I think that more than a few Graflex XL owners have had the idea of mounting 'superior'
modern lenses in the mounting barrels that currently house their original XL lenses.
Although I have found the lenses Graflex marketed for the XL to be some of the best I've
used, the remounting idea is interesting. Among the candidates for such a remount among
my newer lenses is a 100mm f5.6 Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-N
. Hmm...

The lens barrels for the XL's 100mm Planar or 100mm Tessar lenses are the obvious
choices for remounting the 100mm Apo-Sironar. These barrels are different lengths, so I
hoped one of them would be close to the proper length
for the Apo-Sironar.

XL lens mounting barrels consist of a tube with what is in effect a round metal lens board
screwed into one end. The
se lens boards, of course, have different sized holes,
depending on the shutter to be mounted. As it turns out the hole for the 100mm Planar's
#1 shutter is too big to mount the Copal 0 of the 100mm Apo-Sironar.
Fortunately, the round lens boards can be unscrewed and replaced with those for other XL
lenses. The lens boards are held in place by a setscrew, which can be very difficult, if not
impossible, to unscrew. I couldn't get the lens board off the 100mm Tessar barrel, but I did
have a barrel from an 80mm Heligon and the board from that one was able to be
unscrewed (the setscrew was not stuck). So, I had 2 candidate lens barrels, and a lens
board that would accept the 100mm Apo-Sironar.

I mounted the Apo-Sironar on the board and then attached it in turn to both barrels. I was
pleased to find that the Planar's barrel seemed to be almost the perfect length. Focusing
the 100mm Apo-Sironar in the Planar barrel, the XL's rangefinder was nearly spot on. A
very slight additional turn of the focus ring was required to bring it to sharpest focus, as
determined by using the XL's ground glass back and checking focus with a loupe. As this
additional turn resulting in a slightly longer extension of the lens barrel, I figured some type
of shims could be rigged to get the lens into the proper position. I cut some rings from a
blank sheet of 5x7 film (an unexposed sheet that I had accidentally developed with a bunch
of exposed sheets). I don't really know whether this is an appropriate material for the job; it
might not be dimensionally stable, etc. I tried 1, 2, and then 3 shims, and that seemed to
be the magic number. With 3 shims between the lens and lens board focus seemed to
sync perfectly with the rangefinder (again, verified using a loupe on the ground glass).

So, I set the lens up with the cable release connector in the proper position and it's now
good to go. (Note: This puts the lens' control levers beneath the lens, from the operator's
viewpoint, but there are shutter speed/aperture scales on both the sides of the shutter, so
it's no problem.)

I took a roll of film strolling around my neighborhood here in Kyoto and have posted a few
sample photos. Using this outfit was great: the rangefinder is accurate, the shutter is
incredibly smooth and the photos look really sharp and pleasing. I don't think the results
can really come through in the low res scans I posted (my scanner
is pretty much crap), but
I'm very pleased with the Apo-Sironar on my XL and it will be getting a lot more use.
Remounting a Newer Lens into a Graflex XL Lens Barrel
Lens board setscrew - often difficult to remove
100mm f5.6 Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-N
Barrels from 100mm XL lenses
Lens board unscrewed from barrel
Apo-Sironar mounted in Graflex XL lens board
Lens board with remounted lens screwed into 100mm
Planar lens barrel
Homemade shims
Lens mounted on camera, but cable release
connector is not properly positioned for
left-handed grip.
Lens repositioned in lens board to make things easier...
Controls are underneath when looking down from the
photographer's viewpoint, but they are convenient to
use and and aperture/shutter speed scales are easy to
Shims in place on lens
Ready to take some photos...
Graflex XL
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