Portraits with a Crown Graphic

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by cluttered, May 13, 2011.

  1. cluttered

    cluttered Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Firstly, sorry if this is a bit of a "newbie" question, I'm still quite inexperienced with large format, I'm more at home with 35mm/120 but I'm trying to learn :smile:

    I have a Graflex Crown Graphic with a Schneider Krueznach Xenar 5.6/150 lens. The camera is in very nice condition and the rangefinder was calibrated before I bought the camera, and still appears to be accurate.

    However, I'm finding that this lens isn't really ideal for portraiture. It's too wide angle, and I'd also like to have a closer minimum focus distance. But I have no idea in what's involved changing lenses on this kind of camera. Obviously it's not like a modern SLR!

    I get the impression I'd need to change the lens and lensboard and recalibrate at least the RF. Is this right, and is it worthwhile? And is this easy for a LF newbie like me? Or should I be looking for a different camera for portraits in 4x5?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The 150mm on 4x5 is a "normal" lens so, yes, a bit wide perhaps for portraiture, but quite usable as such. I like a 200mm lens on 4x5 for portrait work. As for minimum focus distance, you can get pretty close. Rather than using the RF, try focusing using the ground glass. To get enough bellows extension, you might need to fold down the infinity stops and pull the front standard out farther.

    Dan
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,205
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Practice with the lens that's on it. You might be surprised by the results of this 'normal' focal length in large format.

    My best advice to you is to use 'string focusing'. Basically, attach a piece of string to your camera, and put markers on the string that represents certain distances, and then focus on the markers to figure out what distance that is. When you pose your model, use the string to quickly focus the camera, and you can have the film holder already loaded this way. It's very accurate, and very fast. And it's a lot easier to capture 'fleeting moments' this way, as opposed to using the ground glass where many moments come and go between focusing and actually exposing.

    If and when you decide to replace the lens, basically the whole lens board in front comes off with both shutter and lens attached to it. Graflex Crown Graphic cameras had shutters specifically made for the lenses that came with them, and are an odd size, so you may have to have adapters made to fit exactly your lens of choice on it.

    Attached is a portrait made with a 5" (127mm) Ektar, at f/5.6 and a Crown Graphic. That's wider than the lens you have.

    Have fun, and good luck!

    - Thomas
     

    Attached Files:

  4. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,177
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Location:
    Washington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Do you have a top rangefinder or a side rangefinder? The 150mm focal length is approximately 6 inch focal length. There were a few lenses made for the Graphic cameras of about 200mm focal length (that is eight inch focal length). If you try to use a 250mm (ten inch) lens you start to run out of bellows for the closer focusing distances. Also for portraiture, you will probably want a shutter that can synchronize flash. Tell us what you have for a budget and you may get some specific suggestions.
     
  5. cluttered

    cluttered Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Wow, a bunch of great replies and so quickly, thanks!

    Fotoguy20d, I hadn't thought about the infinity stops, that sounds like it might be a big help, I'll try that soon. If I can just make it focus closer then this 150mm lens might be fine for my purposes.

    Thomas, that's a great portrait, and it does show that my 150mm lens should be more than adequate, any limitations in my setup are purely due to the person standing behind the camera :wink:

    mopar_guy, it's a side rangefinder. I'm prepared to spend up to $1000 or so, but only if I'm going to get good value for the money. Although I think that most used LF gear is excellent value, it's great what can be had for much less than a DSLR setup!
     
  6. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    look at the 203 7.7 ektar
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,205
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I second that. It's a really fabulous lens!
     
  8. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,177
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Location:
    Washington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For $400-500 you could probably find a 8-1/2 inch Commercial Ektar but a 203mm f7.7 Kodak Ektar would also be very good. A Kalart side rangefinder could probably be adjusted for either. The Crown Graphics used an aluminum lens board and you would need to have one that has a hole to match the lens/shutter combo that you decide to get.
     
  9. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

    Messages:
    2,578
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    san jose, ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    just a thought... if you want an 'x' synced flash output, start looking at a modern 210 fuji, nikor, schneider, or rodenstock in modern shutter. Speeds be nicer too.

    (and get the biggest momma flash you can. f32 sucks up a lot of luminosity)

    tim in san jose
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,590
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interestingly enough, the 4"x5" Graflexes came equipped with a 7 1/2" lens which in the metric system is 190.5 millimeters. Maybe they knew then what you have learned now.

    Steve
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,004
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lenses of that angle of view can be great for portraits, as can wides. A portrait does not by definition involve a tightly framed head shot or head and shoulders shot. A portrait is simply a picture about a person. (And I would personally argue that if it isn't about the person, but is simply about what they look like, then it is not a portrait either; it is "glamor," but that is a topic for another thread.)

    So, while you may want a longer lens for the work you have in mind, don't discount the 150! The idea that all successful portraits "are" tightly framed and free of background elements could not be farther from the truth IMO.

    If you want to have a press camera with the option of using a variety of lenses with the rangefinder, try selling the Crown and investing an a Super Graphic or Super Speed Graphic. They are the poor man's Linhof III, and are truly great cameras, especially when you consider how little they cost. Pacemakers and the like are not designed such that constantly changing lenses and also maintaining rangefinder use is practical.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2011
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,205
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Do you know for a fact that this is the case? My 4x5 Crown Graphic had its original lens (supposedly), and that was a 5" Ektar. (127mm). Were there different versions, maybe? Or was I made a fool of? :blink:
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,590
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I purposely said Graflex and not Graphic! Graflexes had longer focal length lens to make room for the rising mirror and were used more for portraits. Graphics were used be press photographer who wanted wider than normal lens so that they would be sure to catch the subject in the photograph and cropping out the rest. Two different types of cameras made by the same company.

    You want a factual basis:
    GRAPHIC GRAFLEX Photography, Ninth Edition, Willard D. Morgan and Henry M. Lester, Morgan & Morgan, Inc., Hastings-On-Hudson, NY, 1971
    Creative Graflex Photography, Jay Allen, Self Published, 2009
    THE ALL AMERICAN CAMERAS a review of GRAFLEX®, Richard P. Paine, Alpha Publishing Company, Huston Texas, 1981
    The Evolution and Demise of the Larger Format Press Camera, Reg Holloway, Epic Press, Belleville Ontario Canada 2008
    Steve
     
  14. cluttered

    cluttered Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm pleased to see that my original questions had lots of interesting replies with helpful information, thanks to all.

    I think I'll stick with this camera/lens combination for now, now that I know that the bellow can be extended past the infinity stops, that will fix my close focus distance issue. Maybe in the meantime I'll save up for a nice Linhof to keep the Crown company :wink:
     
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,978
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    cluttered -

    a sort of easy way to think about 35mm lens equiv's in 4x5 format is take he focal length
    and multiply it by 3 and you will get around the same thing in 4x5 ... ( for ex, a 50mm on a 35mm is around a 150mm on a 4x5 ).
    if you are used to using longer lenses try longer tele-design lenses like the 10" tele raptar, sometimes mounted in an alphax shutter.
    don't forget if you use your current lens for close-work you might need to add extra light / time to compensate for bellows extension :smile:

    have fun !
    john
     
  16. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There may be metal stops on the rails which are preventing it from focusing closer.

    For 210-ish mm you have lots of choices, though 150 is also quite useful.

    I have these choices for $200ish each (what I paid, I'm not selling them)
    203mm graflex optar which is very smooth and has a nice background bokeh; physically small like the ektar. Uses a special bi-pin cord for flash sync. Compact and original looking.
    210mm Fujinar - a Fuji made tessar. Tessars are great all purpose lenses with nice bokeh, especially good for portraits. Normal pc flash sync.
    210mm Nikkor - biggest and newest of the bunch. I bought it for a good deal and haven't actually needed it yet as I am pleased with the Fujinar. Normal pc flash sync.


    A tessar style will have the nicest bokeh (my subjective opinion), while a planar style will look almost as nice and be a lot brighter.
     
  17. cluttered

    cluttered Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This morning I had a close look at the bellows extension on my Crown, turns out it was just a simple matter of lowering the infinity stops on the rails, which then allows the bellows to extend much further. Doing this I was able to focus as close as approximately 1 metre. Much better!

    As to your comment on compensation for the extra bellows extension, that is a new issue that I wasn't aware of. A quick google search shows a bunch of resources about the calculations involved, I'll now go and study it :smile:
     
  18. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    In the 200mm range, there are a lot of options. What sort of lens are you looking for? Old, new, coated, not, convertible?

    As someone mentioned, the 203mm Ektar is a joy - I have the 203mm f7.7 Kodak Anastigmat, which is an early, uncoated version of the Ektar (its a dialyte type lens, and is actually at its sharpest wide open). That lens, in an old rimset Compur, lives on my speed graphic. A cheap option is the Ilex Acutar (you might find it in a Copal 1) - 215mm f6.3, Tessar type. There are newer, Caltar versions as well. Nikkor lenses are beauties (I sold my 150 to raise cash but kept the 90 in Copal zero). Dagors have a distinctive look, tons of coverage for their length, and are convertible - I use a 5" on my Speed for landscape work and a 9 1/2" on my 8x10 for everything from landscape to portrait. Turner-Reich convertibles are a favorite of mine in all formats - they're triple convertibles - I use a 6"-ish lens on 4x5 and the 12-21-28 on 8x10. Protars are another nice convertible. Then there are the oldies - Aplanats, Rapid Rectilinears, etc - nice old look for portraits but most dont have working shutters (or came in barrel) so are better suited for a Speed rather than a Crown.

    As you mentioned, play with the Xenar for a bit and see where you want to go from there. You may find yourself hampered by the shortish bellows on the Crown and want something with some more draw. Or, you may want the focal plane shutter to use barrel lenses. I wouldn't rush to do anything yet. The Xenar is a nice lens.

    Dan
     
  19. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,205
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Steve, thank you for the clarification.

    I was under the impression that Crown Graphics were made by Graflex. That's what I remembered from my own camera years ago.



     
  20. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thomas,

    The Crown Graphic is a Pacemaker Speed Graphic without the focal plane shutter. When you see a reference to Graflex, it can be the company itself, or it can be the non-Graphic models they built. For example, the RB Graflex Series D (RB means "rotating back"). These were the SLR type camera which Graflex produced - because of the swinging 4x5 mirror, the bodies were big boxes, and, to clear the mirror, a longer lens was needed. Common on these was the Kodak #34 Anastigmat at around 190mm, where the normal lens for the Pacemaker Graphics was either the 127mm Ektar or 135mm Optar.

    Dan
     
  21. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,177
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Location:
    Washington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Graflex SLR vs Speed Graphic

    Anny03.jpg

    Super_D03.jpg

    Here is an Anniversary Speed Graphic and a Graflex RB Super D. Both cameras are 3-1/4x4-1/4.
     
  22. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

    Messages:
    973
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Location:
    Ajman - U.A.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What is a focal plane shutter? What is the mean difference between Pacemaker SG and Crown Graphic? I have those 2 and didn't use any of them yet [i bought one without any lens or lens board and the other with lens on lens board, so i have only 1 lens to use for both] and i don't know what i will get with over the another.
     
  23. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,177
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Location:
    Washington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tareq,

    The Speed Graphics have two separate exposure systems. The first is a lens mounted in a leaf shutter at the front side of the bellows. The second is a focal plane shutter at the back of the bellows. The focal plane shutter is a piece of rubberized fabric with slits that moves in front of the film to make the exposure. To use the focal plane shutter, you need to leave the front shutter open OR to use the front shutter you need to leave the focal plane shutter open. Crown Graphics do not have the focal plane shutter. Speed Graphics can use lenses that are not mounted in a shutter.
     
  24. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

    Messages:
    973
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Location:
    Ajman - U.A.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I see, that explain it very well even i didn't understand yet, but i have to check out what you've said to know/understand it.

    Thank you very much!
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,590
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format