Crown Graphic 4 by 5

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by rusty_tripod, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. rusty_tripod

    rusty_tripod Member

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    Got a chance to pick up a Crown Graphic 4 by 5 today for $325. Complete kit with manuals, lens, backs, etc. Any precautions I should take? I am also trying to find a justification for the expense. I get to retire next spring and hope to do some traveling. Thoughts?
     
  2. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    I've done a lot of travelling with a CG - they're great cameras. Make sure the focusing rails aren't bent (due to closing the bed without fully retracting the rails first). Otherwise anything wrong should be pretty self-evident. A few Grafmatic six-shots will come in handy.

    Once you get it pop over to http://www.graflex.org for lots of goodness.
     
  3. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    Seems a bit steep depending on what else it comes with - what lens(es) and what backs (and does it have a Graflok back)? I just sold a really nice, really clean later model Crown with a 135mm Optar on ebay for far less than that.

    Dan
     
  4. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    It's overpriced if it's just the one lens, I'd think more around $200 would be fair. Like someone said, check the focus rails & also check the hinges on the focus rails to make sure they're not bent/broken. Ask/check if the rangefinder is working with the included lens, if so you have the potential for hand held shooting rather than using ground glass on tripod all the time.
     
  5. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Value depends on many things. What vintage/model? If the included lens is a 135 Optar and the whole kit is in so-so condition then it may actually be worth even less than $200. However, if it's all nearly mint with all the original boxes then it can easily be worth $500+. Heck, if a mint Heiland 3-cell flash (with the built-in illuminating eye for focusing) is included that alone is worth $150+ and maybe more than $200 for those Star Wars die-hard types... and still worth $100+ in average working condition. What backs (I assume he means film holders or RFH's) are included and how many? Singer lever-type 6x9 backs are worth about $100 each if they're nearly mint... a half dozen of those alone are worth $350+ even in average good working condition. The lens... a nearly mint coated 203 Ektar alone is easily worth $270 while one in decent cosmetic condition with really nice glass is worth $200 or a bit less.

    These prices are taking into account the lousy economy.
     
  6. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Prices are all over the place, I've seen them go for $150 - $450 depending on what's included, the phase of the moon, and who was on the cover of People magazine that week. If you can wait then patience can pay off with a good deal, but it's a crap shoot. Mostly when I buy things these days I look around a bit to get a ballpark of what it's going for, and if I find something pretty decent at the same time i have the money I get it. I waited patiently for many months to get my CG and Graflex RB and got some really good deals, but there comes a point when the time spent waiting and watching starts to become a factor.

    A good example is Graflex bag magazines. I've bought eight or nine in the past two months paying between $25-35 each. There are a number of them listed at $175 and up on the auction site. I've asked a couple of the high-priced sellers how they can charge so much and they assure me that impulsive and impatient people do buy them. Lens & Repro is another good example...
     
  7. rusty_tripod

    rusty_tripod Member

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    This is what the kit includes. I have not seen it yet but will do so later this morning. Vintage "press" camera, 4x5 format with Schnieder-Kreuznach Xenar lens. Complete kit in carrying case includes: 15 sheet film holders, 120 film holder, Polaroid landfilm holder, flash reflector & bulbs, 2 remote release cables, self-timer, Olson exposure meter, original warranty card, and owners manuals!
     
  8. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    If you've got the money to spare and it's all in good condition then go for it. It's hard for anyone else to place a value on it for you.
     
  9. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Rusty, there's still not enough information here to make a decent ballpark judgement on price. That said, $325 doesn't seem to be out-of-whack. This kit might be worth a little bit less or considerably more than the asking price. I suggest trying to get free shipping. If it's local purchase then just examine everything very carefully and ask all the right questions.
     
  10. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    If it has the Xenar lens, it's probably (but not necessarily) a top rangefinder model. If so, it should have a Graflok back with Fresnel, unless it was swapped out (which I've seen). Check the shutter speeds on the Xenar - it's in a Syncro-Compur shutter and it's hard to find parts for those so they're not always repairable. Check the bellows carefully for cracks/holes. As was said, make sue the rear rails are fully intact - along with bellows, those are the most common problem with a Crown. If the RF is the top model, make sure it works, and that it has the right cam (those are nearly impossible to find and therefore go for ridiculous money for a tiny bit of stamped sheetmetal). Figure 15 sheet film holders are worth $5 apiece, as long as they're in decent shape. A roll film holder is worth $40+ depending on whether it's an older one (without the pin rollers) or an RH model, especially in 6x9 or even 6x7 (why would anyone want to shoot 6x6 on such a big camera?).

    My 2 cents - if the camera is in good condition and the shutter is good and glass clean, it's worth $325, particularly if it has the top RF (the lensboard may or may not be marked "special", by the way)

    Dan
     
  11. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    Look for light leaks and the general condition of the bellows. I sold my 1964 CG with Ektar lens a couple of years ago when I had to fund a scanner. Not so sure that was such a good idea. :sad: It ended up going to somebody in Italy.

    $325 is a bit high, unless it's a later model (top RF) and it has been recently CLA'd. But the reality is, the price is only slightly high since you mentioned 15 holders.

    I kept all my holders and I'm probably going to pick up a Zero-Image 4x5 system.
     
  12. rusty_tripod

    rusty_tripod Member

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    I did not buy it. Rails were good. Lens was clean. Bellows was in good condition. Rangefinder was on the side. Had lots of extras. I just felt I did not know enough to make a good judgment and was uncertain about the learning curve relative to the expense. There are cheaper ones on Ebay.
     
  13. John NYC

    John NYC Member

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    Two EX (not the top level by a couple levels) condition body-only Crown Graphics are avail on KEH right now for $310 and $379. It's very hard to find bargains on these things right now. I have been looking for some time for the right condition/price point on KEH just to have one of these to mess around with.

    (The only thing I bought off the 'bay that said it was LIKE NEW, wasn't, so now I don't mess with that.)
     
  14. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I picked up what was advertised as a "fair" pre-Anny Speed for about $100. After cleaning it up and applying some lube to the FP shutter, it has turned out to be a surprisingly good camera. The bellows is light-tight, the focus rails are in good shape, the range finder is fairly accurate. Keep looking, there are some good ones out there. Mine may not be a cosmetic beauty, but it is in good shape and quite functional. :smile:
     
  15. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    I have both a Pacemaker Speed Graphic and an Anniversary Speed Graphic in 3 1/4 x 4 1/4. Yes I got this format on purpose and I just cut 8x10 sheet film down to size. I kind of like the models with the Kalart side rangefinder. Sometimes the top rangefinders on the later models have a missing/wrong cam in the rangefinder that causes problems but you can almost always get a Kalart to work. In my opinion, the build quality of Anniversary cameras is usually slightly better than Pacemakers. I just had the Graphex front shutter from my Pacemaker worked on: cost $118. Prices for decent wide angle or telephoto lenses can be as much as a complete camera. Getting film holders or flash accessories in a complete outfit is definitely worth paying extra.

    Probably the biggest danger in getting a Graphic is that you cannot stop with just one. I own eight of them.
     
  16. brian d

    brian d Member

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    Yup, once you get started its hard to stop!
     
  17. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    A well-described, excellent or better condition side-Kalart Crown Graphic with a Graflok back, a good clean Xenar and the accessories you described might readily be resold for that same $325 on eBay most any day of the week. The side-Kalarts are typically more desirable as they can be adjusted to any one lens, but as others have mentioned already, the top RFs require swapping out a cam which may prove unavailable.

    Might want to also look at the Super Graphic. It's got some refinements, most notably the rotating back and more front standard moves.
     
  18. sangetsu

    sangetsu Member

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    Personally, I think $325 for such a kit is not a bad price, particularly when it comes with the manuals, etc. The days of cheap Crown Graphics are numbered as many are falling apart from old age, and the clean ones are being picked up by enthusiasts and collectors. Here in Japan I can't find a Crown Graphic in any condition for less than $400, and clean ones are priced as high as $1000.
     
  19. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I have a few bad Graphex shutters in need of help - who did you send them to? (I'm on Flutot's waiting list but I wasn't going to waste my limit of two shutters on one of those)

    Only eight? :wink:

    They breed like rabbits. My list (anyone care to take some of these things off my hands?):

    4x5:
    Pacemaker Speed
    Pacemaker Crown
    Pacemaker Crown
    Pacemaker Crown (top RF)
    Pacemaker Speed (military)
    Combat Graphic
    Anniversary Graphic (military)
    Anniversary Graphic)
    RB Series D
    Graphic View II

    3x4:
    Anniversary Graphic
    RB Series D

    2x3:
    Pacemaker Speed
    Pacemaker Crown
    Century (Red bellows)
    Century
    Century
    Century

    3 1/4 x 5 1/2:
    Speed Graphic

    5x7?
    RB Cycle Graphic (from a Cirkut #6)
     
  20. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Fotoguy20d,

    Carol Miller at Flutot's repaired my shutter. She did CLA and replaced the synchronizer parts in the shutter as the 'M' synch was not working. I should get it back this week. I can't wait to try it out with some flashbulbs.
    Dave
     
  21. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Paul Ebel is another reliable source for leaf shutter repair (651-335-8759; paulebel44@yahoo.com). don't know his backlog situation.

    To Rusty Tripod:
    Certainly a good idea to learn as much as you can and look at as many as you can. But if you're at all unsure about your level of knowledge it's cheaper in the long run to buy from a knowledgeable source that will accept returns. Barring that, buy from someone who knows and uses the item you're buying. Or at least where you can see/feel/test the equipment. I personally think it takes a lot more product knowledge to successfully buy on eBay.
     
  22. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Fotoguy... how much do you want for the Century/red?
     
  23. rusty_tripod

    rusty_tripod Member

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    Thanks mgb74, that was the approach I took.