RB Graflex Series D 4x5

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by dhbebb, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. I have just bought an RB Graflex Series D 4x5 (it hasn't reached me yet). As filmholders for this camera seem to be very rare, I was considering fitting a Graflok back from a Crown Graphic and making an appropriate adjustment to the register of the top focusing screen (possibly by raising this a few mm). Only problem - I've never heard of anyone doing this! Does anyone have experience of this or any knowledge as to why it would/would not work? Thanks in advance for alll info.
  2. I have exactly the same model camera and this modification was done by a previous owner. It works fine. However, I have several other graflexes that still take the old kind of slotted filmholders. It's not that difficult to accumulate a set of the slotted holders if you watch Ebay for a while.
  3. The Graflex back on the Series D is made differently from the Pacemaker Graflok back so it would not be an easy swap of the back frame.
    The early Graflex backs had a solid bar at the bottom and a slider at the top, later Graflex backs had sliders at the top and bottom similar to the Graflok back.
    The length of Graflex and Graphic film holders are the same and the width of the Graflex is around 3/16 inch wider than the Graphic film holder. The Graflex has a ridge on the body and a grove in the holder for a light trap and the Graphic has a grove in the back and a ridge on the holder to form a light trap on the right side of the holder. I do not remember if the Graflex and Graphic film holders have a different film register depth.
    Now once you have the camera in hand and wish to continue with a modification remove the camera back paying close attention to what length screw comes out from where. The back will have screws that go thru the sides of the camera and the back will have to be rotated to get the screws along the top and bottom. Once the back is off the body carefully peel back the felt from the edges where blocks that the slider(s) or bar are attached to (on the inside of the back) and remove the screws holding the blocks to the back frame. Make new blocks from plywood or black acrylic that are 1/2 the width difference of Graflex and Graphic film holders wider than the originals and thick enough to put the slider(s) and/or bar so that they grip Graflok holders. I think the ridge will be offset just enough that the double ridge on Graphic film holders will be on either side of the original one on the back and not cause a seating problem. Attach the new blocks and the sliders and or bar of the original to the back and reinstall the back on the body. The mahogany is thin at the top and bottom of the back opening and screw holes are easily striped. To repair a striped screw hole cut a length of dowel rod (round tooth pick works well) and glue it into the hole with wood glue and allow to set. Make a start point with an ice pick or similar tool and insert the screw.
    I did this type of mod to a 1915 RB Auto and it worked well. I returned it to the original Graflex configuration before I sold it. This is far simpler than reworking the body to accept a Pacemaker Graflok back.
  4. Thanks for the responses. Robert is indeed correct that film holders are more readily available than I thought (you have to go to the .com version of THE AUCTION SITE and not the .co.uk version for American stuff to show up) and it now looks as if I have a total of 8 working holders (plus one broken one which may be fixable), which is a decent day's shooting, but if the holders don't work out, I shall definitely consider Charles's ideas for mods. Thanks once again!
    Best regards,
  5. david
    keep your eyes out for what is called a bag-mag ( bag magazine )
    it is the grandfather of the grafmatic back and holds about 12 sheet
    of film in septums. they rotate front to back just like the grafmatic backs.
    - john
  6. Graflex corp. used many variations of the Graflex name in naming their products. Graflex Riteway film holders will be the standard sheet film holder with ridges for the light trap and too narrow for a Graflex back. Many sellers do not know what they have and only list in their ads what is printed on the holder.
    http://www.photo.net/large-format-photography-forum/00Ibmj has the operating instructions for the bag mag (jpeg attachments). The original Bag Mag held 18 plates while the film ones hold 12 sheets. Bag mags only fit the Graflex back. Look for flat spectums, and light tight bag. The bag has a cloth inner and leather outer layer, the bag rolls up and is held closed with a snap, and the darkslide should also have a snap on a short leash to keep it attached to the bag mag. Don't pay a high price for one listed as very rare as they are not.
  7. Congratulations David, that is a wonderful camera. I've become a fan of all things Graflex (didn't plan it, just happened) and have a 4x5 RB D as well as a 3x4 Super D. Plus the usual assortment of Super Graphics, Graphic Views and even a Graflex TLR on the way. You can find roll film holders for your 4x5, and there are even Grafmatic film holders, but you would have to be very patient to find one of these.
    I saw a website a while back on someone that is modifying the SLR's to take a Graflok back but can't seem to find the site now. It wasn't cheap, that's for sure. You could spend a lot of money modifying these to take all manner of film, but to me the best way to go, and the most economical, is to just shoot the 4x5 sheet film and get a roll film back for shooting 120 film.
  8. hi again david
    there are a few people on graflex.org who will convert the back from the slr slotted back to
    a graflok/international back. it is kind of tricky because in order for the focus to be right
    shims need to be installed or the camera planed down ..
    i have had a graflex d/45 since the 90s and it is my favorite camera to use ..
    have fun with your new toy!
  9. I have a bag-mag for my 4x5 RB Series B, I also have a Grafmatic holder. Between the two holders, this gives me 18 shots, more than enough for most of my projects. I also have an RB series B 2x3 with a bag mag and two roll film holders, an RB Series D 3x4 with bag-mag and one 2x3 roll film holder. They are great cameras. My Nikon D80 sits on the shelf while I use real cameras. :^)

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