm sticking with it. I sold my Beseler 23 enlarger and essentially shut down my wet darkroom, although I still have tanks and reels and could do film (but not C-41!) again if need be.

As for that missing part, it might be easy enough to fabricate one out of brass stock. The tricky part would be the stud, which could be the end of a large brass escutcheon pin or round-head screw cut to length and soldered (brass is wonderful that way!).
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3210
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Henry is on the right track with fabricating one. The same lug should work on either side of the camera so use the existing one as a template. At one end the gap in the bed brace should be wide enough that the brace stud can easily be removed. The stud is held to the body with two screws probably #2 x 3/16. A brass shoulder screw or a brass rivet can be attached with solder or 271 threadlocker. Make a tight fitting hole in the new plate for the stud to fit into.

The bed brace assembly was changed by the Anniversary so a Pre Anniversary or older may be the only option for a factory part.

Quote:
A viewfinder - My camera does not have the flip-up viewfinder in the camera pictured above, though it does have screw holes in the leather where one was mounted in the past. I am wondering what type of viewfinder I should look into adding to the camera.


I assume you are talking about the Optical View Finder on the front right corner. If you have a Sports Finder similar to the Pre Anniversary
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_18.html use it as it is 110% better than an optical finder which is an approximation device at best.

You may want to contact Fred Lustig in Reno Nevada as he may have the parts or suggestions. He is getting up there in years and is only reachable by mail or phone so be aware of time zone differences. His contact info is in several post.

Quote:
- A rangefinder - Again, I'm really not sure what rangefinder to get or how to install it.


The Kalart rangefinder used on various cameras can be used on the 5x7 but a actuating arm for the 5x7 would have to be made. The Kalart can be adjusted to a single focal length within a wide range of focal lengths.
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/kalart_1.html

Another option is a handheld or hot shoe mounted rangefinder. These show up on ebay and are not focal length dependent and have a distance scale for the focused object.

Quote:
I want to be able to hand-hold this camera at least some of the time (which I've heard has been done). I realize it's going to be fairly awkward, but being able to leave the tripod in certain situations would be a huge advantage.


The Focal Plane Shutter is sometimes called a curtain aperture. The FPS has a single curtain with different apertures cut into it. They range from full frame down to 1/8 inch wide. When tripped the aperture travels from the top edge to the bottom at a set rate according to the speed selected. The time for the aperture to travel the 5 inches of film opening is considerably longer than the shutter speed. Consider using a mono pod to help keep the camera steady when shooting hand held. If you can hand hold a smaller format camera tack sharp steady at 1/4 second shutter speed you may be able to get by without any support.
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tsgrimm



Joined: 04 Apr 2004
Posts: 158
Location: SE Michigan

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:26 am    Post subject: Viewfinder Reply with quote

Quote:
The original viewfinder for this camera looks really cool but I have no idea where I would get one. Any thoughts?


That style ocassionally show up on eBay. However, I don't know if they were for 4x5 or 5x7. If you should see one, be sure and ask the seller which format it is for. That assumes that they even know.
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry wrote:
Jimcon, don't push your luck: those prints look fine. I'm especially fond of the third and fourth ones. As for enlarging them, of course you'd need a 5x7 enlarger, which I'm betting is not cheap (although in this digital age you never know what you'll find used). OR: What I do is scan my b/w negs on an Epson V700 with transparency lid, move the scans into Photoshop Elements, adjust contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights, and sharpen, then print out on an Epson R2880 with pigment inks. This printer will go up to 13" wide.

I'm a big fan of Ilford XP2 Super chromogenic. That's all I ever shoot for b/w in my Century 2x3 with 120 rollfilm back. The local photo store still processes C-41 color chemistry, and as long as Ilford keeps making the film and I can get it processed, I'm sticking with it. I sold my Beseler 23 enlarger and essentially shut down my wet darkroom, although I still have tanks and reels and could do film (but not C-41!) again if need be.

As for that missing part, it might be easy enough to fabricate one out of brass stock. The tricky part would be the stud, which could be the end of a large brass escutcheon pin or round-head screw cut to length and soldered (brass is wonderful that way!).


Henry,

Thanks again for the kind words. I'd actually rather contact print than bother with an enlarger (and reducing image quality). Scanning the negatives is a good idea, but I would need a new scanner as the basic flatbed I have now only allows 35mm or medium format transparency. Still, I have achieved decent results scanning my 5x7 negatives on top of a blank white sheet, and then inverting and adjusting in Photoshop. Here's an example of that method:



I seem to be lacking detail in the high and low areas, which would probably be rectified with a full size transparency scanner like the one you have.

The results I'm seeing from XP2 Super online look great. I used to use the Kodak c41 BW film for a while which is probably similar. Extremely forgiving of exposure errors and had a pretty neat tonality all its own. There's no good photo stores around here though so I prefer to develop my own BW now. I'd like to see your results with the XP2 though.
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS - Thanks for all the info. There's a lot here to consider.

45PSS wrote:
I think Henry is on the right track with fabricating one. The same lug should work on either side of the camera so use the existing one as a template. At one end the gap in the bed brace should be wide enough that the brace stud can easily be removed. The stud is held to the body with two screws probably #2 x 3/16. A brass shoulder screw or a brass rivet can be attached with solder or 271 threadlocker. Make a tight fitting hole in the new plate for the stud to fit into.

The bed brace assembly was changed by the Anniversary so a Pre Anniversary or older may be the only option for a factory part.


This sounds like a good idea. I have absolutely no knowledge of metal working, but based on the descriptions you've both provided I think I see how it could work. I'll try to get the materials and give it a go. I have done some soldering of electronics so at least I'm familiar with that aspect. Will a regular old electric drill be able to make holes in the thin brass plate?

I think a factory part is probably out of the question for the reason you stated.

45PSS wrote:
I assume you are talking about the Optical View Finder on the front right corner. If you have a Sports Finder similar to the Pre Anniversary
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_18.html use it as it is 110% better than an optical finder which is an approximation device at best.


I am a bit confused by the terminology here. Let me clarify - my camera has screwholes where a flip-up 'Graphic Finder' (term used in your link) was once mounted. I think these are found only on pre-anniversary speeds. I don't have any viewfinder at present. By Sports Finder do you mean the large 'Wire Frame' and peep sight assembly, or the right-hand 'Graphic Finder'? I'd like to get whatever works best.. I know there won't be parallax correction or anything so I don't expect perfection.

45PSS wrote:
The Kalart rangefinder used on various cameras can be used on the 5x7 but a actuating arm for the 5x7 would have to be made. The Kalart can be adjusted to a single focal length within a wide range of focal lengths.
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/kalart_1.html

Another option is a handheld or hot shoe mounted rangefinder. These show up on ebay and are not focal length dependent and have a distance scale for the focused object.


That's good news. Making an arm that attaches to the focusing rails sounds feasible. I think the first step is getting an old Kalart off ebay and going from there. That document you provide seems to have all the info I would need. I'm leaning toward this option now rather than an accessory rangefinder because I've always thought the side-mounted Kalarts look really cool.

45PSS wrote:
You may want to contact Fred Lustig in Reno Nevada as he may have the parts or suggestions. He is getting up there in years and is only reachable by mail or phone so be aware of time zone differences. His contact info is in several post.


Will do, thanks.

45PSS wrote:
The Focal Plane Shutter is sometimes called a curtain aperture. The FPS has a single curtain with different apertures cut into it. They range from full frame down to 1/8 inch wide. When tripped the aperture travels from the top edge to the bottom at a set rate according to the speed selected. The time for the aperture to travel the 5 inches of film opening is considerably longer than the shutter speed. Consider using a mono pod to help keep the camera steady when shooting hand held. If you can hand hold a smaller format camera tack sharp steady at 1/4 second shutter speed you may be able to get by without any support.


I understand what you're saying here. You definitely have a point, but based on my observations of the shutter in action, I still believe hand-holding is possible. Since the shutter is not exposing the entire image at once, any vibrations transmitted to the camera aren't going to affect the entire image, just a 'sliver' of it. So while I may not get a uniformly sharp image, I will at least not get an image with the uniform blur typical of a conventional shutter. Again I'm not expecting perfection. All the images I've made thus far have been on a very crummy Tiltall tripod which vibrates noticeably every time I trip the shutter. And I actually wouldn't mind ending up with some surreal Lartigue-esque effects on my handheld shots, e.g:



Your point is well taken though. For this reason, as well as the fact I'll probably be using the largest lens aperture to allow for the smallest shutter curtain aperture, I am not expecting critical sharpness across the image.

Thanks again for all the advice,
James
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jimcon11



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:39 am    Post subject: Re: Viewfinder Reply with quote

tsgrimm wrote:

That style ocassionally show up on eBay. However, I don't know if they were for 4x5 or 5x7. If you should see one, be sure and ask the seller which format it is for. That assumes that they even know.


Hmm.. I'll be on the lookout. A big problem I find with ebay is just knowing the right query to search.. you never know what a seller may title the auction for obscure antique camera parts.

I would imagine you can differentiate between 4x5 and 5x7 by the shape .. the 5x7 one should look more rectangular. As rare as the 5x7 speed is, I bet almost all the Graphic Finders that do come up are 4x5.

EDIT: I see now that this one just ended a few days ago:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Eastman-Kodak-Camera-Photography-Graphic-Sight-Finder-Range-Finder-Tool-/121033292245?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c2e2579d5

Looks about right. What's peculiar is that it seems like a smaller viewfinder has been crammed in the larger 5x7 frame. I guess that's what you do when the viewfinder view does not match the ground glass view
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3210
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brass is a soft metal and easy to work. A drill, drill bits, hacksaw with fine cut blade, a caliper
(example: http://www.amazon.com/Inch-Digital-Caliper-Extra-Battery/dp/B0002JFMIO/ref=sr_1_2?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1356851961&sr=1-2&keywords=caliper ), scribe
(example: http://www.amazon.com/General-Tools-80-Fixed-Scriber/dp/B00004T7RW/ref=sr_1_16?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1356852114&sr=1-16&keywords=scribe ),
center punch and hammer should be the most you need and should be available at a good hardware store.

Use plumbing or silver solder and a small propane/butane torch to solder with if going that route. A 100 watt soldering iron might work also.

Graflex cameras were laid out with an engineers rule therefore all measurements are in tenth, hundredths, or thousands of an inch instead of fractions.

-----
The flip up viewer linked above is an early optical view finder. It has a piece of optical glass in the front that approximates a normal lens for the format. A 4x5 version could be used on a 5x7 camera if properly centered on the center of the ground glass image at 50' to infinity.

The wire frame on the front standard with a view site on the camera back is a sports finder.

----
I find a search for Graflex in cameras and photo covers ebay listings pretty well for cameras and related materials.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimcon11 wrote:
I have absolutely no knowledge of metal working, but based on the descriptions you've both provided I think I see how it could work. I'll try to get the materials and give it a go. I have done some soldering of electronics so at least I'm familiar with that aspect. Will a regular old electric drill be able to make holes in the thin brass plate?


Jim, you may find materials (sheet brass, screws, etc.) at a good model railroad hobby shop. Mark the brass, the shape and both holes, and drill the holes before you cut the brass sheet with a fine-tooth hacksaw, preferably a small one (easier to control). This is much easier than trying to drill holes in a small piece, unless you have a drill press. Yes, an electric drill will work fine; go slow, apply steady pressure, be sure to place a drop of oil at the point of entry of the drill tip; don't overheat the metal! Now cut out the piece, and finish the edges with a file. Solder the stud, which you previously measured and cut, with ordinary electrical solder; rosin core is best. If you have a tapered reamer you can create a profile for the screw head in the brass piece. If you want the ultimate in appearance, the hobby shop may sell small bottles of a liquid chemical brass blackener for a permanent finish.
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rawhead



Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an opportunity to get a slightly later 5x7 Speed with a similar issue in that it's lacking the Kalart rangefinder.

Trying to fabricate an actuator arm for 5x7 sounds like a pretty arduous task; but here's an idea I just had.

What if I drilled a hole lower and a little further to the front, about the same height from the base as a 4x5 Pacemaker rangefinder would be at... and transplanted an entire Kalart system from a 4x5 Crown or Pacemaker? You guys think that could work?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3210
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it might, but how would the balance of the camera be when focusing?
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rawhead



Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS wrote:
it might, but how would the balance of the camera be when focusing?


It'll be a bit awkward for sure, but it's better than spending money and/or time to try to get it "right", and sure is better than not having an RF at all... or at least, so I think
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