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Thread: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

  1. #1

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    Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    I recognize I'm going a bit backward as it were. I have a Chamonix 45F2, which I absolutely adore, along with a Camerdactly OG. The 45F2 gets used the most unsurprisingly, but the OG is fun to take out some days. The main issue is I have to decide to use the OG since I have to mount my 90mm inside (and I only have one 90) which takes a bit of time. Plus it has no movements and a non-coupled range-finder. The 90mm also takes some getting used to hand-held.

    So I'm thinking of getting a Crown Graphic instead and was curious what folks think about the camera that have both a folding field camera and a Graphic.

    That's really the question so what follows is just some rambling and extra detail

    The idea of hand-held shooting though is compelling and so I'm thinking about trying to find a nice Crown or (if I can find one with known working focal plane shutter), a Speed graphic. The Graphics have some movements (tilt being what I'd be most interested in) whereas the OG has none; and a coupled rangefinder as long as it's either calibrated or has the correct cam installed (as an aside, wondering if I might be able to 3D print custom cams for the top rangefinder models...). The Speed Graphic had me excited for barrel lenses though I think I'm leading towards a Crown or one of the models without the shutter to save weight and mostly because finding a Speed that has a known working shutter is definitely pricier. I'm not sure when I'd ever find a barrel lens anyway.

    I've been doing stay-at-home around the house shots with my 45F2 using HP5 at 1600. I can't do that hand-held without a flash typically but outdoors 1600 should be plenty during the day (I like HP5 at 800+ more than box speed). Color might be another matter since, alas, there is no Portra 800 in 4x5 (I've pushed 160 and 400 and it does alright though).

    The reason for all this is mostly because I'd like to go downtown (once we can again) and take 4x5 shots that would be hard/impossible to get if I needed a tripod. I've got a Yashica Mat that would be a great option as well, but for the shots I really want, I'd like them in 4x5. A Graphic, unlike the OG, looks more like a camera folks have seen, even if just in the old movies, and also using tilts for dramatic affect could be really fun.

  2. #2

    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    I have Crown and find it is easy to use hand held I also have the Grafmatic back with 6 shots and that is an awesome combo. Just be cautious of the focus. Remember "F 8 and Be There " Like WeeGee said!!

  3. #3

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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Just be aware that Pacemaker Graphics' only generally useful -- with all focal lengths at all focused distances -- movement is front rise. Using it requires shooting from tripod.

    Graphics' big advantage over the OG is that they have more focusing travel. The Kalart (side) RF fitted to older Graphics can be adjusted to work with just one lens. Adjusting it for another lens in the field is pretty time consuming, not recommended. There are workarounds, all pretty clumsy. Late Crowns have Graflex' own RF on top. This uses cams, which are very very lens specific and hard to source. graflex.org has directions for making cams.

    The OG's big disadvantage is probably that each lens needs its own focusing helical.

    I suspect that if you're going to shoot with short normal (no shorter than 90 mm) to normal (150) mm lenses you'll get at best small gains over the OG from a Graphic.

    So you'll know, I have Speed and Crown Graphics and like them very much. But they have their limits.

  4. #4

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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Just be aware that Pacemaker Graphics' only generally useful -- with all focal lengths at all focused distances -- movement is front rise. Using it requires shooting from tripod..
    Hmm that's a good point. I was thinking I would use this with normalish focal-lengths. Probably the 135mm that would come with the one I'm looking at which is already coupled for the RF and viewfinder. I found 90mm, though I use it a lot in landscapes, is really wide on the OG. I opted for the 90mm for having a bigger in-focus range.

    Back to movements, it does have front tilt backwards right? And kinda tilt forward when dropping the bed? I've been looking at David Burnett's work (the guy that covered the London Olympics, among many other things using a Speed and an Aero Ektar) and it looks like he used the tilt to great affect. I'd imagine that would be rather tough to do without using the GG though.

  5. #5
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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    I'm new to all this still, but bought a Crown from a Forum member a few months back for portraits with flash indoors. Handheld though because I'd be on the run. Then used it outside making portraits of strangers to accompany brief interviews, just before the dark days. Schneider Xenar 135mm that came with the camera.

    Because the lens was perfectly calibrated upon arrival, it has been a joy. I added a Vivitar grip to use a cable release instead of the built-in release, but also to provide a cold shoe for the flash trigger. I sometimes even add a Graflite Jr. Battery Tube that attaches to the side (with another cold shoe), and I find it so easy to hold solid. The tube itself is just a handhold.

    And yes, folks do light up with recognition because the camera is just so cool. Approaching strangers is made easier by this instant igniting of their curiosity. You just have to fend off questions as you focus, compose, etc.!

    But if you were thinking about the focal plane shutter and the Speed, I bumped into a great guy, Frank Thorp, who is on Instagram as @FrankThorpV. He is a reporter (and more) for NBC News, and he carries his Speed (beautifully refinished with leather removed and wood finely tuned) with an Aero Ektar wherever he goes. He is very adept at grabbing quick portraits of politicians around the U.S. Capitol handheld amongst the press scrum. No flash, fast lens, good access, indoors mostly. Develops and prints at some public darkroom at the Smithsonian. He is a great guy, very generous with his methodology.

    I was drawn to the Speed myself for all the usual reasons, but economics tipped the scales (assuming I'd lust for that Ektar), and I am drawn to the simplicity of the Crown. Not too much to think about for quick shooting. What a great adventure no matter which way you go!

  6. #6

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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    Back to movements, it does have front tilt backwards right? And kinda tilt forward when dropping the bed? I've been looking at David Burnett's work (the guy that covered the London Olympics, among many other things using a Speed and an Aero Ektar) and it looks like he used the tilt to great affect. I'd imagine that would be rather tough to do without using the GG though.
    Oh, yeah, the front standard tilts backwards. The cameras have this feature so that shortish lenses that make infinity with the standard on the outer bed rails and that require the bed to be dropped can be made perpendicular to the film plane (the angle the bed drops is equal and opposite to the angle the standard tilts backwards, there's a hint) and their optical axes' centered on the gate with front rise. With other lenses that don't need the bed to be dropped, dropping the bed and tilting the standard less than all the way back will give front tilt. Except, of course, that whether the lens' axis can be centered on the gate depends on the lens' focal length and the focused distance. Front tilt is there but can't be used very often.

    Yes, setting the camera up with movements requires using the GG. After it is set up, point, pray and shoot.

  7. #7

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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Thanks folks! That gives me a lot of good information! I'll admit I'm partly romantically drawn into the Graphics. There's definitely some GAS going on here hehe but sure seems like it would be a really fun camera to use.

  8. #8

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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    I recognize I'm going a bit backward as it were. I have a Chamonix 45F2, which I absolutely adore, along with a Camerdactly OG. The 45F2 gets used the most unsurprisingly, but the OG is fun to take out some days. The main issue is I have to decide to use the OG since I have to mount my 90mm inside (and I only have one 90) which takes a bit of time. Plus it has no movements and a non-coupled range-finder. The 90mm also takes some getting used to hand-held.

    So I'm thinking of getting a Crown Graphic instead and was curious what folks think about the camera that have both a folding field camera and a Graphic.

    That's really the question so what follows is just some rambling and extra detail

    The idea of hand-held shooting though is compelling and so I'm thinking about trying to find a nice Crown or (if I can find one with known working focal plane shutter), a Speed graphic. The Graphics have some movements (tilt being what I'd be most interested in) whereas the OG has none; and a coupled rangefinder as long as it's either calibrated or has the correct cam installed (as an aside, wondering if I might be able to 3D print custom cams for the top rangefinder models...). The Speed Graphic had me excited for barrel lenses though I think I'm leading towards a Crown or one of the models without the shutter to save weight and mostly because finding a Speed that has a known working shutter is definitely pricier. I'm not sure when I'd ever find a barrel lens anyway.

    I've been doing stay-at-home around the house shots with my 45F2 using HP5 at 1600. I can't do that hand-held without a flash typically but outdoors 1600 should be plenty during the day (I like HP5 at 800+ more than box speed). Color might be another matter since, alas, there is no Portra 800 in 4x5 (I've pushed 160 and 400 and it does alright though).

    The reason for all this is mostly because I'd like to go downtown (once we can again) and take 4x5 shots that would be hard/impossible to get if I needed a tripod. I've got a Yashica Mat that would be a great option as well, but for the shots I really want, I'd like them in 4x5. A Graphic, unlike the OG, looks more like a camera folks have seen, even if just in the old movies, and also using tilts for dramatic affect could be really fun.
    This is the right camera for you. I hope you like it
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...napshot-camera
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  9. #9
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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    Keep your eyes open and find a Speed. There's a lot of interesting lenses out there with no shutters, or cheap ones with broken shutters. I don't think it's that hard to find one with a working FP shutter. I've probably had 25+ Speed Graphics through my hands and maybe one or two had bad shutters. Now...don't expect a perfect exposure every time like it's a well-oiled Leica, but working nevertheless!

    When I'm travelling and shooting mostly smaller formats, I often chuck a Speed with a couple specialty barrel lenses in a bag along with small 90mm and 127mm lenses, just in case. It takes up just a bit of extra space in the trunk, so no harm in bringing it along.

    And if you are lucky, the RF will work with the lens it comes with...but if you really want that RF to couple with the lens then learn how to calibrate the Kalart RF (and get a camera with said RF type).
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Portfolio
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  10. #10
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    Re: Thinking about getting a Crown Graphic as a secondary 4x5 for hand-held shots

    A few years ago I needed a project and built a Top Rangefinder Speed Graphic with an additional Kalart side rangefinder that I salvaged from something else. It was a bit of a challenge, but it basically worked. The top RF came with the cam for the 127mm lens that came on the camera, and I set up the Kalart for an Ilex Paragon 8-1/2" f/4.5 lens. That works, but the focus accuracy isn't quite good enough for f/4.5, of course.

    These were really designed for hand-held photography, but the classic look from these seems to feature flash use quite a lot. I'm a lot less fussy about shutter speed accuracy when using a flash

    Rick "but not that much into hand-held photography with LF and don't play with it often" Denney

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