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View Full Version : Advice for Handheld 4x5 and Flash Please..



Brooklyn45
7-Oct-2020, 06:29
Just jumping back into LF with a nice little Burke and James Speed Press with the intent to make it my boardwalk hand held snap shooter.
Looking for some advice on an inexpensive flash rig for fill and night portrait.. Vintage suggestions ?? Experience.. Would have to be portable camera/griop mounted..

Hope this is the right forum or if someone has a like thread would appreciate being delivered there.. Cheers Chaps..

Dan Fromm
7-Oct-2020, 07:15
Go to graflex.org and see what they say about Graflex' potato masher flashes.

There used to be -- I hope there still is -- a street photographer (Luis Mendes, I think, could be wrong) who used 4x5 Graphics with electronic flash. I've seen his gear, if I recall correctly he gutted a Graflex flash and somehow put a Vivitar 283's guts in it. If I had to do it, I'd try to make a bracket that would hold a 283 to a Graphic's flash bracket. I b'lieve, could be mistaken, that your B&J has a similar bracket.

Brooklyn45
7-Oct-2020, 08:27
The camera has the flat mount on the outside of the rangefinder... I thought the 283 was an auto flash.. I am thinking a fully manual flash that I can choose guide number on would be better... Wonder about user experiences..

Dan Fromm
7-Oct-2020, 08:38
The 283 accepts the VP-1 variable power accessory. Full power down to 1/64. I have a couple, they work very well.

Tin Can
7-Oct-2020, 09:09
Few use flashbulbs here

This is my 1951 Speed with a 1951 conversion to use the Aero. I got it from the son of the original buyer

I need 2 big handles to shoot this monster handheld, notice the flash bulb is covered with NOS flip up flash bulb safety shield

However I do have trouble with the rear curtain sync, which is a metal strip on the curtain, but do use flashbulbs and normal lenses with working sync in the lens shutter

I have made a laser FocuSpot for a smaller Speed, but don't use that on people

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50432518722_7d5da90281_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jQxQLS)IMG-2524 (https://flic.kr/p/2jQxQLS) by TIN CAN COLLEGE (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tincancollege/), on Flickr

HMG
7-Oct-2020, 10:32
By vintage to you mean flash used in that era, or approximate? I would think the best bet for a flash that is approximately vintage (at least with the later years of the 4x5 press camera) and yet still working is a Honeywell Strobonar. If a bit less concerned about vintage, I'd look for a slightly more recent Sunpak (perhaps the 611).

Kevin Crisp
7-Oct-2020, 10:48
I just put a cold shoe on top of my Crown Graphic. A Vivitar 283 (or very similar 285) is a workhorse that will work will with modern lenses. If you mount the strobe in the middle, you have less of a problem with the dramatic laterally offset shadows of the past. Unless that's what you want. Many smaller flashes work fine if you just want daylight fill.

Brooklyn45
7-Oct-2020, 10:50
Oops no I meant used.. .. Don't care to go way back.. The Vivitar 283 previously mentioned takes me back to the late '70s. good to know people still think of it as a go to tool..
I might look for something like a Metz or unpack that has a handle built it.. any suggestions of good ones to look out for appreciated

BrianShaw
7-Oct-2020, 10:54
I still use flash bulbs, but this is one of my other flash configurations. 208395

The adapter is a bit clunky as it’s made out of junk from the garage. Next iteration will be cleaner - probably with a 2-cell case and definitely using a Graflex battery case adapter.

Kevin Crisp
7-Oct-2020, 11:05
The Metz CT series was quite good. The CT-60 had a forward facing fill light and a huge flash head. When the head was bounced and the fill flash used it could produce remarkably evenly illuminated exposures that looked very natural. It has been a long time since I had one, I think the CT-60 required a big rechargeable battery on your shoulder, the CT-4 (or something like that) could have batteries in its handle. But no fill light on the lesser model.

Oren Grad
7-Oct-2020, 11:13
The Metz CT series was quite good. The CT-60 had a forward facing fill light and a huge flash head. When the head was bounced and the fill flash used it could produce remarkably evenly illuminated exposures that looked very natural. It has been a long time since I had one, I think the CT-60 required a big rechargeable battery on your shoulder, the CT-4 (or something like that) could have batteries in its handle. But no fill light on the lesser model.

I have a 45 CL-3, which fits batteries in the handle. The big challenge in using it with one of my Graphics is that the bracket relies on the tripod socket for mounting and is very prone to loosening in use. It desperately needs some kind of anti-twist provision. I don't use flash that much, so I haven't yet gotten around to researching this further. But I'd be interested in any solutions people have come up with, especially if they don't require drilling into the camera body.

Brooklyn45
7-Oct-2020, 11:47
I used to have the same loosening problem with my old meridian and a tripod socket mounted bracket.. I wound up finding a thin piece of rubber.. and making a washer to go between the camera and bracket.. It worked a charm.. Been looking on the auction site.. wow lots of older flash units.. And pretty cheap too.. I guess light has not changed much.. just more computational crap.. I think money is better spent on a good flash meter..

Dan Fromm
7-Oct-2020, 12:25
I think money is better spent on a good flash meter..

FWIW, years ago when I was setting up I asked my Minolta Flash Meter (the original one) about my Vivitar 283s. Both are one stop under spec at full power, on spec from half power down on the VP-1. Also, the narrow beam flash modifiers (holder + fresnel) don't increase the GN. Bummer.

I could have learned as much with one roll of KM. No longer.

Daniel Unkefer
7-Oct-2020, 14:21
I've got plenty of 283s, but when I need more power, I go for my Norman 200b's which are 200ws strobes. Double the power of the 283 but require a fairly heavy shoulder pack. Recycle in two seconds and new batteries are available cheaply.

Good to have both.

Brooklyn45
8-Oct-2020, 10:27
Recycle time is not much of an issue with LF.. More into trying something that has a good power adjustment. Probably wind up with a Metz or Sunpack.. that takes care of grip and flash,, BTW I just started posting to this forum again, but can not figure out how to get email alerts when someone adds to a thread... Have set up to receive instant email in my profile but nuthin honey... any one know??

36cm2
8-Oct-2020, 10:44
Louis Mendes

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/new-york-citys-most-classic-street-photographer

Exploring Large Format
8-Oct-2020, 10:51
Recycle time is not much of an issue with LF.. More into trying something that has a good power adjustment. Probably wind up with a Metz or Sunpack.. that takes care of grip and flash,, BTW I just started posting to this forum again, but can not figure out how to get email alerts when someone adds to a thread... Have set up to receive instant email in my profile but nuthin honey... any one know??In your original post you asked about vintage but didn't foreclose modern. If modern is an option, I use Godox (Flashpoint) AD200 which is a 200WS flash that has extended head accessory available. You can carry the main body (electronics & battery) easily in a belt holster, and mount the very lightweight flash head on Graflite tube or a Vivitar grip, either with cold shoe. And, if you want, throw the whole flash unit on a stand or monopod for off camera flash and put the lightweight trigger on the cold shoe. Flash stays put while you roam. Still very lightweight.

Lots of power. Super reliable. Very low additional weight on camera setup.

There is even a folding beauty dish modifier you could attach to flash head. The unit comes with Fresnel head and bare bulb as standard equipment. Round head now also available. Ease of gel-ing, etc.

But not vintage.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

Chester McCheeserton
8-Oct-2020, 15:27
Chris Killip had a show at the Getty a few years ago and I can't remember if one of the vitrines had his flash set up, or there was a picture of it somewhere, of if I was just trying to figure out what he used, but I remember thinking about handheld 4x5 flash then. Maybe somebody on here knows what gear he had? I do recall reading that he had assisted a well known London fashion photographer and had had transferred some of that lighting knowledge onto his own personal work

to back up Exploring Large Format, I also have a flashpoint zoom Li-ion mini,(godox) and after years of fiddling with four batteries on a Vivitar Thyristor 285, I'd never go back from the lithium rechargable battery. Never used it on large format though.

Brooklyn45
8-Oct-2020, 16:05
saw Louis Mendes on the Boardwalk in Coney Island about a month ago....

Brooklyn45
8-Oct-2020, 16:12
yep know about the Godox but too much money.. Probably just look for a used Metz or Sunpak

Dan Fromm
8-Oct-2020, 16:36
saw Louis Mendes on the Boardwalk in Coney Island about a month ago....

Thanks for the news. He's a good guy.

hsandler
13-Oct-2020, 15:48
I had the handle from a graflite and bolted a cold shoe onto an aluminum cap. This gives me a removeable shoe to mount any electronic flash or a fanfold bulb flash. For extra power I attach a Metz via the tripod socket and use a Nikon SB800 in optical slave mode in the shoe. I hold the rig from the leather strap and edge of the left camera body. I would not trust the Metz handle or the Graflite to bear the weight of the body.

https://live.staticflickr.com/4801/26879213258_0a653d69a2_h.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GXdZDm)Crown Graphic tarted up (https://flic.kr/p/GXdZDm) by Howard Sandler (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hsandler/), on Flickr

Kevin Crisp
14-Oct-2020, 12:00
Thats the Metz unit I was thinking about (think I mentioned the wrong model number) with the little fill light on the front. Bounced it can take remarkable un flash-like nicely illuminated photos.

Tin Can
14-Oct-2020, 12:32
Howard, how does the SB 800 compare to the Potato Masher in real life?




I had the handle from a graflite and bolted a cold shoe onto an aluminum cap. This gives me a removeable shoe to mount any electronic flash or a fanfold bulb flash. For extra power I attach a Metz via the tripod socket and use a Nikon SB800 in optical slave mode in the shoe. I hold the rig from the leather strap and edge of the left camera body. I would not trust the Metz handle or the Graflite to bear the weight of the body.

https://live.staticflickr.com/4801/26879213258_0a653d69a2_h.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GXdZDm)Crown Graphic tarted up (https://flic.kr/p/GXdZDm) by Howard Sandler (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hsandler/), on Flickr

hsandler
14-Oct-2020, 18:19
The SB-800 is pretty good for a digital-age shoe mount flash. It’s a little less, maybe a half stop, than a Vivitar 285. The Metz 45CT-5 is maybe a half stop to one stop more powerful than a Vivitar 285. But I really have not done a proper comparison. None of these are as bright as a Sylvania 25 bulb.

Kevin Crisp
15-Oct-2020, 08:10
I think the Vivitar 285, which is also quite good, has the variable power feature built into the adjuster for the flash ranges on auto exposure.

Tin Can
15-Oct-2020, 08:21
Good to know!

I informally compared SB 800, PC Buff Einstein and Sylvania 25 bulb with similar results to yours some years ago

I won't be looking for a Metz

but they are impressive totems


The SB-800 is pretty good for a digital-age shoe mount flash. Itís a little less, maybe a half stop, than a Vivitar 285. The Metz 45CT-5 is maybe a half stop to one stop more powerful than a Vivitar 285. But I really have not done a proper comparison. None of these are as bright as a Sylvania 25 bulb.

BrianShaw
15-Oct-2020, 08:23
I use the 285 in my rig (sideways picture earlier in thread). Only problem I have with that configuration is coverage. Flash is so high that parallax must be considered. Less of an issue when 284 set on “wide” but that sacrifices some light.

Bolshoi
20-Oct-2020, 03:12
Few use flashbulbs here

This is my 1951 Speed with a 1951 conversion to use the Aero. I got it from the son of the original buyer

I need 2 big handles to shoot this monster handheld, notice the flash bulb is covered with NOS flip up flash bulb safety shield

However I do have trouble with the rear curtain sync, which is a metal strip on the curtain, but do use flashbulbs and normal lenses with working sync in the lens shutter

I have made a laser FocuSpot for a smaller Speed, but don't use that on people

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50432518722_7d5da90281_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2jQxQLS)IMG-2524 (https://flic.kr/p/2jQxQLS) by TIN CAN COLLEGE (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tincancollege/), on Flickr

Nice little monster! Do you have troubles getting it focused via rangefinder?

Tin Can
20-Oct-2020, 04:12
Yes, however I will try again to set RF

I have changed the lens mount to Jo Lo lens board (https://lommen9.home.xs4all.nl/) which moves the lens back into the front standard, thus getting the RF lever in better position

I do wish Jo had made his very nice filter hood from plastic...

As I use flashbulbs the batteries do add weight, the left handle has no batteries, yet I do have another set of flectors and safety shields

Fortunately this camera had little usage and the rear curtain shutter works great, but I don't constantly test my luck by using very high shutter speeds



Nice little monster! Do you have troubles getting it focused via rangefinder?

alt.kafka
8-Nov-2020, 08:05
There's a shoe on top of my Crown Graphic. I don't recall seeing that it's a hot shoe, but it looks like one and tends to sporadically trigger my flash, so I put a cold shoe on top to insulate it. That might be a little tall with your typical flash unit, but it would work. I just use it to hold my trigger.

Bob Salomon
8-Nov-2020, 09:02
There's a shoe on top of my Crown Graphic. I don't recall seeing that it's a hot shoe, but it looks like one and tends to sporadically trigger my flash, so I put a cold shoe on top to insulate it. That might be a little tall with your typical flash unit, but it would work. I just use it to hold my trigger.

You could just cut a piece of film to slip into your accessory shoe to insulate it.

Kevin Crisp
9-Nov-2020, 08:31
The shoe on the crown may be the mounting place for the optical viewfinder. Looks kind of like a cold shoe.

Tom Monego
9-Nov-2020, 11:48
I use a Metz 45 CT-1, they are cheap used, have a very accurate thyristor, and AA battery holders are still available at B&H. I generally bounce it into a Lumiquest which softens the light quite a bit. Check to see if your lens has a PC connector.
Yes the shoe on the Crown Graphic are cold, so you need a cord.