4x5" Press Camera As Field Camera - Roundup

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by holmburgers, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    So, I know that this is a well explored topic, but I couldn't find a good roundup of information on APUG discussing the different press cameras that make good field-type cameras, specifically in 4x5". Small package, reasonably light weight, some movement, handholdable and rangefinder capable.

    Here's what I'm aware of thus far, and please feel free to fill in the gaps and add bits of information that might be useful to someone searching for such a camera; including any caveats like lens boards, minimum FL lens, RF cam availability; those types of things.

    Pacemaker Crown Graphic - Can use wider angle lenses than the 'Speed'
    Pacemaker Speed Graphic - FP shutter
    Super (Speed) Graphic - More movements than Pacemakers, rotating back, metal

    Toyo Super Graphic - Later version of the super graphic, by Toyo

    Meridian 45A & 45B

    Burke & James Press Camera

    Busch Pressman
    .....

    And I see that wikipedia has a pretty good list, so just add what you will... or nothing at all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Press_camera
     
  2. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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  3. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Why can you use wider lenses on Crowns than on Speeds?
     
  4. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks paul, hadn't heard of that one.

    As per Speeds, the focal plane shutter limits minimum focal length.
     
  5. photobum

    photobum Member

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    I won't add to your list but I will say this. In 4x5 I've had or still own Zone VI, Calumet, Linhof, Deardorff, Horseman and a near mint Crown. When I look around at prints on my living room wall or in my basement studio most have been shot with the Crown.

    I think it's how you work and what feels natural. I do know that I never worry about wrecking the Crown so I will take it anywhere. It has thousands of hard motorcycle miles on it. The lenses are tiny. This all makes it a perfect travel camera.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Linhof Technika of course. Lenses from 72mm to 360mm can be cammed. Lenses as short as 58mm can be used with the wideangle focusing device or as wide as 38mm with helical lenboard. Good descriptions of the different models can be found on cameraquest.com.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2011
  7. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    The only thing I can think to add right now is about the Meridians. The 45A takes a weird round lens board. The 45B takes a square board.
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Because the Crown has a shorter minimum flange-to-film distance.
     
  9. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    I suggest you have a look into the Silvestri catalogue.

    http://www.silvestricamera.com

    Some of them have a Galilean viewfinder with shift simulation. You can also use rollfilm backs. They are small, but I have no idea about the weight.

    Fabrizio
     
  10. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    My first & so far only 45 camera is a Crown Graphic. I bought it as a cheap way to explore large format & all round it's a great camera. However if I get another 45 I will definitely get one with a rotating back so I can have full range of movements for vertical as well as horizontal photos.
     
  11. brian d

    brian d Member

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    Tower Press Camera- rebadged Bush Pressman

    The Canadian Press King is sort of similar to a B&J
     
  12. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Wista had a 4x5 RF model with rotating back. Back tilt's. Cams for 120, 135, 150, and 180 lenses. Minimum bellows draw is 51mm, but it's a little short on the long end. Can take Linhof Tech boards and had a 5x7 back adapter available. 6.3 lbs. The cheaper VX model weighed 5.2 lbs but has a rotating Graflok back and back tilts. The mid model SP has micro focus back swings. 6.3 lbs.

    All out of an old B&H catalog.
     
  13. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    How bout the Toyo 45A? Used that, the Super Speed, Speed Graphic and a Zone VI. The Zone is probably the best all around in terms of weight, abilities, and sheer beauty. The Toyo has the most technical controls and is heavier, and the Graphics were both the most rugged.
     
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Most Press cameras are far too limiting to be used as a field camera, that really rules out Speed & Crown Graphics, Busch Pressman's etc, I have all three so it's first hand experience. Movements are sparse and that hampers creativity at times.

    However technical cameras like the Linhofs and MPP Micro Technicals (based on the 1939 Linhof anyway) are very much more practical and offer virtually all the movements of a Field camera, Graflex eventually realized they could no longer compete and introduced the Super Graphics and Toyo later bought the tooling etc.

    So if you have the cash a Linhof if the Rolls Royce of the Technical cameras followed by the later Toyo's 45A etc, but the Super Graphics and MPP Micr Technicals are just as capable.

    Beware the MPP MicroPress is actually a Speed Graphic in an MPP body so has the same limitations as a Speed Graphic.

    There's more MPP Micro Technicals around than Super Graphics in the UK, but few MPP's in the US as few were exported outside the British Commonwealth.

    I use a Super Graphic now and it's as versatile as my Wista 45DX so I'd have no hesitation recommending one over a Speed/Crown Graphic or similar Press camera. Toyo, Wista and others made technical cameras as well all good.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2011
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I got a 4"x5" Pacemaker Speed Graphic to use as a field camera that can also be used hand held. If I find that I need move movements later, I can buy a field camera and either keep or sell the Speed for more than I paid for it.

    I also picked up a 4"x5" Graflex Model D because I always wanted one.

    Steve
     
  17. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks guys, a lot of good additions.

    I forgot to mention that price is a concern for me (cheap yo!). That being said, a Super Graphic is probably my best bet, or the Meridian 45B variety. But under $200 is good.

    The Microtechnicals don't seem to show up in the US very often; I don't think there's a single one on eBay, past or present.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The MPP's are now fetching way over a $200 budget, more like $600-$700 probably more than they are worth compared to some other technical cameras.

    I paid around $180 for my Super Graphic last November mainly to use in Turkey instead of my Crown graphic (for hand held work) and Wista, I was having to decide to take one or the other and compromising and two incompatible lens board systems didn't help either. Now with the Super Graphic I have all the flexibility of the Wista but can work hand held as well.

    As you're a subscriber it might be worth placing a wanted advert here on APUG.

    Ian
     
  19. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks Ian, I think I shall. I've got an ad for trade with my monorail... but I know how those things usually go. (not so well)
     
  20. kirkfry

    kirkfry Member

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    Just say no.

    To all those other cameras and get a crown. After several thousand pictures you will really know what you want to try next and still be using the crown...... KFry
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not sure how you work that one out. Sure Crowns are fine for some uses but they have severe limitations, they are the most basic of all Press cameras. Th total lack of movements in portrait mode, and limited to tilt and very slight front rise & shift in landscape mode is not an problem for portraits, wide open spaces etc but useless for architecture/buildings more intimate landscapes, studio work etc.

    A Crown or Speed Graphic is NOT a Jack of all trades 5x4 LF camera, monorails are the most versatile in terms of movements but field cameras have advantages of portability outside the studio for tripod work and usually plenty of movements, technical cameras combine the hand hold ability of press cameras with the flexibility of a field camera.

    So for years and even today the Technical cameras are used and made to be the Jack of all trades 5x4 LF camera, and rightly so.

    Ian
     
  22. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ian, I use Graphics. Like them, too. You're completely right about their limitations.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2011
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I owned a Crown before moving to a Wista field camera some 30 years ago. The Crown was light, well-balanced for hand holding, and a pleasure to use right up to the point where I needed movements. Then it became frustrating. It was a cheap, portable way to try large format despite its limitations. I get nostalgic for it in the same way I remember my first car. I wouldn't want to own either of them now . . .

    Peter Gomena
     
  24. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    That's why the Super Graphic is so appealing... rotating back (a must honestly) and more movements, plus hand-holdability. Would you guys agree it's the best compromise??
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You'll find anyone with practical experience of a Super Graphic or equivalent Technical camera will totally agree.

    Most will go for the more expensive Linhof options, but also look out for the Toyo 45A they can be found around the $200 mark at times, there was one on this forum (or the LF Forum) about 18 months ago.

    Ian
     
  26. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    In terms of dipping your toe into 4x5 waters, almost any Crown Graphic in reasonable shape is a good start; mine came from a camera show with a 135mm OEM lens, and the old silver pressboard case with 2 spare lens boards for $130. It told me that 4x5 is something that I want to pursue, and when the right field camera comes my way at the right price, then a better camera will happen.

    Until then, it works well enough, and as others have said, it is one that you are willing to toss into a pack and drag around (and sometimes, like on the put in or take out at select difficult portage transitions when canoe tripping, I really do mean drag.)

    Crowns will also take a symmar 210 f/5.6, and still fold up and fully close (just). So configured it can be used for great portraits.