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Old 20th February 2010, 02:02 PM
Deryck Deryck is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Aalborg, Denmark
Posts: 33
Default Focusing on 4x5 ground-glass

Hi all,

might I pose a few questions?

Now that most of the pieces have come together (a BESELER 45MX condensor head modified to fit a DEVERE 504 column/bellows/base,
a CALUMET 4x5 view camera with Nikon 210mm. glass, and a stack of Regal ll film-holders with the Ilford FP4 load), I now consider myself basically equipped to venture into 4x5.

Having spent over 30 years as a "medium format man", the biggest challenge for me in 4x5 - though not unexpected - is getting under the dark cloth and trying to focus an upside down image on the ground-glass. My mark 57 eye-balls just cannot turn the trick , so I am going to need some sort of magnifier placed on the ground-glass to bring things into focus.

My questions are these:
What are my fellow FADU'ers with like problems using as focusing aids?
At what magnification?
Where can I get such a one?

Hearts in darkness,
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Old 20th February 2010, 02:19 PM
JimW JimW is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Worcestershire
Posts: 841

Nikon Loupe, available from (be quick?) Jessops. Or a Linen tester, as used in the print industry for checking the fit on a sheet of paper. Roll down to your local printer and ask to see one. I bought one of the bay for a couple of quid. They fold up to nothing, unlike my loupe.
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Old 20th February 2010, 02:20 PM
Dave miller Dave miller is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,322

What you need is called a "loupe". Mine are about x4 magnification, and I brought them on eBay. Robert White stock them, but brought new they are quite expensive.
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Old 20th February 2010, 02:25 PM
Trevor Crone's Avatar
Trevor Crone Trevor Crone is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: London
Posts: 2,609

For an overview of GG screen I use a pair of +1.75/2 dioptre reading glasses bought from a market stall. Cheap to replace if they get damaged. For higher mag I use a Wista loupe bought from Robert White but can be cheaply got from Ebay these days.
"To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which will never be seen again" Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Old 20th February 2010, 02:53 PM
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Paul Mitchell Paul Mitchell is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: South Bucks
Posts: 259

As a fellow 4x5 user I use a Canon 4x loupe which I bought 2nd hand for about 50. Try not to go any higher than 4x as all you are doing is magnifying the texture of the GG.

When people ask what equipment I use - I tell them my eyes.

Arena Photographers
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Old 20th February 2010, 04:14 PM
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raulpc raulpc is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Posts: 102

Mine is a Jobo 4x, and i am very happy with it... great lens quality... and cheap, even bought new!...
Raul PC
Raul PC Photography
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Old 20th February 2010, 05:55 PM
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Bob Bob is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London(ish)
Posts: 2,739

I use fairly high-power reading glasses (Boots, Sainsburys etc) - I need 2.5 dioptre anyway and use 3.5 for the gg screen because it is so close. Those, plus a cheap made-in-China adjustable loupe (again needs to be adjustable 'cos of my ancient eyes) does the trick. I have a better quality loupe but I keep that in the darkroom - I don't mind dropping the cheap one...
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Old 20th February 2010, 08:13 PM
paulc paulc is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Nestled in the foothills of Norfolk.
Posts: 931

I had been using an element from a scrap 35mm lens. Under a dark cloth, it seemed to work OK. But today, acquired a Horseman 6x long loupe for the princely sum of 25. Initial impressions - Very nice to use, and just reaches the GG when I use a popup shade.
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Old 20th February 2010, 09:44 PM
Michael Michael is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Ballinderry Lower, Co. Antrim
Posts: 1,344

Mine's a Schneider 4x, which Speed Graphic sold me (they still stock it). It's as good as any, I should think.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 05:42 PM
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Martin Aislabie Martin Aislabie is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Posts: 2,065

To focus I use a Schneider Asp 6x Loupe - expensive but worth it -

In addition, to aid comfortable viewing of the GG composition, I had the optician make me up a super strong pair of reading glasses, the last time I had my eyes tested. After I had my eyes measured, told him what I wanted, guessed a distance I wanted to view at (about 12 inches) and he slotted lenses in to get me what I wanted - surprisingly easy and only cost about an extra 35.

I also have a Silvestri 10X Loupe for viewing negs on my light box, while it cost less than half that of the Schneider, I really dislike it. With the Schneider I get no colour fringing and having set the focus a long time ago have never needed to reset it. Sadly, nothing of the sort with the Silvestri

There is a reason the Schneider and Rodenstock Loupes are expensive - you get what you pay for.

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