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Graflex XL Mods
I finally found something to improve.   See XL Hybrid WA adapter.
by Bob Hutchinson

I've been using and enjoying the fine Graflex XL cameras and lenses for a while and have never modified anything on them. There is little to improve. I'm not saying that the camera design has no flaws. Just look at the focusing system - 100% crap. Worst design ever on a professional camera. 

After I discussed the fact that I have never modified the XL with Ken Swanson in Virginia I prepared an attack plan. 

Bob Standard Handle & accessory shoe.
Like most photographers I car shoot. On holiday I take my big hard camera case and a Bogen tripod. I set-up in the rear of a rented mini-van with several cameras and one Bogen tripod. During the course of many days of traveling and shooting pictures I snap the cameras on and off the tripod head many times. I like a handle on the camera to facilitate this repetitive action. Not a grip but a handle. 

My basic is - handle on the right side of the camera - additional tripod adapter on the left side for quick 90 degree reset for vertical shots. The above XLS with fine 58mm f5.6 Grandagon and Mamiya viewfinder has one of the first wooden handles I put on an XL.

Tripod adapters for quick verticals
This nice modification provides for quick vertical shots and use of the fine Mamiya Press grip too. I cut two pieces of 1/8" aluminum flat to 1 5/8" x 4" on then miter saw and marked 190B.jpg (24123 bytes)190C.jpg (23824 bytes)for the first hacksaw cuts. The plan is to fit a shaped adapter plate to utilize the two 6-32 screw holes already in the camera. The lower of these two threaded holes is used to hold the normal XL grip to the camera.

I carefully laid out and marked for the mounting holes two adapters. Filing and fitting is the order here to have a close fit with cutout for the camera top cover.

After removing the hardware from the Bogen adapters I marked for four pilot holes (8-32 190D.jpg (19073 bytes)tap drill) with the tick (automatic center punch) and drilled in the drill press. Using a 1" "can't twist" clamp I positioned the adapter at the proper place on the adapter plate, tightened good, placed in the soft jaws of the vice and dimpled the plate with tap drill four places for 8-32 flat head machine screws. Repeated for second adapter.

Tapped #8-32 four places each adapter. I then countersunk back side of the plate for the flat head screws. 

Time-Out for Home Depot
190H.jpg (22914 bytes)190G.jpg (19974 bytes)My plan is for the tripod adapters to be mounted to the aluminum adapter plate with #8 x 1/2" aluminum tube stand-offs and the 8-32 flat head machine screws. This for clearance on and off the tripod and to provide just enough room to reach under the tripod adapter to release the Graflok Back adapter if necessary. So off to Home Depot to get the aluminum spacers.

As usual I could not find the proper length 8-32 flat head screws so I bought 1" and cut and ground them to about 3/4" and mounted all.

190E.jpg (35204 bytes)Surprise
Lotsa try fitting and filling til it's right. Plate edge preparation is done on my 4" belt/disc sander. As I continued fitting to an unused XLS body I noticed that the plate may interfere with any focusing lever that may be installed so I grabbed more cameras and - - sure enough - won't clear the focusing lever ring. 

190F.jpg (28287 bytes)190M.jpg (48432 bytes)I marked the plate and impressed a nice radius on the underside of the plate where the interference occurs with the belt sander end roller to allow for focusing ring clearance. More try fitting, it all fits and works. I then marked to remove excessive aluminum from the adapter, clamped in the vice and hack sawed the material away. File work and disc sander work to make things pretty. I placed the plates flat in the vice with just a few thousants above the soft jaws and put nice pattern finish to the plates with the orbital sander with 100 grit paper.

Done - ready for compound Mamiya grip
Backing out the two 6-32 pan head screws allows the adapter plates to be removed. The Mamiya grip I made for the Cambo Wide just snaps right on the left side tripod adapter. Really nice grip with the perfect, in my opinion, compound angle of 30 degrees reward and 25 degrees wrist tight. The same as your fist when you put thumbs to temples. I outfitted my Grandagon XLS and my XLRF with 100mm lens.

190J.jpg (46734 bytes) 190K.jpg (42750 bytes) 190L.jpg (52338 bytes)

 

Little item, Big improvement
When Graflex brought out the XL cameras the XLS obviously was intended to be used in a static situation or with ground glass focusing. I don't believe they ever thought you might attach a finder and a roll film back. Of course, to my knowledge, they never made a finder 191.jpg (27375 bytes)for this camera. When shooting a horizontal format with finder and roll film back attached it is impossible to get the eye to the finder. The back just blocks access. Turn the camera for a vertical and you can get eye to finder OK. Simpler solution is to move the finder 1 inch rearward. Oh, so much more comfortable. 

I dissembled the top cover from my two XLS bodies and using a #2-56 tight clearance drill I drilled out the three rivets holding each shoe to the cover and discarded the shoe and 191B.jpg (23219 bytes)springy thing underneath. I have found the later accessory shoes found on the Mamiya press cameras and on all of their grips to be superior for this purpose.

In a manner similar to other accessory shoe improvements I have made on other cameras I cut and squared two 1/8" x 3/4 x 1 3/4" pieces from 191C.jpg (23066 bytes)hardware grade aluminum bar stock. Using new #2-56 flat head stainless machine screws I mount the shoe to the little bar as accurately as possible so the sides of the shoe are parallel to the bar. See the shoe portion of the Stubby article.

It is difficult to explain how wonderful this arrangement is. This finder for the 65mm Mamiya Press lens is big, bright and real life like. Moving it back one inch provides real comfort in viewing. This finder has marks for 6x7 and 6x9 and internal cleaning is very easy. This finder, like the Koni and Rapid Omega finder (6x7) for the 58mm and 60mm lenses is perfect or the 58mm f5.6 Grandagon lens. This Grandagon XLS and 6x9 back provide an angle of view equivalent to 24mm lens in 35mm format.

In all the years I have been doing this stuff I believe this is the finest wide angle 6x9 outfit that can be assembled for small bucks. And the bucks are small compared to a new Horseman or other new outfit. This complete camera can be assemble for less than $1,000.

Click Here to contact Bob Hutchinson.

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