Adequacy of Speed-Graphic Movements for Tilt Portrait Effects?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by dpn, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. dpn

    dpn Subscriber

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I reviewed the description of the front movements available on Speed Graphics and other press cameras here:

    http://graflex.org/speed-graphic/features.html#Movements

    I'm mostly interested in acquiring a press camera for outdoor and environmental portrait work. I'd like to experiment with tilt effects in my portraits; does anyone know if the range of movement the Speed Graphic offers will be sufficient for this? Should I try for one of the drop-bed press cameras instead?

    Thanks,

    Dan
     
  2. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,801
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    The Speed is not too good for this because the back is fixed, ie normally landscape orientation, you turn the whole camera on it's side for portrait orientation. This might mess up your tilt plans, because any tilt movement ability would then become "swing" (side to side tilt).

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2011
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,067
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The graphics don't have front tilt, only rear. They can be easily modified to add front tilt. AFAIK they all have a drop bed. + what Jon said.
     
  4. dpn

    dpn Subscriber

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for correcting my terminology; obviously, I've never played with a camera with movements!

    I know that the Crown graphic has a side tripod mount, and some of the other press cameras have rotating backs ... but this issue hadn't even occurred to me.

    But, yeah, it's kind of hilarious that I hadn't thought of the logistical challenges presented by the combination of fixed format and large camera. It's no big deal to hold a 35mm camera sideways, and my MF is a 6x6 -- this wasn't even on my radar!
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,487
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a Pacemaker Speed Graphic which does have movements, but not a whole lot. Lens coverage has to be considered also.
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I consider it adequate, if you have a postwar pacemaker or crown camera (with the shiny front standard rather than black or dark gray).
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,487
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree, it is enough for me. However, I have not used it for portraits, therefore I cannot comment on that part.
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    3,980
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're going to use movements you'll be shooting from tripod. So get a camera with adequate movements, not a Graphic.

    For the record, I shoot 2x3 Graphics. They have drop beds. The bed is dropped to get it out of the frame when using a wide angle lens. They all have front standards that tilt backwards. This feature is used with all 18 mm of front rise (2x3 Pacemaker Graphics) to center a w/a lens on the gate when the front standard is near the rear of the outer rails and the bed is dropped. They all have a little shift that can't be unless the front standard is in front of the bed struts. As I mentioned, they have front rise; in practice this is their only generally useful movement.

    I like my little Graphics. But if you want what a view camera does, get a view camera, don't screw around with a press camera.
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dan, you might consider a horseman VH or similar mini view camera. It'll give you a lot more capability if you want to tilt; you can also put a monocular viewer on those cameras, which can be very helpful.

    What is your purpose for the tilt? If you simply wish to throw focus, you can do that with some modifications or at the enlarger. If you need tilt to bring a particular plane into focus, and thus need finer movements, then a view camera will do much better.
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,216
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    S.F. Bay Are
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Tilt is not generally used on portraits. Maybe a little swing but...at least in my experience, you need to have a pretty patient subject to even make a straight portrait with large format. If you start trying to get fancy with movements...well, I've never found a sitter that was THAT patient.

    Anyway, the real beauty of shooting people with the crown / speed graphic is the ability to shoot range finder focused and hand held! It handles like a big folder! It is the perfect camera for shooting portraits on 4x5.

    However, for the record, the pacemaker graphics all have tilt. You can tilt the lens board backward easily and forward tilt can be achieved by dropping the bed and tilting backward less than all the way back....but it is a pain in the ass to focus when playing this game. Just remember, with a crown/speed graphic, you don't need no stinking tilt!
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,118
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    a pacemaker and crown graphic for portrait work,
    they work very well in this way, they are press cameras
    and were built for documentary and portrait work.
    i have a 50s pacemaker and have made environmental portraits
    with it since it was purchased in 1988.
    i wouldn't consider these cameras for architectural work
    ( unless i was using a wide lens and shooting straight on )
    but for portraits, i wouldn't hesitate.

    good luck!
    john
     
  12. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

    Messages:
    626
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    NW Chicagola
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Does an unmodified camera have any front swing? If setup in portrait orientation you would need to use the swing to get a tilt movement. I believe this is not available. This would limit your tilt play to landscape orientation only.
     
  13. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello Dan;
    The Super Graphic, last production model made would be my choice. Rotating back, bed drop, front standard tilts fore and aft, lateral shift, swings, and rise and fall. Otherwise an older view camera would be a good economic choice, Steven.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    3,980
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Steven, the Super Graphic, unlike the Pacemakers, has unlinked inner and outer bed rails. This makes focusing short focal lengths that make infinity on the inner rails very difficult. Win a little, lose a lot.
     
  16. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    3,980
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As you said, a PITA. As you didn't say, usable only with a limited range of focal lengths at a limited range of focused distances. In most situations, unusable.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,118
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    so why it is again that one needs swings and tilts for portraits ?
     
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dan wants tilt, let us recommend something that gives him tilt!
     
  19. dpn

    dpn Subscriber

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks all for the vibrant debate and great information.

    The point of the movements while shooting portraits is mess with the plane of focus a bit -- to add more/different out of focus areas in order to focus attention, etc. I'm already a big fan of shooting wide open on my smaller cameras; the idea would be to exaggerate the out of focus effects even more by through the use of movements. Hey, it looks "good" (or at least interesting, at least some of the time) when it's faked in digital. I'd hope to achieve a similar, but more subtle and honest, effect through movements.

    Patrick Messina's stuff here: http://www.patrickmessina.com/port.html is a good example of some of the look I'd like to recreate. If I can do them with a press camera, awesome. If I would really need the movements afforded by a view camera ... then I'm glad I'm figuring that out now!
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,118
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    you could always use your press camera, and instead of using a normal
    lens in a lensboard, get a lensbaby, and replace their lens with one you know
    covers your 4x5 format ... and just do all your movements with the lens, rather than
    the front standard ... the photographs you linked to look like they could be recreated
    that way ... if you don't want to buy a field camera ( or rail camera ) which can give you
    more movements than barely any swing/tilt/shift from a press camera ...
    putting a lens in foamcore instead of a rigid lensboard also will give you the opportunity to
    mess around with your plane of focus as well.

    good luck !
    john
     
  21. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW Mis
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Dan, I have a variety of old view and press cameras, and would chose a view camera over a press camera to duplicate Patrick Messina's style. Tilts and swings are usually easier made with the view camera. The Pacemaker series Graphics can be modified to have front swings, but this limits other functions. Contrary to what is implied in the link in your first post, the Anniversary Speed Graphic did not have front tilt. The front standard from a Pacemaker Graphic can be installed on an Anniversary to give some tilt, but that is not a completely satisfactory solution due to the greater angle of the dropped front on the Anniversary. The front standard of the Pacemaker can be altered by drilling a new hole for the tilt clamping screw to permit both front and back tilt. The Speed Graphic has been the subject of countless such modifications to give it more of the functions of a view camera, but it is still just a mangled press camera.
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,487
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a Pacemaker Speed Graphic and a Graflex Model D, that I purchased to get back into LF. The choices were based on wanting 4"x5" cameras that can be hand held. The Model D has not movements; although the 1919 RB Auto Graflex had rise, unfortunately it was both a 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" camera and a shelf queen. I use the limited movement to learn about them and see it I am interested in a view camera in the future. Before purchasing these, I considered the Hasselblad FlexBody and the Hasselblad ArcBody since I already have Hasselblads. I decided to buy the Pacemaker Speed Graphic to learn about the movements, because it was hand holdable and much less expensive and risky than buying a Hasselblad FlexBody, which is also movement limited, at a much higher price.

    I am still in the learning phase.
     
  23. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello Dan Fromm;
    I realize the short comings on the Super. In my case never have to use a wide angle, the 127mm Ektar has met my needs. With the 127mm at infinity there is 1 1/8" plus left on the track. Confident that an 90mm WF Optar could be mounted without a recessed board and work great. Dan pointed out that he wanted a camera for portrait work. So my guess is he will be using 180mm to 210mm lens and the lateral shift and swing of the front standard would keep the eyes in focus in shooting the lens wide open. The rotating back allows for vertical position without mounting the camera on its side. The resale value really helps also. Best regards, Steven.
     
  24. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

    Messages:
    495
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have a Super Graphic and a Toyo 45AX. Both have a 15-degree tilt, and can be tilted further by dropping the bed. Fact is, the Toyo folds up by laying the front standard on the bed. There are also many monorail cameras made for outdoor use, like the Orbit, which has a handle on the top.

    Since you are shooting medium format now, try this for an exercise: put a long lens on your camera, open it up wide, and then just look at something at portrait distance. Point the camera down, and just keep one section in focus in the upper portion of the viewfinder. Now, how far down did you move the camera to get the image like you wanted it? 15 degrees is actually a lot.

    Patrick Messina uses a view camera, but I didn't see an article about what model. It really doesn't matter, though. You need something with decent front movements. Is there a store near you where you can try something out? Or how about getting together with a forum member?
     
  25. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just tilt your paper under the enlarger. You'll get more out-of-focus entertainment than you ever thought possible :smile:
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,118
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    there you go keith !