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Thread: Yet andother Speed question

  1. #1

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    Yet andother Speed question

    As I've been looking at photographs of press photographers in the 50's I've noticed that 95% of them never used a B/W contrast filter on the lens. I was always under the impression that at least a K2 or G would be used. Was this because they wanted the maximum sensitivity of the film or was it just not needed if the final output was the newspaper?

    It's interesting to note that lens hood use was 50% split almost evenly evenly between square and round hoods.

    Flashes were 50-60% Graflite with the remainder being Heiland and Kalart and some other brands I couldn't make out.

    Flashbulbs were a random mix of Edison and baynoet base. Mostly Bayonet bulbs, but I'm betting 10 years earlier it was mostly Edison base.

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    If you're using a 4x5 camera handheld, you probably don't want to be losing a stop of light from a filter. It's not slow cooking style like we use LF for today. Darkening the sky is about all I use a filter for with B&W.

  3. #3

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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    The reason why a yellow filter was not needed by press photographers back then is because they always took their pictures with flashbulbs. The clear flashbulbs emit incandescent light, so the light source is yellow-tinted to begin with.

  4. #4
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    When I was shooting a press camera back in the early '60s I didn't even have any filters for it.
    Neither did any of the other photographers I encountered.

    Why would you use a filter? These are press photos, not fine art.

    The main problem with press photos at the time was too little light, resulting in slow shutter speeds.
    This is why most shooters used Tri-X (400 ASA). Backup for low light was Royal-X Pan (1200 ASA).
    I shot basketball games available light using Royal-X Pan in Acufine, with a speed somewhere ~12,000.

    Flashbulbs were used, but they were not popular because they were hot.
    If shooting fast you ended up removing the spent bulb with your bare hand, thus burning your fingers, then putting it in your pocket where it burned your side or leg.

    - Leigh
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    Many press photographers of the past until the 70's utilised ortho film as opposed to panchromatic emulsions, therefore they couldn't use filters.

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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    Quote Originally Posted by Darko Pozar View Post
    Many press photographers of the past until the 70's utilised ortho film as opposed to panchromatic emulsions, therefore they couldn't use filters.
    I had not thought of that. Thank you for sharing. I assumed that panchromatic film was used in the heyday of press cameras. I guess I still have a lot to learn about the history of emulsions. Can you tell us: When did panchromatic film become available for the first time, and approximately when did panchromatic film overtake ortho film in common use?

  7. #7
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    I think Stiegltiz's equivalents used pan film, and they are probably 100 years old.
    Pan film overtook Ortho film in hollywood (and by extension hollywood portraits) in the 30s.
    I'd think tri-x would have been most common after WWII but I wasn't born till 1975 so I wouldn't have experience with that.

  8. #8
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    Quote Originally Posted by Darko Pozar View Post
    Many press photographers of the past until the 70's utilised ortho film as opposed to panchromatic emulsions, therefore they couldn't use filters.
    I don't believe that as true here in the States.

    Ortho film certainly existed, but I never encountered any for sale (in the 1960s).
    Panchromatic film such as Tri-X was readily available.

    - Leigh
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  9. #9
    westernlens al olson's Avatar
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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    Back in the late 50s I purchased a Super Graphic to do free lance press work. In that era you had to have a press camera because the editors would not accept photos from anything smaller.

    My kit included a strobe with a battery pack only slightly smaller than a 6 volt car battery. To the best of my memory I believe the strobe was a Heiland that was branded by Graflex.

    Everything I shot was hand held and with the strobe, even out of doors. The high speed of the strobe compensated for otherwise slower shutter speeds, resulting in acceptable sharpness.

    Except for out-of-doors photos, the exposure setting was a simple matter of focusing so that the distance was displayed on the scale at the top of the camera and it indexed the f/-stop for a preset guide number.

    I even used this camera for sporting events such as track, football, basketball and hockey. My favorite films were Tri-X, Royal Pan, and Super Panchro Press B.

    From the Kodak Data Book, Kodak Films, 6th edition:
    Plus-X.............................ASA 50
    Super-XX.........................ASA 100
    Super Panchro Press B........ASA 125 *
    Tri-X...............................ASA 200
    Then in the 1956 Kodak Data Book, 7th edition:
    Royal Pan.........................ASA 200 (AFIK it never appeared as a roll film)
    There were also several other Kodak sheet films:
    Portrait Panchromatic.........ASA 50
    Panatomic-X.....................ASA 32
    Royal Ortho......................ASA 200
    Super Speed Ortho Portrait..ASA 50
    Commercial and Commercial Matte, both ASA 20
    Commercial Ortho...............ASA 32
    Contrast Process Ortho........ASA 50
    Contrast Process Panchromatic..ASA 80

    * I still have an empty box that this film came in, $4.95 for 25 sheets! That would be ca. 1959 price.
    al

  10. #10

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    Re: Yet andother Speed question

    Quote Originally Posted by Darko Pozar View Post
    Many press photographers of the past until the 70's utilised ortho film as opposed to panchromatic emulsions, therefore they couldn't use filters.
    Not when I was shooting news with a Speed Graphic for the Lorain (Ohio) Journal in the early '60s. We used sheet or pack film ... all Tri-X. I don't remember anything faster but the Chief Photographer might have had a stash of something. In the darkroom we had D-76 deep tanks. After every run we would add some D-76 Replenisher, the amount depended on how much film we ran.

    If we were on deadline we would print wet negatives. Sometimes we printed wet when we moved to 35mm Nikon gear.

    I started out with flashbulbs but later was issued a Graphic Strobe. If I remember correctly, inside on the bottom were two huge batteries and in the top were some very large capacitors. Once the pack was assembled there was a large knob on top where you selected your power settings: Full | 3/4 | 1/2 | 1/4. From time to time that switch or the capacitors would blow. Wow! That would make your day!!

    Those were the days...

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