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Thread: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters?

  1. #1

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    NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters?

    Hello! I'm the newb who posted about the Dallmeyer Pentac 8" in the other thread. I'm a wedding photographer now mostly unemployed due to COVID, and I'm looking to branch out into high-end portraiture. I also shoot landscapes and I've been doing okay with selling prints this year. I'm hoping these two endeavors could compensate some of the lost wedding income. I'm a very experienced photog, but when it comes to large format I have no idea what I'm doing.

    It seems that the portraits I'm most drawn to are shot with the Aero Ektar on a Speed Graphic. The Pentac was an attempt to get something similar relatively cheaply. My Speed Graphic arrives today, but I've since learned that it's incompatible with the lens board (JoLo) I planned to use. So now I'm kinda back to square one.

    It occurs to me that if I found some interesting character lenses in shutters, I could just use a plain ol' field camera for the portraits as well as the landscapes, thereby killing two birds with one stone. I would have been using the SG/Pentac on a tripod, anyway, and focusing on the ground glass. The idea of being able to use something remotely modern on paid gigs is comforting, especially since there are already many opportunities for error for a LF newb like me. Not sure I trust the SG focal plane shutter. Are there lenses out there that could work for this? I'm not finding a great deal of info, and it seems like most lenses top out at f/4.5, if that. Using Flickr as my main source of research.

    I'd appreciate any guidance y'all can give. Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

  2. #2
    (Shrek)
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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    Anything faster than f4.5 that covers 4x5 but especially 5x7 or larger is going to be phenomenally expensive, even more so in shutter. Your Pentac was your best bet for a budget lens (there's a reason the wartime Pentacs are relatively cheap). The lens could have been disassembled and cleaned, it's not that hard to do, but it still won't have the Aero-Ektar look which is quite distinctive.


    The closest budget lens I've found that works in a Speed Graphic is the Rollei Heidosmat 150mm f2.8 projection lens, which can be found under US$100. If you use a hacksaw and cut off the external aluminum tube, it mounts quite easily on an Anniversary Speed wooden board (hot glue or similar to hold in place). Or if you don't trust the Speed focal plane shutter and want to go with a field camera, there are Packard or LUC shutters that can be front-mounted on most of these lenses, some of them have flash syncs. You'll need basic skills and some tools to cobble this sort of thing together, this is very much a hands-on practise.

  3. #3

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    I’m almost the polar opposite of you... I’m experienced with LF but not a great photographer.

    I’m experienced with SG in many contexts, including using “character lenses” with the focal plane shutter. It can work but I wouldn’t even think of it for a professional job. In general I thin these “character lenses” are overrated. What word best for me in LF are Kodak Commercial Ektars. Not cheap but classic.

    For camera, I’ve tried many and keep reverting to a basic monorail on a stout tripod as the best option. I used a Cambo that I bought circa 1985. Easy to switch lenses, move, refocus, and reframe when transitioning from head-and-shoulders to full-length. Field cameras can work but the monorail has less fiddley controls. Less fiddling means more time interacts with subject which generally means better results. Plus, they and accessories are readily available at good prices.

  4. #4

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    P.S. let me also be perfectly honest... for high-quality portraiture I’m more often inclined to use a Hasselblad. . The exception being if I’m thinking of contact printing in an alt process.

    I love LF photography but too often I’m finding that it’s not the only or best tool to use.

  5. #5
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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    I've been using a speed graphic with focal plane shutter for about 90% of my LF photography for 10 years. If the shutter work properly, it's reliable.

    For a budget lens for portraits, look no further than the fujinar 210/4.5 in a copal3 or shanel shutter. Nice round iris for a shuttered lens. Dime a dozen straight from japan on ebay.
    https://flic.kr/p/cdiHNb

    If you don't mind using the focal plane shutter, the 210 trioplan is also a very nice and affordable triplet that's wider aperture than optar/ektar lenses (not triplet but otherwise valued for portraiture).
    https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_...&text=trioplan

  6. #6

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    @jp: Excellent info. Thanks for the sample images!

    All: Thanks so much for your thoughts! Speed Graphic arrived today and the shutter seems to be working fine . . .

  7. #7

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    OP: Do you have a Pacemaker or an Anniversary SG?

  8. #8

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    Wellllll, funny story about that. I have only used a 4x5 camera once, about 15 years ago. It was a Speed Graphic. The one that just arrived was supposed to be an Anniversary SG. But it was a lot smaller than I remembered. Seemed very handy and packable. I thought "This isn't so bad, what's all the fuss about these being heavy and hard to carry?" Then I got out the ruler.

    It's a damn 3x4 Graphic. Good thing it was only $80. Guess I'll re-sell it and start from scratch.

  9. #9

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    Max, check out some of the similar questions about aero-ektar alternatives below.

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...archid=9739978

    There are some suggestions of the lenses that I come up with.
    schneider xenotar
    schneider xenar 3.5/4.5
    zeiss planar
    zeiss tessar 3.5/4.5

    I don’t have a speed graphic camera,
    but for a similar reason to you, I use a sinar copal shutter to use fast barrel lenses for portrait. These are not in shutters but unique lenses but you have a focal plane shutter now so why not to take an advantage of the camera?
    zeiss tessar f2.7 165mm
    zeiss biotessar f2.8 165mm
    which will be used in a few months.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10

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    Re: NEWB Questions! Speed Graphic/Aero Ektar? Interesting portrait lenses in shutters

    @mhayashi, thanks for this info! Given the fact that both the lens and camera I ordered ended up being unusable, I'm a little frustrated with this project and have decided to use a Mamiya C330. But I'm afraid the bug has bitten. I have a feeling a 4x5 of some sort is in my future. I appreciate all the help in this and the other thread!

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