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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently acquired a Graflex VMII. I've yet to make any photos with it, but during the "dry runs" I find myself quite excited about the possiblities. One thing that I will want to use this camera for in the future is studio work. The lens, has dual prong connectors for flash connections. What options do I have for a newer lens with a modern connector?

What lens suggestions for a portrait lens? Keh Camera has many lenses listed on the web site, but I don't know where to start, or if there is standard for lens board openings. BTW, the VM came with spare lens boards.
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2005-04-18 21:23, photopower wrote:
I recently acquired a Graflex VMII. I've yet to make any photos with it, but during the "dry runs" I find myself quite excited about the possiblities. One thing that I will want to use this camera for in the future is studio work. The lens, has dual prong connectors for flash connections. What options do I have for a newer lens with a modern connector?

What lens suggestions for a portrait lens? Keh Camera has many lenses listed on the web site, but I don't know where to start, or if there is standard for lens board openings. BTW, the VM came with spare lens boards.


First off, you may not be out of luck with your current lens/shutter. The BiPost connectors were very popular far into the electronic flash age and your shutter may have x-synch. But we won't know until you describe the shutter more...

You can use just about any modern (or vintage) lens/shutter on the camera. The only real "standard" mounting sizes are the Copals (0, 1, 2 and 3). Most usually, a lens board is driled for the shutter unless you happen to find a matching pair.

Lens suggestions are like favorite colors... The best you can do is decide what you want in the final print, then match that to a lens. That includes focal length/DOF, max arperture, softness/sharpness, etc... Many people here can suggest a specific lens if you specify what you're looking for in the print.

And I'll bite... What's a "VMII"??? If you have a Graphic View II, there's no 'M'. If you actually have something called a "VMII", you might have a very rare camera because I've never heard of one...
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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input. It should have read VII, not VMII. When I first brought the camera home, I thought I read somewhere that they were View Master II, not just View II. Typing too late at night about a camera I know little about. I guess I'm excited about having a new "toy", so I keep calling it View Master like the toys I had as a child..LOL.

It has a 135mm, Optar 4.7. I believe it says Graflex/Wollensak, but I'm obviously terrible at remembering names. So don't kill me if I have that wrong also. It's in the studio and I just got out of bed.

Thanks again for the help.

John
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 135 Optar is a nice lens and should work well for many things. But it is a wider-than-normal lens also which is deffinitely not what you want for portraits.

As for the x-synch, what would matter is if the shutter has any indication at all about an "x". Many of the later shutters had a synch selector on the lower half of the outside. A slide that selected F, M or X. Then there's the "Grafex (x)" shutter which is also obvious. Then there's the siple test of connecting a flash, looking through the lens, fire the shutter, and see if you can see the flash. (point the flash away from you & lens for this test). The bipost-to-pc connecting cords are easily obtainable.

I still can't suggest a portrait lens. Mostly because I don't do portraits, so I haven't paid much attention to it. As I remember, poeple have suggested that the 203mm is a nice combo with a 135. It's also a nice lens from what I hear. If I was to do a portrait, I would probably look for a focal length from 180 to maybe 250mm, but just guessing. It also depends on how much of the person you want in the pic and how much room you have for the sitting. If you would happen to shoot medium format, you could just double the focal length you use there for a rough guide for the VII.

As for lenses, you can deffinitely use just about any modern lens with it's 4 inch board from 75mm through to 12-14 inch.

I don't know what your budget is, but generally people don't use extremely sharp lenses for portrait work as it's not too complimentary. This is a benefit that allows you to pick up a vintage lens for less cost and everyone is happy. The only thing that would be important would be to make sure it's shutter has x-synch for your stobes. Many vintage lenses do not, or even any synch...

So, it's a great camera. A studio standard for decades... Enjoy it! If you need the manuals, see:

http://www.southbristolviews.com

under Graflex manuals.

And any specific questions should be able to get answered here...
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1443
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 203 Optar is a very nice lens, at least mine is. It's in standard bi-post Graphex M-F-X synch shutter. I don't see them very often, though; in fact, mine is the only one I've ever seen. It may be too sharp for portrait purposes, but the focal length should be in the ballpark for that. There are always the tried and true methods of gimmicking up a lens to make the image softer, e.g., nylon stocking over the front element, or the Kodak Portra filter, but I'm not into portraits (I have enough trouble making the buildings hold still and smile!) and others with that experience will have something to say here.
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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everyone is just too kind here. The link to the manuals is a very big help. I'm learning more each day about this camera...like its proper name.

Seriously, I'm as excited as I was when I was five years old and received my Aurora Model Motoring set.

Thanks everyone for your kindness and assistance in teaching an old dog new tricks.

John
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disemjg



Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 469
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another possibility is a convertable Schneider Symmar, say a 150, 180 or a 210. While I have never used mine converted, the word is that the converted focal length is somewhat soft and may be good for the portraits.

They convert to:

150 f5.6 converts to 265 f12
180 f5.6 converts to 315 f12
210 f5.6 converts to 370 f12

These lenses are older and while still popular can be had for fairly reasonable amounts if you shop carefully. The 150 may be the best all around choice, as it would offer both a good normal lens and the converted focal lenght for your portraits. The others are a bit long, at least for my taste. Hold out for a clean one. Try Midwest photo; ask for Jim.

Your 135 Optar is not really suitable for a view camera; it is at home on a press camera. It lacks edge sharpness and covering power needed to use the movements on a view camera. You can of course use it until you get a more suitable lens, but it will limit you.
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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, here's the story of how I came to own a Graflex View II,as well as a Speed Graphic.

A friend's father, who used to be a wedding photographer, wanted to sell his darkroom equipment. Tons of items, too many to mention here. The going price was 600.00. I thought it a little high, but it included a "like new" Metz 45cl-4 and a Quantum Turbo, as well as all the cables and adapters. I had been using the Metz/Quantum for weddings for a couple of months, so I was confident that, all along with enlarger, tanks, racks, carriers, and enlarger lenses, I was getting a fair deal.

After I packed the darkroom stuff in my truck, he motioned over to a couple of boxes and three large gray cases and said I had to take them also. I didn't know what they were, just more darkroom stuff, loaded them, thanked him, paid him, and left.

When I got home, I unloaded everything into the studio and darkroom. When I opened the first gray case, I recognized the contents as being a Speed Graphic. The second, contained the View II, and the third contained a Mamiya 23 Standard. There were a couple of backs for the View and the Mamiya, plus a 545 for the View. Also, tucked into another box was a folding Kodak camera and a Voightlander Prominent. All are from fair to excellent condition, with the View being...very good to excellent.

Its been like Christmas all week long. I've shot 35mm and medium format for twenty-some years, but have always shied away from large format because of its bulk.

BTW, since the Optar is more suited to a press camera, which would it be suited to...the Speed Graphic, obviously? Also, mounted on the Speed is a Kodak Ektar 152mm Flash Supermatic.

Any chance this would mount on the View?

Thanks again,
John
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story, and you're very lucky!

I have a 152 mounted on one of my GVII's. It's a nice lens and probably better suited to the View than the 135. The Flash Supermatic should also be x-synched which would help in using your strobes. And yes, the 135 is a better choice for the Speed. Maybe someone got them reversed for some odd reason? If it were me, I'd just switch them and be happy...
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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rich. I was thinking the same when I read the above comment that the 135 was better suited to a press camera. It would be just like this gentleman to "experiment" with his lenses. Tomorrow, I'll give it a run through and see how it works. I guessed that someone here would know the answer.

And, I do feel very lucky.

John
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3246
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



[ This Message was edited by: 45PSS on 2005-12-24 21:40 ]
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1443
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then of course there are always we freaks who use the Century as a medium-format view camera, and for whom the 135 is the moderate long lens of choice. (I say "we"---surely I'm not the only one?!) It covers movements great on the 2x3!
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disemjg



Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 469
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story on the deal you got; we all dream about lucking into one like that.

The adapter 45PSS talks about is indeed useful if your lenses are mounted on Pacemaker boards. One of these adapters is listed at lensrepro.com for 40 which seems to be the going rate. I have never dealt with them; maybe someone else can provide some feedback.
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've bought a few items from L&R. If you're not from NY, they may not seem too friendly

They do carry a good reputation, they were honest with me when I called them about a few things, and apparently the owner is very fond of graflex equipment.

Although their prices are usually on the high side of average, if they had something I wanted, I would have no hesitation buying from them again...
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photopower



Joined: 18 Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are Pacemaker lensboards marked with the brand name? The camera came with three or four extra lensboards and I haven't looked at them very closely. And, I've come to the conclusion that the lenses on have been switched between the Speed and the View.

Frankly, between the enlarger, all the cameras, and the other equipment, I can't seem to concentrate on one thing. I've been spending my last couple of evenings prepping the studio for a shoot this weekend with a new client so I haven't had, or taken, the opportunity to "play".

I guessing (avoiding the word "assume" because you know what happens then) that the lenses from a Speed Graphic and the View are a straight swap, after being removed from their respective lens boards. No one mentioned any adpaters I should be looking for except in regards to the Pacemaker boards.
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