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Thread: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

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    Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    Hi, I've shot my speed graphic many times, but mostly off a tripod. Tonight I'm taking the camera to dinner, well, taking my family to dinner. The restaurant has an open air courtyard seating. I'd like to take a few 4x5 shots, it will be the last hour of daylight. My 100 speed film and lens is going to be about 1/60 or slower then.

    What is the slowest you can hand hold a graphic and expect no motion blur? It's talked about a lot with little rangefinders, I usually try to stay faster than 1/60, but I have a steady hand and have shot much slower. What about for a speed graphic? I don't want to mess with flash, and I don't want to shoot wide open with a 9" lens, it will be too short depth of field. Will 1/10th to 1/60th be ok hand held, are am I going to blur the shots?

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    JerryP's Avatar
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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    I've seen motion blur at 1/30th, but I'm kinda shaky sometimes. If you are shooting b&w, push the film to 400 or so and gain a couple of stops. Color, not so much. Flash would be nice, if possible. I use a Crown Graphic 4x5.

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    Shooting at dusk with 100 speed film and a 9 inch lens leaves you little room for a clear hand-held shot, in my opinion. But if you are a human tripod, then maybe you can get away with 1/30 or 1/60th. Your first approach should be to use a shorter focal length lens, like a 120 or 135mm. The old rule of thumb with 35mm cameras was anything slower than the reciprocal of the focal length should be on a tripod. So the shorter the lens, the slower the shutter speed you could reasonably use and not see as much motion (i.e. no slower than 1/50 sec with a 50mm lens, no slower than 1/100 sec with a 100mm lens, etc). Many could argue that that maxim was just bogus, but again, it was just a rule of thumb, and it generally worked for me.

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    Are you talking about the focal plane shutter or lens shutter? Makes a difference...

    I've shot handheld very often with my Super. Shot quite a few on a moving train in an open car of the landscape. I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) to see a small amount of blur in those pics after I got home. Had a brain-fart and completely forgot about motion-blur. Shot them between 1/30 and 1/60, but from a moving train! And the blur really wasn't that bad, and oddly enough in only one direction

    I would say that 1/10 is out for any camera unless you're holding the camera against a solid support. 1/30 is questionable depending on the person. 1/60 can be safe but again depends on the person. I would also suggest 400 speed film! And why not a flash? I use one on my Super all the time and even just keep it there as a handle.

    Why not just try a couple shots at the different speeds and see how you do? That's what Polaroids were good for

    Dan, we typed at the same time. Good point about the lens and formula. I missed the 9" I think way too long for handheld at the slow shutter speeds...

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    Thanks for all that. I just regrouped, and put a faster, shorter lens on the 4x5. Where I was calculating F8 with bellows factor, I'm now at F4. So I should be able to get a faster shutter speed, I'm trying to get it to 1/125. It's a petzval, fast, sharp, but short depth of field.

    I guess we've all noticed tradeoffs usually mean one factor will be a big challenge. It's black and white film, focal plane shutter. I'd use the flash, but haven't ever tested it, it's an old 1940s Heiland. So I don't want to add that to the equation tonight.

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    I've handheld 1/15 with a rangefinder 4x5 and the blur was negligible, I was seated and calm/relaxed.

    Make sure to add relaxation into the mix. If you are thrilled with the moment, your heart will be pounding and might need a higher shutter speed.

  7. #7
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    And if you move it away from your face to focus on the GG, and then move it to your face to frame with the viewfinder, you'll be out of the focus because you moved it a few inches back/forth and the DOF is thin. 400 speed film is more practical and would give better odds. A rolleiflex would also be pretty quaint and useful in low light as well if MF is acceptable; I've gotten decent 1/25 sec shots handheld.

  8. #8

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    I've shot razer sharp at 1/4 sec...in low fading light handheld..w/127mm...not focal plane..

  9. #9
    Richard Johnson
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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    Monopod, rest it on a chair, etc

  10. #10

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    Re: Speed Graphic - going hand held, what's slowest shutter speed?

    With a Speed, I find that I almost always have to use a tripod these days, i just can't hand hold it any more. My Graflex SLR's are different, I can hand hold one of them at 1/30 with ease. Holding it up next to my body helps to steady the camera.


    m
    Michael Cienfuegos

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