View Full Version : 4x5" P&S cameras

Jan Virtanen
19-Mar-2005, 07:22
What are the options for a handheld streetshooting with 4x5 film. It would need to have a rangefinder focusing and 150mm lens, possibly a f2,8 one. I have been looking speed graphics etc.
But where to get a good fast lens cammed to a speed graphic or those english MPPs.

Gem Singer
19-Mar-2005, 07:38
Hi Jan,

Using large format, think faster film instead of faster lenses. With large format, faster lenses mean larger diameter glass, larger shutters, and heavier lens/shutter combinations. Take a look at the Fujinon 6X9 rangefinder rollfilm camera (a Leica on steroids) as a possible alternative.

J. P. Mose
19-Mar-2005, 07:53

A 4x5 Crown Graphic, Super Graphic or Super Speed Graphic would be amoungst the lightweight choices. Cams are not specifically cut for the individual lens as with Linhof. For instance, there are around 4-5 different cams in the 135mm range to accomodate different lenses (since any given brand of a particular focal length may be +/- the stamped focal length). To obtain new cams for these cameras, Fred Lustig in Reno, NV has all of them available for around $75 each. They are considerably less on the used market (Midwest Photo in OH is another good source).

I am not sure if a cam for a 150mm f/2.8 Schneider Xenotar was ever identified. Obviously, rangefinder accuracy would be of the utmost importance if this lens is to be used at wide apertures. On www.graflex.org, the following cam chart is available for the Super and Super Speed Graphic:


For the Pacemaker Crown and Speed Graphic (they use different rangefinder cams than the Super series):


I suppose a competent machinist could file down a Graflex cam to a specific lens but this is not the way they were normally supplied.

25 years ago I had my Super Speed Graphic fitted to a 150mm Symmar S and I find the rangefinder to be quite accurate. This lens is a f/5.6 max. An f/2.8 may be another story. I also have a Pacemaker Speed and Pacemaker Crown Graphic. The Speed has a focal plane shutter that adds weight and limits the use of a wide angle lens the 80mm minimum. The Pacemaker Crown and Super/Super Speed Graphics will allow down to 65mm with the drop bed lowered.

Linhof Technikas are also used as hand held cameras but are heavier and this needs to be considered. I have a Super Technika V but only use it on a tripod.

Do visit www. graflex.org for additional information on Graflex products.

Feel free to e-mail me as well!


J. P. Mose
19-Mar-2005, 08:04

If you are interested in Linhof Technikas, Brian Ellis has a good write-up in his equipment reviews (he also has beautiful photos in his website):


Here are some more sources:




Happy reading!

Alec Jones
19-Mar-2005, 09:06
Jan, a Crown Graphic, with a side-rangefinder, sounds like the right application for your need. It does not require any cams for the rangefinder. Instead, the rangefinder is easily adjusted for each focal length [up to about 165mm.] It doesn't have the focal plane shutter and is thus lighter than the Speed. Simpler is better.

paul stimac
19-Mar-2005, 09:16

David A. Goldfarb
19-Mar-2005, 09:18
Do a search on "handheld" and you should turn up a few threads on this subject.

I do use the Tech V handheld. My fastest cammed lens is a 135/3.5 Planar, and if I'm shooting available light, I usually use Tri-X at EI 640 in Acufine.

These handheld shots were with flash, shooting Efke 100 at EI 200 in Acufine, using a 210 Symmar convertible--


Mike Davis
19-Mar-2005, 12:19
Many of the press type xenars, optars, raptars and ektars were in the 135mm and wider range . If you think about it, this makes sense for photojounalists. These days many 35mm shooters would use a 35 or 28 for a wider angle. Even then, Weegee shot alot of stuff from 6 and 10 feet. You can use the same idea to your advantage for handheld work.

Look at the 135 and wider lenses and don't rule out the older ones. Many people rate the ektars as the best of their type but the optars and raptars can work too. More importantly they can be found in abover average condition, CHEAP.

Mike Davis

Jan Virtanen
19-Mar-2005, 16:52
The Crown Graphic looks nice, hows the viewfinder in those? Is it for single focal length or does it have
framelines of some sort?
A fast lens would be nice, Planar or Xenotar, altho it would be quite hard to focus it accurately.

Dave Moeller
19-Mar-2005, 18:14
On the Crown Graphic you replace the metal frame at the front of the viewfinder if you change lenses. The frames are hard to come by (although someone was selling a bunch of them on eBay last week), but you should be able to fashion something with minimal effort and a little time. Just look at the GG, look through the viewfinder, and figure out how much of the viewfinder you have to block out to make it accurate.

The downside is that I think the viewfinder only covers the 135mm and longer lenses...I don't think there's a solution for a shorter lens. (I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, as I'd love to have a 90mm viewfinder on my Crown Graphic without adding another viewfinder.)

Jim Rice
19-Mar-2005, 20:12
There is some sort of attachment for the Graphic optical finder for use with a 90 that one sees from time to time. I can't imagine that it helps the optical quality of an already marginal finder.

20-Mar-2005, 06:49
I second the consideration of the Fuji 6x9 rangefinder. Scanned negs look like large format (to me,at least; I am quite picky). I have one, and sometimes use it for street photos, though not often. Fujinon EBC lens is absolutely magnificent; just don't plan on changing lenses, as they are fixed lens cameras.

21-Mar-2005, 02:12

Timely question... I just finished reading the current issue of View Camera magazine and, lo and behold, on Page 43... it shows a new model from Wisner Company.

It's labelled as:

The Freedome 45R

The first Modern 4x5 SLR

It features Between-the-lens shutter, Flash sync, Lenses from 150 to 450mm, less than 5 lbs, and reversible back.

There's even a picture of it in the ad! :)

Hope that helps


Will Strain
21-Mar-2005, 13:15
Horseman VH-R - tho with the 4x5 back, it gets a little unwieldy handheld.

I use mine handheld with 6x7 and 6x9 pretty regularly. Tripod it if I want the 4x5.

21-Mar-2005, 13:59
A cheap and working solution for handheld 4x5 is to buy a Cambo Wide body
and attach a self made lens holder in it. The body only costs somewhere in the 300$ range,
but the lensholder with it's focusing ring is much, much, more.

Somehow the 150 lens seems to me a little long for streetshooting. There will be a very short DOF.
I think a 90 or even less will be much easier. But it's a matter of taste, of course. Jan, Finland.

Juergen Sattler
23-Mar-2005, 03:35
Just saw this on the auction site - the ultimate 4x5 Point & Shoot? I have never heard of the company he mentioned. Does anyone have any experience with their products? http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15247&item=7503101516&rd=1