View Full Version : Looking for (press?) camera recommendations

21-Jan-2010, 11:52
I currently have a 4x5 pre-Anniversary Speed Graphic. I think its great, love the results I've gotten, but its not in the greatest shape and I'm interested in upgrading. I think I'd like another press camera - main thing I want is portability, since I do a lot of landscape shots that involve walking and carrying my camera along with me. I'd also like to be able to do portraits and possibly some architectural work, where I think I'd like to have more camera movements available to me. I never use my rangefinder or focal plane shutter, so those aren't too important.

In my research, a Busch Pressman D looks like a good bet - inexpensive, rotating back, and decent movements are all big pluses to me. A Crown Graphic might not be a bad choice either, and probably has the most parts available. The Meridian 45B looks even better, but likely harder to find and more expensive. Are there any big drawbacks to any of these that would annoy me later, based on what I've mentioned? Any other cameras I should be looking at?

21-Jan-2010, 11:57
A British MPP MKVII or VIII is a good option, far more movements than the Graphics metal bodied and just as portable,


Patrick Dixon
21-Jan-2010, 11:59
Downside of a Pressman D is that the lensboards are very small and you can't get lenses with large-ish rear elements through the front bellows opening, and there's no front swing.

It's also not going to work with very wide lenses, a 90mm is pretty marginal.

Glenn Thoreson
21-Jan-2010, 12:09
The Busch Pressman is easier to find and probably cheaper, but lens boards can be very hard to come by. The Super Graphic probably has all you want. Your Pre-Anny Speed is the lightest thing going. Even lighter than a Crown Graphic. The very limited number of MPP cameras that I've handled seemed awfully heavy to me. The Pacemaker Speed and Crown models can give lots of front tilt by manipulating the drop bed and front standard. If you want backward tilt, though, you have to do it with the camera upside down. If you want a rotating back, the camera must have a square bellows. Of the Speeds and Crowns, only the Super Graphic has that. Good luck. :D

21-Jan-2010, 12:30
Cool, thanks everybody for the input. Sounds like the Pressman might be out, since I'll probably add longer and wider lenses to my collection at some point. I'll keep an eye out for a Super Graphic, as well as the MPPs (I don't mind a bit more weight). Sounds like I'd be happy with one of the Pacemakers - rotating back isn't totally necessary, it would just be nice to have.

Ivan J. Eberle
21-Jan-2010, 21:03
There's an auction for a decent looking user Meridian 45B on the bay this week. (And a mis-labeled 45A that looks rather kludgey with a retrofitted Graflok back).

I have two Meridians and a Super Graphic. Several big pluses about the 45B:

1). It has a big lens board for a press camera and a decent bump on the bed to accept even largish modern plasmats when folded up. 2) The inner focusing rail is rack-focus so wide angles are fairly easy to use and the bed can be unlatched to swing 90˚ out of the way. 90mms fit on a flat board, my Nikkor SW 90 f/8 folds up inside and 3). The back has rods for swings and tilts that allow perspective correction, which will be useful for architecture, and for focal plane moves even with lenses having minimum coverage image circles (e.g. most press lenses on the 4x5 sheet film format).

Like the Super Graphics the Meridians have robust synthetic bellows that are not prone to developing light leaks. Downsides would be that they're all more than 60 years old and there were less than 2000 of them made in total (including the 45A which has an unusual front standard and lens board bayonet mounting arrangement and no inner rail focusing). So consider the parts to be made of the base metal unobtanium unless you happen to be or know of a good machinist. Also being 60 years old, no one yet anticipated the need to design cameras around huge wide angle rear lens elements, so the very largest fast Super Angulons XLs and APO Grandagons won't fit through the 75mm front standard hole. (Too, there's no RF coupling via cams and none with wide angles on the inner rails).

21-Jan-2010, 21:29
I have Super Graphics for sale in anyone is interested.

Frank Petronio
21-Jan-2010, 23:18
If you want movements and can afford $800, a Linhof Technika IV can be found if you're patient.

But are you saying that you need a press camera when you say you don't use the rangefinder? What's the point of excluding other worthy, lightweight folding cameras that have more movements than any Graphic type camera? The Wista Field, the ultralight Tachi and Ideka type cameras, etc. all fit the bill and aren't that expensive (~$4-500-ish)

22-Jan-2010, 04:57
If you use the older lens that came with the camera try and get one that had the shutter cleaned.

22-Jan-2010, 06:34
Ivan - the Meridian sounds great, definitely have an eye on that one on ebay.

Frank - Definitely not excluding other field cameras...I don't specifically need a press camera but I do like the price and form factor. The ones you mention sound great, assuming I can find one I can afford and is in decent shape.

Michael Roberts
22-Jan-2010, 06:54
If you are interested, I have a 4x5 stripped-down Crown, with mahogany body refinished, and which takes regular wooden lens boards, has a top leather handle, Graphic spring back, and weighs only 3lbs (2lbs less than a fully equipped Crown, and probably half the weight of your pre-Anniversary Speed).

If you think this might fit your needs, let me know and I can email you or post more pictures. Just an idea; if this isn't what you are looking for, best wishes in your search.

22-Jan-2010, 07:25
I have a Meridian B that I plan to sell. And a Beseler 4X5 and a Crown Graphic and Horseman 980's (6X9 format.) No kidding! Collecting old press 4X5's is not a profitable occupation. (I am keeping my Busch Pressman D.) Let me know if you have any interest.

22-Jan-2010, 10:20
Thanks guys, the Meridian on ebay is actually fairly close to me, so I'll contact the seller to see if I can check it out beforehand. If not, I may take you guys up on the offers.

Michael, that camera looks very nice!

22-Jan-2010, 10:59
OT: Hey, Michael, how did you mod the front standard to accept flat wooden boards?

Michael Roberts
22-Jan-2010, 18:03
Mike--the lighttrap inside the lens board frame seems to be a pretty soft aluminum (or very thin steel). I started with a Crown body that somebody was ready to junk--no back, no rangefinder, no handle, and the leather-covered body was covered in copper oxide blisters--ugly as hell, looked like goose flesh. Oh, yeah--bellows full of pinholes. Anyway, with nothing to lose, I grabbed a pair of jeweler's pliers (my wife's), and grabbed the light trap and twisted--basically it just peels off. It's not neat, takes a little practice, but it does come out pretty easily. Then I put one or two layers of adhesive backed felt inside to cover up the rough, torn edges where the lighttrap used to be. A new wooden lens board made of 1/8 thick craft plywood fits like a charm.

The first one of these I did, I still have and use it all the time. I've done four or five since and have about four bodies and backs on hand to redo when I get time. One is almost ready--just need to put the new handle on, recover the door with a new piece of black, kidskin leather, and screw the spring back on.

18-Feb-2010, 15:37
hey mike, if you still have that super graphic for sale I'd be interested to know more about it.

17-Mar-2010, 07:24
I have a Meridian B that I plan to sell. And a Beseler 4X5 and a Crown Graphic and Horseman 980's (6X9 format.) No kidding! Collecting old press 4X5's is not a profitable occupation. (I am keeping my Busch Pressman D.) Let me know if you have any interest.

If your Meridian is still on sale i'd be interested. Please PM me.


17-Mar-2010, 16:08
a newer good condition crown graphic is a good choice. they are quite nice.
If you have the money, just go with a Linhof press camera. metal body, easy to use, weigh not much more than a Graflex, and it even offers rear movements (on a press camera!)

Colin Corneau
17-Mar-2010, 18:13
Frank gives the best advice, I'd say. I recently sold my Shen Hao wood field camera and it was not much different in weight than my Crown.

They're well made cameras, inexpensive and offer lots of movements. Plenty of accessories, too, which offers you flexibility. They or similar brands are plentiful and won't set you back much.