Passing of the Crown

Like I mentioned in my last post, I finally bought the camera I was most determined to get.

I thought the Mamiya C330 was a beautiful construction but I’ll have to say the bar was raised by Graphlex. Its such an amazing looking camera.

Opening it was farcical at first until I stumbled across the nipple. A wee bump on the top of the camera almost completely hidden from sight but not touch.

The front flips down and locks into place to reveal rails. Under the lens board is a latch that when turned releases the lens board so it can be pulled out over the rails lock into place at full extension.

Focusing is similar to the Mamiya C330 and most other such TLRs by turning a knob at either side of the extended front panel. There’s also a lock to hold the focus.

Above the lens board is an extendable flexible frame and at the back of the camera is a retractable view port. You look through the view port and compose in the extended frame.

Using the ground glass was very strange at first, not because the image is reversed and upside down, but it was tricky to get my eyes and brain to understand what I was looking at. The image on the glass is so big and odd I had to train my eyes to see again. Like wearing someones glasses with a prescription.

It a was similar yet different experience from using the Mamiya C330 so I would hazard that having lots of experience focusing with that kind of camera, like a Yashica-Mat, might help. My only TLR, a Halina Viceroy, is fixed focus so the Mamiya C330 was my first time focusing with glass.

Anyway. I was rummaging through my film boxes and found I still had one sheet of unexposed 5×4 so I went for it. The subject, Louise sitting on the couch chatting to her Mum. My pocket light meter said 1/3 at f4.5 so I took the shot even though I new chunks of the image would be blurry just to see if I can get an image out of the camera ok.

As you can see chunks are blurry but essentially it was fine. The 5×4 sheet was slightly F’d though, it was from a batch I bought off The Bay that hadn’t been stored properly.

I have 50 sheets of Fomapan 400 in the post which will be just amazing! I’ve also got five more double dark slide holders so that makes 12 shots in total per shoot.

There is a sad point though. The rangefinder element looks slightly off. When focusing with the glass I can see the subject in focus but looking through the rangefinder it says its out. I know the glass is always going to be accurate so it isn’t a complete disaster, it’s just a shame.


3 thoughts on “Passing of the Crown

  1. Great introduction to your new camera, it’s a real beauty and I love the picture you took of it at the top of the post; great background and I love the flash shadow!

    You might be able to adjust the rangefinder…? Most of the rangefinders I have are not calibrated properly (due to age) and using a tape measure and some internet know-how I’ve managed to calibrate them by adjusting screws and levers! Not sure if you can do that with your Crown Graphic.

    Is it possible to get close to the glass? Can the hood be removed? I’m just wondering if you can use a (retrofitted) curtain over your head and a loupe for ultra accurate focussing. Who needs a rangefinder!? :-)


    1. Hey James.

      I didn’t think it was possible to calibrate these things, I’ll certainly research it. Thanks for the tip! I might try out some street photography with it. What a laugh that would be.

      You can actually get very close to the glass but a curtain or jacket is a must and a loupe could be an excellent addition. I found I used the magnifier a lot with the Mamiya C330.

      I’ll take it to work with me when I’m back and try out using a loupe to see if it works.


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