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Thread: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

  1. #1

    Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    First of all, hello! I'm a bit new here so sincere apologies if I've posed this question in the wrong place.

    I recently decided I wanted to try my hand at large format, and took a shining to the Speed Graphic and how approachable it seemed for a beginner.
    Thus far in my stupidity, I have bought two from eBay (in quick succession) which a kind user on Flickr pointed out have been incorrectly listed as 4x5, and are in fact one of the smaller models.

    My question is, what is a reliable way to gauge from photos alone which model you're looking at? Given how similar they can appear.

    (Before purchasing i read and re-read the graflex faq many times but still fell for the eBay trap)
    (Will also add that I'm in the u.k and bought from the u.s so at this time neither have arrived yet)

    Thanks for any responses!

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    Pretty much everything is the same proportions but the rangefinder looks a little big on the smaller models.
    If someone incorrectly listed it as 4x5, I'd return it. Speed graphics are fun, but 4x5 film is most available sheet film size, so that's most useful.

  3. #3

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    I think I may have to return it when it arrives. I've heard the smaller sizes without a graflok back are especially useless to me.
    any chance I could get a second opinion on the one I've bought? On the off chance it is a 4x5.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    South Texas

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    FWIW, I don't see anything incorrect in the item description. The seller knows nothing about vintage Graflex cameras but he/she didn't try to hide anything nor did they describe things poorly.

    The above stated, it has a spring back, not Graflok. That's fine if you don't need it. The 35mm Tessar lens is utterly useless... but the seller clearly described it so, again, they didn't try to hide anything. If I was the buyer and decided this isn't the camera for me then I'd politely ask the seller to accept a return and I would pay shipping both ways.

  5. #5
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    McLean, Va.

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    It looks like a 4x5. The lens is incorrectly listed as 3.5cm, but that is because most of the "1" is worn off. The lens is actually 13.5cm (135mm), which is correct for 4x5, and everything else looks proportionally correct. So, you should be fine.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Santa Barbara

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    the seller DID say it was 4x5 several times..although..with the 135 probably is

    the 3x4's came with a 127..right?

    so if it does turn out to be 3x4..I'd return it

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    It's an Anniversary model. Take a look at for info re your new camera.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Los Angeles

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    The lens is incorrectly stated to be an Ektar, but there is nothing wrong with the Optar.

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    The camera pictured is indeed a 4x5 Anniversary model Speed Graphic, made between 1940 and 1946. There are at least two ways to distinguish between the 3x4 and the 4x5 in good photos. In the lower left of the first front-view picture, look at the focusing lock lever just to the right of the focusing knob. It is mounted on the raised focusing rail guide. The lower area between that guide and the focusing knob is slightly narrower than the guide in a 3x4, and slightly wider than the guide in the 4x5. With experience one can tell by comparing the size of the rangefinder to the body as JP says. Many sellers unfamiliar with Speed Graphics can't tell these differences, nor between the Anniversary and other models of Speed Graphics.

    A first-time user of Speed Graphics will find Graphic Graflex Photography by Morgan & Morgan, 1st through 7th editions, useful. These cover the Anniversary model. Later editions also cover the Pacemaker series and other Graphic products.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Western, PA.

    Re: Purchasing a 4x5 Speed Graphic

    One thing I noticed is the tension knob seems to be missing on this Speed Graphic and I would want the focal plain shutter to work sometimes non camera folks have no way to tell that and many times when they talk of shutter working they mean the lens shutter not the FP shutter.

    If you are not worried about the FP shutter then I would return this one even if it was a 4x5 and look for a nice Crown Graphic as you may as well have a lighter camera then one that does not work in the true sense of the word.which is a working focal plain shutter use w/ interesting barrel optics and hand holding w/ the Tessar @ faster shutter speeds then the lens shutter provides.

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