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Focusing Problems, or Why aren't my photos sharp?

When I bought my Crown Graphic. The first thing I did was take some test shots. Nothing was properly in focus. Checking out the camera I found that the groundglass and fresnal field lens were in wrong. The ground glass should be to the rear with the ground side towards the lens, the field lens should be on the lens side of the groundgrass with the ridged side of the field lens against the ground side of the glass.

Once that was sorted out the infinity stops could be adjusted. My camera had infinity set with the focusing tracks all the way back. That is improper. Infinity should be set with the tracks extended about 1/8 inch (3 mm) so that the infinity setting will not change with temperature or humidity changes and the rangefinder can be zeroed. Once the stops were set. Then I needed to set the Focus Scale. Guess what? Yep, wrong scale, the one on the camera was for a 152mm lens, the lens on the camera was a 135. I ordered the correct scale from the internet and installed it when it arrived. Just set it so that the pointer and infinity marks coincide when the camera is focused on infinity. Use a distant object as a target.Now the rangefinder. Yep, it had been screwdrivered to death; probably in an effort to make it match the wrong lens to the wrong focus scale with the wrong infinity setting against the misinstalled ground glass. You will note that every possible wrong setting was applied. With all the other things fixed, it was simply a matter of setting the rangefinder to infinity and tweeking the focal length and near settings. There are good instructions for setting the RF at the graflex.org site

A few test shots showed things were now working properly. But the side to side adjustments of the rangefinder images were off. Checking the Kalart Rangefinder manual showed that the screw that was supposed to adjust that was frozen and broken off. Had the camera sent off to an old Graphic Technician to fix that. He did a piss poor job of it. So I decided to leave that until I could get around to replacing the dim mirror.

ADDENDUM (12/26/05)
A couple years back, I obtained a new old stock Kalart Rangefinder mechanism from a seller on eBay. I replaced the old one with the new one and adjusted it to the lens. Works perfectly and the secondary image is bright and clear. Then I obtained a newer lens with working flash sync and had to readust the rangefinder again.