View Full Version : Is a Super Graphic a good 1st LF camera?
Martin F. Melhus
I'm looking to get started in LF photography sometime in the next year or so. I've been looking around at used dealers on the net, eBay, Shutterbug, etc. It looks like I should be able to find a Super Speed Graphic in good condition (with the Speed lens) for under $500. Is this a good first field camera? Will I be limiting myself somehow with this choice? Is there anything readily available new or used in this price range that is better? The speed lens would be more of a collectable, and I'd plan on using newer lenses most of the time (or is this stupid?) The rotating back and front shifts seem worthwhile to have, and the metal construction looks nice.
Any input appreciated. Regards,
The Super Speed Graphic (SSG) could be a great LF camera to start off with, howe ver you need to look at the type of LF photography you are interested in. The S SG does not have full movements, especially in the back. These movements are im portant if you are going to be working in the studio, macro close-ups, or shooti ng architectural subjects. However, it is wonderfull to be able to carry a 4x5, 10 holders, a light meter, cloth and 2 lenses in one camera bag! This would be difficult to do with the traditional mono-rail view camera. So if you want to shoot in the field, and occasionaly in the studio, the Super Speed Graphic, or o ne of the many of the other metal field cameras should be a great start.
The Super Speed Graphic is an excellent field camera, not just an excellent star ter field camera. You can build a system around one of these, then buy a new 4x5 body if you find the Speed Graphic does not meet your needs. I regret selling m y Speed Graphic a few years back, and recently purchased a Crown Graphic. In a c ouple of years I may be ready for something better, but until I have three or fo ur lenses and too many holders this camera will accompany me everywhere.
Interesting. I basically asked the identical question over on photo.net forum. I'm following the same approah to getting into LF -- basic setup with a mint Spe ed Graphic (couldn't find a Super) and now beginning to build a nice set of lens es that will be of good quality with a better LF camera later. Will re-ask my q uestion over here and would appreciate your comments. --henryStanley
If I were buying a large format camera and had no experience I would purchase a Calumet or a used low cost Toyo. Next step up would be a used Linhof or Sinar, then the newer stuff. Main reason is the availability of movements. Yes, the g raphic stuff is OK they tend to lack the movements that make a view camera and l arge format so desirable. I know a number of people use the old graphic gear bu t an old Graphic view would be better, in my experience, than the graphic boxes. Burke & James, Kodak and a host of others made 4x5 view cameras on monorails that are very good and still work well. For 2 to 4oo dollars more you can get a Linhof Technica field camera used or a Sinar, both excellent and more precise t han the lower cost gear. That said, anything will work. But getting something with more movements available will keep you using the camera longer before tradi ng in for a newer model or one with more movements.
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