Discussion in 'Large Format' started by mervyn_wilmington, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. I've the opportunity of buying a very good example.
    However, it does not have a rangefinder or roll film back. These would be essential to my use.
    I have the impression that the mpp universal rangefinder would be hard to come by, and the cost of fitting would be significant. I also understand that the VIII only takes the latest roll film backs.
    Adviced would be appreciated.
  2. Hi Mervyn
    The MPP rangefinder needs a cam which is specific to one lens, not one focal length of lens (they were effectively custom made). If you don't have, or can't get, a cam for your lens, the rangefinder will not work to any degree of accuracy. I have a cam for a 135mm lens, but I have a 150mm lens....oops.
    The Mark VIII takes international standard backs, so any international standard roll film back will work.
  3. Thanks for this Ian.
    The first obstacle would be finding the rangefinder! Then finding the cams, as you say matching the actual lenses! Rather a long shot, to put it mildly.
    At least I'm learning about these things.............
  4. Mervyn, I always use my MPP VII on a tripod and focusing on the ground glass so I have removed the rangefinder to save weight. As Ian says the rangefinder requires a separate cam for each lens and the cams often come with the lens s/n engraved on them so you know which is which. I have a cam and matching 150mm lens. You can make cams if you want and the method is described in detail on the excellent MPP Users Club website here :
    There is an MPP Polyfocus finder which zooms from 90-360mm but it is not a rangefinder as I understand it.
    Most rollfim backs will fit the VIII. I have used both Wista and Horseman rfbs on my VII and they both work very well. They can be picked up fairly reasonably on ebay. I suggest you avoid any rfb;s which look well used as the internal mechanism can go on them. I had an old Linhof back which failed on me this way. I have not tried any original MPP rfb's but I think they are the type which tends to bend the film more so the film does not sit so flat in the frame as with the modern ones.
    With the Mk VIII the lens boards have rounded corners so are slightly more difficult to make than the VI and VII which have square boards. However they are not beyond the wit of man to produce if you end up with more lenses than boards. They also used to appear on ebay from time to time so would be worth looking out for.
  5. Many thanks for this Colin. Please educate me a bit more. I am actually a member of MPP Users - because I have a Microcord and Microflex. I had looked at the site, but hadn't spotted the page about cams. I'm fairly "handy" and have a decent tool store.
    It may be there is something I'm missing. I have an enlarger that will take 6x9, hence my wish for a roll film back. (I don't think I could get an enlarger for 5x4 in because of height problems).
    The outfit I have seen has two lenses, but, as I say, no roll film back or rangefinder. Getting a roll film back may not be a problem. However, how does one effectively focus without the rangefinder, or is it a matter of using an uncoupled rangefinder instead?
    As I say, further education would be much appreciated!
  6. Hi Mervyn, I focus using the ground glass. Clearly the method detailed is for a tripod mounted camera and if you want to use the camera hand held with a rangefinder then it won't work. However this is the method.
    I assume your Mk VIII has the detachable metal frame with the ground glass focussing screen? It is part of the 'Universal' or 'International' or 'Graflok' back. This photo shows a reasonably clear view of what you should have :
    Set up the opened camera up on a tripod and open or remove the spring loaded hood. It is easiest to do tis the first time in a darkish room with the camera pointing at a window so that the screen is more easily visible. Slide out the front standard to the approximate focus position. Then set the lens aperture to its max and the shutter to the T setting so that you can see light coming through it. Focus the image on to the ground glass screen. The image is quite dim so you may need to use a cloth to shade the screen. You will probably need to use a magnifying glass or loupe to achieve critical focus. A 50m standard lens works well too!
    At this point you can stop down to taking aperture and adjust the front and back movements to correct perspective (for architecture) and change the plane of focus (for landscape). At this point what you see n the screen is what the final photo will look like. The screen will now be very dim and you will need to shade it to see.
    Once you are happy with your focus close the lens down to the taking aperture and set the shutter to taking speed. Remove the focusing screen by pressing with your thumbs on the two bars each side of the screen. Once they have been pushed in far enough the screen and its frame slide out (upwards if the screen is in portrait format) Then take the roll film holder and slide it into place on the universal back and secure it with the two sliding 'Graflok' metal strips each side of the back. Remove the dark slide from the rfh and trip the shutter. Replace the slide.
    If you were using a 5x4 dark silde or a slide-in type rfh the screen stays where it is and is just eased back on its springs. Some polaroid backs can be used too but you need to check which do and which don't.
    Good luck!
  7. Colin: you are being truly helpful.
    However, I don't have the camera. It is with a dealer a considerable distance away. Let me outline what is for sale.
    MPP 5x4 camera outfit MkVIII
    MPP camera + xenar 135mm f4.7 in excellent condition;
    11 x 5 x 4 film holders;
    203mm Ektar lens;
    Polaroid back;
    I've seen several pics and it all looks very good.
    My lack of knowledge prevents me from knowing what I need extra to make it work with a roll film back! I had assumed initially that without a rangefinder one was stuck. In other words, I hadn't realised one could remove the roll film back to focus each time and then replace before taking the shot.
    If I had thought about my Bronicas, I should have contemplated that it should be possible to remove the back by use of a slide etc. I assume that is what you are saying?
    Sorry if I appear an idiot! Further help would be appreciated. In other words, if I were to buy what is advertised, what else would I need to make it work with a roll film back: just an international back or something more?
    Thanks again for the help.
  8. Hi Mervyn,
    The outfit looks good. The Xenar is a nice sharp little lens roughl the equivalent of a 40mm lens in 35mm terms though without much room for movements. The Ektar also has a good reputation as a nice portrait lens, slightly longer than standard.
    Here are some photos of m MPP VII t show what I mean about how the rfh is uded.
  9. To remove the screem press with your tumbs on the two bars with the serratrions and slide upwards.
    (With the lenses you need to check that the shutters work properly and there is no fungus.)
  10. And now slide in the rfh and lock with those two flat metal 'Graflok' bars. This is a Wista 6x9 which I found to be the best size as if you want 6x7 or 6x6 you can crop. Sorry about the quality of this one. In a rush!
  11. Colin, many thanks - you really are going out of your way to help me.
    May I presume further. I think you are in the UK. Might I phone you?
    If so, could you give me your number - preferably landline (free calls!) and when it might be convenient for me to do so?
  12. Mervyn,
    I have emailed you.
  13. I see that others have clearly explained that almost any rollfilm back will fit. As regards focusing, if you really want to focus by rangefinder, an easy option is to buy any separate rangefinder (e.g. Leitz) and put this in the accessory shoe. Your camera will probably come with a distance scale (inside the camera bed) for a 150 mm lens, others are easy to make. As some users take off the MPP rangefinder to lighten their cameras, one of them might be able to sell you a redundant rangefinder - you'd probably find one through the owners' club and probably some instructions on how to fit it, too. Rangefinder cams can quite easily be made by cutting a cardboard template to the right size by trial and error and then copying the template in metal - the hardest job will be cutting a thread in the cam for the retaining screw.
    One thing - MPP were over the hill by the time they made the Mark VIII - I had one once but sold it fairly quickly because of metallurgical problems and got a Mark VII instead, which doesn't have the on-axis front tilt but is better amde.
  14. Many thanks David for your help/advice.
    Without exploring the question any further, I had actually wondered about using an uncoupled rangefinder. During the late 1950s, I used such very successfully with a 35mm camera. It also happens that I have quite a good one.
    However, things have moved on since I first posted. The MkVIII arrived earlier this week. The body etc is in rather nice condition, but some sliders, clips etc are very stiff. I suspect that is from lack of use over a long period, and that careful lubrication might well get over those issues.
    Unfortunately, there are more problems. Although it came as an outfit, one lens will not fit at all - it has the earlier board - and the aperture arm on the other is stiff in the extreme, so much so that I fear I might break/damage something. Accordingly, it is going back to the dealer for a refund.
    Without going into detail, it has been a very annoying/frustrating experience, but I've learned something, and the help from postings and from the MPP Users Club has been very helpful.
    I can see that a MKVII might be a better bet. I'm still thinking and looking..........
    Thanks again.

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