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View Full Version : Why Aren't There More 4x5 Reflex Cameras?



spacegoose
2-Mar-2010, 15:33
Shooting 4x5 portraits I can't help but wonder what it must be like not to lose sight of the subject after the film is in place ... I've read (perhaps here) that some value this uncertainty, or just don't liking being able to continually focus.

Has anyone used 4x5 in Super D, Gowlandflex, ART-FLEX, or Arca Swiss Reflex? Any opinions on SLR vs TLR? Does the Super D's mirror function automatically, or does it need to be engaged and disengaged manually - (if so, is this still better then having no continuous focusing ability)?

Dan Fromm
2-Mar-2010, 15:41
Press a Graflex' trigger and the mirror will rise and the shutter will go, in that order. Big thud followed by mighty klunk. The mirror has to be lowered -- put back in the viewing position -- manually. There is also a provision to release the shutter manually after the mirror is up; not what you want but may be essential for the Baby Bertha I'm tinkering with. I made the Bertha to use long lenses; they punish unsteadiness, including vibration, severely.

Don't rule out a Mentor Reflex, but note that although I'm aware of them I've never seen one in the, um, flesh. After Graflexes, Mentors are probably the most common relatively modern 4x5 SLRs; look for them on eBay.de. Arca Reflexes are much less common. There are also a fair number of UK-made 4x5 SLRs, most quite ancient and much less well-supported than Graflexes or Mentors.

Vaughn
2-Mar-2010, 16:03
And somewhere out there is a 100-sheet 4x5 film magazine. :)

PS -- motor driven, also!

Mark Sampson
2-Mar-2010, 16:08
The Graflex SLR was a standard professional camera for decades. Steiglitz, Strand, Weston, Bourke-White, Lange, all used them from about 1903 onwards. But he fashion changed after say 1950; portrait shooters went to the Rollei and the Hasselblad, which could use electronic flash, and to the Mamiya RB67- which is essentially a modern roll-film Graflex. Graflex made the Super D until the 1960s; perhaps they made them too well, since there are so many still giving good service 75+ years later.

John O'Connell
2-Mar-2010, 19:22
I've looked at/played with a late model Gowlandflex and a Super D.

The Gowlandflex is pretty huge, and is a very tall camera. The one I saw had a 240mm lens setup, and it didn't exactly look interchangeable. It seemed like a good camera for full-length portraits, but you'd need a stepladder close to a subject to avoid the up-the-nostrils TLR perspective problem, I think.

The Graflex is a different kettle of fish. I've never seen one in good shape, so I'm reluctant to judge the breed based on my experience. I do think one would be a lot of fun with a bag mag, tho.

Bill_1856
2-Mar-2010, 19:42
The 4x5 Graflex is large, heavy, ungainly, slow, noisy, shaky, and a PITA to compose and focus for anyone wearing glasses.

spacegoose
2-Mar-2010, 21:44
Press a Graflex' trigger and the mirror will rise and the shutter will go, in that order. Big thud followed by mighty klunk. The mirror has to be lowered -- put back in the viewing position -- manually. There is also a provision to release the shutter manually after the mirror is up; not what you want but may be essential for the Baby Bertha I'm tinkering with. I made the Bertha to use long lenses; they punish unsteadiness, including vibration, severely.

Don't rule out a Mentor Reflex, ...


Thanks for the info, never had heard of these.

Peter K
2-Mar-2010, 23:42
Has anyone used 4x5 in Super D, Gowlandflex, ART-FLEX, or Arca Swiss Reflex? Any opinions on SLR vs TLR?
In the late Sixties I've used the "Technika-Flex", a TLR top piece for the Technika V. With exchangeable viewer lenses 150mm and 270mm. This camera could alse used handheld if one has arms like Popeye.

Here (http://glennview.com/sinarTLR.htm) is another TLR-LF camera aviable.

Peter

Emmanuel BIGLER
3-Mar-2010, 01:43
Has anyone used 4x5 in Super D, Gowlandflex, ART-FLEX, or Arca Swiss Reflex?

I have an Arca Swiss (Oschwald) reflex 6x9 camera.
This camera was probably used by a portraitist, it was fitted with an old dagor lens (I think it is a 210, to be checked) and a very unusual RADA 6x6 (not 6x9) rollfilm back for 120 rolls.
The model I have is on a monorail and is supported by conventional A/S (Oschwald, silver-finish) function carriers & format frames. In principle all movements allowed to the monorail are allowed to the reflex camera.
However very few movements are actually useable except if a focal length longer than 210 mm is in use.
The Oschwald Bros. eventually introduced a simplified version of this 6x9 reflex camera with a bellows supported by a simplified rail sytem, with fewer movements, probably to save weight, complexity and cost, for protraitists ???

The reasons why there are few "modern" (i.e. post-WW-II) large format SLRs are probably that they are not able to provide sufficient clearing distance in front of the mirror to accommodate non-retrofocus wide-angle lenses.
Retrofocus wide-angle lenses were a true challenge for the lens designer up to the 1950's, so there was probably no market incentive to design retrofocus lenses for the large format, even covering 6x9cm-2x3" only.
Hence large format SLRs are good for portraits and narrow angles of field... but in this class of applications, after world war II, they were put into a direct competition with 6x6 camera of all kinds, rangefinders, TLRs like the Rollei (although the tele-twin-rollei / Sonnar-135 was introduced only at the end of the fifties, as an aswer to the Mamiya, but as of 1960, the 6x6 TLR had already lost the battle against 35mm cameras...) ... and large format SLRs simply were not in demand by "modern" professionals who hav to use the lates "modern" equipment ;)
Strange enough to see that the Oschwald Brothers introduced this kind of LF reflex cameras when the commercial battle was almost lost, in the 1960's, hence the very few number actually manufactured.

I'll be too happy to answer all technical questions you would have about the Arca Swiss (Oschwald) 6x9 reflex camera, a rare camera, indeed, since even the Internet does not seem to show any image of this smaller 2x3" sister of the A/S 4x5" reflex camera !
(hence I have to make a decent picture of it to share with friends !)

Sevo
3-Mar-2010, 02:23
Plaubel made the Pecoflex, which was fairly similar to the Arca 6x9 reflex in being a reflex with monorail front - no 4x5" though, and the Pecoflex did not sell much either.

Essentially, the LF SLR was doomed after WWII for multiple reasons. High weight and size, no lenses, and no more makers left - the British camera industry never found a way back to civilian production, the German LF makers ended up on the wrong side of the iron fence, and Graflex were merely continuing production of ancient designs - where development was concerned, they had put their money on the Graphic by the thirties, and were already moving on towards smaller formats.

The lack of a variety of lens types obviously put them further back in competition with 6x6 and 6x7 reflex cameras - LF SLRs were designed around portrait length Tessar types, and many could not even hold a short normal (4x5" usually bottom out in the 145-180mm range, most shorter lenses don't clear the mirror). There were neither other (retrofocus or tele) lenses designed for that type of body, nor bodies developed that could make use of the wide coverage of modern view camera lenses. And where late SLRs had movements, they were restricted to a very modest tilt (on Mentor and Bentzin cameras). Even on SLR monorails like the Arca or Pecoflex, the mirror box was in the way of most movements that reached beyond the capabilities of a Tessar.

cjbroadbent
3-Mar-2010, 06:43
As a young amateur I used a very large and heavy 4x5 German Reflex equipped with an extension bar and a 360mm portrait lens - I still have it. The idea was to keep focus and framing to the last second but it proved to be impractical because it required shooting wide open to see anything at all. The 'sshlunk' of the mirror and focal plane shutter was a notable feature and jarred the camera.
As an inexperienced pro I then made the mistake of buying a Plaubel Makiflex (it shot a square 4x4 on 4x5 film). The camera is in fact the neatest and probably the latest big reflex ever made (I looked at them all) and a great joy to own, but I soon found it impractical and it never earned what I paid for it. Impractical, because losing visual contact with the subject when the mirror went up and then having to change the film-holder and re-cock the camera did not help in directing the subject. Another awkward feature was the double cable release.
As a moderately experienced pro I found considerable happiness with the 4x5 twin-lens reflex Cambo and Grafmatic holders. It paid for itself a hundred-fold doing fashion catalogue work and portraits.
But that is like comparing the original Hasselblad 1000 with the Rolleiflex. Everybody used used two Rolleis (one was being reloaded by an assistant) rather than the Hassy for portraits because the Hassy's mirror had to be re-cocked.
Later, I had accrued experience and enough money for flash power to shoot a plain folding 4x5 with a press shutter at f32 (albeit with the subject's feet nailed to the floor), focus and framing was no longer a big deal and I never lost eye contact with the subject again.

IanG
3-Mar-2010, 06:53
If you look through pre-WWII British Journal Photographic Almanacs you'd find many 5x4 Reflex cameras and the continental 9x12 equivalents, and from a very wide variety of companies.

The advent of roll film SLR's in the 1930's along with the switch to using Rolleiflex and 35mm camera's like the Leica and later the Contax killed them off in Europe as press camera's which was their main use.

Ian

W K Longcor
3-Mar-2010, 07:51
The Gowlandflex is pretty huge, and is a very tall camera. The one I saw had a 240mm lens setup, and it didn't exactly look interchangeable. It seemed like a good camera for full-length portraits, but you'd need a stepladder close to a subject to avoid the up-the-nostrils TLR perspective problem, I think..

A studio I wrked in had an early Gowland TLR 4x5. It had a mirrored viewing box on top which allowed the focus screen to be viewed from the rear, rather than from above.

Keep in mind that a ("old time") formal portrait photographer would compose and focus at the start -- then work with the subject - watching composition from along-side the camera. Only if you really moved the sitter around a lot, did you re-compose / refocus. It made the sitter feel more at ease -- you were paying attention to them rather than peeking down into a dark box!

Jim Rice
3-Mar-2010, 08:05
Would anyone happen to know if Ron Wisner ever acually produced his 4x5 SLR?

Sevo
3-Mar-2010, 08:10
As an inexperienced pro I then made the mistake of buying a Plaubel Makiflex (it shot a square 4x4 on 4x5 film). The camera is in fact the neatest and probably the latest big reflex ever made (I looked at them all)

Not quite the last. Plaubel followed up with the Pecoflex (same camera base, but with monorail instead of rack-and-pinion bellows) a year or two later (the Pecoflex may have been discontinued earlier than the Makiflex). And Arca built their reflexes up into the 1980's. The Gowlandflex TLR positively is the last so far, and may perhaps still be purchased from Gowland (though it is hard to tell from that largely unmaintained web site whether it really is in stock not).

Sevo

Bosaiya
3-Mar-2010, 15:26
Has anyone used 4x5 in Super D, Gowlandflex, ART-FLEX, or Arca Swiss Reflex? Any opinions on SLR vs TLR? Does the Super D's mirror function automatically, or does it need to be engaged and disengaged manually - (if so, is this still better then having no continuous focusing ability)?

I do most of my shooting with Graflex RBs (4x5 and 3x4) these days. The biggest disadvantage is their size and weight. Other than that I love them.

Sideshow Bob
3-Mar-2010, 15:40
I have a reflex viewer on my Ebony. Helps me with composition.

Gale

Gordon Flodders
4-Mar-2010, 00:40
Shooting 4x5 portraits I can't help but wonder what it must be like not to lose sight of the subject after the film is in place ...

Simple answer is to use a rangefinder!

GF.

Discoman
4-Mar-2010, 10:20
And somewhere out there is a 100-sheet 4x5 film magazine. :)

PS -- motor driven, also!

I heard about that one too!
can't find it anywhere-no mention of it.
RRRGH!!!
have you heard of the vacuum 4x5 back?
it was rumored to be a linhof product.

John Schneider
4-Mar-2010, 10:26
Bob Salomon may chip in with the definitive answer, but vacuum backs are/were common for aerial cameras, so no doubt Linhof made one for their Aerotechnika.

Peter K
4-Mar-2010, 11:09
have you heard of the vacuum 4x5 back?
it was rumored to be a linhof product.
This backs for the Aero Technika 45, one with manual film-transport the other with motorized transport, are for RF 5" x 50'. But the backs can used with a Master Technika 4x5" too.

Peter

Dan Fromm
4-Mar-2010, 11:21
Um, if you want to go up to 5x7, it seems that AP had some 5x7 Graflex-based Big Berthas to which they attached K-25 aerial camera magazines to make a 5x7 long lens SLR with motor drive. Read about 'em here: http://books.google.com/books?id=SiEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=RA3-PA213&lpg=RA3-PA213&dq=graflex+%22big+bertha%22&source=bl&ots=_VcMhKgMjf&sig=N2OK-7ZgsY-6QKRmttDCfDqa0tU&hl=en&ei=9brNSpLIGMfR8Aa4yID5Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=37#v=onepage&q=graflex%20%22big%20bertha%22&f=false

gandolfi
4-Mar-2010, 13:54
As an inexperienced pro I then made the mistake of buying a Plaubel Makiflex (it shot a square 4x4 on 4x5 film). The camera is in fact the neatest and probably the latest big reflex ever made (I looked at them all) and a great joy to own, but I soon found it impractical and it never earned what I paid for it. Impractical, because losing visual contact with the subject when the mirror went up and then having to change the film-holder and re-cock the camera did not help in directing the subject. Another awkward feature was the double cable release.
.

I have this camera, and I love it - mainly for the nice square 9x9cm negatives (with round corners!!)...
A little slow to work with, but in my experience, worth it..

(gotta love those rounded corners....)

Sevo
4-Mar-2010, 15:23
I have this camera, and I love it - mainly for the nice square 9x9cm negatives (with round corners!!)...
A little slow to work with, but in my experience, worth it..


I own one as well - but have no 9x9cm back for it, only 6x9 spring load and Millionfalz. What is the Plaubel catalogue number of your back?

Sevo

gandolfi
4-Mar-2010, 15:42
I own one as well - but have no 9x9cm back for it, only 6x9 spring load and Millionfalz. What is the Plaubel catalogue number of your back?

Sevo

don't know about the serial number (gotta dig tha camera up first..) but in order to make those 9x9cm negs, you have to fit an adapter to use for 4x5 cassettes (and pol magazine..)

when using the 4x5 cassette, you will then get the square negativ.

Sevo
4-Mar-2010, 16:28
don't know about the serial number (gotta dig tha camera up first..) but in order to make those 9x9cm negs, you have to fit an adapter to use for 4x5 cassettes (and pol magazine..)


A regular adapter, or a Peco back? I always thought it must be one of the latter, as anything that goes on top would shift the image plane. So far I haven't been able to figure out which - Plaubel accessory lists sported what must have been the most telegraphic prose in the industry, and barely ever specified anything to more detail than "xxx/yyy Rückteil".

Sevo

gandolfi
5-Mar-2010, 04:02
A regular adapter, or a Peco back? I always thought it must be one of the latter, as anything that goes on top would shift the image plane. So far I haven't been able to figure out which - Plaubel accessory lists sported what must have been the most telegraphic prose in the industry, and barely ever specified anything to more detail than "xxx/yyy Rückteil".

Sevo

I don't know what adapter it is, but here are some quick scans of the lot.
The numbers on the back og the camera are (there are two)
on top: 102SM
on bottom: MX 2/01

Sevo
5-Mar-2010, 12:43
Ah, that makes it MX 1/539 - a back, just like the slide-in and spring load backs. Well, none have ever registered as a sale anywhere on the net, so chances for finding one that is not already attached to a Makiflex may be very slim.

gandolfi
6-Mar-2010, 04:09
Ah, that makes it MX 1/539 - a back, just like the slide-in and spring load backs. Well, none have ever registered as a sale anywhere on the net, so chances for finding one that is not already attached to a Makiflex may be very slim.

wow - I should hold on to it then....:)

gandolfi
15-Mar-2010, 06:19
Ah, that makes it MX 1/539 - a back, just like the slide-in and spring load backs. Well, none have ever registered as a sale anywhere on the net, so chances for finding one that is not already attached to a Makiflex may be very slim.

you're proberly right, but look at this link.

If you look carefully at the image, it looks like there is an adapter with the set on sale..

Buy the lot, and sell the other stuff......:)

http://cgi.ebay.com/Makiflex-10985903-2-lens_W0QQitemZ160411880856QQcmdZViewItemQQptZFilm_Cameras?hash=item25594b0d98

jnanian
15-Mar-2010, 06:27
i do most of my shooting with a rb d these days, or a magazine box camera ..
size and weight are not an issue for me but i gotta get some elevator shoes or
a ladder for shooting portraits, unless you are "tall" ...

Sevo
15-Mar-2010, 06:53
you're proberly right, but look at this link.

If you look carefully at the image, it looks like there is an adapter with the set on sale..

Buy the lot, and sell the other stuff......:)

http://cgi.ebay.com/Makiflex-10985903-2-lens_W0QQitemZ160411880856QQcmdZViewItemQQptZFilm_Cameras?hash=item25594b0d98

I've seen it. But that is way too expensive for such a visibly wasted camera. In the worst case, it may have been maintained by the same person that used an axe to mount that Tele-Arton...

Sevo

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
15-Mar-2010, 07:58
I heard about that one too!
can't find it anywhere-no mention of it.
RRRGH!!!
have you heard of the vacuum 4x5 back?
it was rumored to be a linhof product.

No rumour, it was, as was the 45 Linhof vacuum roll back for the Aero Technika and the Technika IV and later models. But while the vacuum roll back worked very well the Sheet film vacuum holders did not. The most popular of the vacuum sheet film backs were probably the Hoffman ones which were made on Long Island.

fkp-1
3-May-2010, 22:22
I just purchased a Graflex RB Super D 4x5 in great condition, and I'm wondering if someone could tell me what my options are for film backs. The model I purchased has an old Graflex Pack Film holder. I've been told that there is a way to adapt standard Graflok-style backs to these cameras so Lisco or Riteway 4x5 sheet film holders (and Polaroid-type holders) can be used.

I'd be interested in getting any info on someone who does this type of modification, as well as general repair service, for the Super D. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

-Fran

Joanna Carter
3-May-2010, 23:56
I was just about to dismiss this thread, because I have never found things like reflex viewers to be of any use, as they take my eye further away from the screen.

But, then I realised that a reflex LF camera will suffer from the same problem that I have with my Mamiya RZ67 - mirror slap! If, like spacegoose, people are worried about not being able to focus continually, then how are they going to cope with the vibrations that are going to follow the movement of the mirror? There would also be sufficient time between the mirror starting to move and the shutter firing for the subject to twitch and throw the shot out of focus.

Surely, the better strategy would be to create a wider depth of field, and to observe how your subject tends to move before inserting the film back.

I took this shot of a boat, that was drifting from right to left and back again, against its mooring. I had to determine where the drift finished, frame to accommodate that position, wait until the boat was starting to "make its final approach", close the shutter, insert the darkslide, and simply wait until the drift ended before releasing the shutter. A reflex would only have contributed camera shake to the already quite slow exposure.

http://grandes-images.com/fr/Paysages/Pages/France_2007_files/Media/BateauAgenton/BateauAgenton.jpg

davemiller
4-May-2010, 00:46
Mirror slap can easily be avoided on a Mamiya RB/RZ simply by using the Mirror-Up facility, I assume that a 5x4 reflex would incorporate the same facility.

Joanna Carter
4-May-2010, 00:51
Mirror slap can easily be avoided on a Mamiya RB/RZ simply by using the Mirror-Up facility, I assume that a 5x4 reflex would incorporate the same facility.
I am well aware of that, and use the mirror lock on the RZ. My point is, that if you have to lock the mirror on a reflex, if one of your aims is to check focus until the moment you press the shutter, you might as well not have the reflex mechanism at all.

Sevo
4-May-2010, 02:16
But, then I realised that a reflex LF camera will suffer from the same problem that I have with my Mamiya RZ67 - mirror slap! If, like spacegoose, people are worried about not being able to focus continually, then how are they going to cope with the vibrations that are going to follow the movement of the mirror? There would also be sufficient time between the mirror starting to move and the shutter firing for the subject to twitch and throw the shot out of focus.

Well, it is pretty much one or the other - slow running mirrors (or slow dampers) do away with the slap. The RB actually had less slap than the RZ, since the latter was "improved" for more rapid action, as subject movement was considered more critical than mirror slap in the studio flash environments most RB/RZ cameras were purchased for.

The high weight and big air volume (effectively creating a pneumatic damper) in LF reflexes will often deal with slap pretty well - but delays on mine are in the order of 1/5 to 1/2 second, which does not qualify them for subjects that start blinking the moment they see a shutter pressed...

Sevo

Steven Tribe
4-May-2010, 07:04
Just discovered this thread. Mirror slap is a problem. I have the big pre-DDR 5x7 Mentor from the 20's. Like probably 99% of surviving SLR Mentors, the double curtained focal plane shutter has given up and the light tight mirror mounting is difficult to maintain as such. So the procedure is view the image, lift the mirror (bang!), and then activate a lens shutter. Looking at a non inverted image is a joy.

evan clarke
4-May-2010, 07:34
I have a nice Wista RF which has a really nice rangefinder/viewer and is silent!!!...Evan Clarke

Dan Fromm
4-May-2010, 08:25
Um, Joanna, they've been used; with proper weight for damping, mirror slap doesn't seem to have been a problem. There was even a motor drive for 5x7 Graflexes.

See http://books.google.com/books?id=SiEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=RA3-PA213&lpg=RA3-PA213&dq=graflex+%22big+bertha%22&source=bl&ots=_VcMhKgMjf&sig=N2OK-7ZgsY-6QKRmttDCfDqa0tU&hl=en&ei=9brNSpLIGMfR8Aa4yID5Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=37#v=onepage&q=graflex%20%22big%20bertha%22&f=false

jnanian
4-May-2010, 13:05
hi joanna

i use my series d at about 1/15S all the time ... never had trouble with mirror slap.

ScottM
13-May-2010, 14:14
Behold, the Megatronic-XLF

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I think this will solve many if not all our 4x5 problems.

ScottM
13-May-2010, 14:23
Kind of hard to read the specs.

Megatronic-XLF
4x5 Single Lens Reflex
Camera of the Gods

Accepts 10, 25, & 50 sheet loads, without holders

Autofocus 35-360mm F2.8 Meglogon zoom lens.

Motordriven, 1 F.P.S.

Onboard computer, IBM compatible, w/word processor, invoice, spread sheet & printer.

Onboard R.O.M. database contains "The History of Photography", reports the number of times any shot has been done, by whom, when & where.

Client-preview video display, voice-actuated shutter, gyro-stabilizers, optional shoulder harness, & much, much more.

Dan Fromm
13-May-2010, 14:55
Funny, April 1st was more than a month ago.

Daniel Unkefer
6-Oct-2010, 16:17
Re-reviving this thread, here's my Plaubel Makiflex Standard, equipped with a 150mm Xenar lens on a slightly recessed board, which works through the entire focusing range. Also attached is a Plaubel Single-Sheet Holder, which produces a 9x9cm image on Linhof 4x5 film holders. This camera is a delight to use, no vibration or mirror slap. I sometimes trip it via an adapter I made, which takes a standard Sinar Norma Cable Release. Fun Fun Stuff.

Sirius Glass
6-Oct-2010, 16:55
The 4x5 Graflex is large, heavy, ungainly, slow, noisy, shaky, and a PITA to compose and focus for anyone wearing glasses.

I have one. Not pristine but in very good mechanical and cosmetic shape.

Large, yes but so is any 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, ...

Slow, no slower than my Pacemaker Speed Graphic.

Noisy, not really. Quieter than Bronicas or Mamiya SLRs.

Shaky, that would be an Operator Assisted Failure, which sports the acronym OAF. Usage "The OAF did this." or "The OAF did that."

The mirror can be raise manually if desired. What I find amusing is the persisting urban legend that SLRs are shaky. For years know nothings have pontificated about the Mythical Hasselblad Mirror Slap. Lets just kill that crap here and now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkKcbyh2CrA The primary spreaders of this myth seem to be frustrated RF 35mm camera users who want to find a scapegoat they can dump on, but do not bother them with facts or reality.

Steve

Drew Bedo
6-Oct-2010, 17:24
Much of what has been said above is why there is interest in the Polaroid conversions and Fotoman cameras. While they are not reflex viewing, they allow a spontaneous and immediate See-It-Shoot-It creative process.

Dan: Maybe one of these types of cameras would suit your needs.

Daniel Unkefer
6-Oct-2010, 17:46
Dan: Maybe one of these types of cameras would suit your needs.

Thanks Drew, but I'm good. The more I shoot with my two Makiflexes, the more I come to understand and appreciate them for what they are. Great highly portable/usuable venerable LF cameras. These two came from a street portrait photographer in Germany.

Sirius Glass
6-Oct-2010, 18:47
Back to the original question, why are there not more 4x5 reflex cameras. I think that the interest in slrs dropped in the 1930s and 1940s in favor of folders and press cameras. In the 1950d, range finder 35mm cameras became popular and the interest in 4x5s for the press started to shift to Rolleis and Hasselblads. The Viet Nam war bought a flood of Canon and Nikon RF 35mm cameras to the US which then bought a bigger flood on Nikon Fs. 4x5 press cameras were pushed away for Rolleis and Hasselblads and then Nikon Fs. 4x5 never recovered back to its old levels and those interested in 4x5 tended toward press and view cameras. There was no strong renewed interest in 4x5 reflexes.

Had the Great Depression not occurred, the advent of 35mm and the rapid rise of finer grained fast films would have still doomed 4x5 reflex and 4x5 press cameras anyway.

Steve

Jay DeFehr
6-Oct-2010, 19:55
I love my 3x4 Graflex! I use 12 sheet bag mags, and can work quickly enough. The 3x4 isn't too large or heavy for me, and I've never had an issue with mirror slap. Contact printing my little 3x4 negs is great fun, and doesn't cost much. Practically speaking, I could probably use more modern equipment, like my RB67, or a larger camera, like my 8x10 Deardorff, and I do, but those experiences are different in their own ways, and the experience of making photos is at least as important to me as the products. If you've never used a big, boxy, clunky SLR, you don't know what you're missing!

Daniel Unkefer
7-Oct-2010, 03:45
Very well said, Jay!

I will second everything you have said. It's just alot of fun to use these reflex cameras.


I love my 3x4 Graflex! I use 12 sheet bag mags, and can work quickly enough. The 3x4 isn't too large or heavy for me, and I've never had an issue with mirror slap. Contact printing my little 3x4 negs is great fun, and doesn't cost much. Practically speaking, I could probably use more modern equipment, like my RB67, or a larger camera, like my 8x10 Deardorff, and I do, but those experiences are different in their own ways, and the experience of making photos is at least as important to me as the products. If you've never used a big, boxy, clunky SLR, you don't know what you're missing!

jan labij
8-Oct-2010, 08:52
I used to use a 3 1/4X4 1/4 graflex for portraiture and landscapes, and loved it. Mirror slap was not a problem, and the graflex shutter was the soul of reliability. I sold it because film became unavailable.

Wayne Crider
8-Oct-2010, 15:21
I love my 3x4 Graflex! -- If you've never used a big, boxy, clunky SLR, you don't know what you're missing!

Love my little 3x4 Auto. There is no mirror slap if you hold the mirror down when you release the shutter and then raise the mirror manually. It works on my Auto Graflex at least. The camera is light, the holders pocketable, but there's a trade off in the recessed lens arrangement. I believe the model B had bigger boards?

Daniel Unkefer
8-Oct-2010, 15:30
My Makiflexes use 6x9cm film sheets (I use Efke PL25 and PL100, as well as some J&C Classic 200), and Plaubel Makina 120 film backs for 6x6 and 6x9 format shots. I also have a Plaubel 4x5" sheet film back, which puts a 9x9cm image on a 4x5 sheet. I am presently using spring-loaded Linhof film holders, and the Polaroid 545 back, and enjoying that combo alot. It's really a hoot and the camera is amazingly fun to use. Classic German precision and built like a brick house. It's also the only camera I've ever seen with an "odometer", it counts the number of times the shutter has been actuated. Sort of a European version of the Auto Graflex, from the early 1960's, a Golden Age in camera design.

Daniel Unkefer
10-Oct-2010, 10:19
L@@k at this one :eek:

The Arca Swiss Reflex.
Similar to my Plaubel Makiflexes.
Somebody got a very good deal
Will need a viewing hood, however:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Arca-Reflex-Swiss-3-RO-/160446966033?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Film_Cameras&hash=item255b626911

Very Kewl.

Dan Fromm
11-Oct-2010, 03:05
If you read French, this http://www.galerie-photo.com/reflex-moyen-grand-format.html article that was just published on the French LF site may be of interest. I haven't tried Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/#fr|en|) on it.

Bill_1856
11-Oct-2010, 06:10
Before WW2 nearly every studio had a GRAFLEX.

Steve M Hostetter
11-Oct-2010, 07:39
Shooting 4x5 portraits I can't help but wonder what it must be like not to lose sight of the subject after the film is in place ... I've read (perhaps here) that some value this uncertainty, or just don't liking being able to continually focus.

Has anyone used 4x5 in Super D, Gowlandflex, ART-FLEX, or Arca Swiss Reflex? Any opinions on SLR vs TLR? Does the Super D's mirror function automatically, or does it need to be engaged and disengaged manually - (if so, is this still better then having no continuous focusing ability)?

There is no reason to keep your subject in focus unless your subject is moving.. The large format camera is not mean't to use on moving subjects .. A stationary subject needs no continuous focus so you just focus the camera and have the subject sit still and you'll be ok, otherwise use a different tool,, format camera ...

Ernest Purdum
12-Oct-2010, 08:32
I shot a bunch of photos of skiers (definitely moving subjects) with an LF camera. What camera? A D Graflex. Big Berthas were made with moving subjects in mind. O.K., I'll grant you that a dinky SLR might be easier to use than a big one.

Dan Fromm
12-Oct-2010, 09:49
My, Ernest, this is our day to disagree.

Yes, you're right, Berthas were used to shoot moving subjects but they were set up well in advance of taking the shot. An account of how AP photographers used their Berthas is at http://books.google.com/books?id=SiEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=RA3-PA213&lpg=RA3-PA213&dq=graflex+%22big+bertha%22&source=bl&ots=_VcMhKgMjf&sig=N2OK-7ZgsY-6QKRmttDCfDqa0tU&hl=en&ei=9brNSpLIGMfR8Aa4yID5Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=37#v=onepage&q=graflex%20%22big%20bertha%22&f=false

I put a Baby Bertha together last year. It is basically a point-well-before-shooting camera.

Cheers,

Dan

Neal Chaves
12-Oct-2010, 18:27
I used a Super D 4X5 Graflex which I converted to Graflok back for some time with excellent results. You have to be sure to tell the subject to look into the lens, not at you, use a stool if you have to to get yourself high enough. I sold it to buy an 8X10 Deardorf and always wished I had it back, but not at today's prices!

Some of the best portraits are made with a view camera that focuses from the rear and a lens of about 1.5 times the normal focal length for the format. The photographer can get his or her head in very close to the lens and have a personal relationship with the subject.

Years ago I learned from old press photographers how they set up Speeds and Crowns for head and shoulder vertical portraits. Some may remember the Polaroid "Big Shot" portrait camera which works the same way. The subject is focused by moving in and out while watching the split-image rangefinder.

I use a TRF Crown which I have set up for Big Shot with 150mm and 180mm lenses. The ends of the focus cams are nosed off so that the rangefinder converges at the correct distance. There is an index mark on the track so the lens can be set at the matching extension. The open frame finder is used to compose and is adjusted for the proper parallax. You can get two heads close together in a horizontal. If there is interest in this "hack", I can describe it in detail in another thread.

Armin Seeholzer
13-Oct-2010, 06:22
The best 4x5 cameras for portraits are for shure with 2 lenses like my Studio Camera made by Hans Fröhlich 2300 Switzerland!
It has 2 Tele Arton 270mm f 5.5 its around 8 kg and I will use it for Portraits in B/W almost!
The camera was made in La Chaux de Fonds where normaly where the swiss watches made!
She needs a new bellows from UK and then she looks like new!
The good thing of it is the taking lens is on top and the viewing lens is the lower one!
It has also a mirror for loking down into the groundglass or move the mirror down and use my long Horseman loupe for focusing!
Phillip Halsman used also some cameras in this style!

Cheers Armin

rjmeyer314
13-Oct-2010, 13:18
I have several of the 4x5 Graflex SLR's, including a Super-D, a Series D, an RB Auto which is the model with the rising/falling front and the long bellows, and some other more obscure models. They are all fun to use. However, the Super-D is probably the easiest of all models to use if you can get it with one of the 190mm auto-diaphragm lenses. You can focus with the lens wide open, and then the diaphragm will close down when you shoot. In 4x5 the 190mm was the only focal length that had that option. You could get both Kodak Ektar's and Wollensak Optar's in the auto-diaphragm mount. I have one of the Optar's on my 4x5 Super-D. I also have x 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 Super-D with a 150mm Kodak Ektar. I've never noticed any difference in the image quality between the two lenses. By the way, the 150mm lens won't work on the 4x5 reflexes. It requires the lens to be too close to the film and doesn't leave room for the reflex mirror to swing. I have gone through phases in my photograph where all I used for years at a time were Graflex SLR's of one size or another. My favorite for many years was a 5x7 Auto Graflex made between 1917 and 1918. Graflexes tend to be the most robust of the large format SLR's. I have one from 1906 and another from 1910-11 that both work fine. If you get one you may have to fuss with it a bit to get it working to begin with. There are a couple pamphlets by Ed Romney that are for sale on the web that talk you through getting one working and setting the shutter tension. As long as there are no broken parts (like the shutter curtain) it's usually possible to make them work. I think I have 27 graflexes (SLR's or Speed Graphics) and I've been able to make all but 5 work. (Some of those 5 will ultimately work, I just haven't had time to fool with them.) The ones to be avoided are the Compact Graflexes. I've never seen one working.

Daniel Unkefer
16-Oct-2010, 10:54
Plaubel Makiflex Standard with 150mm F2.8 Xenotar lens wide-open, shutter 1/60th. Plaubel Makina single-sheet film holder, 6x9cm Efke 100 cutfilm, developed in ADOX Borax MQ. Scanned on my new Epson 4490 refurb.

Dan Fromm
16-Oct-2010, 14:26
Daniel, what about that shot required that it be taken with an SLR?

Daniel Unkefer
16-Oct-2010, 16:11
Daniel, what about that shot required that it be taken with an SLR?

It was shot handheld at 1/60 without the benefit of a tripod. It was also shot wide-open, with paper-thin DOF, as a focus-confirmation test. Not something I have done previously with a larger format camera. Other than that there are no specific requirements.

Sevo
18-Oct-2010, 11:48
The Arca Swiss Reflex.
Similar to my Plaubel Makiflexes.
Somebody got a very good deal
Will need a viewing hood, however:


And it will need a fair bit of cleaning and refurbishment - it is in rather a poor shape, and the leather being amateurishly re-glued does not look as if the mechanism had been maintained by anybody competent either.

The same seller also had a 4x5" Arca Reflex or two earlier this year, in better shape and correspondingly going for much higher prices - this one was the leftover out of that sale.

Sevo

ljsegil
18-Oct-2010, 16:02
3 1/4 x 4 1/4" Super D Graflex converted to a 4x5" Graflock back, hand held (and shaken) with an approximately 7" f/6 (only) Petzval of unknown lineage, shooting a Kodak E100VS Readyload. It works! And it's fun too, even provides instant gratification with Fujiroid for those of us who lack patience and faith in our photographic basics.
Larry

Daniel Unkefer
19-Oct-2010, 15:36
Shot handheld with 270mm F5.5 Tele-Xenar on 120 6x9cm Neopan 400 developed in ADOX Borax MQ. Lens was again wide-open, not something I have done in the past with large format.

ethics_gradient
20-Oct-2010, 06:29
Don't suppose any of you have a project Graflex laying around you'd be interested in parting with? Wouldn't need the back (planning a Graflok conversion) or the lens (looking for a platform to mount an Aero Ektar for portraits, bring driven slowly insane by my Speed Graphic's Kalart rangefinder), but does need a working FP shutter.

ljsegil
20-Oct-2010, 16:16
Shot handheld with 270mm F5.5 Tele-Xenar on 120 6x9cm Neopan 400 developed in ADOX Borax MQ. Lens was again wide-open, not something I have done in the past with large format.

Now that's beautiful!
Larry

Dan Fromm
20-Oct-2010, 16:26
Shot handheld with 270mm F5.5 Tele-Xenar on 120 6x9cm Neopan 400 developed in ADOX Borax MQ. Lens was again wide-open, not something I have done in the past with large format.Daniel, I can understand why shooting hand-held requires an SLR or a rangefinder camera. If you don't have a press or technical camera with an RF, y'r Graflex must be liberating.

But why haven't you shot y'r Tele-Xenar wide open on one of your view cameras on a tripod? I ask because I've shot some of my aerial camera lenses as open as possible given the lighting and shutter speeds available on a Graphic on a tripod. In theory one of my Graphics has an RF adjusted for one of the aerial camera lenses, in practice I have to readjust it before I can use that lens with it. Lazy me, alas.

Cheers,

Dan

Daniel Unkefer
20-Oct-2010, 19:17
Dan,
I normally haul out my 4x5 5x7 or 8x10 Sinar Norma when I haul out a big tripod. This is something new, different and interesting to me. Using these two old Plaubel 9x9cm Makiflexes is an absolute hoot. I enjoy looking through them and using them, as much as I enjoy cobbling up interesting lenses to fit them. I'm accumulating a pretty decent classic collection of the original lenses that were offered for these cameras.

I have made a few 9x9cm tripod-mounted exposures with the Makiflex, with the 150mm F2.8 Schneider Xenotar wide-open, on 4x5 cutfilm. Haven't developed those, yet. One more exposure to go before I can make a film run.

tbeaman
20-Oct-2010, 20:22
Given how much of my work is handheld or portraiture, I can definitely see the appeal of an SLR or TLR. Hell, just the reflex viewer for my Speed Graphic was one of my most rewarding purchases.

Armin Seeholzer
21-Oct-2010, 02:31
But what about the mirror fibration I prefer a setup with two lenses without a slaping mirror!
Is it just me?

Cheers Armin

ljsegil
21-Oct-2010, 03:51
See http://www.glennview.com/sinar.htm for a shot at a 4x5 TLR solution. Don't quite think it'll work for hand holding (the camera, that is) while shooting. Hand wringing, maybe. May not replace the Rolleiflex, but a cool idea if nothing else that took some imagination and hard work, no doubt.
Larry

Daniel Unkefer
21-Oct-2010, 15:39
Thats' two Sinar Normas, one on top of another, which can also be supported by red vertical Sinar Norma Riser Rods and Rod Clamps. I have all that stuff in my studio, and could put that together. Maybe I should do that this Winter. :cool:

The original Norma brochure showed an 8x10 below, and a roll-back Rapid Adapter on top. Lots of choice with the Norma system.




See http://www.glennview.com/sinar.htm for a shot at a 4x5 TLR solution. Don't quite think it'll work for hand holding (the camera, that is) while shooting. Hand wringing, maybe. May not replace the Rolleiflex, but a cool idea if nothing else that took some imagination and hard work, no doubt.
Larry

Miguel Coquis
23-Oct-2010, 12:22
Just discover this intersting brain storming thread, I have been using these reflex large format cameras and thought it would be interesting to show/share one of mine; a Mentor 10x15 cm that has been convert to 4x5 for commodity of films available.
There is a nice 300 mm f:3,5 mounted on this camera. The reasons are, I need bright image on the GG and I like selected focus images.
So, here is a pic from the baby:

http://macoquis.caraldi.com/scaled/Octubre%20Mes%20Morado/Mentor-300-mm.jpg
outdoors photography becomes difficult when trying to make wide open shots, max shutter speed being 1/100, there is always to much light intensity. Usually, I use asa 12 and ND filter.

Daniel Unkefer
23-Oct-2010, 12:50
Plaubel Makiflex Standard, with 150mm F2.8 Schneider Xenotar on Plaubel Peco Jr Recessed Lensboard, and Makiflex 4x5 Plate Adapter. Puts a 9x9cm square image onto a 4x5" cutfilm. I am using this with 4x5" Linhof Holders, epecially nice because they have a built-in spring-loaded pressure plate, ensuring maximum sharpness. The Cable Release is a Sinar Norma Mechanical Shutter Release, I made an adapter to fit the Makiflexes.

Daniel Unkefer
24-Oct-2010, 07:36
Looks like a project, to me.

Put a Peco Jr onto the front of a Makiflex, and it becomes the Pecoflex.

http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=360310708271&fromMakeTrack=true&ssPageName=VIP:watchlink:top:de

Miguel Coquis
24-Oct-2010, 14:02
Looks like a project, to me.

Put a Peco Jr onto the front of a Makiflex, and it becomes the Pecoflex.

http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=360310708271&fromMakeTrack=true&ssPageName=VIP:watchlink:top:de

Not a recommendable, ebay seller... (bought from him once ...)

Daniel Unkefer
26-Oct-2010, 18:09
Cut out a late Plaubel Peco Jr board tonight, to take a Durst Enlarger recessed lens cone. Focuses 120mm Imagon easily to infinity on both Makiflexes. I'm very pleased. I also have the 150mm Imagon, and I can easily interchange the lenses on this new recessed board.

Daniel Unkefer
9-Nov-2010, 04:29
Just applied some restorative Bellows Cream from camera-tools.com . Also check out the cool Plaubel Peco Profio Jr. Compendium that just arrived from Germany. I also restored the Compendium with the Bellows Cream, it cleaned up nicely. Looks cool on the Makiflex with 150mm F2.8 Xenotar. Luckily I had the correct lens ring in my box of Plaubel junque to cobble it all together :)

Daniel Unkefer
5-Dec-2010, 13:50
Just arrived from Germany, with only 2500 shutter actuations, and a perfect bellows.

The lens is also new, it's a barrel 360mm Schneider Tele-Xenar, which I foward mounted, using an old Sinar Norma lensboard, which I cut down, and mounted to a flat Plaubel board. Very nice to look through. :D

Looking forward to using this!

nolindan
5-Dec-2010, 17:44
Shooting 4x5 portraits I can't help but wonder what it must be like not to lose sight of the subject after the film is in place

But you always have sight of the subject - just not on the ground glass.

For formal portraits with an LF camera or 'Blad I don't know any portrait photographers who peer through a viewfinder when taking the picture. You want a face-to-face response from the subject and the camera just sits slightly to the side to capture the expression. Remember the 'look at the birdie'? - you don't want the subject looking straight into the lens - well, except for the some rather awful modern work.

Daniel Unkefer
26-Dec-2010, 08:49
New Makiflex with 180mm Schneider Xenar Auto-iris and 4x5 Plate holder (I'm using Linhof holders). Puts a 9x9cm image onto a 4x5 sheet.

Only camera I've ever seen with an odometer! This one has only been actuated 2500 times! My other Makiflex auto has been actuated 28,000 times. This one has good fast speeds :cool:

Leigh
26-Dec-2010, 15:56
The Gowlandflex ... is a very tall camera.
It's tall because the lens was meant to be at navel level. :D :eek:

- Leigh

marktucker
3-Jan-2011, 10:10
I have owned the Gowlandflex and the Super D and many others. I loved them all, but sold them off along the way, converting to digital, (thinking I'd never want to shoot them again).

The Gowlandflex is huge, but it's nice. Best for the studio, with the viewer. Important to get the lenses matched up perfectly, for focus, if you're shooting wide open. You probably need a small ladder too, for shooting people standing up.

The Super D is nice, but clunky.

The key thing was that both cameras allowed you to follow the facial expression after you'd pulled the dark slide.

I'm in search for another Gowlandflex, or even an Art-Flex. I just want to shoot 4x5 Fuji Polaroid.

I too wonder why there weren't more of them. I too would like a Grafmatic 100-sheet model.

Separately, I'm also searching for the lightest, most basic 8x10 field camera. I need/want no adjustments; I just want to throw it on a tripod and get shooting the fast possible speed. All controls set to zero. In fact, I'd super-glue them in place, at zero, so that they'd never come loose. I've owned Deardorff 8x10, but even that is too complicated. I really just want a glorified solid box, with longish draw, for shooting head and shoulder portraits with a 300.

Michael Cienfuegos
3-Jan-2011, 12:02
I have owned the Gowlandflex and the Super D and many others. I loved them all, but sold them off along the way, converting to digital, (thinking I'd never want to shoot them again).

The Gowlandflex is huge, but it's nice. Best for the studio, with the viewer. Important to get the lenses matched up perfectly, for focus, if you're shooting wide open. You probably need a small ladder too, for shooting people standing up.

The Super D is nice, but clunky.

The key thing was that both cameras allowed you to follow the facial expression after you'd pulled the dark slide.

I'm in search for another Gowlandflex, or even an Art-Flex. I just want to shoot 4x5 Fuji Polaroid.

I too wonder why there weren't more of them. I too would like a Grafmatic 100-sheet model.

Separately, I'm also searching for the lightest, most basic 8x10 field camera. I need/want no adjustments; I just want to throw it on a tripod and get shooting the fast possible speed. All controls set to zero. In fact, I'd super-glue them in place, at zero, so that they'd never come loose. I've owned Deardorff 8x10, but even that is too complicated. I really just want a glorified solid box, with longish draw, for shooting head and shoulder portraits with a 300.

I have a Graflex RB Model B. The greatest thing about this camera is being able to use the 12 shot bag-mag. I also have a Grafmatic holder, but the bag mag is so much easier to use. I only wish that I could find another bag mag in good condition that wasn't priced at a king's ransom.

jnanian
3-Jan-2011, 12:17
I have a Graflex RB Model B. The greatest thing about this camera is being able to use the 12 shot bag-mag. I also have a Grafmatic holder, but the bag mag is so much easier to use. I only wish that I could find another bag mag in good condition that wasn't priced at a king's ransom.

i have a rb series d and a bunch of bagmags, they are great.
but the only problem i have with bag mags is
the ruby window is so dark sometimes i can barely see what sheet i am exposing ...
---
if you find some with ripped bags, you can get them fabricated
at a leather repair place, ask for a "light proof stitch" . last i had this done
was in boston, and it cost between 25-30$, considering it was a custom piece
i figured it was pretty cheap ...