Lenses on Graflex RB Cameras

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by momus, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. momus

    momus Member

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    Years ago I had a Graflex RB SLR. It wasn't for me, but I've always admired the images they're capable of making, especially portraits. OK, so some of the photographers that used them were Weston, Lange and the like, who probably could have made great images w/ a Brownie, but maybe some of it was the lenses?

    I have no desire to use a big, clunky, LF SLR, since I ride a bike and need something that folds up for carrying, but what are my options w/ a folding Graflex camera? The lenses on the RBs are barrel w/ no shutters, and I would rather not depend on a Speed Graphic focal plane shutter unless there are no other options. Do any of the Graflex press cameras have similar optics w/ the lenses in shutters? 4x5 interests me, as you can buy Tri-X for that.

    My Graflex press cameras had 127 and 203 Ektar lenses, along a Xenar on another camera. These were tack sharp lenses, and not what I'm after. Would the old standard Optar or Raptor lenses be better suited to "sharp enough, but not razor sharp" portraits, or did Kodak make some of the RB lenses in shutters? Thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2014
  2. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Lenses for the RB were not in shutters. They were generally of longer FL than those on Graphic cameras. It is difficult to discuss the lenses as a group because there were several "standard" lenses for the cameras through the years.
     
  3. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    As Jim said, the lenses on an RB can vary a bit. B&L Tessars and Kodak Anastigmats (also Tessar type) were common (your 127 Ektar, as well as the Wolly Optars are also Tessar types) . There were also Cooke Series IIs, Protars, and the f2.5 Cooke on the series C. You can find the two former ones in shutters. But, I'm not sure what the downside is to a Speed's FP shutter. I don't think it's any more inaccurate than old between lens shutters. It's certainly no different than the shutter in a RB Graflex.

    Dan
     
  4. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    My Optars are too sharp for "sharp enough, but not razor sharp" portraits. In fact, my Kodak Anastigmats are also too sharp for "sharp enough, but not razor sharp" portraits.
     
  5. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    For portraits I like to use a 3x4 Graflex SLR with a 2x3 roll film holder attached. The lens is an uncoated 6-3/8 in. (162 mm) Kodak Anastigmat in barrel. On the 2x3 format this would be roughly equivalent to a 77mm lens on the 35mm format. The lens dates from 1931; the Speed Graphics were equipped with a focal-plane shutter only until the Pacemaker Crown series (equipped with a lens shutter as well) was introduced after WW2. The standard Optar/Raptar lenses on these are sharper than the Anastigmats, which produce a softer image if opened to f/5.6 or so.
    Kodak Anastigmats usually came in barrel mount, but some were mounted in shutter. There is one such on the auction site right now,
    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/LARGE-FORMAT...59482783?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item4d1aa4b19f
    This is a very old lens. The focal length isn't specified, and I'm sure the shutter will need a CLA. This would probably be the kind of lens the OP is looking for.
     
  6. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    I use a B&L Tessar 5x7 Series 1c which is 210/4.5 and it's not exceedingly contrasty when wide open. It is a nice blend of sharp and low contrast for portraits for my tastes. I also have a 127 Ektar which is has more contrast and looks "sharper" than the Tessar. The Tessar has just as much resolution but it doesn't show it quite as readily.
     
  7. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    The standard lens for the 4x5 D (many more were available) was the #33 anastigmat 7 1/2". This is a wonderful lens for up to 5x7 and has a creamy-smooth sharpness to it that I particularly like. The lens was available in shutter for other cameras as well as in the barrel mount for the RB's.
     
  8. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I use both the 33 and 31. As Whitey says: great lens. But smooth more than soft. :smile: