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Thread: Burke and James 4x5 questions

  1. #1

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    Burke and James 4x5 questions

    Hello Everyone

    I just bought a Burke and James Watson Speed Press, but it's a 4x5. I'm not finding anything on this particular camera. Is anyone familiar with these?

  2. #2
    loujon
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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by BoboMonkey View Post
    Hello Everyone

    I just bought a Burke and James Watson Speed Press, but it's a 4x5. I'm not finding anything on this particular camera. Is anyone familiar with these?
    Welcome Bob!

    Take a look in this B&J catalog from 1951 found at Camera Eccentric site. Thanks Seth!
    This may be the camera your asking about. The Speed Press 4x5 is found w/ in the first few pages in the catalog. http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/bj_2.html

    I hope this helps.

  3. #3

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    The main thing you might not notice is the thin strip of metal sticking up between the strap and the back on the top left of the camera. Push that down and it unlocks the back so that you can rotate it to vertical. Otherwise, there's not much to know, and no secrets.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  4. #4

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    They're well made, but not too useful now. People will put up with the restrictions of a press camera in order to have the wonderful rear curtain shutter that the Speed Graphics offered. The B&J has all the restrictions of a press camera with no bling. So mostly, no one pays much attention to them now. Might be just the thing for a beginner to get his feet wet and get "hooked".
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  5. #5

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    I have had two B&J 4x5 Press cameras. I've found that the revolving back often leaks light and the front standard can be a little wobbly. To test for light leaks, I suggest you remove the lensboard, insert a good quality film holder, then take it in a dark room. Holding a small flashlight, insert your hand inside the camera and move the flashlight on the edges of where the back rotates. You may see light leaks.

    I was not able to fix the light leaks, short of putting black tape on the outside of the camera, which would have to be removed to rotate the back. (However, my second B&J Press is in better shape and does not leak light so far.)

    But I usually use a 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic, which is of much better quality, and also has a focal-plane shutter. I've had fun and good results using cheap projection lenses with it.

  6. #6

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    I use my B&J as a compact field camera. It's been stripped of finder and RF so it's compact, and It happens to share boards with one of my other 4x5s, so I have lenses ready to go. I don't miss the focal plane shutter (two people mentioned this: why should this lack be noted as a liability when no other LF camera I own has one, either????)
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  7. #7
    Nodda Duma's Avatar
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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    I have a Burke and James press camera, along with two B&J holders. The rotating back is a nice feature, and unlike the Graflex I can easily make lens boards out of thin plywood if I need to.

    But I still use my Graflex more.
    Newly made large format dry plates available! Look:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pictoriographica
    .. because my wife is happy when I can cover my photography expenses!

  8. #8

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Pacilla View Post
    Welcome Bob!

    Take a look in this B&J catalog from 1951 found at Camera Eccentric site. Thanks Seth!
    This may be the camera your asking about. The Speed Press 4x5 is found w/ in the first few pages in the catalog. http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/bj_2.html

    I hope this helps.

    Thank you Louis, but been through a few catalogs and none of them look like mine. I've been told it might be a much earlier version.

  9. #9

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    This one doesn't rotate

  10. #10

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    Re: Burke and James 4x5 questions

    Thank you. I have a speed graflex too. I just wanted the film holders from this set, but ended up with the camera too.

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