I see nothing, HELP.

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by darryl_roberts|1, May 16, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    I bought a Cambo 4x5 and a FUJINON SWD 90mm 5.6. I finally have it mounted on
    the front lens board thanks to the Rodenstock spanner wrench. Problem, I don't
    see anything on the ground glass.

    Yes, the lens caps are off, I opened the lens preview button, I cocked the
    shutter, tried everything I could think of. The lens is in great shape.

    Please help if you can.

  2. Darryl, What if you take off the lens board and look at the lens?

    1. If the preview button is on, then you should be able to see through the lens.
    2. If you're stopped down much, you're going to have a hard time viewing an image on the ground glass. Make sure you're all the way opened up at f/5.6.
    3. Do you have a dark cloth to throw over your head and camera to aid in composing and focusing?
  3. Darryl,
    The 90mm lens is a relatively short focal length. To focus at infinity
    your bellows must be compressed quite a bit. I have the same lens myself. Although the f5.6 lens is faster than the f/8 version you will notice brighter imagery in the center of your ground glass with light
    falling off at the corners. I find that to view the image in the corners I must move my head considerably. I'm hoping the problem is as simple as this.

    good luck,
  4. When I take it off I see a bright, inverted image of the house across the street. it is on f/5.6. Yes, I tried the dark cloth, I see a VERY faint image.

    Thank you.
  5. If you need a brighter Ground glass on your camera , try this one


    or a Maxwell screen, they both make it easier to see to focus, although the satinsnow is a lot cheaper.
  6. Should a ground glass be clear? Mine is foggy or smoky looking.
  7. No, it needs to be "foggy" looking, hence it's name, ground glass. If it were transparent glass, there would be no film plane for the image to be focused on to, hence it is opaque.

    Large format cameras tend to be much more difficult to focus with because they don't project as brightly as something like a 35mm SLR camera. The center of the lens (around the shutter) to the ground glass should be approximately 90mm in order for it to focus properly. If it is too out of focus, then the image appears darker as well, just like using a macro on a bellows or extension tube reduces the light to the film plane.
  8. BTW, the Cambo should have decent glass in it to see the image if it is focused correctly.
  9. Thank you. I've compressed the bellows, very faint still. I just spoke to the Maxwell Optics guy he quoted me $275 (ouch) , but I'm convinced he sells a fine product. I'm gonna have someone look at this first.
  10. Sorry about the link to satin snow glass, it looks like he is no longer in business,too bad a great product.
  11. Michael Ging, I just went to the satinsnowglass website, and he is no longer taking any orders.
  12. Is $275, a good (fair) price, for a piece of glass?

    I promise I'll subscribe to this site once I get my stimulus check, LOL.
  13. 4x5 acid etched glass, which is brighter than most regular "ground" glass is $40. You do NOT have to pay $275. Just make sure before ordering that your lens is pointed at something very bright and visible when you focus. Also, as said above, be sure that you are in the correct focusing range. For 90mm the rear of the lens will be about 4 inches from the glass.
  14. Darryl,

    wait buying a new groundglass. If this is your first LF camera, then I suspect that you are just not used to viewing on a groundglass - it is NOTHING like looking through a viewfinder of a regular camera. Yes, the image on the groundglass is ALWAYS faint compared to a viewfinder. Make sure that your darkcloth does not allow any stray light to get in - and then look again. The picture on the GG will be inverted, which also takes some getting used to. A 90mm lens is probably not the best starter lens because it tends to have a hot-spot in the middle of the GG - try a 150mm lens or 210 lens and the view will be greatly enhanced.

    I suspect there is nothing wrong with your existing GG and that you just have the LF-looking-at-the-Groundglass shock:) We all went through that!
  15. Where do I buy that Bruce?
  16. No, I see no image at all, with a darkcloth. I see a very blurred green when looking at a big tree. 90mm is the best first choice I read in a book for my interest, architecture. And, it'll be months before I can afford another lens.
  17. Try these guys.


    There's another guy in Torrance CA that also does GG to order - any size on ebay. Do a search for him as well.

    I just got my 1st LF the other day and while I did not have your problem, I had a similar one because the PO had the Fresnel and GG in backwards.

  18. First try focusing on a light bulb or some such very bright target, that should be easy.

    Make sure the preview is open and the lens is opened up all the way.

    If you see a blurred image then your lens is probably too far in front of the film plane.

    I'm sure you don't have a film holder in place... but if you do that would block the image.

    I've seen a great range of brightness in ground glasses but never one so feint that you don't see an image under a dark cloth with a lens all the way open.

    What do you see if you remove the lens and look through the camera?
  19. When I take it off I see a bright, inverted image of the house across the street. it is on f/5.6. Yes, I tried the dark cloth, I see a VERY faint image.

    I do not know how to focus the camera yet.
  20. I researched and this lens has one of the largest coverage circles
  21. If it's still blurry with the bellows all the way compressed, it could mean that your bellows are too long for wide angle lenses and you need a bag bellows to allow shorter distances between the film and the lens. To test this out, take off the bellows and try focusing on something outside from within a darkened room. If you can focus without the bellows, then that's likely the problem. Sorry I don't know the Cambo camera that well.
  22. Is it possible that your bellows does not compress enough to focus a 90mm lens. Your problem is not the groundglass - it sounds lie you can't focus that lens. Try focusing on something very close to the lens - it means that you have to rack out the bellows more - see if the picture comes into focus.
  23. Set the lens wide open (f5.6) and open the preview lever. Focus your eyes on the ground glass as if you were going to read something written on the ground glass. Arrange the dark cloth so that very little ambient light reaches the ground glass. You don't want other light to wash out the image projected by the lens. Adjust the focus of the camera until the image is sharp.

    On some view cameras, or on some cameras with a standard bellows, it isn't possible to focus a 90 mm lens, because the standards can't be made close enough. You need to be able to place the lensboard about 90 mm in front of the ground glass. If you can't seem to focus on a distant object, try focusing on an object at a few yards distance, because the standards don't have to be as close. If you move the standards close enough, some options: on some cameras you have to move the front standard behind the tripod block, or you might need to use a recessed lensboard, or use a bag bellows.

    Ashton's suggestion of trying to focus on a light bulb is excellent.
  24. "I do not know how to focus the camera yet."

    The front and back standards are very likely geared to move toward and away from each other. For a 90mm lens you want to move them very close to each other.
  25. To add a bit more... many geared standards travel along a geared track on the mono-rail. It may be that one knob on the bottom of the standard is the know to move forward and back, and on the opposing side there is a knob to "lock down" the focus. If this is the case, you open the "locking knob", move the standard until you hit focus, then re-tighten the locking side.

    Once you get to see some image, then you can get fancier. For instance with a wide lens you need to be sure that the front standard is forward enough to keep the monorail out of the frame... then you scoot the rear standard up to focus. With a lot of monorails you only need a short section of rail for a short lens. And as someone mentioned, the tripodattachment is ususlaly kept between the two standards for balance. If it impedes the movement of the standards, it can be moved.
  26. There as close as they can be on the rail. I shined a flashlight through with no ground glass, bright on the wall. Then I placed the ground glass, faint on the wall.
  27. Frustrated, I'm going to watch "A Haunting" on Discovery. Any responses are greatly appreciated.
  28. Try to focus on a light bulb (lit).

    If you can't see that then the lens isn't open, or it's set to f64.

    Try setting the shutter for one second and firing it while looking through the ground glass.

    We are going to solve this.
  29. It is possible that the lens is on backwards, or that the elements got screwed into the shutter backwards?

    Are you using bag bellows? They can get in between a lens and the ground glass.

    You don't have a ground glass protector or film holder in the camera do you?

    Is the camera new? While it would be unlikely, perhaps a previous owner substituted some weird glass for the ground glass.

    I think the key is to first focus on something very bright... learn how it works, then focus on normally lit surroundings.
  30. Can you post a picture of the camera from the side showing how close the two standards are? I am almost 100% positive that your camera cannot focus a 90mm lens at infinity. Try focusing on something close to the lens - I would bet that you will get a focused image on the groundglass. Unfortunately if that is the case, you will either have to get a bag bellows or find another camera for your lens, or you could also try a recessed lensboard.
  31. Does your ground glass look like this?

  32. We can solve the problem of whether the camera will focus a 90mm at infinity later... there are a bunch of tricks to get there... the first challenge should be to get it to focus at a light bulb 2 feet away... I guarentee it will do that (the closer the target the longer the bellows draw needs to be)
  33. The glass sometimes collects fog in storage from outgassing of some bellows or camera cases. Take it out and clean it without scrubbing. Rinse with distilled water and drip or blow dry.

    Careful as you can scratch it. micro fiber cloths. It is more fragile than a lens as far as scratches go.

    I hope you are using a good dark cloth. The Image is not visable in sun light.
  34. Sort of, it says 4" x 5" Super Cambo 9 x 12
  35. What happens when you try to focus on a nearby light bulb?
  36. The lens isn't on backwards, I just checked it.

    The standards are as close as possible. I believe it came from a Linhof Technika since that's the little board I removed it from.
  37. Modicum of success! I took it outside and sunlit bricks on my house I decided to walk to them til I saw the bricks. At about 7 inches from the lens I saw some focused brick detail. Now I need to figure out how to increase the depth of field.
  38. What is the closest distance that you can position the lensboard from the front of the ground glass?
  39. We can't help you if youcan't try focusing on a bright light 2-3 feet away and tell us what happens
  40. Forget the last comment... now you need to figure out if there is any way to get the two standards closer together (which moves the focus further out). Is it the design of the metal that stops you (in which case you need a recessed lens board) or is it the bellows (in which case you need a bag bellows)... or can you reverse one of the the standards which some times works? Perhaps it is that the tripod mount needs to be moved. I would be surprised that any modern 4x5 has a minimum draw of 7.5 inches.
  41. A 90mm lens should be about four inches in front of the ground glass to be focused
    at infinity. My guess is that you have the lens too far away from the ground glass
    and the resulting image is so indistinct and dark that you don't see anything. If you
    cannot move the lens 3-4 inches from the ground glass (lens board to ground glass)
    then you will need a recessed board and most likely a bag bellows for that 90mm.

    Hope that helps.

  42. The equation for focusing a lens is given on the Lens Tutorial: http://www.photo.net/learn/optics/lensTutorial: 1/So + 1/Si = 1/f. Here f=90 mm and the smallest value possible for the image distance is Si = 190 mm (7.5 inches in mm). Solving for the object distance for this value of of image distance Si, one obtains So = 171 mm = 6.7 inches. (It is slightly more complicated then this because to get a answer that is actually accurate to a mm you have to know where to measure to, but this calculation is plenty close enough.) As you increase your bellows extension Si, you will decrease So and focus even closer. That you can't position the lensboard much closer than 7.5 inches to the ground glass is why you are having problems focusing. To focus on infinity, the lensboard needs to be about 90 mm from the ground glass.

    You need to figure out how to move the standards closer together. Maybe the front standard needs to be removed and positioned behind the tripod block? Maybe you need a bag bellows? Perhaps if posted a side view of your camera, we could help more.
  43. Can I purchase a bellows for this camera (Cambo 4x5)?

    Thank you. I don't have a way of posting a picture of the camera. It's closed as tight as possible. I'll try the move the tripod block.
  44. Would I be better off just buying a field camera, like Tachihara?
  45. You should be able to. Many systems are interchangeable between models. I'd probably check with Calumet Photo if you don't have a pro store nearby that carries the brand: http://www.calumetphoto.com/ctl?ac.ui.pn=search.Search&query=cambo&x=0&y=0
  46. Hi Darryl, maybe you should seriously consider a high end digital camera if you have problems with mechanical applications because focusing is just the very beginning. Some people have great difficulty with the upside image, some are able to adjust to it & a rare few never notice it's upside down.
  47. P.D., I'm not into digital. I will develop and print my own pictures. Michael, thank you for the link. Look at this one, I could buy the Tachihara for a little more.
  48. Furthermore P.D, the problem isn't focusing and I have no problems with mechanics. The problem is misinformation before this purchase. I was advised that this was a good combination by many "experienced" View Camera users.
  49. A field camera is a lot more compact than a monorail, and essentially all of them will give you plenty of movements with a 90mm lens for landscapes... and a lot of movement for architecture. But most architectural specialists use bag bellows on a monorail of some sort, since they are capable of the most extreme movement. All three of my field cameras and both of my monorails will handle down to at least 75mm lenses. For the two monorails I do have bag bellows... which often come with the kit when sold used. The standard inexpensive monorail in my eyes would be a Sinar F1. It will do just about anything any fancier camera will do.

    I still suspect you can get your Cambo standards closer... probably by moving the tripod block out from between them. But your bellows may then be so tight as to restrict movement. I wouldn't even think to buy new bag bellows... they are all over on E-Bay at a fraction of the cost you posted. Heck, you can get a monorail camera AND bag bellows for under $400.

    That said, I'd bet you would find it easier to start with a field camera... a Tachihara, a Shen Hao, or a Horseman Woodman. They can be a lot easier to schlep around. And you may find you never need more movements than they allow... I've never needed more movements than a field camera gives me.
  50. Darryl: You might be able to get a cambo bellows from Calumet. They Sell or sold the cameras. 1 800 Calumet. Where are you. If you are anywhere near NYC you can bring the camera in and we will figure it out.
  51. Which "experienced view camera users" advised you to buy this particular camera? On the thread on photo.net which seems to be the one where you asked which camera to buy, no one suggested a Cambo (http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00OBIv).

    As Ashton suggested, you may be able to get the Cambo standards closer -- try removing the front standard and tripod block, then replacing them in a different order: front standard closest to the rear standard, tripod block in front of the front standard. This configuration is needed on some monorails to get the minimum spacing between the standards. Since we don't know precisely what camera model you have, and I'm not an expert on Cambo cameras, this is just a guess. Plus you may need a bag bellows, and/or a recessed lens board.
  52. Did anyone make sure he isn't making the new user mistake of viewing the image with the film holder inserted? I didn't see any chat along those lines. Do you get light on the ground glass with the lens board off?

    The 90mm doesn't sound short for that camera. A recessed lens board would get you closer. Shouldn't that camera work with a normal lens, 135mm? That's 5 inches. I just looked at one site, that's offering one with a 127 Ektar.

    The 7.5 in lens to glass seems too far for any 4x5. Can the standards be turned around on the rail to move them closer? A lot of cameras are built this way.
  53. If you can't get the lenboard closer than 7 inches from the glass, that camera will not take a 90mm. If it does focus close up on bricks, you know how to focus it. I think you need to get a camera that will focus the 90mm. A Tachihara, which you mentioned, is a good budget 4x5, so is Osaka. Sometimes you can find agood used one on Ebay. They are around $600. new.
  54. Move the tripod mounting block out from in between the two standards, put it behind the rear. You should be able to get the two standards much closer together now, and should be able to focus a 90mm lens. I had a Cambo and it took a 90mm lens with the standard bellows (not much flexibility for movements though).

    To focus a 90mm lens at infinity, you need to get the lensboard and the ground glass approximately 9cm apart (hence 90mm lens). The focal length of the lens is how far (roughly) from the ground glass the lens needs to be to focus at infinity. Wide angle lenses need the standards to be pushed close together. Longer lenses require more distance between the standards.

    As you move the focus to add distance between the lens and the ground glass, you will be moving the plane of focus closer. It doesn't take too much movement to focus in from infinity to 15 or 20 feet away. When you extend the lens/ground glass apart until they are double the distance that they were at infinity, you will be focusing very close - macro territory.

    I think your gear is fine and your lens is fine, just take some time getting the mechanics of focusing a view camera down.

    Hope this helps!
  55. Thank you all very much. I've decided to sell the Monorail and purchase either a Tachihara (kenrockwell loves) or Shen-Hao. My goal is architecture.

    I appreciate you all tremendously.
  56. There is a lot of theory involved in LF work, but you can mostly skip it and just adjust things until the ground glass looks right.

    I would personally advise at least shooting a bit with what you have. If nothing else it will help you decide what to replace it with.

    A first focusing attempt set up a light bulb on the other side of a dark room and try to focus on that, it should be bright enough so that you have no trouble figuring out when you have the focus right.
  57. Thank you Zach
  58. With the light bulb in a dark room, as an experiment to learn how focusing works, you can just hold the lens in one hand (pre-view lever set to open, aperture control set to wide open) and a white card in the other. Point the lens at the light bulb and hold the white card behind the lens. Move the card towards and away from the lens until you see an image.

    Once you see what distance causes an image to form, you need to duplicate this distance with your camera. Maybe there is a way to do it -- see posts about with suggests to rearrange the standards.
  59. Darryl,

    I find it hard to believe that the standards can't be moved closer than 7 inches.
    Usually a bag bellows is required for movements with a wide angle lens, but
    most cameras 4x5 can focus a 90mm lens with the normal bellows.
    It is possible that there is a way to slide the standards on the the rail independent of
    what you do with the focussing mechanism? Sinars and several other monorails
    work like that: You coarse focus by sliding the standards on their rail and then
    use the (usually geared) focussing mechanism to achieve fine focus.
    You might also be able to setup the camera in such a way that the two standards
    are on the same side of the tripod mounting block, allowing them to be very
    close together.
  60. Thank you Stefan, I'll play with it tomorrow, my day off. Thank you too Michael and everyone.
  61. Darryl,
    If your goal is architectural photography you are must better off with a monorail than a field camera. The limited movements on a field camera are still fine for landscape work but too restrictive for architecture. In particular, the lack of movements on the rear standard of a typical field camera will be problematic.

    Unless the Cambo has a fixed bellows you can get a bag bellows for it which is what you'll need for the 90mm. If the bellows is fixed you might look for a recessed lens board.

  62. One final thought... a 90mm is a terribly useful lens for architecture. But it is a wide lens, which will tend to exadurate the foreground relative to the background. Often it is used in order to get close to a building so as to not see signs etc... and for interiors where you can only back up so much. You will also want other lenses such as someething around 135mm and 210mm. There are excellent used lenses available in these lengths for not too much $$$. I would recommend the 135mm Nikor, or wide field Ektar if you can find one. The Ektar 203mm is a great bargain in a longer length. Unless you are shooting color to commercial tolerances there are a great many old lenses (Symmars, Ektars, ILEX) which can be had for 1/3 the cost of newer lenses. That's probably a better place for money than new cameras, so long as you can get the Calumet to handle a 90. Monorails are essentially tinker toys... you can get them to do anything if you build them up in different ways.
  63. Again, thank you all, great advice.
  64. Should I try this with a recessed board?
  65. I have it working great now. A bag bellows and recessed lens board were the needed remedy.

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