View Full Version : Which speed graphic
I am interested in purchasing a 4x5 speed graphic. I want it for primarily shoot ing landscapes with chrome film. Which model and lens would be the most appropri ate. I am bewildered by all the types out there. Chris
Chris, I recomend that you check out the Graphlex web site www.graphlex.org, they have answers to most any graphlex question. This said, however, my personal favorite 4x5 press camera of the Graflex era is the "Busch Pressman, Model D". The came ra is made of nicely finished aircraft aluminium. The finish is much cleaner th an the Graphic's,and the Busch tends to be more rugged that the wooden Graphic ( late Model Speed Graphics are also metal, for a price!) Calumet has several used Busch Pressman for under $200.00. The both Graphic and Busch usually come with 135mm Optar lens (OK quality) that is linked to the Kalart rangefinder. Person ally I would replace this lens with a more recent optical design, especally if y ou are shooting chromes! I also remove the side mounted rangefinder so that the camera fits easily into my Domke camera bag. I prefer a lens a little wider (1 35mm)than what is considered normal in 4x5 (210mm) when shooting landscapes. Th e 135mm gives me just a little more sweep at the horizon, without looking forced as with a 90mm or a 65mm.
Sorry Chris, I ment to say that KEH has several Busch cameras under $200.00
Another big advantage to the metal Super Speed Graphic is the rotating back. If I recall, ages ago I had a B&J Watson that also had a rotating back but no Graf lok back.
You might consider a B&J 4 X 5 press camera. It has all the features of the Gra phics except focal plane shutter and it has lots of movements that the Graphics haven't got. These cameras are all aluminum and are quite rugged. They also ha ve a revolving back and about a fourteen inch bellows that will accomodate a pre tty long lens. If you want to stick with the Speed Graphic, for ease of use I would get a Pacemaker. It has enhanced movements over the earlier models such as front tilt and shift and the focal plane shutter controls were much simplified. It also h as a shutter trip built into the side of the body that switches from tripping th e focal plane shutter to a link cable that will trip a front shutter. Even thou gh it is wood, it too is pretty rugged. I have gotten them at shows for as litt le as $20, and for one that was ready to use with lens as little as $50. You mi ght have to look a while, but you can find a good deal and the pacemaker is a li ttle cheaper than the later models, particularly if the pacemaker is the pre-top rangfinder model. They seem to be in demand now.
You also might want to check on a Crown Graphic. It is the same as the Speed Gra phic, without the focal plane shutter(crappy), and is a bit lighter because of t hat. I use a late 40's vintage Speed Graphic, and I love it. Its very rugged and well made. Also, dont be afraid to try the older uncoated lenses with chromes. I have a 162mm Optar (made by Wollen sak), which is uncoated, but Im able to get well saturated chromes with it. It s uffers in contrast in backlit situations, so its not the best choice there, but it serves well for many shots. It has enough coverage to use the full rise (19mm) of the Speed Graphic with no problems. I think these lenses are underated, frankly.
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