View Full Version : Is this a good deal on a Bush Pressman Model D
Someone on craigslist is selling the following camera with lens and 3 film holders. The price is $185.00. The seller claims the camera works fine and is fully functional.
4X5 BUSH PRESSMAN MODEL 'D' W/ WOLLENSAK 135MM LENS F/4.
I am new to large format and want to do mostly architecture and landscape photography. The large format system I would ultimately like to end up with is a really wide angle lens somewhere around 70mm. I know I won't be able to get a 70mm lens on this camera but, that's ok.
I will be taking a large format photography class a local college here next semester. I think this camera could be a really good starter camera since the price is about right. I would not have to buy a new tripod to use this camera and the initial investment of a few hundred dollars is a lot less then the 1,500 or so I was budgeting to spend on a LF camera with some lens and a good tripod.
I am not sure what camera the college will have available for us to use but, it's likely it would offer more movements then this camera.
Would this camera at this price be a good beginner LF camera for me to get my feet wet for the next year before I dedicate some real investment into a nicer system?
I also have read that it is possible to get some 90mm lens to work with this camera. Can anyone verify this for me?
If the camera is in good condition, especially the bellows, that is a good price. Be prepared to spend some money on a shutter service. It may not need it but just because it fires at all speeds does not mean it's accurate. The Pressman Model D does have rudimentary movements and would be an excellent choice for starting out. You should have no trouble mounting a 90mm Angulon or similar. The newer Super Angulon has a rear element group that protrudes farther back into the camera. I'm not sure how this would affect anything, if at all. Check it out. If it sounds good, go for it and spend your money on film. :D
Honestly, that seems a little high to me and also a bit limiting for your purposes. I've owned a couple of Busch Pressman cameras over the years and I am fond of them, but they are not adequate for architectural photography. A Busch will do fine for landscape work.
The Busch is a well built camera with a metal body and a bit greater available front movements than many other press cameras. It also has the convenience of a rotating back. BUT, it is still a press camera, not a view camera. It will be suitable as a field camera for lanscape photography, but no press camera will be truly suitable as an architectural camera; simply put, its movements, front and rear, are simply not enough to do the job in many cases.
In the same price range you should be able to find one of the more inexpensive view cameras such as an older Calumet (Orbit) or a Graphic View II. Of those, I'd tend toward the Graphic for its Grafloc back which makes the use of many back accessories such as roll film backs more simple. These are monorail cameras, and many folks will tell you that you can't use this type of view camera outside of the studio. This is completely untrue...those of us who do architectural photography use them on site every day! Architectural sites tend to be easily accessable with a car or truck and, thus, easily accessable with a view camera and all of its related junk.
The situation becomes reversed when doing landscape photography in remote areas...then you will wish for a smaller package than a rail camera! Thats one of the reasons that I own both a monorail Cambo (also a reasonably price camera, especially used) and a Graphic Super; the Super tends to go to more remote locations if I'm not anticipating shooting any buildings there. But, at the same time, I've carried that Cambo a long ways from the car many times by simply puting it on the tripod and hiking with it over one sholder...not as convenient as a field camera in a backpack, but still doable.
Either system will be a trade-off if you only own one 4x5 camera, but I'd opt for the one that will do it all well if architecture will be part of the job: a good monorail.
Yes, it is a good price. Make sure the rangefinder is working. If you don't like it you can sell it to me.
I, too, think the price is a little high. But of more importance, they're great for landscape but aren't really suitable for architectural work.
This may be restrictive if you try to get fancy or very contemporary with lenses. The camera is a freaking TANK. It weighs a bit over seven pounds. I've had a couple, and one was a parts body. I drilled all four sides and hogged a bunch of metal off the front standards and got it down to 3.5 pounds WITHOUT losing any rigidity. In fact, someone on eBay gave me $250 for the camera without a lens (I did do the lightening quite nicely). 3 bidders had a p___ssing match over it at the end of the auction. Modified cameras seem to have a perverse following on eBay. That's the third camera I've made good money on after modifying it.
To answer your question, the price sounds about right for what nice ones sell for. As far as value goes, it's in the selling/buying price range.
As far as is it a good price for a user camera.... I don't think much of it as a user camera, so my answer is no.
As far as using a 90mm... I seem to remember a rather stiff bellows, even good, and I would think movements (what there are) would be minimal. Remember that 90mm or 9cm puts the front standard within just a bit over 3 inches from the ground glass or out of the body about 1.5 to 1.75 inches. The Press has a fairly deep body, and the revolving back puts the GG out the back about 1/2 inch.
Thanks for all the great responses everyone. I went ahead and decided to purchase the camera after reading the responses. I plan on doing about 70% landscape and 30% architecture right now. The man I bought it from also gave me 5 film holders instead of 3 like the ad mentioned so I was a little happier spending the money when you guys told me it was a little over priced.
The camera seemed to be in excellent condition considering the age. The only problem is the leather strap looks worn but functions just fine and the ground glass hood fabric has become disconnected from the hood in a few places which is understandable given it's age.
The shutter seemed to operate correctly at all settings but, I will not know for sure until I test the camera. The original owner did not use this camera very much so it has sit for sometime without use.
Kuzano: I did notice this camera is built like a tank. I would like to lighten the camera if possible while maintaining the rigidity. I was thinking of removing the synchronized ranger finder since I will probably never use this. Is it possible to remove this with out affect the mechanics of the camera? I will be using the ground glass every time I take a picture with this camera so the ranger finder will be of little use to me.
Can you be more specific on how you did your modifications? Did you just drill holes to remove metal?
[QUOTE=Murtasma;429692] The only problem is the leather strap looks worn but functions just fine and the ground glass hood fabric has become disconnected from the hood in a few places which is understandable given it's age.
I would like to lighten the camera if possible while maintaining the rigidity. I was thinking of removing the synchronized ranger finder since I will probably never use this. Is it possible to remove this with out affect the mechanics of the camera? I will be using the ground glass every time I take a picture with this camera so the ranger finder will be of little use to me.
1) worn leather strap is normal -- just be sure that it isn't ready to split and fall apart while you're carrying the camera. Easily replaced by most shoe/leather repair shops.
2) fabric on the GG hood is actually in the way, and you're better off by removing it completely.
3) weight of the unit without lens is just under 5#. You're not going to save enough to warrent buggering it. But if you insist, there is no problem removing and discarding the rangefinder as it isn't involved in other uses of the camera.
4) Congratulations! I generally find my Pressman D more useful in the field than my Linhof Technika or Super Graphic.
Yea I'm really starting to think of just buying a cloth to go over my head and camera and I can carry around with me and just rip the remaining fabric off the hood.
I found a manual online for this camera now. I'm trying to figure out how to rotate the back. I've figured everything else out but this seems to be a problem. I need about 12 hands to get this thing to rotate. Maybe I need some leverage here.
:: runs out and gets a crowbar::
Edit: I finally got that bugger loosened. Now it rotates perfectly. Sweet; The guy I bought it from didn't seem to know very much about the camera. I asked him how to use the Rise and Tilt but he claimed it didn't have any. I knew better then that. I figured it out when I got it home. No wonder why it's so smooth the guy never moved anything on this thing. :)
The worn strap is easily remedied: take it off and throw it in a drawer at home. If working with the ground glass for focusing you won't need the strap...the camera will be mounted on a tripod. A focusing cloth will be a needed addition. Removal of the rangefinder will only save ounces...I don't think I'd bother unless you are planning to skelletonize the camera like Kuzano did. Have fun with it! :)
[QUOTE=Kuzano;429452]This may be restrictive if you try to get fancy or very contemporary with lenses. The camera is a freaking TANK. It weighs a bit over seven pounds. I've had a couple, and one was a parts body. I drilled all four sides and hogged a bunch of metal off the front standards and got it down to 3.5 pounds WITHOUT losing any rigidity. In fact, someone on eBay gave me $250 for the camera without a lens (I did do the lightening quite nicely). 3 bidders had a p___ssing match over it at the end of the auction. Modified cameras seem to have a perverse following on eBay. That's the third camera I've made good money on after modifying it.
Greetings to all -- this is my first post (I'll have some bio. information listed as soon as I can get to it). My question, Kuzano, taking all of the above on face value, involves a Bush Pressman Model D currently being offered for sale. I'm kind of intrigued by this one on account of condition, which looks to be very, very clean (lightly used)... maybe, as the seller claims, it's "all ready to go take pictures". The price may be on the high side; but there's no indication an offer might not fly... So I'd like to know about the weight-shaving modification: First and foremost, would this be a project you'd care to engage in for me (assuming we're not talking about something too involved, something practical -- or am I just off-base?)... given that I'd allow you lots of time to get to it and finish, to make the project attractive for you? Here, or by email, I'd like an indication of cost for the mod, of course. My interest at present would be as a reliable, unfussy intro 4x5 for landscape and "travel" scenics, that sort of thing. Finally, how might you describe the expected result: to put it euphemistically, "utilitarian"... or fully "craftsman-like" (even beautiful?)? Thanks for your advice. Be kind if I'm in dreamland here!
Ivan J. Eberle
It isn't as though there's a lack of supply in used large format cameras with more extensive movements going for relatively cheap these days. Just saw a couple of Meridians go for <$160 last week. Meridians not only accept and fold closed with big modern plasmats (Busch Pressmans won't), but the Model 45B also focuses wide angles just fine. Meridians also have synthetic bellows, a rotating spring back, and back-post moves similar to a Technika or Deardorff Triamapro. Graflex Super Graphics are pretty decent without the back moves, and much more readily available than either the Busch or the Meridian. In fair-to-middling user condition SG are quite reasonable now, maybe as little as $200 or $250.
Sure, I could find a way to make good images with a Busch Pressman D if someone died and left one to me, if I had nothing else available. But beyond the ViewFocus finder (rather kind of neat, so I hear) there seems to be little else noteworthy enough to bother extensively modifying one merely to get your feet wet in LF. Keeping it simple: save your pennies and buy something decent up front, something you can use with a wider range of modern lenses. If you're actually going to get out and learn to use a LF camera, your bigger expense by a large margin is likely to be film and processing anyway.
Congrats on your new camera! It will be a lot of fun to mess around with, and even take some good images along the way! Hopefully the school will have a variety of 4x5 cameras for you to use -- but it is always good knowing one has one on hand!
We have a odd-ball collection of 4x5's we check out to students. Four Calumet/Cambo rail cameras, a Graphic View II, Sinar 4x5/5x7, A couple Horseman Woodman, a Shen-Hao, a Toyo CF, and a Speed Graphic. The last two do not have a lot of movements. Most have either an 150mm or 180mm lens, but I have a small collection of lenses. The Tachahara 4x5 could not take the student (ab)use and is now a parts camera...and I need to grind down a part from it to get one of the Horseman Woodman 4x5's back into service.
It is nice having the variety, one can try them all out...it is fun to see how the students seem to gravitate towards certain types. Then it is just a matter of getting use to the tool and having fun with it!
Start looking for lens boards on the auction site, they are sometimes hard to find.
Did you guys happen to notice that this thread is from 2009?
Maybe the camera is being delivered USPS and so all this will be timely.
Ivan J. Eberle
Fred J. posted earlier today, to which I responded.
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