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Thread: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

  1. #1

    Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    I've been keeping tabs on the auction site and classifieds for a decent Graphic that I can get that is in reasonable shape but still fully functional. I found this one today and went ahead and pulled the trigger on it. I need some help identifying it specifically. About what year is it? It seems to be an earlier model. It's more of a project camera that I can clean up, service a bit, and create something I might be able to sell easily when I want to upgrade. I like to learn by taking things apart so the fact that it's not perfect is actually a good excuse for me to learn how these things work.

    Now I want to make sure I get what I need to make it fully functional and ready to start playing in LF. It's not exactly what I wanted as it doesn't seem to have the Graflok back, just the spring back. Is it possible to convert this to a Graflok back? To use roll film with it, I'll have to get a Calumet style one that slips in. That said, I need to start with the appropriate lens board and a good starter lens for doing hybrid work (analog capture with digital scan and inkjet print). There seem to be several options for Graphic lens boards on the auction site, most related to whether or not it's an Anniversary model. I'm not sure which would be best.

    As far as lenses goes, I'm trading some equipment in to Adorama so when I find out what I'll be getting out of that stuff, I'll probably use some of that to get a decent "normal" lens. They have a number of Symmar S, Fujinons, and Nikkors that would work, I imagine.

    Tips, tricks, and suggestions welcome!

  2. #2

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    My research so far seems to indicate that this is an early Pacemaker with Graphic back. has an article on using a Graphic 22/23 roll film back with with the Graphic back but it involves screwing some things in (which I assume would eventually be a bad idea if you wanted to switch it back and forth very often, which I plan on doing).

    Curiously, there seems to be some who have adapted other, non-Graflex backs to the wooden frame. It looks like just about any kind of Toyo or other rotating back would work assuming you got the seal between the box and the back light-tight. I don't care at all about the rangefinder so it would be interesting to have a Toyo back on this thing!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help


    Looks to be in decent shape. When you receive the item you will notice two things: first the bed is a "drop" style, i.e., the front hinged "door" drops down to get it out of the way of wider angle lenses, and second, to compensate for that drop the front lens standard tilts back and rises back to the a position centered over the film. This will become evident when you start playing around with it. SO, since you are mechanically inclined I suggest you do what I did to make the camera more amenable to taking landscape photos. First, slide the front standard off the two rails that hold it in place. Then take it off and reverse it. It's easy, and you'll see how to do this easily. If you have any problems, send me some photos and I suspect I can help. NOW, with the bed raised to normal level, you'll have front rise and forward tilt -- the only two movements you need for landscape . Voila.

    Also, I have a 127mm Graphic lens (about the same angle of view as a 35mm on full-frame 135 cameras) that needs a shutter. The lens is coated and clear, and if you want it I'll send it to you for nothing. I thought I had an extra lens board too, but I can't find it. This was the standard lens on Speed Graphics, and I'm fairly certain you can find a shutter for it, or find someone to fix it for a C-note or two.

    I don't ever remember seeing a Speed Graphic without a Graflock back, but I'm no expert on pre-war cameras.

    Let me know about the lens, and have fun. Those things are built like a tank. I finally gave mine away because I have two other 4x5s and wasn't using it anymore.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Baltimore, Maryland, US

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help used to have quite a selection of used lensboards with pre drilled holes. I might suggest getting the lens you want, and then buying the lensboard to suit. It's been a long time since I read through all the FAQs, but page through the stuff on and I think you'll see something on lensboard compatibility. I think most 4"x4" Calumet and Technica boards work on all the Graflex press cameras, but I can't remember for sure.

    Some people have messed around with replacing springs and/or washers on spring backs to get grafmatics to fit that shouldn't. You might want to look into that yourself. Certainly some of the Calumet rollfilm backs are really quite new, relatively speaking, and might be a really good pick.

    I looked at the listing - that's really a very nice example of that sort of camera. The handle looks to be in really good shape too, and the price is excellent. Good work!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    We all make mistakes. Good luck!
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    It cannot be hard to hack other frames to a Speed Graphic - while I have never tried it that way around, I've done the opposite, converting German sheet metal holder cameras using Graphic spring and Graflok backs, and it always has been a easy, almost bolt on conversion. But you could also make do with a spring back, with a Sinar slide-under roll film holder. These are not that expensive any more either.

  7. #7

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    Looks like you have a '47 to '55 Pacemaker Speed that has had its focal plane shutter removed. No problem, just that your lenses will have to have their own shutter. The "lensboard" is sheet metal with a turned back edge. You'll have to get boards that have the hole size to match the shutter you will have. I have replaced the spring back on mine with a Graflok back off another Speed. Screw it off screw it on. I wouldn't turn the standard around if you ever want to use wide angle lenses that will require the bed to be dropped - like a 65. Instead I would lengthen the slots of the side cheeks in an arc continuous to what is there. This will give you forward and back tilt. Of course the other alternative is to turn the camera on its side and use swing for tilt. Grafmatics will fit with either back and also Kinematics. Besides the Calumet rollfilm backs there is also the 620 Adapt-a-Roll. You'll just need a 620 spool for take up. Have fun.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    You just might find the rangefinder useful.
    They can be adjusted for different lenses, instructions are on
    Real cameras are measured in inches...
    Not pixels.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    You can swap camera backs between the Pacemaker and Crown, so if you see a Graflok back available for a Crown they will fit the Pacemaker, which
    is what you purchased.
    There are 6 screws that hold the back on 2 on top and 3 on the bottom, the 6th screw is by the opening where you slide the film holder in.
    If you decide to take the back off, check and see if the focal plane shutter is still in there, it may have ripped at the aperture stays
    on the shutter cloth. There's a few available on the Bay right now, I don't know if those have the sync contact on them for flash photography.
    Having a Focal Plane Shutter opens you up to a nice variety of barrel lenses.

    The bed latch button is on the side by the leather handle btw, when I got a Pacemaker I was looking on top for the hidden button
    like my Anniversary Graphic has, kept pushing on a corrosion bump till I saw that the button was on the side!
    The square metal button on the lower right of the camera body is the FPS button.

    The lens boards are formed aluminum, with rounded corners, not as easy to make like the Anniversary Graphics which has a 4x4 square wood board.
    But they are also available on the Bay, both un-bored and bored to a specific size.

  10. #10

    Re: Pulled the trigger on a Speed Graphic now need some help

    Quote Originally Posted by dsphotog View Post
    You just might find the rangefinder useful.
    They can be adjusted for different lenses, instructions are on
    That's what I keep hearing.

    But I do have an RB67 and Fuji X-T1 which are my other main systems. I plan to use the X-T1 for metering and logging shots while using the RB for those times when I need hand-holding or more portability. The Graphic will be solely for contemplative, slow, GG focusing and composition.

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