Crown Graphic, Speed graphic: focal plane shutter...
Doing homework before LF equipment purchase...
interests: BW exclusively, street photography, night photos as well...
A dealer has a CG, excellent condition, for around $400, with Schneider Xenar 135 4.7
no focal plane, of course...having noted that,
Q: have you Speed Graphic owners used the focal plane shutter to any extent? I understand there is the possibility of more lens options therein--i.e., barrel lenses, etc. Please define 'barrel lens' (as, e.g., they pertain to the Speed Graphic).
also...if I wanted the option of a close-up portrait capability, what type of lens would be needed? Might the Schneider lens noted above suit that purpose? My untutored sense of the matter understands that lens to be the rough equivalent of a 35mm slr 50mm 'normal' lens--correct? In which case, another lens would be needed. Please advise...
Dean, first $400 seems to much for a Crown Graphic, secondly a 135 f4.7 Xenar only just vcovers 5x4 and is a touch wide-angle for a standard although quite usable stopped down well, no room for movements.
A 150mm is a standard lens on 5x4 but a 180mm or even 210mm are excellent for close portraits. The 135mm would be fine for more environmental portraits.
Barrel lenses are just lenses without an intregal shutter, you can get some great old portrait lenses at prices from a few $ or £'s through to many thousands for some real cult lenes, but there's plenty of bargains around. Look up Petzval & Darlot, these are sought bafter in the US by some wet plate workers.
For many years some lenes were available in a variety of mounts or a shutter, so there's normal barrels, sunken mounts and sometimes a choice of shutter.
The option of using odd glass–copy camera classics that may be hard to put into a shutter and are therefore quite inexpensive and things like magnifying glasses or projection lenses– is my primary reason for owning the Speed rather than the Crown. I can't see where this would be a major help in street photography, since many of these lenses have a very short depth of field and require careful placement of subject. A Speed is heavier and more expensive than a Crown. $400 is a lot to pay for either camera, especially with a basic lens like the Xenar, which is good, but not great. There isn't a lot of movement possible on either camera so the 135 is not a problem, but it is a touch wide and not perfect for portraits.
Both of these cameras are great. You need to think about what options you might want for film holders as much as you are thinking of lenses, however. A spring back will cost less than a more adaptable graflock back, but the graflock will give you the option of mounting polaroid-type holders (405) or roll-film backs– much more difficult with the older back. The bellows material on these cameras is pretty sturdy, and I have seen few where that is a problem, but you have to check- the one you want to buy may have been poorly stored and will have pinholes. Lens boards on the older cameras (Anniversary, etc) are simple and easy to make; the later ones are metal with rounded corners and a lip that fits into a corresponding groove on the front standard. These are available, but cost more to buy, something you will want to think about if you develop a kit of lenses.
Each type of lens board and the graflock back can be seen on this E*** listing, along with a much more reasonable price point. I have no connection to this seller and am not recommending you buy it, I'm simply pointing to it for illustration purposes. The Polaroid holder shown in the listing is not usable for currently available film.
Condition gets a higher price. Comparing auction prices before ending is almost useless.
Press camera would not be a first choice for portraits however, if its all you have, I would use only half or less of the film, as if shooting with roll film. Otherwise, the wide angle of the lens (if using all of the negative) is not the right perspective for portraits.
135s and 127s were the commom lens for most press camera, the 135mm is somewhat wide, say like 5 in 35mm. As alread noted a 150 or 180 is thought to be normal. The idea in the day was to shoot wide to make sure you had all the action and crop in as needed. I have both a Crown and a Speed, I have not used the focal plan shutter on the Speed in years, no really decades. Last time I tested the speeds seems to be in the ball park but good chance of pin holes. I use the Speed with my 210 as it has longer bellows, and the crown with the 135 or a 152. There is also just enough room in the bellows behind the lensboard for a gel filter holder that I made myself. The 135 just covers 4X5 but is coupled to the rangfinder so I use it when I hike and can be used either hand held or with a monopad. Only the Superspeed had a rotating back, the older speeds and crowns did not, so it is somewhat more award to shoot vetrical. The Crown is also ligher than the Speed with a little more movement, but the not the movements of a standard view camera or a Lindhof.
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Either option will be a lot quicker to setup than field or view cameras and that counts for something as well. There's a social benefit as well, as many older people have experience with them and you gain some quick credibility for simply knowing what to do with it.
Crown gets more $ because it's lighter (as it lacks the shutter mechanics) and is more apt to have the graflok back. People often get these to have a compact rugged camera. Indeed something 180-210mm would be better for close portraits.
I use a speed (not super speed) because of the focal plane shutter. Otherwise, I could use any camera. They have two tripod holes for the different orientation.
Mine is a pre-anniversary speed with shutter speeds from 1/10 to 1/1000 sec, a range that would be unusual on a lens' shutter. I use this camera because I like a couple of old-style lenses that aren't available with shutter; the Meyer Trioplan 210, and Reinhold's wollaston meniscus 190.
I have another speed with the normal 127 and also use a 210 tessar with with it. Convenient and quality, but doesn't get as much use. I probably use the first one mentioned 80% of the time.
$400 and the lens named is a big stretch. I have the same 135mm lens in a Crown Graphic in good, but not perfect, shape with an OEM rigid case meant for carrying camera and a stock of double cut film holders and lenses for $100 4 years ago at a Toronto PHSC camera swap meet. $20 bought a a pair of flat lens boards.
I echo Ian's comments about coverage. Don't adjust anything unless very stopped down if you want to hope to cover the whole neg with any sort of rise/drop, slide, twist or tilt.
I sometimes fit a 210 f/5.6 Symmar into it when I know I want to shoot portraits in 4x5 in a more protable outside setting where the monorail is too much to drag out.
The camera will 'just' close with this lens on it.
The bellows is at almost full maximum extension if you want to fill the frame with the face of your sitter, at a distance of about 5-6 feet.
Other 210 designs maynot need to go so far out.
If you were shooting only b&w, then don't be afraid to back up a bit and put some space around a face. Fill the print with the face,a nd leave yourself some blank space.
Also be aware of where you 'cant' fill' if you plan to print to 11x14 aspect ratio instead of 8x10.
I was shooting chromes on the day, trying to set a nice framing right from the exposure.
I ran into the bellows issue, and discovered there was no room for any movements when focussed close up in this manner.
my real name, imagine that.
I have a Bush and Lomb 210 which is Tessor type, my Crown just does not enough bellows for a 210, I need to use my Speed. For longer lens you really do want a Speed, I think the longist lens for my Crown is a 180. A couple of years ago the Getty had an exhibt on news photography, they had a Speed that the LA times used for sports in the 50s and 60s that had been modifed for a 600mm. There was a photo showing a photographer shooting a Rams game from the sideline on very heavy duty tripod.
Originally Posted by Mike Wilde
Sellers are asking $500.00-$600.00 all the time for clean late model Crown Graphics on ebay. Notice that I said asking. I don't know if any are selling for that.
I recently paid $400.00 for my late model Crown with Zenar. It came with some mint film holders. It took me awhile to find one for that price in the condition I wanted. It's worth paying extra for something in nice shape than buying something cheap that is worn out.
I bought my Crown for outdoor portraits. It's got the Schneider 135 Zenar. I also added a Caltar 210 lens. It's great for the portraits that I plan on doing with it. Environmental, full length or 3/4.
You mentioned close-up portraits. If you normally use an 85-100 lens for portraits on a 35mm camera then you probably would want a 300mm on a 4x5. The problem is that you can't close focus a 300mm on a Crown down to a portrait distance of 5-6 feet.
The odd one or two get sold to the un-educated (in terms of LF prices etc) at high prices.
At a guess I paid a total of close to $400 for my Crown Graphic & 135mm lens , two Speed Graphics (bought together, one with no shutter) and a Super Graphic. OK the last three needed a little work or parts but all are now in use with only a little extra cost.