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Santo Roman
4-Nov-2008, 11:09
I have been using my toyo 4x5 view but I want a field 4x5. Have been looking into Crown Graphics since they seem well built and pretty universal if I would need to get parts. Is there a specific crown that I should be looking at? Like most of us, I want the best I can get for the $ but since I will be looking on ebay, which crown graphic is the best out of the lines?

santo

Neal Shields
4-Nov-2008, 11:26
This is a top rangefinder model.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Graflex-Crown-Graphic-4-X-5-Camera-Great-Condition_W0QQitemZ300270065628QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item300270065628&_trkparms=72%3A1234%7C39%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C240%3A1318&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14

Note that the rangefinder extends all the way accross the top of the camera. This is going to be the newest model. Older models have a small view finder on the top and the range finder on the side. Some of the top range finder models have had the batteries go bad in them and that usually takes out the range finder mirrors, so to that extent the older side mounted range finder might be better. The newer cameras have interchangeable cams so you can use different lenses with the range finder but normally you would only use the normal lens with a given camera.

If you look a the back of the camera you will see two silver bars above and below the ground glass about half way accross. These identify the camera as having a grafloc back or "international back". That means that modern roll film backs etc will fit it .

DO NOT BUY A CAMERA THAT DOES NOT HAVE A GRAFLOC BACK.

One of the biggest problems that is found with old crowns is that people try to close the camera with the rails not all the way back. This breaks the rail tracks in the camera body. It doesn't distroy the camera but won't allow you to put very short lenses on the back tracks.

I could type for the next hour. However, this is probably enough to tell you that if you don't fully know what your are doing, you might be better off to avoid Ebay. I suggest you call Midwest photo and buy a camera from them.

Neal

Robert Brummitt
4-Nov-2008, 11:37
OK, I bought a 4x5 Crown Graphic camera with a roll film back. It has a 135/ f4.5 Optar lens that looks pretty clean. Shutter works. I'll have to take it in for a time check and cleaning. I'm going to take the side range finder off since I don't use it. I paid over $150 and another 25 for the roll back.
I think I'll try it once or twice then maybe sell it and try to get that baby graphic camera. Did I do good or should I have waited for that baby Graphic?

Dan Fromm
4-Nov-2008, 13:53
Robert, you didn't do badly.

Why, if you're going to sell the camera, do you plan to remove the RF? All that will do is reduce demand for it when you try to sell it. Seems shortsighted to me.

And why do you want a 2x3 Graphic instead of a 4x5? I know why I shoot 2x3 instead of 4x5; film's less expensive, the cameras are smaller and lighter, and I don't print very large.

Santo Roman
4-Nov-2008, 14:31
Thanks for the info Neal. I have been tracking a few through ebay but my wife has been hovering around me flies on crap. I think she knows what I'm doing. I'll keep looking since I know I want the rangefinder and I want one in decent shape.

santo

Kevin Crisp
4-Nov-2008, 14:45
Personally I'd prefer a model with the Kalart rangefinder on the side. It can be adjusted to different focal lengths without finding a proper cam. A graflok back is a must. A working wire hoop action finder is a must. One that already has bed scales for a second lens (usually a 90mm Angulon) is a plus. I wouldn't strip the camera since there are better and lighter real "field cameras" and I have found the Crown very useful handheld where the rangefinder comes in handy.

I have a number of larger and fancier view cameras but I find myself using the Crown more and more. I replaced the press 135mm lens with a multicoated plasmat and this is a very useful combination of old and new. The Crown is a well made piece of equipment built for a pro. I used to have a Speed, and there is nothing wrong with them, but they are a bit thicker and heavier and I never used the rear curtain.

Bill_1856
4-Nov-2008, 14:51
The Top Rangefinder is definitely the best choice, however each lens takes its own cam to couple with the rangefinder, and getting them is a problem, so it may not be such an advantage as on would think.
I have cameras with both the 135mm Graflex Raptar and Schneider Xenar -- both are optically equal, and there is no reason to choose between then. OTOH, you may pay $50 more for the Xenar since it comes in a Copal shutter which is probably better.
It's a wonderful camera!

Toyon
4-Nov-2008, 15:24
Those rangefinders are usually old and unreliable. Linhof makes a modern rangefinder camera as does Wista. There is also the Razzle and other weirdo hybrids based on the Polaroid rangefinder.

Santo Roman
4-Nov-2008, 15:36
OK, I should know this question since I have been shooting for over 15 years now and I think I have an idea what it is and how it works but...What is a rangefinder and what does it do for the 4x5?

santo

Bill_1856
4-Nov-2008, 17:10
Those rangefinders are usually old and unreliable. Linhof makes a modern rangefinder camera as does Wista. There is also the Razzle and other weirdo hybrids based on the Polaroid rangefinder.

I disagree. My top RF Speed and Crown have both been 100% reliable, only requiring a CLA after 50+ years of use.
My Technika IV, on the other hand, has required 2 new bellows (=$650), and a major CLA, plus repair of the hinge mount on the front bed (which holds the strut), which I understand is a common piece to break on the IV.
In practice, I find that I use my Crown at least 10 times as much as the Technika.

BrianShaw
4-Nov-2008, 17:18
I disagree. My ... have both been 100% reliable...

I wasn't going to say anything, but I find the Graphic rangefinders to be both reliable and accurate... on my Anniversary Graphic and Super Graphic, at least.

I'm quite sure that there are some Graphic rangefinders out there that have had a hard life or inadequate servicing and are unreliable... but that might not be the best situation to generalize from.

Frank Petronio
4-Nov-2008, 17:25
Crown Graphics are great, their rangefinders work nearly as well as the Technikas. I've shot a lot with both. The Crowns do not have a lot of movements but you may not need a lot of movements depending on your photography.

Santo Roman
4-Nov-2008, 21:24
I figure if I really need that much movement, I can bust out my toyo view.

santo

Joseph O'Neil
5-Nov-2008, 05:32
Other than the lack of movements as compared to other cameras, the Crown is a great camera, and I have never sold mine.

I would listen to the warnings of others about condition however. If kept in good shape, a Crown Graphic will likely outlive any of us on this forum, but i have seen many Crown & Speed graphics that from past use (or abuse) have just had the living snot beat out of them. You almost want to see in person or buy from somebody reputable.

joe

Robert Brummitt
5-Nov-2008, 09:48
Robert, you didn't do badly.

Why, if you're going to sell the camera, do you plan to remove the RF? All that will do is reduce demand for it when you try to sell it. Seems shortsighted to me.

And why do you want a 2x3 Graphic instead of a 4x5? I know why I shoot 2x3 instead of 4x5; film's less expensive, the cameras are smaller and lighter, and I don't print very large.

The side RF is bulky and I just don't plan to use it. I haven't decide to sell the camera until I use it a few times out in the field. The lighter baby Graphic was what I was aiming for becasue of the weight. But, when this larger came up I couldn't pass it by either.
Like you, I like roll film for its expense factor. I can get three or four images before ending the roll. I do a lot of color and 4x5 E-6 processing is creaping up words. I plan to scan my chromes for my printinng.
For B&W I'll still use the 4x5 film size. I can process and contact print or again scan.

Santo Roman
5-Nov-2008, 20:49
Well, Since I'm not going to buy anytime soon, I think I will look at a few different lines. Thanks for all the info guys.

santi

Kuzano
6-Nov-2008, 15:00
A bit heavier because of the all metal construction, but:


more and larger movements... front shift and swing if you know how to find the latch to unlock it (hint- silver tab sticking out at bottom of standard)
Revolving back uncommon to previous Graflex cameras and it works quite nicely.
Graflok on every Super Graphic.. no risk of not getting Graflok


In addition, I think the front bed drop is a bit more than previous Graflex models.

Rangefinder cams for various lenses...

If you look at Super Graphics... be sure at least one rangefinder cam comes with it and for what lens.... hard to find these cams, but there are a couple of sites that describe how to make the cams, with measurements.

If you are going to shoot rangefinder and handheld, try to determine that the electronic shutter still works. The 22.5 volt batteries (2) are still available from some sources.

Make sure the battery door is included.... these are often lost.

The Super Graphic was the last and most versatile of the Graphics and the tooling was sold to Toyo and produced as the Toyo Super Graphic for a while. (Or Super Field???)

I've had four of these and they work well. However, don't spend extra money for the Super Speed with the supposed 1000th speed shutter and Rodenstock lens. That particular shutter is often not up to standard and probably never achieved 1/1000th speed. The shutter is quite obvious as it has a big chrome extension forward from the lens that is turned to cock the shutter. The lens was good, but the shutter not so good.

Dan Fromm
6-Nov-2008, 15:25
Kuzano, isn't the Super Graphic harder to use with short lenses than the Pacemakers (Crown, Speed)?

Bill_1856
6-Nov-2008, 17:41
IMO the Super Graphic was a bad idea from the start, and in the end needed at least one generation of development to be less than a PITA to use.
My guess it that it was the product of independent industrial design, not of a photographer, and certainly not of any photographer who had ever used a Speed or Crown Graphic.

Kuzano
6-Nov-2008, 18:07
Kuzano, isn't the Super Graphic harder to use with short lenses than the Pacemakers (Crown, Speed)?

That's entirely possible, but I don't think I ever used a lens shorter than a 120, which worked fine for me. A common complaint on drop bed cameras is seeing the end of the bed in short lenses. The Super front bed drops nicely, and I did not have a problem with 120mm. It might be interesting to see how 90mm works on the bed. Drop the bed and kick in as much front rise as needed, of which there is ample rise.

The bellows material was a bit thicker than earlier Crowns and Pacemakers, as well as the change to the square shape at the back for the revolving back. Both of these conditions may limit rise and fall. For me the revolving back was a plus and I don't shoot very short lenses, using at the low end 127 and up. So vertical movements may be facilitated by the thinner bellows material and rectangular shape at the rear, if that's what you are referring to.

You may want to look at Steve Gandys remarks about short lenses on the Super at the link at the bottom of this post.

Regarding whether the Super was a good idea or not, that's certainly an opinion to be considered. The Super introduced some features (movements often hard to find) to press genre that later turned up in many metal field cameras. I consider it a bit of a crossover camera for metal field use which is what attracts me to the body. Like I said, it's a bit heavy and the execution of some of it's features was a bit cumbersome. OTOH, it's solid and locks down quite well.

And, it must have a following, as complete, nicely kept Supers are still commanding prices as high as near mint crowns and even pacemakers.

Steve Gandy at Cameraquest.com has some very interesting things to say about the Graflex Super Graphic and speaks highly of the camera as a well priced entry camera into the metal field camera arena as a moderately priced option. See his writeup on the Super at:

http://www.cameraquest.com/supergrp.htm

BrianShaw
6-Nov-2008, 18:17
IMO the Super Graphic was a bad idea from the start, and in the end needed at least one generation of development to be less than a PITA to use.
My guess it that it was the product of independent industrial design, not of a photographer, and certainly not of any photographer who had ever used a Speed or Crown Graphic.

I've read this before (you repeat yourself occasionally) :D

I beg to differ, and have no idea why you say this. In my experience with a Super Graphic (25 years now), it has been a real joy to use.

John Kasaian
6-Nov-2008, 21:26
Which Crown Graphic is the OP referring to? There was a beautiful wood flatbed camera called the Crown, ancestor of the Graphic Views, that was prior to the introduction of the press camera Crowns.

http://www.graflex.org/articles/graphic-view/CrownView.html

For a field camera I think these would work just fine.

al olson
7-Nov-2008, 05:11
I concur with you Brian. I bought my first Super Graphic back in '58 and used it for news photography until '63. I loved the camera, but traded it and my bulky strobe in on a Nikon for doing family photography since I was no longer working with the news media.

About 5 or 6 years ago I was delighted to discover a Toyo version of the same camera (Toyo had purchased the rights and the dies from Graflex). Everything is identical to my first camera except that I understand the screws were changed to metric.

Subsequently, I was fortunate to obtain 90 mm and a 10" lenses with cams mounted on Super Graphic boards. I use it often for hand held or monopod photography when I don't want to carry the Linhof around with a tripod. The Super Graphic has ample front movements, but rear movement is limited to rotating the back.

What was it you didn't like about the camera, Bill?

Dan Fromm
7-Nov-2008, 06:04
(in response to a question about using short lenses on a Super Graphic)

That's entirely possible, but I don't think I ever used a lens shorter than a 120, which worked fine for me. A common complaint on drop bed cameras is seeing the end of the bed in short lenses. The Super front bed drops nicely, and I did not have a problem with 120mm. It might be interesting to see how 90mm works on the bed. Drop the bed and kick in as much front rise as needed, of which there is ample rise.

You may want to look at Steve Gandys remarks about short lenses on the Super at the link at the bottom of this post.

You and Mr. Gandy both missed my point. One of the important differences between the Pacemaker Graphics and the Super Graphic is that the Pacemakers' inner and outer bed rails are linked and the Super's are not. This makes focusing a lens that makes infinity with the front standard on the inner rails easy on a Pacemaker and hard on a Super.

I don't think Mr. Gandy knows how those of us who use Graphics use modern lenses with huge rear cells on them. The trick is to unscrew the rear cell from the shutter, mount board/shutter/front cell, and then reattach the rear cell from behind. This is how I use a 58/5.6 Grandagon on my 2x3 Speed Graphic. Not fun, in fact a bit fiddly, but quite feasible.

About movements. My little 2x3 Pacemakers, including a Century Graphic, have minimal rise, at most 10 mm, that can't all be used when the front standard is inside the box; removing the wire frame finder from the front standard gains a little rise inside the box. I suspect this is also the case with the Super. My little Pacemakers have minimal front shift that is usable only with lenses considerably longer than normal because the front standard just fits between the struts that support the bed. Unless it is out in front of them, it can't be shifted.

Cheers,

Dan

Robert Brummitt
7-Nov-2008, 20:50
Damn and double damn. I had my hands on a Baby Speed camera this evening ready to pay $70, for it when I notice the graflok back was broken. It would lock into place. Just kept fallen out. I almost offered $30 for it but thought better.
The lens, bellows and working were in great condition.
Oh well.

al olson
8-Nov-2008, 06:37
Kuzano, you summarized the features of the Super Graphic very well. I think, though, that the bed drop is the standard 15 degrees. The camera body may be a little heavier than the Crown, but it is much lighter than my Technika.

With regard to viewing the bed when using a short lens I can say that I do not have that problem when using the 90mm lens mentioned above. My infinity stops are slightly over 1 1/4" from the inner end of the drop bed rail so there is no contact of the front standard with the internal rail.

I can see where this would become an issue with shorter lenses, where the front standard would have to sit partially on the internal rail. But this is a camera designed for hand held work and a 90mm provides pretty good wide angle capabilities.