View Full Version : Going for a Grafmatic? Opinions?
Hello friends of larger cameras1
I was wondering if it is a good idea to get a Grafmatic film holder for my newly aquired Speed Graphic. I love the camera and shooting with the RF is a pleasure - its very accurate and precise. The 127 Ektar has good resolution and a very nice look in B/W.
But because all my holders are in the defunkt and obsolete metric format 9x12 cm (european version of 4x5, a bit smaller on the short side) and the films you can get for this format are limited I need to get new holders in 4x5. To shoot Tri-x etc... Grafmatic backs seem to be a natural way to go with the Speed;)
But I read mixed comentaries on the Grafmatics - some say they are a PITA to load, others claim they are not reliable and so on...
So, fellow Members of RFF, what is your experinece with Grafmatics. Are they worth the 70-100 $ you have to pay for them here over the pond?
I have 5. They all work well. A couple of them required me to clean and lube, but after that they are smooth. Loading is not much different than loading regular holders.
A well-set-up Grafmatic is easy enough to load and the frame counters are unreliable (but you probably want to take out the circular frame-counting dial anyway). Abused Grafmatics (bent septums) are bar stewards to load and are inclined to jam. The best approach is to have two or three, plus (if possible) some spare septums. The septums often work best with a very small bend in the corner with the cut-out, rather than dead flat, but too much bend is bad news.
I have 8 4x5" Grafmatics and 4 2x3" Grafmatics, and they all work pretty well. I like them, particularly for shooting with the rangefinder, but I use them all the time, even when I'm focusing on the groundglass and separating sheets for Zone System processing. For the record, I like the frame counter to help keep track of exposures, particularly when I've been traveling and might not process the film right away.
There was a test years ago in Pop Photo I think that suggested that film flatness was better in Grafmatics than standard holders. I haven't tested that myself, but I could see why it might be the case.
I also have a couple of Kinematic holders. These are wonkier than Grafmatics and have a less reliable frame counter, but they hold 10 sheets, so they offer a very compact way of carrying a lot of film.
I own one that works perfectly. I bought it from a professional photographer that I trusted. I'm saving my money to buy more. As said above, when they work right they are great. The best way to work the streets with a Speed Graphic. Just like WeeGee.
I think I have 7 or 8 of them, incl. 2 Kinetics (which hold 10 sheets, instead 6). All of them work perfectly. I really like using them - less film holders to carry around and cheaper than readyloads.
Faster to use. No loose darkslide to worry about. Always ready to shoot.
I've been taking six Grafmatics on a shoot and I tend to shoot all my film in a session so now I am only bringing four at a time and being more judicious. They make shooting more film a lot easier....
I'll seco...thir...fift...whateverth the notion. I have four of them. Three work fine, the other has some cracks and missing screws, so it just holds the most bent of my septums and waits for the day another one breaks and I need a part.
That being said, I can see myself buying more of these in the future and I get more & more gung-ho about doing street photography with my Speed Graphic.
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