3 a Graflex 3 a  Graflex 3A Graflex 3 A 

3A Graflex Camera


Reflex Camera for 3A Roll film 3 x5 inch or 122 film..

W.F. Folmer 's Patent 31 Aug 1900- February 5 -1907 and April 31 1908.

Mr. William F. Folmer patented some dozen U.S. patents among which: an Electric Insect Exterminator, Egg Cartons, Ignition Torch for cigar shops,  Gas Burner for Billiard Tables, Stereoscopes and Film Holders. He was the father of the Folmer & Swing Graflex Cameras.


The fabulous 3A Graflex in perfect working condition one century after its manufacturing. 

The 3A Graflex was manufactured by Folmer & Swing at that time a Division of the Eastman Kodak Company, from 1907 until 1926 as one of the first cameras equipped with a mirror and a horizontal cloth focal plane shutter. The first series distinguish from the later model only by an offset in the rear of the body under the film track and the lack of the autographic feature. The early camera as shown on the photo above was eliminated in 1912. Its successor as from 1915 equipped with the Autographic Back, enabling the photographer to write date on the negative, was made until 1926. All the advantages of the reflex camera together with the fact  that in those days  the 3A film was regular obtainable, made this camera  very popular with the press and was present on the battlefields of world war I. The 3 x 5   film was also known as 122 film or postcard film size. The construction of the back makes that plate adaptors can not be fitted. The overall condition of this 100 years old camera proves that it is all together a huge, solid and very reliable camera. The focal plane shutter still works perfect after 100 years without any repairing, cleaning or lubrication what so ever. Dimensions: 10 x 5 x 6 inch. Lens board measures 3 x 3 inch. Minimum focus of lens accommodated 6 inch.


The construction of the very rigid camera, which is made from lock jointed mahogany, covered with Persian Morocco leather, created a surplus space on each side of the camera converted into film storage pockets, each carrying two rolls of film. The lower spring loaded roller of the horizontal focal plane shutter was ingeniously placed under the mirror case thus reducing the height of the camera house.

How to open the Camera.

Attention, wait till the camera is in open position before setting the controls.

To open the camera press the hidden knob on top of the lower left side on top of the camera. (Seen from the front side of the camera). The hinged bed door opens automatically. Pull the bed down until the bed braces snap into the full locked position. Swing the front standard lock out straight and pull the front firmly against the infinity stops and lock this position by turning the standard lock to the left. To open the focusing hood press the spring catch forward. The hood unfolds automatically, but you have to lock  the two  braces to hold the hood in open position.  Set the mirror by pressing lever H until it locks. You may now see an image on the ground glass. Now turn the focusing knob on the lefts side of the bed backwards or forwards until the desired object is sharply defined on the screen. For aperture and diaphragm setting see Instantaneous Exposure.

To close the camera, please be sure that you first press the mirror lever H until it locks. Now swing the standard lock straight and push the standard all the way back into the camera body. You may help a bit by pressing the mirror lever H a bit more to allow the standard and bellows to find enough space behind the bed door. Swing the front standard lock to the left to lock the standard. Make sure the sliding track is moved all the way back. Press down the braces and close the hinged bed door. 



The Film No. A-122. 

The wide body included two compartments for storage of two films each.

The back of the camera is hinged and when opened affords easy access to the film compartments. The lower film spool centre in each end is spring actuated and when drawn out and given a slight turn locks open, which greatly facilitates loading and unloading the camera.

The focusing hood opens automatically when the cover of the camera is raised and is shaped to fit the contour of the face of the photographer and thus excluding extraneous light, enabling the operator to focus perfectly.


Lens Bausch & Lomb Zeiss Protar Focus 11 3/16 inch f=6,8. No. 7 series VII a

Instantaneous Exposure

The focal plane shutter gives instantaneous exposures of 1/10 to 1/1000 of a second as well as time exposures of any duration. Not forgetting to mention that the shutter is equipped with a safety device which prevents winding the shutter until the mirror is set. 

The focal plane shutter is the very same as we can find on all the other Graflex cameras of that time. Apart from the O = "open" setting for time exposures, the curtain has 4 different slits. These represents the width of the 4 curtain apertures. The first one is 1 inch, the second of an inch the next 3/8 of an inch and the fastest aperture is 1/8 of an inch. The Graflex Speed table mounted on the viewing hood shows instantly the speeds obtained with the different tensions and the various apertures. 6 spring tensions combined with the 4 openings or slits gives a total of 24 different exposure times. The narrower the opening moves across the film surface, the shorter the exposure.  



The shutter is arranged to give time exposures of any duration. 

To make a time exposure: Set the mirror.  Turn the I-T disk so that the T is opposite the mark on H. Now the mirror is no longer connected to the release. Turn the winding key until "T" is visible in the window. Set tension at least on 4. Now focus to your subject. Set the diaphragm. To take the photo: Raise the mirror by pressing down the release lever on the left  side. Now the mirror pops up. By pressing down the lever M located on top of the upper control panel, the curtain is pulled down and the full opening exposes the film. By pressing down the lever again, the curtain is drawn down, covers the film  and thus ends the exposure time.

Slow Instantaneous exposure.

Automatic exposures of approximately one fifth of a second can be made.  To do this. Set the mirror and set  the curtain at O (open) and the tension at 5. Now by pressing the release knob at the left front side of the camera, the mirror will rise up and start the exposure at the same time allowing the curtain to terminate the exposure. 

The following lenses were available with the 3A Camera:  Zeiss Kodak f 6,3 no. 4 - Bausch & Lomb Zeiss Tessar Series Ic f= 4,5 - Cooke Lens Series II f=4,5. No. 21 1/2. Comparing to the camera, the lenses were very expensive. The price of the camera without lens was $ 75.00 lenses from 101.00 for the Kodak  to 125.00 $ each for the B&L and Cooke  (catalogue 1914) 



Graflex Cameras

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