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Graphic View II Ultra Wide (Stubby)  

by Bob Hutchinson

Panoramic, Panorama, Ultra Wide, Real Wide, Extra Wide and on. Look at all the wide angle cameras on the market today. Want to get involved in WIDE? Ready to have your wallet SMASHED?

Do you do outdoor photography or perhaps collect a few antique cameras and might like to do some roll film wide angle things, 6 x 12 format or maybe Polaroid in the 4x5 format?

This project converts an inexpensive Graphic View II camera, complete and in good condition, into the Graphic View Ultra Wide or "Stubby" as I call it. Graflex certainly never dreamed that this versatile professional camera would ever become capable of handling lenses as short as 35mm. But it does, after my whacking mods.

It will handle wide angle lenses from 90mm down to 35mm including ultra wide 65mm, 58mm, 55mm, 53mm, 50mm, 47mm and 45mm view camera lenses on the market today with movements. It will handle the 35mm (which won't cover 4x5.) also but with little movements. The original Graphic View I and II will not handle even the 90mm lenses without a recessed lens board and the original recessed lens board will not work with modern lenses unless the thickness is machined to accept the shorter length of mounting threads on today's lenses.          Before >>

The only thing purchased of any value to make this conversion is a new bellows from "Flexible Products http://www.flexproducts.com (Also see botom of page.). The original red bellows, of 15 inches draw sacrificed its front and rear frames for the project. The new bellows from Flexible Products is a custom black bellows with side impressions for additional flexibility with short lenses. It has a minimum collapsed length of 7/8" and draw of only 5-6 inches. This provides about 110mm of focal length. Enough to focus a 90mm lens down to 24 inches.

Cost of the nice new black bellows is $125.00 mounted to the old frames. I sent the old bellows so they could cut the frames out and mount the new bellows. So now, while I wait for the new bellows - - 

Let's make a Stubby
As seen in the pics the rear standard is extensively modified with a lot of aluminum cut away. Remove the Graflok back, remove and store the 12 bellows frame screws in safe container. Ditto for the front bellows frame. Remove the focusing gear drive mechanism by first removing the gear shaft assembly retaining set screw. This allows the gear shaft and slider tightening mechanism to be retracted a bit so you can remove the two restricted access screws. Remove the standard and sliders from the rail. Disassemble the rear standard. Set the steel shift and swivel parts away from the work area as they are not used. Do the same with the U shaped upright that provides tilt. This will not be used either.

Contact Flexible Products http://www.flexproducts.com and send your old bellows with frames for installation of new custom bellows. If you have good sources for custom bellows send it to me and I will include here.

Install your soft jaws in the bench vice. Place masking tape around the two studs sticking out the sides of the rear standard frame. Mount in vice and hack saw the studs flush. Center punch the remaining 141.jpg (36980 bytes) studs and drill out with 3/16" drill to remove. 

The Stubby will use a rigid rear standard with rail gear drive focusing but no movements. The front standard will have all original movements but no gear drive rail focusing. Using a hacksaw or a miter saw with carbide blade, cut the aluminum slider casting an equal amount on each end to make the casting a little narrower than the rear standard casting. Cut a piece of 1/8" x 2"  hardware grade 140.jpg (24934 bytes) aluminum flat the exact same length. You may want to perform the below attachment operation and then cut the ends off. Assemble, clamp and mark the aluminum flat in four places. Drill and tap for # 6, 8 or 10 flathead machine screws to secure it to the slider casting. (See Pictures.)

Cut and dress ends square on two lengths of 1/2", 5/8" or 3/4" aluminum round or square tubing to 9/16", .5625". I use a $99.00 4" belt and 6" disc sander, with 90 degree table from Home Depot to dress at exactly 90 degrees and exactly to length, + or - a couple of thousands. These are the new mounts to rigidly attach the rear standard to the new aluminum mounting plate. Drill two holes (#8-32 tap drill) in the bottom of the rear camera standard 1 1/2" from center and 3/8 inch from rear of standard frame to tap for #8-32 x 1 1/4" truss head machine screws 142.jpg (29920 bytes) (thin heads to clear bellows frame, available at Home Depot or hardware store.) Using a 5/16" or larger drill bit with your hand, chamfer the holes on the inside of the standard frame slightly so the screws will flat against the frame when assembled. No washers can be used here.

Assemble the truss head screws into the threaded holes, snug only. Install #8 flat washer and nut on stud end of machine screws, snug only. Drill corresponding clearance holes (be accurate for no hassle fit.) in the mounting plate 3/8" from the front edge of the new mounting plate.

143.jpg (34584 bytes)Mount the slider gear and pinion 180 degrees from the way you removed it so the lip on the casting is to the rear and the focusing knob to the right. (Mount it 180 degrees opposite of this picture. Knob must be on right when behind camera unless you want it on the lefty, Lefty.)

Whack It
Dissemble the mounting stud screws from the rear standard frame. Remove the four back retaining clips and screws. Mark the cuts to be made in one of the casting grooves corresponding to dimension below. 145.jpg (48712 bytes) See pictures too. Drill a hole at the top of the cut out area to form a radius in the finished product. If your vice, hopefully with 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/16" aluminum angle soft jaws, is not larger than about 4 1/2" you may be able to slip the frame over the vice screw handle and over the front jaw for better mounting for the saw cuts.

Make the cut across the 146.jpg (119344 bytes)bottom corner first with the hacksaw. Then make two cross cuts and remove the corner scrap so you will have a plce to start your saber saw cut. Cover the surface with masking tape, depress it into the groove with fingernail, mark with pen. Using a 24 T. blade saber saw blade (A fine blade will load up cutting aluminum.), slowly and accurately make the cut to the radius hole. This is a lot easier than you think as the aluminum casting metal machines very well. Flip the standard over and do the other side. Make the cross cut to the radius hole. Dress with files and sand paper block to suit. Reassemble. Not near as hard as you thought, huh?

More Whacking
Remove and dissemble the front standard except the gear mechanism for rise. Leave the two aluminum tilt adjusting bars in place. Tighten them out of the way. This next cut should be made on a 12 inch miter saw with square fixturing but can be done with a good hacksaw with 24T. blade. Some castings for the Graphic View camera are different heights above the tilt adjustment screws. The purpose is to cut about 5/16" to 3/8" from the top of the standard so it will clear the top of the rear standard on rear tilt. Mark for the cut.

I have a couple of rectangular aluminum blocks 1 1/2"x2"x6" machined square. I use these to fixture the front standard square in my miter saw . Lock the rise gear in the zero position with board even with top of U frame and, using miter saw, hack saw, saber saw or best available, whack the top of the standard. Dress to suit.

Cut The Rail
Remove the brass gear rack from the under side of the rail. Measure and cut to your
147.jpg (53088 bytes)preferred length from the rear of the rail. Dress. Mount the front standard to the front end of the shortened rail by marking and drilling the rail to clear #4 machine screws, drilling, tapping and attaching rail to slider casting with #4-40 machine screws. The gear mechanism is not used. Cut the brass gear rack and remount.

148.jpg (50985 bytes)Rail length: I cut the rail for Stubby to 6 1/2" which provides for focusing a 90mm lens down to about 2 feet or about 110mm flange focal length. The picture at right shows the flange distance at about 42mm. The flange focal of the fine 35mm f/4.5 Rodenstock APO Grandagon lens is 43.2 mm. Little movement is available in a 35mm situation as the lens just barely covers 6x12 format with its 125mm f16 image circle. So, the Stubby will handle all of today's ultrawide view camera lenses.

The Stubby bellows was ordered with 5" draw and 7/8" collapsed bellows. I believe a bellows with 6 1/2" draw will still allow the use of 45mm lenses and yet draw out for a 150mm lens focused to 12 ft. In any event you may wan to save the remainder of the rail for something a little longer.

Big Bubbles for really wide
The Graphic View's original pipsqueak bubble level and mount are removed as totally inadequate. It may be OK for longer lenses but for 35mm, 45mm, 55mm and 65mm, big levels that can be read with old 150.jpg (142331 bytes)eyes in poor light are demanded. These are the same levels I have used on other custom cameras. They are $1.95 each as a clip-in-the-pocket level available at Home Depot. A while back I bought 10 of these instruments.

Put one in the soft jaws with back side up and cut with hack saw on the edge of the module location hole toward the center of the instrument. Ditto for the other end. Dress with file in preparation for Gooping to the rear standard mounting plate. The nice Graflok back, with its three position mounting capabilities, may interfere with the side mounted level. There are two sets of tits on the frame, one set for right and one set for left positioning of the Graflok. No tits necessary for top access. Since I use only right and top access I cut the tits off required for left access positioning so they would not interfere with the level. You may develop a better solution for this situation.

Use a level of known accuracy to qualify each of the whacked levels before gluing in place. Clean surfaces with TCE (tricloroethelene) or similar first.

The Finder & little bitch screw
You may have read about some of my finder or accessory shoe installations on other custom cameras. Working with little screws and little taps, such as #2 and #4 can be a bitch. I cut and dress to size and drill tight clearance holes in the aluminum mounting plate (shoe comes later), usually 1/8" x 1 or 1 1/4 wide x length equal to the frame size. Here the plate cannot extend rearward because it would interfere with the film holder in the vertical position. Yes, I know the pictures show it differently but it has been corrected in the finished Stubby. 

Then I focus on positioning the mounting plate accurately and accurately marking just one hole to be drilled and tapped in the camera body. I use a little el cheapo $89.00 10 inch table mounted drill press for most drilling. With the hand drill and the clearance drill bit I just barely dimple the body for the first hole to be drilled. Then I remove the plate, center punch if necessary for accurate drill start, hold or fixture body in drill press vice and drill the tap hole for #4-40 flat head machine screw.

I use a drill/screw gun to tap at lightest torque setting to tap the hole. Oh Yea! I've broken these little bitch taps. Secret is to lube tap with light oil, clean and clear chips and tap with at least one withdrawal and keep the tap and drill absolutely perpendicular to the surface.

Attaching the plate with the screw is a BIG help in holding the plate while I use the little precision square to align the plate for the all important second light dimple made with the clearance drill.  About here it is nice to have several light, fast handling keyless, cordless variable-speed drills. I drill, tap and remount the plate with two screws and mark the remaining hole(s) and duplicate the dimpling, drilling, mounting and screwing. If all turns our well I counter sink the holes for the flat head machine screws.

All this for the mounting plate. Now for the shoe. The technique is the same. The best shoe I have ever found is the shoe found on Mamiya press cameras, Super 23, Universal, and the grips for same. They fit the variety of finders better than any shoe I have found. Of the three mounting screws from the shoe only the important front screw with the cylindrical head that also serves as a stop will be used. In the other two screw holes use #2-56 x 3/16" flat head Phillips head machine screws. The shoe will be further countersunk to accommodate the somewhat larger screws. 

One tool I cherish is a nice 1/4" countersink for these little screws event hough a 3/16" would work better. Position the shoe, mark for one hole and duplicate the technique for the two rear holes.  With shoe mounted, carefully mark the front hole. Get our your 1/8" pin vise. What? No 1/8" pin vice? Oh well, you can get one at you 151.jpg (35845 bytes)know where or your friendly hardware store. You can probably get by without it. Carefully measure the thread diameter of the little stop screw and select a #drill .008" to .010" smaller in diameter than the threads. The object here is to drill the hole exactly the right size so that the screw will actually ROLL it's own threads in the hole.

Ha! you say? It's easy with a pin vice to hold the cylindrical screw head straight and perpendicular to the hole. An electric drill chuck to hold the cylindrical screw head is OK but don't run the drill, turn it with your fingers. The trick is: the right diameter hole and holding the screw perpendicular to the shoe and hole. As soon as you have got the little bitch started and have rolled a couple of threads, carefully remove the pin vice or chuck from the screw and use a proper screwdriver to run the screw just to bottom.  If you can't start it drill the hole out to the very next # size larger and try again. This is doable with small screws in aluminum.

Check that the shoe is square with the body. If all is OK and you are ready for assembly so remove the front screw, put a small drop of super glue on the little bitch screw threads and mount the shoe. Watch carefully for bottom, don't strip the thread after you roll it

Let's Bellow
153.jpg (32107 bytes)The 5 inch custom bellows from Flexible Products is here. Nice custom hand fitted bellows. Even though it is mounted to the frames, glued on, it requires some additional work with a new blade in the box cutter. Where the bellow ends are wrapped around the frames at the corners I did a little finishing to remove any overlap and the resulting bulge so the black felt light seal will do its job. Then I used a small sharp awl to locate each threaded frame hole from the outside by punching the little awl into the hole. I used the sharp knife to make three slices on three sides of a tiny square around each hole so I could peal back the bellows material and clip the fourth side with cutters. This left a tiny square window barely larger than the threaded hole times twelve.  This leaves each hole clear for easy stareting of the #2-56 flat head 154.jpg (70473 bytes)machine screws. Yes I have them, no I didn't lose them; well not all of them, just two. But I had twelve of them left over from building the 4x5x6x12 Mamiya.

Patience is needed next. Using fingers I pushed and pulled the small end bellows for clearance so I could carefully use the drill with clearance bit to drill through the small frame holes from the inside, eight of them. Using a small long needle nose pliers I inserted each screw through frame hole and bellows material. The fold hold the screws fairly well. 


Screw The Felt
I laid the felt on the front end of the bellows and carefully pushed each hole in the felt down over the eight screws. I also turned some of the screws, actually driving the screws into the felt holes. The Graphic View small frame will screw to the front standard in just one position. I made up all eight screws and the front is attached.

156.jpg (53055 bytes)157.jpg (63236 bytes)I placed the large end felt seal inside the rear standard and inserted screws, turning them to screw up the felt seal. This is pretty delicate work. I laid the rear standard over the up turned bellows and the screws started and turned into each hole with no problems, easy. No doubt because of the preparation. Screws carefully made up, bellows installed.


Stubby made
Now this is a wide angle view camera. It will handle all known wide and ultra wide lenses  including the latest 35mm, 45mm, 55mm and 65mm from Nikon, Schneider, Rodenstock, 158.jpg (78591 bytes)Caltar and any others I can think of right now. Stubby was dreamed up by me as an inexpensive way to enjoy the coming trend to wide angle photography in formats 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x12 and 4x5. Even though Stubby can utilize all 4x5 backs, accessories and holders, my intentions are 99% roll film focused. I do have a couple of Polaroid backs but seldom use them. 

Stubby has good front standard view camera movements with all the lenses below except the 35mm Grandagon and 47mm Super Angulon. These two have short flange focal lengths. With all the rest of the lenses below Stubby has very good movements to the limits of the original Graphic View front standard movements. 

The 45mm, 55mm and 58mm APO and XLs lenses below are designed with a greater than past norms of flange focal distances so they don't compress the bellows and more movements are available. The additional length is about 10mm over older similar lenses. This benefit is most noticeable when using the 45mm, 55mm and 58mm lenses.

Lenses:

NIKON SW

  • Nikkor SW 65mm f4.0
  • Nikkor SW 75mm f4.50
  • Nikkor SW 90mm f4.5

Nikon, to the best of my knowledge, does no offer shorter lenses than their 65mm SW.

RODENSTOCK Grandagon

  • 35mm F4.5 APO Grandagon  Covers 6x9, 6x12 at smaller f stops.
  • 45mm F4.5 APO Grandagon  
  • 55mm F4.5 APO Grandagon
  • 65mm f/4.5 Grandagon N
  • 75mm f/6.8 Grandagon N
  • 75mm f/4.5 Grandagon N
  • 90mm f/6.8 Grandagon N
  • 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon N

SCHNEIDER Super Angulon

  • 47mm f5.6 Super Angulon  Covers 6x9
  • 65mm f5.6 Super Angulon
  • 75mm f5.6 Super Angulon
  • 90mm f5.6 Super Angulon
  • 90mm f8.0 Super Angulon
  • 47mm f5.6 XL Super Angulon
  • 58mm f5.6 XL Super Angulon
  • 72mm f5.6 XL Super Angulon
  • 90mm f5.6 XL Super Angulon

 

159.jpg (72671 bytes) 160.jpg (74680 bytes)

 

Longer lenses?
The Stubby was developed to use all the modern wide, angle lenses the original Graphic View could not handle. The 90mm is the longest you can use - - Well, unless you have a 189B.jpg (48010 bytes)"Stubby Extender".  The extender extends the focal length up to 150mm so you can use your favorite 135mm or 150mm (normal) lens with the Stubby too.

I made this handy extender by first using my scroll saw to cut a square 3 1/8" plug out of a blank 1/8" x 4 x 4" lens board. I then cut box sides from 1/4" (6mm) black acrylic to make a 45mm deep box just like I made the the box that forms the basis of the Mamiya 4x5x6x12. These parts were assembled by fixturing in a picture framing duplex clamp and drilling and tapping for 2 #2-56 x 3/8" flat head machine screws for each joint. After assembly of the box I finished the top and bottom on the 4" belt sander (4" belt, 6" disc table sander) so I would be able to get a good light seal when finally assembled. 

189.jpg (37306 bytes)The acrylic box and the rear box mounting plate were aligned and C clamped and then held in the vice while I drilled and tapped 12 screw holes. Again to the miter saw where I cut a 3 5/8" square lens mounting board for the front of the acrylic box. Using the same technique I aligned, clamped, secured in the vice and drilled and tapped the 12 #2-56 holes holes. After countersinking and chamfering each hole I used the 1 3/8" hole saw to drill the lens mounting hole, deburred, needle filed for the shutter locating pin and tested for shutter fit.  

After final detailing and testing for light leaks, which includes slight countersinking of each mating hole, I painted light seal surfaces with flat black photo enamel and assembled immediately while the paint was soft. Additional paint was applied on the inside joints. After more light leak tests the extender was ready for my 150mm Nikon W lens.

Yea, I've already had a few questions such as: "Why go to all this trouble to modify the Graphic View, whacking down and then adding space to mount a lens the camera could already use ?"  Well, - - I like sawing, drilling and screwing and I have much less weight and camera to carry around and I don't need the 40 pound tripod and, and , and - - - .

Use Finder or Use Ground Glass
After the modifications Stubby is no longer a view camera, it's a modern lightweight field camera tuned to today's technology trends. Usually I use it with a finder and have felt pen marks on the back end of the rail for different lenses. I place convenience marks at 10 ft., 15 ft., 20ft., etc. Sometimes I place small clamps on the rail for forward or rearward limits for various purposes. I snap the ground glass on for critical view camera techniques that require it. 

Click picture for the Graphic View rail tripod adapter fix. >> 

See the New Graphic View tripod adapter.

Bellows Provider:

Flexible Products, Inc.
14504 60th St. N.
Clearwater, FL 33760
(727) 536-3142
(800) 551-3766
Fax: (727) 535-1295
info@flexproducts.com

 

 

Click Here to contact Bob Hutchinson.

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