Graphlex Optar 90mm W.A.

I feel I have a curse when it comes to shooting 90mm. Either the lens is not wide enough, the shutters acts up, or other problems abound. Despite having my Schneider Super Angulon 90mm shutter cleaned twice it still sticks at 1/2 and 1 second speeds.

So I purchased a used 90mm  (3.5″) Graplex Optar W.A. f6.8 . I read in several places this lens would cover 4×5 at f16 or smaller aperture. Further reading indicates this lens has about 154mm image circle whereas 4×5 is 153mm if you account for the edges.  My first outing with the new lens worked out ok but I can tell that this lens is soft in the corners and vignettes if the front standard is not perfectly aligned.  This is ok for a central subject and if the photographer likes to burn in the corners anyway.  The lens is tiny and light so a good choice for a backpacking trip. The lens is better suited to 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 or 6×9 cameras.

The Grafex Full Synchromatic shutter is a bit of an oddball too. It has two posts for flash bulbs and 3 different shutter firing mechanisms. The cable release will fire the shutter as expected. If using T or B mode you have a choice of using the tiny cable release, or to fire the shutter with focus/preview release arm and close it with the third. Using the latter method introduces the likelihood of camera shake but may be ok for long exposures. The f-stop spacing at f16, f22, and f32 is so tight I am not sure one could feel confident in using 16 or 22 and could easily be over/under 1/2 stop if bumped. If I keep it, I will make a note to use only at f32.



Reshoot day

9/1/2017 – I took a day off work and was in the mood to go reshoot the tunnel at AT- Byron Reece Trail. It was raining for the past few days due to hurricane Harvey in Texas. I also had a new-to-me 90mm to try out. When I arrived it was pouring rain. I waited about 30 minutes and the rain stopped but the sky was still cloudy and overcast which is fairly good for that location due to density of the canopy. The 90mm shutter is a bit quirky in that to use time I have to activate one shutter release and close it using another. I can not reliably hold the shutter open with the cable release. This was fine for the 6 second exposure but may be more problematic for 2-3 seconds. This was my 4th visit to this location so hopefully have learned from my prior attempts.

I also stopped at Boggs creek at 129/19 2 miles past Turners corner to reshoot the image I had tried before but ended up with too much fog. The air was clear and the sun was in and out of clouds. I chose to stop down a tad more than f22 and expose for 1 second vs .7 as indicated by my average meter reading.

I took two of each of these shots and will process individually. A good day despite the few number of targets.

The AT BHR creek negative was under exposed by at least one and a third stops. my first attempt to develop it was very thin, so I was able to adjust the development to add density. The low SBR allowed me to expand the mid tones while keeping the whites of the water within range. The negative still looks thin to me but scanned surprisingly well.  Here is the scanned image with a little manipulation of tone in Lightroom.

Tech info: FP4@ EI 100, f22-, 6 seconds,  Pyrcat HD 32mins minimal agitation.