View Full Version : is a speed graphic good enough for this landscape lens setup?

27-Aug-2009, 00:36

i'm about to purchase two lenses to try my hand at 4x5 landscapes. one is a nikon 90 f8 and the other a sironar n 150 f5.6 lens to do some landscape shots. is a speed graphic good enough for these two lenses or do i need to invest in a better 4x5 camera? if so, what would you recommend and why?

thanks in advance!

Greg Lockrey
27-Aug-2009, 00:53
It will do the job just fine. There are a ton of photos on this site that are done with Speed Graphics. You have to remember to drop the bed when you use the 90 so that you don't take a picture of it in your landscape.

27-Aug-2009, 03:07
Or you could attach a magnifying glass to a lensboard on a Speed Graphic and try some images...

These are scanned prints from type 55 negs. The Type 55 was dated 1985 and they were printed on Kodak Medalist dated 1975.

But your lenses should work well. And you can transfer them to a more full-featured 4x5 some day down the road if you wish. But the Speed (or Crown) Graphic will make a nice starter 4x5 -- comes in its own protective case, so to speak.

The lens only tilts backwards on those. But if you drop the front bed and then tilt the lens back a little, you can mimic forward front tilt, which is the most common movement used in landscape photography.



27-Aug-2009, 04:45
What you miss with the speed graphic, or other press camera is the range of camera movements. Movements allow for perspective correction on the film, accomplished by making the front and back of the camera being parallel to the subject. That said Press cameras are great instruments, I have two of them plus a Shen Hao field camera and a Cambo View Camera. Making good images that tell a story has little to do with the instrument. The "fancier" cameras only provide more options.

Ivan J. Eberle
27-Aug-2009, 06:21
The Nikon 90 SW f/8 is physically rather large (I have one) so I'd suggest you find someone with it, who also has a Speed, to see that this combination folds up and closes. The Nikon is tight on my Meridian 45B, which has a very generous lens pocket on the bed-- bigger than the Speed, I believe. The 150mm Sironar-N is physically much smaller and shouldn't present this problem.

If it doesn't fit, having to mount a lens each time you set up the camera kills a couple of the best features of a press camera--namely, the speed in a Speed Graphic, and lens protection while afield. If you've also given up rangefinder focusing (which pretty much means anything but the side-mounted Kalart version), then you'd likely be better off with a folding field design.

27-Aug-2009, 07:37
it's not about price.. you can get something like graphic view or orbit view for even less money than speedgraphics go for. Or more press style cameras with more options, like meridians, they seem to go sometimes for about the same as an good condition speed would end up costing.

27-Aug-2009, 09:29
There is a Super Graphic in the for sale section now, 250.00. Compact, revolving back and better movements. Its a great buy at that price.

27-Aug-2009, 09:39
is a Speed/Crown good enough????

Of course it is! Why wouldn't it be? A LF camera is, after all only a light tight box that holds the lens and a film holder....Speed / Crown Graphics do perform this task admirably.

I have both a speed and a crown. If you want to try either or both...let me know. I think we're kinda close geographically. (I divide my time between Pleasanton, Sunnyvale and Sonora).

27-Aug-2009, 10:53
great! thanks for all the info guys!

so the speed seems like a good enough camera for my purpose.

as for the 90 f8 nikon lens, do i need to get a recessed lens board or any other modification so that it works properly on the speed?

Glenn Thoreson
27-Aug-2009, 11:41
No need for a recessed lens board. No one ever made them for these cameras anyway. Speed Graphics are still a great camera. Many of the greatest photos ever made were done with Speed Graphics and what is now called "old lenses". I have a bunch of of these wonderful things. They're tough as nails. Great for the field and you don't have to worry about scratching them. :D

28-Aug-2009, 05:23
You will miss the possibility to tilt down the wide lens. And this is very important camera movement as it comes to lanscape. The front standard will stay on inside tracks. Perhaps the bellows extension will be long enough to enable the front standard to slide into bed tracks when 150mm lens is used. Then you can drop the bed and the lens will be automatically tilted down. Since Speed Graphics provides back tilt (no front tilt), it will be possible to adjust the angle of the lens.

I have heard, that some people overcome this problem by reversing front standard or by modifying it. I did not want to alter anything in my SG, but i still wanted to make good lanscape photographs. Buying another, true field camera was the only option. I ended up with a wooden one, Wista Field form 70-ties for about $400. Now I am using SG only for people - it's great for this purpose.

28-Aug-2009, 14:25
The 90mm nikon will definitely not fold up into a speed or crown graphic. I use the 90mm nikon with crown graphics and on these the front standard stays on the bed rails (not the inside rails) and there is no need to drop the bed. This might be different on a speed graphic of course since the distance to the film is further. You can get forward tilt by reversing the front standard (a reversible operation...takes about 3 minutes). You will likely use forward tilt in most of your landscape shots...you will not miss the back tilt. If you are not going to be using barrel lenses (and it doesn't sound like you are based on the 2 lenses you mentioned), you should really get a crown graphic...they are lighter and smaller.

28-Aug-2009, 14:37
(re: crown lighter and smaller)

yeah...but the focal plane shutter in the speed is just so cool!

30-Aug-2009, 10:22
You will miss the possibility to tilt down the wide lens.....

You might wish to consider a "SUPER GRAPHIC", which is a later version of the Crown Graphic.

The Super has move movements than the earlier Crown and Speed. It has front standard tilt in both directions, as well as front swings. The Super also has a rotating back. I own a Super Speed and it works great as a landscape camera. It has all the movements I need, is rigid on a tripod, and is easy to carry.