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eSPhotos
06-07-2011, 11:46 PM
I am set to buy my first LF camera. Itís Graflex 4x5 Crown Graphic with graflok back.

One I am looking at comes with Xenar 135mm lens but I understand the coverage area of this lens (and other Graflex standard lenses like Optar and Ektar) is not large enough to allow movements.

I am not sure if this restriction will become an issue as I shoot natures and landscapes. But just in case, would any LF lens fit on to this camera?
thanks

2F/2F
06-08-2011, 12:08 AM
Hi,

Speed and Crown Graphics will take a fairly wide variety of lenses. The wider ones will be harder to use with movements, due to he fact that you just cannot get your fingers in there to turn the knobs and such.

Large format cameras don't really have proprietary lens mounts; they just have proprietary lens boards, onto which you can attach whatever lens you can manage to rig up.

So, the limiting factors are whether or not the lens board will be able to physically take the lens, and whether or not the bellows can stretch long enough or compress short enough to properly focus the lens.

Speeds and Crowns have small lens boards compared to many large format cameras, so the size of the shutter and rear cells is something that should always be measured or test fit first, before buying a lens. Generally, the widest lens a Crown can take is a 65mm, while Speeds have trouble with anything much shorter than 90mm (and I even find 90mm a bit awkward). This is because the Speed has a rear shutter that gets in the way of the wider lenses. I think (and you need to check Graflex dot org to make sure) that both cameras can take a 15 in. lens (nearly 400mm), and maybe a bit longer.

The rangefinder can be calibrated for lenses within a certain range, but I forgot what the range is. Check Graflex dot org. They will have that information, and instructions for doing the calibration. But, to tell you the truth, I'd just leave it be so you can use the 135 hand held without movements, and use the ground glass for the other lenses with movements.

It is good that you got one with a Graflok back. The cameras are much more limited without this back.

Discoman
06-08-2011, 12:14 AM
the lens is large enough for the movements that are built into the graflex.
admittedly, that isn't much, but it is more than enough for general purpose work. I personally use my graflex for landscapes and portraits, and have never actually used movements, apart from the occasional cleaning of the screws (i have long hair, it gets caught occasionally.)

and to add on to what 2F/2F said, the rangefinder is pretty easily adjusted. jo lommen website shows how to adjust it for the aero ektar 7" lens.
it should be adjustable from the widest lens you can safely and easily attach to a lens more overkill than most people will ever use.

Dan Fromm
06-08-2011, 04:52 AM
Here we go again. A press, technical, or view cameras' ability to focus short lenses at infinity is limited by its minimum flange-to-film distance. Here are Graphics' minima:

Minimum Flange-to-Film Distances
For Selected Graphic Cameras
Distance
Size & Model (inches) (mm)

2 1/4 x 3 1/4

Miniature Speed 2 5/16 58.7
Pacemaker Speed 2 7/16 61.9
Pacemaker Crown 1 3/8 34.9
Century 1 3/8 34.9

3 1/4 x 4 1/4

Anniversary 2 1/2 63.5
Pacemaker Speed 2 5/8 66.7
Pacemaker Crown 1 5/8 41.3

4 x 5

Anniversary 2 9/16 65.1
Pacemaker Speed 2 5/8 66.7
Pacemaker Crown 2 1/16 52.4

From Graphic Graflex Photography, 10th Edition

Modern w/a lenses for 4x5 have flange-to-film distances at infinity interestingly longer than focal length. For example, the 47/5.6 Super Angulon XL's flange-focal distance is 59.1 mm.

2f, the board isn't a constraint and neither is the front standard's throat. If you think about it, you'll see why the board is irrelevant. The front standard can be a problem. I have a couple of w/a lenses (35/4.5 Apo Grandagon, 58/5.6 Grandagon) whose rear cells are too wide to pass through my little Century Graphic's front standard. No problem. Unscrew rear cell from shutter, attach shutter and front cell to front standard, pass rear cell through the gate, screw back into shutter. Fiddly, possible, and I do it.

2f, flange-to-film distance, not the focal plane shutter, is what limits the use of short lenses on Speed Graphics. Again, think about it and you'll see why. The shutter is very close to the film plane. You probably meant to say that a Speed is thicker, i.e., has longer flange-to-film distance, than the equivalent Crown because of the focal plane shutter.

eSPhotos
06-08-2011, 05:41 AM
Good info as usual F2/F2.
I have glanced thru graflex dot org but not easy to digest now. But no doubt it will make sense once I played with graflex. I have chosen Crown over the Speed because weight and I hear people saying the plane shutter on Speed is not a huge benefit.

Discoman, thanks. That's good to hear and sounds like I will enjoy my new toy.

Dan, thanks. It sounds like too technical to me. If I get another lens, it won't be a wide. I am looking at 150sh or maybe 200. I am sure these will have less issues adapting.

Monophoto
06-08-2011, 06:03 AM
the lens is large enough for the movements that are built into the graflex.


I can't speak for a Graflex, but have a Crown Graphic, and based on my experience, I have to respectfully disagree with this statement.

A Crown is a great way to get into large format, and the Xenar 135mm is a fine lens. Don't expect to be able to do much at all with movements, but in landscape work, you generally don't need movements. In fact, that is one of the 'culture changes' that you can look forward to in moving to LF - LF photographers usually have fewer lenses than those working in 35mm, and learn that if you don't like the framing or perspective, you change your location rather than changing your lens.

One of the advantages of the Crown in landscape work is weight, and one of the reasons for that is that the Xenar lens is small and light. A lens that would have enough coverage to allow for movements would weight at least twice as much as the Xenar.

degruyl
06-08-2011, 06:17 AM
First, certain rangefinders are adjustable easily, and others not so easily. There are two different types of rangefinders found on the Crown Graphic. Side mount are adjustable and Top Mount require a different cams for different lenses. Neither of these are required if you are using the ground glass for focusing.

The other problem is that if you are concerned about movements, press cameras are clearly not the right solution to the problem. These cameras have virtually no movements to start with. Ok, I exaggerate. They have limited rise, tilt and shift, but it is nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a field camera consider buying a field camera.

Ian Grant
06-08-2011, 06:34 AM
The 135mm Xenar has no room for movements and won't give good overall sharpness until stopped down to f22, wider open the corners and edges go soft very quickly - great for portraits. Even slight rise will cause vignetted corers, a 150mm Xenar or Tessar is only a little better.

Used carefully Xenars & Tessars are quite capable lenses but be aware of the restrictions, any tilt must be compensated for with rise or fall to prevent vignetting.

Ian

Dan Fromm
06-08-2011, 06:50 AM
The 135mm Xenar has no room for movements and won't give good overall sharpness until stopped down to f22, wider open the corners and edges go soft very quickly - great for portraits. Even slight rise will cause vignetted corers, a 150mm Xenar or Tessar is only a little better.

Used carefully Xenars & Tessars are quite capable lenses but be aware of the restrictions, any tilt must be compensated for with rise or fall to prevent vignetting.

Ian
Ian, all that you wrote is true, except for the unstated assumption that movements -- decentering, tilts -- are possible with Graphics.

They allow front rise, which is useful, but not much. Front fall, no, except in very special circumstances. Lateral shift? Well, in principle yes but in practice usually not except with lenses so long that when focused the front standard is in front of the bed struts. When the front standard is between the struts they pretty well prevent shift.

Tilts? The bed drops and the front standard tilts backwards. At first glance, combining the two will give forward tilt and front fall (drop bed, tilt standard all the way back, it will then be vertical). Neither works for lenses that focus where desired when inside the box. Otherwise, its catch as catch can. Sometimes everything -- focal length, focused distance, fall or tilt desired -- is in alignment and the desired effect can be obtained. This rarely happens for me.

These cameras are for shooting straight ahead or with a little front rise to eliminate the foreground/avoid (if lucky) converging verticals. They're press cameras, and very useful, not proper view or technical cameras.

esPhotos, much as you want it, in LF its hard to avoid the technical stuff. I take it that you come to your Graphic, as I did to mine, from 35 mm. There's a big difference. Learning what it entails for, um, what one should know takes a while.

Jim Jones
06-08-2011, 06:54 AM
There are several press cameras that compete with the Crown and Speed Graphics. In some. but not all, ways the Burke & James Press, the Busch Pressman. and other press cameras are better. Anyone venturing into Graphic photography should consider Graphic Graflex Photography by Morgan and Lester (early editions) or Morgan and Morgan (later editions). The 8th edition of 1948 covers up to Speed and Crown graphics with side rangefinders. The 11th edition covers up to top rangefinder models. Online booksellers or auction sites usually have these.

Ottrdaemmerung
06-08-2011, 07:57 AM
Ha! My Crown did exactly that, Sirius! It was my first time attempting to use the movements. I was fiddling with getting the rails realigned so I could pack it up, and next thing I knew I had ball bearings flying hither and yon.
Once I found they were part of the top rangefinder mechanism, I was relieved: I use mine as a field/view camera, always on a tripod and using the ground glass.

Paul Goutiere
06-08-2011, 08:02 AM
In 1964 I worked for a small daily newspaper. There were only two cameras; a Crown Graphic and a Speed Graphic.
Both of them had the side mounted Kalart rangefinder. Focus with the rangefinder, raise eye to the top mounted viewfinder and push the button on the flash to trip the solenoid on the shutter.

That 4x5 negative was really nice.

I later years I wondered how a camera like that would fare with a modern LF lens, a modern shutter, a better ground glass, and a rangefinder that matched the lens range.

Ian Grant
06-08-2011, 09:55 AM
Well put Dan

I've been using a Crown Graphic for about 4 or 5 years, mainly for hand held work but after a lot of frustration I've switched to a Super Graphic. There's been too many ocassions where the very limited movements of Crown & Speed Graphics have meant I've not been able to get the shots I've wanted.

In addition I've first hand experience of the problems using a 135mm Tesar as well as a 150mm Tessar and late Xenar. I'm currently using a 135mm Caltar (Symmar) with the Crown Graphic or Super Graphic and while that has more coverage than a 135mm Tesar/Xenar it's still not a lot so needs care.

Ian



Ian, all that you wrote is true, except for the unstated assumption that movements -- decentering, tilts -- are possible with Graphics.

They allow front rise, which is useful, but not much. Front fall, no, except in very special circumstances. Lateral shift? Well, in principle yes but in practice usually not except with lenses so long that when focused the front standard is in front of the bed struts. When the front standard is between the struts they pretty well prevent shift.

Tilts? The bed drops and the front standard tilts backwards. At first glance, combining the two will give forward tilt and front fall (drop bed, tilt standard all the way back, it will then be vertical). Neither works for lenses that focus where desired when inside the box. Otherwise, its catch as catch can. Sometimes everything -- focal length, focused distance, fall or tilt desired -- is in alignment and the desired effect can be obtained. This rarely happens for me.

These cameras are for shooting straight ahead or with a little front rise to eliminate the foreground/avoid (if lucky) converging verticals. They're press cameras, and very useful, not proper view or technical cameras.

esPhotos, much as you want it, in LF its hard to avoid the technical stuff. I take it that you come to your Graphic, as I did to mine, from 35 mm. There's a big difference. Learning what it entails for, um, what one should know takes a while.

Pupfish
06-08-2011, 11:07 AM
Tessars like the Graflex/Raptars/Xenars can be tremendously sharp at f/22-32. However, modern multicoated Plasmat designs in 135mm are also tiny, relatively cheap, have larger image circles, better coatings, and don't require stopping down as far to tame aberrations. Better still, they also come in modern Copal threaded cells so the shutters can be easily replaced or swapped with new or used working ones rather than having to deal with 50 years- obsolete shutters. (Late production Compur threaded Xenars will also fit modern Copals-- but Graflex threaded ones won't without prohibitively expensive machine shop work.)

Longer focal length lenses offer tremendous image circles, and these will often exceed the capability of a Crown. Either the 203mm Ektar f/7.7 or a cheap but excellent Caltar IIN in 210mm are terrific portrait lenses, which might be found for <$200 USD. They're roughly equivalent to a 70mm field of view in 135 format terms... but that doesn't really equate in my book as these longer focal lengths tend to require moves just to keep elements in focus. (In this DOF regard a 210 is the same no matter whether it's on a Nikon or a Crown Graphic)
If you're shooting portraiture you won't need moves. Landscape, you often will. Sometimes moves will be of little help and you'll have to stop way down. Often times, you'll use a combination of moves and the widest aperture you can hold focus near-to-far with (and still be at f/22-32 much of the time).

I have a couple of Meridians which have back posts and swing/tilt moves on both front and rear standards... 15-90˚ drop on the bed... front shift. Much easier moves to use than even a Super Graphic. Back posts sometimes help with Tessars and other lenses having limited coverage as these moves don't move the cone of illumination as do front moves.

2F/2F
06-08-2011, 03:30 PM
2f, the board isn't a constraint and neither is the front standard's throat. If you think about it, you'll see why the board is irrelevant. The front standard can be a problem. I have a couple of w/a lenses (35/4.5 Apo Grandagon, 58/5.6 Grandagon) whose rear cells are too wide to pass through my little Century Graphic's front standard. No problem. Unscrew rear cell from shutter, attach shutter and front cell to front standard, pass rear cell through the gate, screw back into shutter. Fiddly, possible, and I do it.

2f, flange-to-film distance, not the focal plane shutter, is what limits the use of short lenses on Speed Graphics. Again, think about it and you'll see why. The shutter is very close to the film plane. You probably meant to say that a Speed is thicker, i.e., has longer flange-to-film distance, than the equivalent Crown because of the focal plane shutter.

Hi, Mr. Fromm.

Thanks for the info regarding flange focal length being a limiting factor, not physical interference with the shutter. But isn't the fact that the front standard of a Speed cannot go back as far due to the fact that the shutter is there?

As far as lens boards being a limiting factor as to what lenses one can use, I was thinking in terms of lenses like my old Schneider 360 or 240mm lenses; big lenses made for larger formats. These would be able to focus on a Graphic, but I am not so sure they could be mounted. Maybe, maybe not. I am not sure, because I use telephotos instead on my Speed and Technika. The big lenses were used on a rail camera.

But the point I was making was that you obviously cannot mount a lens that will interfere with the fit of the lens board, or with the tapered bellows, even if it can be focused on the camera. I certainly cannot mount my old Voigtlšnder Petzval copy on my Speed, even though it is only about 240mm. It is just too fat.

Dan Fromm
06-08-2011, 04:21 PM
2F/2F wrote:


I certainly cannot mount my old Voigtlšnder Petzval copy on my Speed, even though it is only about 240mm. It is just too fat.

So one would think, 2F, so one would think.

I have a number of lenses in barrel that are much too fat to pass through my little 2x3 Pacemaker Speed's front standard. If you think your 4x5's boards and front standard are small, just look at my 2x3's. Tiny by comparison, but I don't feel deprived.

But and however, if the fat lens has long enough back focus it can often be mounted entirely in front of the board. For more information about mounting lenses in front of a Pacemaker Graphic's lens board, see http://www.galerie-photo.com/telechargement/dan-fromm-6x9-lenses-v2-2011-03-29.pdf

You'll see that a lens that looks like it would interfere with, e.g., the lens board sliders, can in fact be mounted entirely in front of the board. Look at how my little Uran-27 is attached to a board. And my 100/5.6 S.F.O.M. and 12"/4 TTH tele too. Fat barrels aren't the impediment they seem. Short back focus, however, can be a killer. Re that, look at how my little 60/14 Perigraphe is mounted for use on my Century Graphic.

Again, there are limits. 4x5 Pacemakers' maximum extension is on the order of 12"; this limits the use of long non-tele lenses on them. My little 2x3s are, of course, shorter still. One solution to this is to use two Graphics set up front-to-rear with a coupler between. I've done it. The longest lens I use on my little tandem Graphic is 480/9 Apo-Nikkor.

Insufficient extension isn't the only limit. As you pointed out, the Graphic tapered bellows can limit what can be stuffed behind the front standard. I've found my 2x3s' gates more limiting. I have a couple of 210/5.6 plasmat types whose rear cells won't go through. Not a problem with a 4x5 Graphic, but it certainly is for 2x3s.

Go be inventive. I've pointed you at some tricks that may let you use your 240 Petzval on your Speed. I say "may" because I don't know the lens' back focus. I think a 4x5 Speed should be able to focus a 240 to infinity, especially with the lens entirely in front of the front standard, but I don't know whether it will focus the lens close enough for your purposes. Ask it, and then you'll know. FWIW, with a little cheating that I'm not going to explain -- finding the trick will be a good exercise for you -- I can use a 305/9 Apo-Nikkor on my little 2x3 Speed.

eSPhotos
06-08-2011, 10:34 PM
Great info guys.
The main reason that I’ve chosen the Crown is its light weight that suits well for long hiking. Movement is not entirely necessary, I think, as I am use to smaller formats. But if I ever needed, I now know that there are lenses to adapt.
cheers

Ian Grant
06-09-2011, 02:51 AM
Great info guys.
The main reason that Iíve chosen the Crown is its light weight that suits well for long hiking. Movement is not entirely necessary, I think, as I am use to smaller formats. But if I ever needed, I now know that there are lenses to adapt.
cheers

It depends what you're shooting and how critical sharpness is to your images, a standard 50mm lens on a 35mm camera or 80mm MF camera has greater DOF compared to a 135mm or 150mm on a 5x4 at a similar aperture. This makes movements more important.

The Crown Graphic does allow some limited movements in Landscape mode, some people reverse the front standard to allow front tilt without dropping the bed, however the camera then won't fold closed (depends on rangefinder type). I prefer to drop the bed and then tilt the lens back using some rise to prevent vignetting. What Dan Fromm alluded to is how fiddly and clumsy this is compared to a field or technical camera.

The downside of the Speed & Crown Graphics is there's no front tilt movements at all in portrait mode.

I'd estimate that I use movements for about 80-90% of my LF landscapes with my Wista and Super Graphic with 90mm, 135mm & 150mm lenses. Less with the Crown (or Speed) Graphic mainly because of it's restrictions but still for over 50% of my images.

So movements are important which is why Graflex added at least some basic ones.

Ian

eSPhotos
06-09-2011, 06:20 AM
Thanks Ian.
I may have to get one to see whether its limited movement will cause any grief.
Or, should I be better off getting a field camera with better movement?
Now I am confused ...

Dan Fromm
06-09-2011, 06:27 AM
esPhoto, you are trying too hard to do the best thing. There's a law of nature to the effect that the first 4x5 camera is always the wrong 4x5 camera, regardless of what it is. Just get a Crown and use it.

After a while you'll learn what you really need to do that it can't and which aspects of using it really bother you. Then you'll be better prepared to look for a 4x5 camera that suits you. And if you don't pay too much for the Crown you should be able to sell it at no or only a small loss.