View Full Version : Press photographers with 4x5 Speed

5-Apr-2013, 14:54
From what little information I can find it looks like most press photographers that used a 4x5 speed (or crown) did so with the standard 127mm or 135mm lens. I know other focal length lenses were available such as the 90mm and 100mm but what was the usual lens compliment of a press photographer coving events? Does anyone have any clue? I would think they would carry a wide angle and maybe a 10" or 15" but I can't find anything to support this.

I do know that most carried a yellow and red filter, and about 10 film holders, a dozen flash bulbs, But lenses?

Kevin Crisp
5-Apr-2013, 15:06
Generally it was the basic 127 or 135, your information is correct. Sometimes the 90mm, sometimes one of the tele-optars when necessary.

Alan Gales
5-Apr-2013, 15:12
I have read that the wide normals (127, 135) were very popular with newspaper photographers in order to get it all in. These lenses also worked with the range finders so you could shoot them hand held. I'm sure that there was a lot of cropping of images. You don't need great quality for a newspaper.

It's a good question. I have wondered myself if the sports photographers may have used tripods and longer lenses.

Brian C. Miller
5-Apr-2013, 15:21
I was doing a web search for something, and I came across an article about what sports photographers were using. One was the "Big Bertha" monster telephoto, and the other was a 3fps "action camera." The action camera used a roll of 5in film, and an electric winder. (I'll bet it plugged into a wall socket to run that motor!)

There was a 360mm tele-Optar, and I think that was it. I have a Schneider version, and that's a hunk of glass on the front of the camera.

5-Apr-2013, 15:26
I've been looking at photos of press photographers in the 40's and 50's and from what I've seen the majority have lenses that look to be a 127mm or 135mm. I'm sure sport photographers used the 10" or 15" when needed. And on the wide end a 90mm would have been of some use in a crowed hallway or courtroom. Maybe I should take a look at some newsreels too.

5-Apr-2013, 15:39
Did sports photography try to get closeups of actual play, the way modern sports photography does? If so, I bet they used 35mm for that even early on.

I know that the 180mm f/2.8 Olympia Sonnar was so named because it was developed for photographers at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. They would have used it on a Contax. And I know that various telescopic solutions were developed for the Leica, for focal lengths up to something like 400mm. All that was swept aside when SLRs became practical.

I don't remember ever seeing a sports photographer, or press photographer, use a Hasselblad. A Rolleiflex, maybe, but not a 'blad. It was too expensive, too finicky, and optimized for a different application. It was the standard for wedding dudes who could afford it, I suppose, though I was never one of those--I used a Mamiya C-3 for years. But that was long after the Nikon F had completely supplanted the Speed Graphic as the standard press camera.

I'm thinking that if Speed Graphic press photographers ever used a long lens, it was for a set shot of something that wasn't going to move, so that they could use a tripod and ground-glass focusing.

Rick "now a little curious" Denney

Jim Jones
5-Apr-2013, 19:34
The speed Graphic wasn't good for long lenses, but the Graflex with extensive modification could handle some huge optics. Of course heavy tripods were also used. Sometimes speed focusing levers were employed to shift from one composition to another without having to focus on the ground glass. This was especially useful for baseball. My unmounted but in a shutter 36" f/8 weighs over 20 pounds. It's one of those projects that may never get finished.

Brian C. Miller
5-Apr-2013, 19:44
Did sports photography try to get closeups of actual play, the way modern sports photography does? If so, I bet they used 35mm for that even early on.

I mis-remembered it. It was called a "sequence camera," K-24 and K-25 models. See below.

I found it: 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 Popular Science September, 1952.



24" to 60" lenses! Yeah, baby!

Vincent Pidone
7-Apr-2013, 16:01
The baseball guys had a "shift lever" on the "big Bertha" that locked in at home plate, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base for quick focus.
I guess that another camera was used for anything other than that.
There are pictures out there somewhere of the shift lever setup.

"Big Bertha" was a range of sizes with (I think) 40 inches being the longest.

The cameras were special order items from Graflex.

7-Apr-2013, 18:00

7-Apr-2013, 18:17
I don't remember ever seeing a sports photographer, or press photographer, use a Hasselblad.

The Hasselblad 500mm Tessar has focus detents, or sliding markers that can be set to three separate distances. (Like the bases in baseball), and with its dedicated sports finder was adequate for tripod work. I, too, never saw it being used for sports probably because the lens cost more than a few Nikons.

Tin Can
7-Apr-2013, 18:47
Now that's a camera!

Gear shift!