Help understanding how to use my speed graphic flash

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by 10986431, Jan 13, 2021 at 5:28 PM.

  1. Hi all

    I have a beautiful speed graphic that I am still new with but love. I am about to experiment with using the flash system that came with my camera and wondered if anyone could help me understand how to use it, I'm wondering if a piece is missing that charges it?

    The flash makes use of what seems one-off use bulbs and I have a few of these. Along with this I have the flash mount you attach these bulbs to in the corcular mirrored holder and a pole which attaches to the side of the cameras that has a few inputs running along it. My issue is I have no idea how it gets triggered or charged. I might not have those pieces to do this. Please see the photos below to illustrate what I do have:



    Any advice on how to connect this to the camera, a guide maybe and also what these settings are on the back would be hugely helpful.

    Sorry if these questions are super stupid
  2. Oh, I also have an adapter plug that allows the bulb to be screwed into the pole
  3. I'd think the easiest way to learn this stuff is at the Graflex forum- :: View Forum - Flash Help

    In hindsight, flash with bulbs was surprisingly involved compared to electronic and modern flash!
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  4. You need a lens board solenoid to trip the shutter. The flash to solenoid wire can be a pain to find. Check out Flash units usually slide on the rangefinder.
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  5. You unscrew the cap on the bottom of the flashgun, then put in some D-cell batteries. Then insert whatever flashbulb you wanna use (if you hold the bulb with a cloth you won't have to worry about burning your fingers if you accidentally set it off).

    To fire the bulb you just press the red button on the back. After flashing the bulb is trash. It'll be plenty hot right after firing so be careful handling it. A lot of people will recommend using a shield in front of the flash bulb just in case it shatters.

    The standard way to use one of these is to clip the flashgun to the side of the camera. You need a cable that plugs into the flashgun; probably one of those outlets is labeled "shutter." The other end of the cable attaches to a solenoid which is typically mounted on the lens board. Then whenever you press the red button on the flashgun it will also fire the solenoid ("fire" means that it makes a "click" sound as the internal part pulls in). The solenoid should move the little trip lever on the shutter - the one that you would otherwise trip with your finger. So the operation is: you manually cock the shutter, then trip it by pressing the button on the flashgun.

    If you want to use a flashbulb to take a picture, same basic operation. Put in a flashbulb and cock the shutter. When ready to shoot, just press the red button on the flashgun. This will simultaneously fire the flashbulb and trigger the solenoid. The way they synchronize is that the flashbulb has a certain "burn time," and this covers the mechanical delay time for the solenoid/shutter operation.

    You mentioned that you have a Speed Graphic, where the "speed" part normally means that it also has a built-in focal plane shutter. The method I described is only for the front shutter.

    If you're not familiar with it, piles of info are available at Graflex.Org: Speed Graphics, Large Format Photography, and More
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  6. This is amazing, thanks so much for all your help. I never knew about until this very moment so thats very helpful and totally get how the flash can be triggered. I am going to try and find a lead, sounds like ti might be tricky but try I shall.

    Thanks so much Bill C, christopher_ward and conrad_hoffman!
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Takes me back a long time! Was using the old Candlestick bulb flash on Dad's Leica M 3 in High School. Sport coat, handkerchief in the chest pocket, good bulbs in the right pocket, used in the left - handkerchief folded for installation and removal. I'll never forget the smell of the bulbs when fired. Of course your bulbs are different than the 6 FP bulbs I recall, so the drill may need to be different. I still have a couple dozen bulbs. Will have to see if I have a bulb flash they still make a battery for - will always have Dad's M3. Good luck and have Fun!
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  8. You're quite welcome.

    Regarding cords, Paramount cords is a name often bandied about. I don't have any experience with them, but it appears that they would be able to supply just about anything.

    Or if you wanted to, and are a bit handy, you could probably rig your own. I don't recall what the solenoid connection is like, but the flashgun should take a standard two-prong lamp plug. If you've got a junk lamp laying around you might be able to cut off the plug with a foot or so of the cord and rig that to the solenoid. Maybe... I dunno for sure. Best of luck with it.
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  9. Thanks Sandy! If you find some you should certainly take a few shots. An M3 wow! I'll post back here once I have a lead and batteries and taken a few shots.
  10. Thanks so much Bill C. I'm going to try and get a lead if possible and then I'll DIY if necessary but that sounds like it could work. I'll be posting back here. I am really excited to try this. I've seen these cameras used in older movies and theres always seemingly a close-up of the bulb going off, always wanted to try this
  11. AJG


    I've used a number of Paramount cords and sync cord repair tools over the years and found them to be of excellent quality--better than most PC cords from anybody else that i've used.

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