Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

  1. #1
    Foamer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    South Dakota
    Posts
    990

    1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    I have a little collection of 1920s vintage lenses I generally use on my Chamonix 045n, and some on my Gundlach Korona 5x7. What I like about these lenses is they have competent shutters (Compound, Compur, Volute,) are uncoated, and give a nice period look. However, the ones I have generally have max shutter speeds of 1/150s. Usually this is fast enough for me, but I also like to use the lenses to photo action subjects--steam trains and steam threshing. I'm pretty limited in photo'ing moving trains with these lenses. I am aware there were cameras with focal plane shutters in the 20s, but know little about them. Thinking over my needs, I've come up with this list:

    1. must be reasonably compact
    2. prefer 4x5 or 120 (6x9)
    3. under $500 for a good copy
    4. able to be handheld or used on tripod
    5. interchangeable lenses would be nice
    6. not overly complicated
    7. like to shoot both horizontals and verticals (not a deal killer though)

    I'm first looking at cameras that would have been used in the Upper Midwest, but will also consider European models such as Zeiss Mirroflex (not sure I want to start yet another film format though--9x12.) Mostly what I think I want is a smaller camera with a focal plane shutter. The RB Graphlex are interesting, but look cumbersome. Not sure if they can be used on a tripod either. I'm aware of the Speed Graphic and that might be something I end up with by default. For some reason I've never really warmed to them, but a pristine 1920s copy might be cool! There is one other camera that's always intrigued me and that's the National Graphlex Series I or II. I like the small size, it takes 120, and it looks pretty cool. However, I've read they are very cumbersome for an amateur to use. I'm not sure if I'm an amateur though. I've been collecting and using cameras from the first 50 years of the 20th C for at least five years now. I have and use such oddities as the Ansco Memo and the Kodak Panoram with no trouble. So, what do you think?


    Kent in SD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails BHRRcurveM.jpg  
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    964

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    Using a FP shutter would allow for faster speeds and would allow your older lenses to be used (if the leaf shutter worked or not), but be aware that the cameras with the oldest FP shutters are showing their age, and the very old ones will probably (or have) issues with the curtain, bellows etc, and require a major overhaul before regular to hard use... It is difficult at best to find replacement curtains, bellows and it might be limited to just a few speeds...

    A late Pacemaker SG is probably your best bet, but some odd FP cameras have very complicated shutters that even the best techs would have quite a time servicing...

    Most of the early cameras are better for display, or sometimes Sunday shooters...

    Steve K

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    5,234

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    All the major German makers had a top-line version of their 9x12 and (especialy) 13x18cm camera range with FP shutters. This was just before most makers went into the Zeiss Ikon construction. Some cameras continued to be made by Zeiss Ikon even after 1926. You can use 5x7" film sheaths in 13x18cm plate cameras. The plethera of German FP cameras was due to the success of the Goetz Ango cameras.

    There were also the SLR German/UK FP cameras, lead by Mentor. These were quite wonderful cameras, but my experience is that they do not age well due to the mirror mechanism and wear in the FP double curtain mechanism. I think the US Graphflex design is more reliable.

    Remember that there were a range of front and rear loose FP shutters with could be bought as an "add-on" - some with quite fast speeds.

    Roll film (120) backs are readily available for 9x12cm German cameras of this era.

  4. #4
    Foamer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    South Dakota
    Posts
    990

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    Won't be using the camera all that much, just for shooting historical subjects. I see some Graflex RB and National Graflex on ebay that appear to be in pristine condition. The 3x4 and 2x3 size might be pretty small. Not sure how to scan a 3x4, although I could try just laying it on my Epson v700 as I do the 5x7 negs.


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    on the banks of the Potomac
    Posts
    2,241

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    Not sure if the National Graflex will take other lenses- I've only seen one once. An RB Graflex SLR would likely have been the tool of choice, back in the day. They are certainly usable on a tripod, and are still (relatively) common and quite rugged too. A 3x4 model adapted to take a 120 roll holder is probably your best bet. Can't comment about the many German cameras, finding the right one might be difficult though.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Posts
    8,183

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    O.Winston Link did a fair job on trains with a Speed Graphic. Just sayin'
    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.

  7. #7
    Foamer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    South Dakota
    Posts
    990

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    O.Winston Link did a fair job on trains with a Speed Graphic. Just sayin'

    Yeah, there is that. He's my hero! His camera(s) are in his museum. I wonder what model they are?


    Kent in SD


    Below photos:
    Chamonix 045n,
    Nikkor 90mm f4.5
    Rodenstock 135mm f5.6
    Acros
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DAIRfairviewS.jpg   BNSF26stS.jpg  
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Posts
    8,183

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    Yeah, there is that. He's my hero! His camera(s) are in his museum. I wonder what model they are?


    Kent in SD


    Below photos:
    Chamonix 045n,
    Nikkor 90mm f4.5
    Rodenstock 135mm f5.6
    Acros
    I'm pretty surehe also used a Linhoff at one time as well, but a Speeder should meet all the requirements you listed,
    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.

  9. #9
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    4,489

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    For speed graphics, look for a preanniversary with either the popup optical viewfinder or no viewfinder atop the camera. The RB graflex or auto graflex would have been popular cameras then too but aren't suitable for use with normal to wide angle lenses.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    on the banks of the Potomac
    Posts
    2,241

    Re: 1920s Cameras--What's Available?

    O. Winston Link also used a Graflex Graphic View II. A fine machine, but a post-WWII camera, Then again, Link was working in the 1950s. And you will likely prefer something with a viewfinder for the work you have in mind.

Similar Threads

  1. Portraits of Australian Criminals in the 1920s
    By Frank Petronio in forum Image Sharing (LF) & Discussion
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 3-Feb-2011, 05:51

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •