'New' to my Crown Graflex - Any tips/tricks?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by tony_defilippo|1, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. I've had my grandfather's Crown Graflex in my possession for 10 or so years now, he used it extensively in the late 40's and 50's after getting out of the Marine Corps and working for the AP and some DC Studios. Last year he also gave me his entire catalog of negatives including several hundred 4x5's shot with this camera... this treasure trove prompted me to buy an Epson V700 last week in order to digitize those and the other MF and 35mm negatives he gave me. Now that I have the ability to scan 4x5's of course the next logical thing for me to do was use the Kodak film cost increase advisement to pick up a 50 count box of TMAX 100 and 3 10 count boxes of Ektar 100 in 4x5....
    As I type I'd like to think that the elves at Adorama are packaging up my first LF film to send my way. I shot a couple sheets with this setup back in high school but haven't touched it since, I regularly shoot 35mm film and do my own b/w film dev and scanning here at home. I've gotten alot out of the Nikon and Film forum's here on pnet over the past couple years so I figured I would take this opportunity to introduce myself to the LF forum and poll you for advice/tips on shooting 4x5 and with a Graflex camera. My 'LF Kit' includes;
    Crown Graphic - sn 955894, has the Kalart Rangefinder which seems to be inop right now, ground glass is nice and clear
    Kodak Ektar 127mm f/4.7 Lens
    Wollensak/Graflex Optar 135/4.7 Lens
    - on both lenses the diaphrams seem to work well, the shutters fire though I don't have a tool to test the speeds
    Film holders - 3 or 4 dual holders and one that holds 10 or so sheets at a time
    Induro tripod with ballhead
    Development for b/w - tbd, looking at some of the holders that go in regular stainless tubes, or tray development. Any advice for drying 4x5 film post development?
    Thats it, I know the Graflex is a press camera/folding camera and is therefore limited in the tilt/shift movements you get from most large format rigs. My subject matter will be mostly architectural here in Washington, DC and also some landscape in the surrounding area. I may play with some studio style portraiture but I think that is down the road.
    I'd love to hear any of your thoughts or advice and hope to have some images to share in the next couple weeks.
  2. http://graflex.org/
    I am one of the main posters on the help board there. I service these cameras, rangefinders, and the shutters for the lens you list.
    Very poor records were kept by Graflex but from what exists your's is a 1949 Pacemaker.
    User manuals are available at http://cameraeccentric.com/info.html
    and user and service manuals at http://www.southbristolviews.com/
    Jobo 2500 series developing tanks with 2509n reel(s) will handle 4x5 processing. There are other daylight developing tanks also.
    I hang 4x5 sheets by a corner with a wooden spring type close pin from a line in a dust free place.
    Place a shutter on the 1 second setting with the aperture wide open. Position a watch or clock with a sweep second hand (step type can work also) so that you can see the second hand and the shutter blades at the same moment. Cock the shutter and trip it just as the second hand reaches a second mark. The shutter should open and close just as the second hand reaches the next second mark. More than the width of the second hand either side of the next second mark definitely needs servicing. Advance the time dial to 1/2 second and repeat. The shutter should close at the mid point between the two second marks on a sweep type, step type you have to speculate. Not scientifically accurate but gives a good estimate of operation. Continue up the speed scale, speeds should increase proportionally. Slow the first try then correct the next few fires needs servicing.
  3. Hi Charles,

    Thank you very much for the information, especially the trick for getting an idea with the shutter. I'll be doing that before I go out to shoot. I also will be spending alot of time over at your graflex.org site, thanks for the link!
  4. Tony, I love my CG. I have several 4x5 cameras, but the CG is my go to camera for field work. I would only say this: be very consistent in your technique. Work on getting great tonal range. I see more people jump into their LF cameras, but the images all look too contrasty. Don't come back with Kodalith images<g>.
  5. Thanks Michael, would you say that the contrasty results are more a result of development or exposure? I know it can be both (plus printing/digital treatment)... basically, how should I treat Tmax 100 different on 4x5 vice 120 or 35 which I am more familiar with?
  6. Enjoy that Graphic! I have never had to change how I treat film based on the format of the camera. One piece of advise to you would be to get that rangefinder fixed. It will be of great value to you. I think you'll have to make a choice, though, of setting it up for one lens or the other.
  7. Your lenses should be decent enough unless you use much rising front for architectural photos: they cover little more than 4x5 with the lens in the normal position. I recommend Graphic Graflex Photography by Morgan & Lester (or Morgan & Morgan in later editions), 8th edition or later to cover the Crown with Kalart rangefinder. It has a wealth of information on the complete Graphic system and its uses. For us who don't shoot 4x5 film in quantity, tray development is fine for B&W film.
  8. Thanks Brian and Jim! I'm going to take apart the rangefinder this weekend and see what can be done, the graflex.org site has some good info there. I am planning to do the b/w in a tray right now... have to do a better job lightproofing my bathroom though.
    Jim - does the Morgan & Lester book cover more than the graflex.org site?
  9. Tony, the book has quite a bit more than graflex.org, and the site has information that the book doesn't. The content of the book varies with the edition. The 8th edition of 1947 has 400 pages of articles by prominent experts of the time such as Rudolph Kingslake, Ansel Adams, Laura Gilpin, Berenice Abbott, and Barbara and Willard Morgan. Some of the information has been overtaken by progress, some is still timely. Even the outdated information is interesting as part of the Graphic heritage. Later editions omitted some of the earlier chapters or replaced them with more up-to-date information. My 11th edition (1958) is down to 250 pages.
  10. You'll have fun Tony, it's a great toy :eek:)
    I added to mine a roll film holder such as the Calumet C2N or the C2.
    For me, it's easier sometimes, to shoot 120 and develop a roll than single sheets ... 4x5 purists don't hit me plz, sometimes I just don't want to do 4x5 and the Mamiya RB is not so much fun to hike with than the Crown).
    Granted you lose the stunning 20 sq inches of film, but you do gain a 6x7 negative in its stead. (My darkroom is too crappy to allow for tray film development except when it's the dead of night, so a spiral rollfilm tank is more simple.)
    I also reversed the front standard to allow me to have forward tilt which for landscapes is quite handy & nice.
  11. Thanks Jim J and Jim M!
    I see a couple used copies of the Graflex book via Amazon so I'll have to add that to my near term list of acquisitions!
    Jim M - regarding the roll film holder that is really fascinating, I also have a Pentax 6x7 which is a beast of a camera for doing 6x7 negs. I'm in the same boat with a not so dark, dark(bath)room so I'm considering ways of blacking it out better or perhaps doing a tube development a la the BTZS style. I'd prefer to do tray development at least at first but it will just depend on my mod's to the door.
  12. I had more fun with my Crown when I shot it as a Press camera then as a tripod mounted LF camera. Get the rangefinder working and calibrated for your lens and use the speed finder on the front with the peep hole on the body. Find a DOF scale online for your lens and find the hyperfocal points for various F-stops. Print out the scale to carry and mark tape placed inside of the front cover on the sides to set your front standard to. Carry a handheld incident meter and 4 or five holders in a belt bag. Have fun.
    If you want to shoot alot of architecture, learn to correct perspective in Photoshop. Just allow room on the neg.
  13. Thanks Wayne, that sounds like some great advice. I definitely need to bone up on my hyperfocal points in particular. I'm going to take a closer look at the rangefinder this week.
  14. There is an online manual to calibrate the rangefinder. I can't remember where it is now but a Google search should show it. Maybe someone here will remember.

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