Opinions on speed graphics?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by m1tch, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Hi all,

    I am getting really tempted by a 4x5 speed graphic camera I have seen, what are they like to shoot? I like the fact it has a focal plane shutter as it means I can use older barrel lenses as well, just wondering what peoples opinions are of them as they seem pretty user friendly.
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I like them. I have a 1953 4"x5" Pacemaker Speed Graphic. Check out www.graflex.org


    ... and a 1928 4"x5" Graflex Model D
     
  3. superpos

    superpos Member

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    for standard 4x5 work they are perfect
    just some issues adding "long lenses" to them
     
  4. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    I once saw the Speed Graphic described as the "Harley Davidson of cameras." They were designed for press work so, as shooters, they're better than most 4 by 5 cameras you will encounter. Later models with a body release are a titch easier to use, but nothing a small cable release can't compensate for.

    They're chick magnets, too.
     
  5. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Cool, I have decided to treat myself and go with it, its from someone who restores them and its now basically mint, it seems to be a pacemaker speed graphic so 1947-70, has a 135mm Schneider Kreuznach lens, all shutter speeds work and bellows are light tight and flexible.

    Once I get the camera and serial number I will find out when it was made but it looks in really good condition with everything working as it should with a nice clear bright ground glass, I might get myself another large format camera at some point but this seems to be perfect to start with - its under half the cost of the camera I was going for but this will allow me to also mount barrel lenses as well.

    I will post up some photos of it when I get it :smile:
     
  6. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    My speed is a wreck - really battered up old thing, but I love it. I've renovated the shutter so it is reliable (if hardly accurate) and use it with a huge range of barrel lenses. It is a lot of fun and tends to attract attention - although not always good :-o
    The most popular comments is "That's a serious looking camera!" - but I've also had "What a stupid old diniosaur", too :confused:
    Not sure if that weas me, or the camera?
     
  7. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    yeah please do put up some photos
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    the graflex cameras are great ( press and slr models )
    if you don't need any camera movements. they are basically
    like a big 35mm or MF camera with maybe a little bit of rise
    and a smidgen of tilt if you get a pacemaker speed graphic.
    if you can get over the fact they don't offer shift,, tilt, bend like a pretzl
    and rotate the back a little bit, and THEN swing the lens plane and film plane in opposite directions
    they are a great camera. the focal plane shutter is a HUGE advantage over most large format cameras sold.

    i have and have used one since about 1988 ... and use it often.

    best of luck with your quest !
    john
     
  9. Illegible

    Illegible Member

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    There is much to like in a speed graphic. It is a fairly rugged camera and thus if you purchase it at a low price, it is not a camera that you need to worry about damaging. The ability to use barrel lenses depends on the focal plane shutter. If that doesn't work right, then it is not such an attractive package.

    They came with a rangefinder and if that works correctly with a lens that is on the camera, it is a plus. Some are for sale without a lens or without the original lens. This is less attractive. If you will put your own barrel lens on the camera, then you will need to verify that the groundglass is present and correctly installed (generally requires a test print of two to be sure that this works).

    The drawback that you will note soon, if what you want is movements, is that they are very limited on a graflex.

    Another point to note is whether it is a graphic or a graflex (entirely different type of back) and if it is a graphic whether it has spring back or a graphloc back (more versatile, especially if you will use a roll film back).
     
  10. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I was a "cub" photographer in the early 1960s. I used a Crown Graphic and a Speed Graphic. I preferred the "Crown Graphic", because the focal plane shutter was never accidentally in the way.

    Since I used the things after school, when it was darker. I often used it with an "electronic" flash, consisting of a large power pack on a neck strap, and a great coiled wire going from that to the camera.

    So, put a handle on a large cuckoo clock, a lens and film back......you got a Speed Graphic.

    Very nice pictures though.
     
  11. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Just as a matter of interest; A "chick magnet" is usually an intelligent, caring, decent looking fellow, less than 40, unmarried, good teeth and a few dollars in his bank account. He could be swinging a dead rat for it that mattered after that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2012
  12. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    They don't make flatulent sounds while pumping raw gas out of their chrome loud pipes while going actually going slow, so they aren't like Harleys that way. Harleys are chick magnets somehow, so that makes Speeds kinda like them, Plus the black and fake chrome color combo and leather strap.

    It's a very convenient and affordable camera. I mostly use barrel lenses, so I appreciate it for the built in shutter. Old speeds had more shutter speed options and bigger wooden DIY lensboards. Newer pacemaker ones had more movements and often graflok backs, so there's benefits to different speed graphic models.

    Old folks love to chat about the camera when you use it. Everyone recognizes it from historic photos/movies. Some cameras beat a speed graphic for movements, sturdiness, bellow length, bling, but the speed is so convenient and good at basic 4x5 photography and for barrel lens use.
     
  13. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Thanks for all the comments guys, it seems like I have made the right decision, I think they were also selling an 8x10 with a 6x9 roll film back on it, but I wanted to go with a 'small' large format as 5x4 film isn't that much compared to an 8x10 or larger size. Like I said I may get another large format camera - of the view camera sort, which might be an 8x10 to be taken out on special occasions etc but I wanted to start with something a bit more basic, and it seems that having an inbuilt shutter is rather useful, I could in theory make my own barrel lenses as well. What is pretty cool is that it comes with a lens (which also has a shutter) so I can have either which is good :D I've just seen the same lens being sold on its own for £150, so i'm happy that the camera isn't 'just' 2 standards with some bellows inbetween lol :tongue:

    I watched a video on youtube that showed a speed graphics with a very old barrel lens showing all the key features, which got me hooked :smile:

    I currently have a gap in my collection for a 35mm folder as I now seem to have a MF folder - a Bessa, and a LF folder - the Speed graphics :smile:

    Edit - here is the video that got me hooked! I've just realised how small the camera is compared to the negative watching this video again, quite a robust and compact design.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTUgeoLkNYU
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2012
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  15. fotch

    fotch Member

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    A great Made in America camera to be proud of.
     
  16. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Yes, sometimes I think I'd like to have another.
     
  17. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Much easier said than done. And if you got a Pacemaker Speed Graphic, slowest timed shutter speed 1/30, you'll quickly learn why front-mounting lenses in barrel has charms.
     
  18. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I got my first speed in 1966 while in high school and a crown in the early 70s. I still use both, the rangefinder on the speed no longer works, for field camera although somewhat heavy due to the focal plane shutter but still easy to carry and shoot with a monopod. I usally shoot with a 210 but also with a 127. The crown is lighter, I keep the 135mm so I can use the rangefinder, ideal for shooting to infinity with the sports finder hand held or on a monopod is a snap. Bushmans are also a great buy.
     
  19. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    Paul - Be careful what you wish for! I have (I think) 14 Graphics now of various vintages and sizes from 2X3 to 5X7. As long as you have just one, you are okay. Once you get a second it is really hard to resist a third and so on to ruin.

    Len
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Len, you're right, there is a disease but it is sometimes self-limiting. I bought a 2x3 Speed, discovered that for short lenses I needed a 2x3 Crown (or Century, which is what I got). IMO, one really needs a pair of Pacemakers, one each Crown and Speed. Two is just right.

    Anyway, years after I got the Century and sold my Miniature Speed Graphic (surplus to requirements), I spent $80 for a 2x3 Crown with a 105/3.7 Ektar 'cos I wanted the lens. The Crown had a wrinkled bellows so I got a $10 2x3 Crown parts camera with Graflok and a good bellows. The $10 wonder turned out to be too nice to scrap. So now I have four, should sell the Crowns. The 105/3.7 Ektar has to go too.

    I still fantasize about shooting 6x12 and a 4x5 Crown seems nearly the ideal camera for me (perhaps not others) to shoot 6x12 with. But the last time I was up in Woonsocket Adam convinced me that the shorter lenses I wanted to use on my hypothetical 4x5 Crown couldn't be made to work on one. My move to 6x12 is still stuck in the fantasizing stage.

    I don't want to shoot anything else larger than 2x3 so have no reason to get a Graphic larger than 2x3. As mentioned, I have more 2x3s than I need. For me the disease has run its course.
     
  21. pdjr1991

    pdjr1991 Member

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    I love my crown! My sis got an old speed for free but it needs a tune up.
     
  22. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I will make sure I post up photos of mine then when it arrives, it should be here on Tuesday next week :smile: early Christmas for me! Although I do still need to setup development tanks etc and actually get some sheet film lol :D mine has been fully tweeked so its basically new (apart from light useage marks) actually, here are the images of the actual camera from the advert:

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    [​IMG]
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    It looks really great! Enjoy!
     
  24. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Sweet! It looks very lightly used.

    You're going to love it. I own a Crown and it sets up so fast and is very robust and stable.
     
  25. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    The guy I have bought it off has been restoring pacemaker speed graphics and crown graphics for about 10 years, and he test shoots all of the cameras he does as well as checking all the speeds of the shutter(s) as well so I am basically getting a lightly used fully CLAed speed graphic with a nice lens :smile:
     
  26. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    You guys are tempting me....but I just got a Graflex 22 (medium format) so one step at a time :smile: