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Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org with Help in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. Although we make every effort, we cannot promise to answer every HELP! letter.
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Meter Use Info
In the November 2007 issue, William J. Slater inquired about books on the use of a handheld exposure meter. One such reference, The Hand Held Exposure Meter Book, was published in 1998.
Robert S. Solomon
A brand-new book on the subject is Photographer's Exposure Handbook by Jack Neubart, published by Amphoto Books. I just received a copy and it seems quite complete.
Graflite Battery Case
In reference to Bob Tonn's questions about his Graflite battery case on page 198 of your December 2007 issue. The Graflite battery case is for flash bulb use. Even if you had a Stroboflash head there is no way you could use it with this battery case. These battery cases were often used as handles only for Stroboflash heads once electronic flash use became common and flash bulbs went out of use. To use it as designed you need a reflector for the battery case. There were several available, some for the large screw-type bulbs and a smaller head for Press 25 bulbs. The Y cord is also for use with this battery case, solenoid, etc. If you had a Stroboflash head you would need also a Stroboflash battery pack to make it work, and that battery pack in no way resembles this Graflite battery case. Heiland, later Honeywell, made similar photoflash units and their reflectors may work on Graflite battery cases. I had visions of Mr. Tonn attempting to attach an electronic flash head to a battery case and frying himself in the process. Besides, he'd probably ruin a good battery case or Stroboflash head! They can be hard to find because photographers use them, and use them, and use them. They work on the newer Strobomatic 500 units, too, and if you have a Strobe 500 with the AC base they can be and often are used in the studio. With the Strobomatic 500 Graflex came out with a rubber adapter (basically it looks just like a crutch tip) with a screw attached and a plastic tube to create a handle for the flash heads. I more or less duplicated these by using crutch tips to make an adapter I could slip over aluminum tubing I was using to build a light stand. Just slip it over the end of the battery case or better yet screw it to the bottom of the flash head and then slip it over the end of the battery case. I have both but they are in storage and I can't check this out. Graflex and Heiland/Honeywell both made adapters for use on their battery cases as handles for electronic flash. This was added insurance in case the electronic flash failed for any reason. A photographer could quickly switch to using flash bulbs by just inserting the reflector. Even in the late 1960s and early '70s I often carried a carton of flash bulbs and photoflash units as back-up insurance when photographing weddings. Eventually I stopped and carried additional electronic flash units instead.
Nancy A. Black
Mount Vernon, OH
Thanks for sending your comments on proper usage of electronic flash with the 4x5 Super Graphic camera. I remember the crutch tip that was needed to fasten the flash head to the end of a tubular Graflite or Heiland battery case that attached to the mounting posts on the side of the camera body. The bulky and heavy power pack was carried with a shoulder strap and connected to the smaller flash head. The removable handle on the side of the camera normally contained three or four "D" cell batteries to fire the flash bulbs used in the flash gun. The handle was only used to hold the flash head positioned forward. Carrying a spare flash bulb head just in case the electronic flash malfunctioned was always a good idea. Besides, in spite of the weight and size of the portable electronic flash units of that era, small #5 and #25 flash bulbs (smaller than an egg) were more powerful with a higher guide number, thus had greater carrying range for more distant subjects. If you wanted even more powerful light you just used a bigger #22 flash bulb (similar in size to regular 100w Mazda screw-base light bulbs today). The optional adjustable focus reflectors used with both sizes of flash bulbs would concentrate the light to throw it out even farther. A good source for answers to any questions on Graflex equipment is the following comprehensive website: http://graflex.org/speed-graphic/. We appreciate you sharing your comments and will send them to Bob Tonn.
I hope that you don't mind my adding a few comments to HELP! questions/answers in the December 2007 issue: 1. Sarthak Sen's question: One of the problems when using an old flash unit with a digital camera is that the flash trigger voltage may be too high for the camera's circuitry, in which case the camera could be damaged. I found this out when I investigated using my old Vivitar 285 on my new Nikon D300. The answer was to purchase a Wein "Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe Safe Sync (HSHSB)" adapter, which lowers the voltage from the flash to an acceptable level. It works! Cameras from different manufacturers have varying tolerances for the trigger voltage; a voltage problem for a Nikon D-SLR may not be a Canon problem. 2. I believe the "circuit" cameras referred to by David Weinhouse are actually the "cirkut" cameras made in the early 1900s. A good friend of mine, the late David Paskin, was an expert on restoring these cameras, which is why I'm familiar with the subject. Check out the website for the International Association of Panoramic Photographers at www.panphoto.com/cirkut.php for further information.
I checked with OmegaSatter, the firm that distributes the Wein shoe adapter and found the model you mentioned is discontinued, but was replaced by the SSHSHS (Safe Synch Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe) model. This sounds like a practical method of safeguarding expensive newer digital cameras when using older flash units with them. The website for panoramic enthusiasts should help the reader who inquired about cirkut cameras.