View Full Version : Opinions on large size SLRs

6-Dec-2017, 17:12
Am looking for opinions of people who have owned and used a Mentor Reflex, Makiflex, Pecoflex, Plaubel Reflex, Arca-Swiss, or similar. Finding one of these FS is not an easy thing to do and finding one in excellent working condition even harder. I have a Darlot Petzval portrait optic that's just yearning for a large SLR to use it with.

Dan Fromm
6-Dec-2017, 17:58
What's wrong with a Graflex?

Look for Mentor reflexes on ebay.de

6-Dec-2017, 17:58
I've used my 4x5 Graflex RB series B on a couple of occasions. It's kind of fun to play with. Uses a 7 1/2 inch (190mm) lens. Shorter lens won't retract far enough for infinity focus and longer lens will limit how close you can get to the subject. It is nice to be able to focus after inserting the film back, perhaps making large format "spontaneous."

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
6-Dec-2017, 20:55
I own a few different 3x4 to 5x7 Graflex SLR cameras. They are always great fun, and occasionally very useful. However, SLR LF cameras are all orphans--there are no new parts. I chose Graflex cameras based on ease of repair and availability where I live. I almost bought an Arca-Swiss SLR, but was strongly discouraged from buying it by the folks at Precision Camera Works, who reported they were a nightmare to repair. I have no real knowledge about the Mentor Reflex, but it didn't seem very different from the Graflex. The Makiflex seems to be the most interesting of the bunch, with great interchangeable lenses, auto-iris, and a nice 4x4 image... Maybe someday I will get one.

I should add that before buying a SLR for a specific lens make sure that the lensboard is big enough to hold the flange, that the lens is long enough to reach infinity focus, and that the rear focus of the lens is long enough to clear the mirror. These last two points are not the same--I have a wonderful 11" f3 lens which just reaches infinity focus on my 5x7 Home Portrait, but catches the frame of the mirror on the way up or down, so I can't use it without special attention and risk breaking the mirror.

7-Dec-2017, 15:57
[QUOTE=However, SLR LF cameras are all orphans--there are no new parts.[/QUOTE]

This fact alone has turned me off into finding one of them. When my SEI Photometer broke, found out that parts haven't been available for years, no one fixes them any more, and the internal exposure cell had a relatively short life and that ended years ago.

8-Dec-2017, 05:04
Iíve long wanted a Makiflex. Camera Doctor in NYC can likely service one if you get.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

John Layton
8-Dec-2017, 05:44
Another aspiring Makiflex owner here. Interesting era...1940's-50's (extending back to 20's?) sort of parallels that of the auto industry - when the line between "man, was that ever brilliant!" and "what on earth were they thinking?" could be a fine one indeed! From this era also sprung the occasional combo. of true brilliance and craftsmanship...the likes of which we will likely never see again...thinking Norma. And yes...my SEI is also kaput. Remember Huw Finney...who did what seemed like a perfect "update" on SEI's? Anyone know what's happened to Huw?

John Layton
8-Dec-2017, 05:54
jeesh...sorry to OP...coffee has not kicked in. Opinions...cannot truly say as I have never owned/used "large size" SLR's. Have handled them on occasion. I'm a bit surprised that, what with the occasional "brilliance" of that era - that somebody didn't think of a way of dealing with the achilles heel of not being able to use wides...like a mirror lock up/aux. finder combo. such as utilized on early Nikon-F's/Leicaflexes for their non retro wides. But maybe I'm wrong on this?

8-Dec-2017, 08:21
I have an Arca Swiss Reflex 4x5 with the shutter (B to 1/500). It took a bit of tweaking to get it running right but not terribly hard, if you are handy and DIY-ish. I also have 3 Graflex SLRs, one is a bone-stock 4x5 SuperD, another is a modified 4x5 SuperD with an RZ67 prism and modern ground glass/fresnel, the 3rd is a 3x4 SuperD modified with a 4x5 back, and an RZ67 prism for viewing. As mentioned, focal length becomes an issue in some cases. I think most of these will only take about a 180mm lens as the shortest lens you can easily fit and still get to infinity. The Tele lenses work well too, depending on which one. I mostly use the Nikkor-T teles (270, 360, 500, etc). The 8" pentac works and gets to infinity on all of them. The 150mm xenotar won't reach infinity on any of them. The 7" Aero Ektar will get to about 8ft focus distance on the Arca, that's as far out as you can take it before mirror issues, good for a head-and-shoulders portrait though.

Pete Roody
8-Dec-2017, 11:13
The large SLR's (Graflex 4x5 Super D and 5x7 Home Portrait) would be my desert island cameras if I had to choose. Yes they have limited focal ranges but you learn to adjust. The Super D was the latest Graflex SLR made and some came with a Graflock back so standard holders work. The widest lens I can focus at infinity is a 7-1/2" Verito. I typically use 7-1/2" to 9" lenses. You can use a 15" telephoto if you want a longer lens. A 4x5 Super D would be a good place to start.

Oren Grad
10-Dec-2017, 18:10
Nice discussion of the Plaubel Makiflex by Daniel Unkefer moved to the Lounge, as it's medium format per our definition.


Hugo Zhang
10-Dec-2017, 18:21
I find Graflex Super-D 45 and Graflex Home Portrait 57 are so much fun to use and great for portraits. I use the 12 sheet bags with them.