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Graflex RB Super D or Series D 4x5 - Decision + Questions

 
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Milos Gazdic



Joined: 18 Jul 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:12 am    Post subject: Graflex RB Super D or Series D 4x5 - Decision + Questions Reply with quote

Dear all,

First let me tell you that I am glad to become a member of Graflex.org & I hope I will be able to contribute at least a bit to the forum with my very limited knowledge on the matter as very fresh Graflex Pacemaker Speed 45 user...

Anyhow, after owning Pacemaker for about 2 months I've realized it's limitations for the style of photography I'd like to pursue with 4x5 cameras & i am wondering if you could help me with your opinions & suggestions on few questions.

Namely I would love to be able to shoot spontaneous portraits and work even on the street with hand held camera. I believe that it will be much easier with Reflex RB camera than shooting with Pacemaker (even with it's RF & VF). My first idea was to get the 3x4 format camera with Graflok 45 back & attack Aero Ektar to it - but I am afraid that I don't like the incompletely filled format with such camera when shot on 4x5 film. I would probably try to acquire Pentac 8" 2.9 and use it on 4x5 camera & even attach AE 178mm even if I am not able to shoot @ infinity (it's not so important for me as long as I can make portraits & "american" format shots)...

Q1]
First & most important question is weather to chase RB Super D or a bit older Series D camera in 4x5 Format?
As far as I understand the main differences are:
A) shutter speeds - where Super D has ones similar to Pacemakers (1/30-1/1000) & Series D has bigger range going from (1/10-1/1000) (I prefer Series D in this respect);
B) Flash port - Super D has one, Series D - doesn't - I prefer Super D in this respect (but I think I could eventually think of something like welding wires to the structure of the mirror mechanism & hopefully being able to fire the flash in T on Series D too);
C) Automatic diaphragm closure on Super D - which for me is not important.
Based on these three points Series D - seems more interesting for me (especially since flash photography even with Super D seems pointless because of the sync speeds)

(RB Auto was interesting because of longer bellow but it seems this camera is less available & Im not sure if it's lens boards are easily interchangeable)?

Q2]
Usage of Aero Ektar on RB Series D / Super D 4x5 camera - I am aware that AE cannot clear the mirror when focused on the rear / Infinity position but I wonder what is the furthest distance it could focus so the mirror can work? Did anyone try this?
If you own both AE178mm & Pentac 8" 2.9 - could you compare them while working fully opened?

Q3]
What is the closes distance to focus with standard 190mm lens on RB 4x5 Super B / Series B camera?

Q4]
How hard is to alter the front standard so that it could feature Tilt & Shift movements? I never seen RB 4x5 D camera or any Reflex Graflex in my life in person so I cannot judge how hard is to manufacture anything that could help in this manner?

Q5]
Hardest question - what is the decent price for RB Series D 4x5 camera? and is there anyone around willing to sell his one? I've seen some cameras going for 150$ and some going for as much as 1700$ with almost no difference in the quality... I am not sure if there is any other source with decent prices except evilBay?

I hope this is not too many questions for the first post ever? I will be adding probably more as the discussion goes...

Thanks in advance for any possible help.

Cheers,
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3158
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Q1-Series D has 4 curtain openings and 6 tension settings resulting in 24 speeds of which 6 are whole stops or close enough to be called whole stops and the rest third or half stops. Tension1 speeds-10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35.
Super D has 4 curtain openings and a tension governor with 2 settings resulting 6 whole stop speeds. Easier to operate as far as speed selection is concerned.

Flash sync was for flash bulbs, it will not correctly expose a sheet of film with electronic flash. The only electronic flash option is "open flash" which will work with any Graflex SLR.
Open flash- open shutter on O, manually fire the flash, close the shutter.

Q2-?
Q3-?
Q4- near impossible, would require redesigning the front standard.
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_10.html see pages 12 & 13,
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_16.html
Q5- what you are willing to pay for a camera in the condition it is in. Graflex SLR will only accept film holders made for Graflex SLR. The back can be modified to accept standard film holders. Some Super D bodies have been modified with a Graflok back and they should cost more than one that has not been modified. A lot of sellers consider these cameras as "Collectors Items" and price them for the collector that has to have it.

The Super D is the Series D refined.
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Milos Gazdic



Joined: 18 Jul 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear 45PSS,

Thanks a lot for your reply. It causes me to think twice about things...

Q1
I thought that Series D has 7 -stops of range, where Super D has 6 -stops.
I believe that Super D is easier to operate, just like my Pacemaker is easier than Anniversary, but very often with my 100ASA materials I miss those longer expositions of around 1/10th of a second. I also guess that some of them would even be longer in real life which could be cool too.
Using Flash in open flash mode is not a bad option either for some materials like Direct Positive or Wet Process...

Q4
I've seen quite a few Super D & Series D cameras on Flickr with altered front standards which can do Tilts (and some even shift) of the standard.

Q5
As for the prices - I see cameras all over the place. From 125$ to 1800$, and then there are custom made ones by specialists that go even double that price. Question is what people believe is decent price. Based on evilBay - I guess giving 300$ for camera that is not altered but in decent condition is ok price.
I can do the Graflok back modification myself once I receive camera.
Unfortunate for me - I cannot fight collectors with the price
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3158
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See the online Graflex instruction manual http://graflex.org/RBGraflex/
or print or save each page of it at http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/graflex_8.html
Speeds all cameras:
t/a---1 1/2(A)-3/4(B)-3/8(C)-1/8(D)
1------10-------40-----110-----350
2------15-------50-----135-----440
3------20-------65-----160-----550
4------25-------75-----195-----680
5------30-------80-----235-----825
6------35-------90-----295----1000
or
t/a----A-----B------C------D
L-----30---125---300---800
H----60---200---400--1000

Many ebay sellers price their cameras as though they are looking for the collector that has to have it to complete their collection and theirs is the only one available. Super D's have always got top dollar as they are used for portrait work. As more users have migrated back to sheet film the price of cameras has risen. A Series D/Super D in usable condition should run $300 to $600 depending on cosmetic/mechanical condition, lens.

Ebay use to be a "buyer beware" flea market where bargains could be had and is now an overpriced strip mall.

Quote:
I've seen quite a few Super D & Series D cameras on Flickr with altered front standards which can do Tilts (and some even shift) of the standard.

If you are not a good machinist do you know one?
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Parkeralto



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Marin County CA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:14 am    Post subject: To D or Super D Reply with quote

The Super simplified the labeling, H and L for the tension instead of six numbers but there are the same number of "clicks" on the internal ratchet. The shutter curtain on the Super has narrower slots than the earlier model. They have the same 1/1000 top speed but lower speeds at the same tension are faster. ie a 1/35 on the D is 1/60 on the Super. I am a little puzzled because all the slots are somewhat narrower which would yield a higher top speed for the Super so I must be missing something there.
The Super has a very nice but boring 190mm lens, the auto indexing is useful only for that lens. And then you have the sliding spline and lever trip mechanism for the auto indexing that can drag, get in the way of larger lenses and cause problems. Later Super Ds had Ektar (fresnel) field lenses under the focusing screen; probably usefull with the F/5.6 lens but not necessary with faster lenses.
I personally prefer the looks of the older Ds. The clunky chrome knobs on the Super lack the grace of the older turned version.
One thing in favor of the Super D is the fact that they are newer and will have fewer curtain fabric and bellows problems. (although the viewing hood is subject to coming unglued) My favorite version is the Series D with grey painted metal form the early 1930s up to WWII.

I picked one up recently in very nice condition (although needing a CLA) with a 180mm f/3.5 Xenar attached for $200. It seems to have been purpose built for portraits because even with a nicely done recessed mount it won't focus farther than about 20 feet but can get as close as 12". (You can get a 180mm f/4.5 Xenar or Tessar to focus to infinity with a recessed mount. )

Finally I would skip the Graflok back unless you really need to shoot roll film and use Grafmatics on the camera. The Graflok works great on a Speed Graphic with the Grafmatic film holder but the old "Bag Mag" works best on the Graflex SLRs where the auto dark slide mechanism of the Grafmatic isn't necessary because the mirror protects the film when the shutter is being wound. The Bag Mag holds twice as many exposures and weighs less. You just have to find one with good leather.

I am also looking into mounting an 8" Pentac on a 4x5 Graflex D. The standard recessed lens box is a bit too tight but it could be mounted on a lens board at the front of the box and still focus to infinity.

Take a look at this if you are into tilting.

http://photocorylum.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/1graflexbsml.jpg
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Milos Gazdic



Joined: 18 Jul 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to let you know - I have bought myself Graflex Series D 4x5 camera.

I've decided simply based on availability & price of the available cameras in recent few weeks.

Regarding the discussion with 45PSS:

Quote:
If you are not a good machinist do you know one?


I am not good mechanist since I don't have lathe or/and mill but I finished mechanical high school & mech. eng. university so I guess I could sort the things out with some cool mechanic (I know few)...

I also bought a Mentor Reflex camera which is not working but it has front standard shift & tilt... which I hope to be able to copy to Graflex or even completely move onto it. I got camera really really cheap so :)

Dear Parkeralto - I know that awesomely made front standard! I even wrote to a man who made it but he said he is not interested in making any more - it was only one of a kind :(

I think that by buying Series D I avoided the "auto indexing", "sliding spline and lever trip mechanism" which seem to be small problem according to Parkerlto...

I intend on using one 2.5 lens on the camera and up to some 4.5 lenses...

Quote:
One thing in favor of the Super D is the fact that they are newer and will have fewer curtain fabric and bellows problems.

Apparently camera I've got was used by a pro photographer until now & all of it is working well. Problem is that camera I bought is still in NYC @ my friend's place & I am still waiting to find a way to bring it to Belgrade... that is cheaper than shipping :)

Quote:
My favorite version is the Series D with grey painted metal form the early 1930s up to WWII.


Exactly the model I've got :) though it was not as low as 200$ as the one that you've managed to get recently.

One more thing is that my camera was already converted to Graflok back - which for me is good since I like shooting Polaroids too. I also have a Grafmatic already so I believe it will come handy.

I've also got a 8" Pentac (on it's way from Austalia) and would like to use it on this camera next to other lenses longer than 190mm that I have... Will have to wait for camera to come & check all the things up! Cannot wait :)))

One more Question - Can Bag Mag still be used on Graflok?

Now it's on me to wait - one thing that I am terrible at.
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45PSS



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

PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One more Question - Can Bag Mag still be used on Graflok?

No.

Enjoy, when you get it.
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Milos Gazdic



Joined: 18 Jul 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pity... but Grafmatic will come handy too I guess.
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