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  1. #11

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    "I've been trying some still-lifey stuff and have been displeased with the results regarding sharpness and resolution."

    "The idea of a nominally handholdable camera with a fast shutter and that folds up is quite appealing too since I hate tripods."
    My feeling is, is that the problem with the idea is the conflict between the two statements above. If your going to be doing still life stuff with a 4x5 you'll absolutely need to use a tripod. You will not be using fast shutter speeds like when using a MF or a 35mm camera, and you will need to compose on a GG at a distance that cannot be changed, thus the tripod. In order to get any dof at short distances you will need to stop the lens way down and will most likely will need to add light. Shooting at a shorter distance in LF, especially when filling a frame, is not like shooting a 35mm camera nor a MF one. Depending on the situation you may and probably will need to use a bellows compensation factor and decrease the lens speed in order to get more light on the film, especially at the small apertures you'll need. I feel you'll be wasting your money for close shooting still life in LF and forget hand holding it.

    The 4x5 would be better for portraits and architecture, and a reasonable priced lens can suffice for the portraits, but for architecture, wider thus more expensive lenses are the norm for the working stiff's. For amateur fun downtown a 90mm would be adequate. $500 will buy a good F8 one.

    Having explored all formats, and considering cheaper systems that might serve you better, you'd might be better off with an RB67 and the standard 127mm lens, but you'll still need the tripod and bellows compensation unless the camera has a metering finder.
    W.A. Crider

  2. #12
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    My 2 cents in this discussion: I have a WWII era 4x5 Speed graphic with Kalart rangefinder adjusted for the 127mm Ektar, focal plane shutter, wire sportsfinder, optical finder with the appropriate mask. Everything works as it should on it, and it doesn't look too bad either. It is a great camera to take around in the car, as it is very tough, especially when folded. The movements are very limited, but it doesn't matter if you do landscapes, as I do. The 127mm Ektar is a fine lens and, without the big movements of other field cameras, has the coverage for 4x5 (barely). The camera is heavy for hand-held use. I have tried it, and it works fine, although it is uncomfortable to hold. The rangefinders are not very bright.

    If you find a decent one in the price range you are looking for (mine was about $150.00 two years ago) it is worth it as a starter camera. You will quickly be seduced by the format and wish for more... but that's a story for another day!

    Good luck, whatever you decide!

  3. #13
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    You can do a decent amount with them in terms of movements, as long as you don't need both tilt and swing in the same shot, or vertical shift and also a lot of lateral shift in the same shot. It also helps if most of your shots are horizontal. There is enough lensboard tilt to lay the plane of focus at a quite sharp angle to the film plane in most situations. Due to the dropping beds (Anniversary and later, I believe), the rearward tilt is just as good as a forward tilt.

    They can easily be machined to allow increased lateral shift, and with a more severe modification, to allow swings.

    They do not have a rotating back, which is a big weakness when it comes to using movements, IMO.

    One thing about the $100 Speed/Crown Graphics is that they are usually beat up, have a non-working (or missing) rangefinder, and generally don't come with a lens that allows you to fully utilize the camera's movements anyhow. If you find an exception, jump on it. Another thing about them is that they rarely come with the nice extras, which you might find yourself tracking down later anyhow. Solenoids, lens boards, flashes, handles, viewfinders, rangefinder parts, a case, etc. IMO, unless you only want to use it on a tripod, and you already have the lenses you want for it, it is worth saving up for a slightly nicer one that has a few extras, rather than tracking down the extras later.

    If you want something similar that won't break the bank, but has more movements and a rotating back, I'd get a Super Graphic or a Super Speed Graphic.

    I agree that the 127mm Ektar is a stellar lens. It was made as a normal lens for 3x4, however, so it does not give you any shift on 4x5...that is unless you are doing closeups. I can get 1:1 with this lens on my Speed, and I have the full range of the camera's movements at that point.

    I am not sure if the 135mm Optar (also as common as dirt on Graphics) was similar in terms of image circle.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-24-2009 at 11:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  4. #14
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    What's that about solenoids?
    f/22 and be there.

  5. #15
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    I'm quite happy with my pre-anniversary Speed. I have Pre anny Speeds in 2x3, 3x4 and 4x5. The 3x4 was a bit of a basket case, but for $60 I was quite happy with it. I had to clean up and lube the FP shutter, the fabric is in good condition. The 4x5 cost me $150. It is in pretty good shape, a bit ragged about the edges, but it works well and I am happy with it. The 2x3 is a cool little camera, no Graflok back, so I can't use a 120 back as yet. I do have some 2x3 sheet film and I have had fun with this little camera. I also have Graflex SLR's in the three sizes. They are cool too. Pick yer poison. Get one and have some fun with it. The Graflex.org site is quite helpful when running into problems.

    My first Graflex camera was a very ragged 3x4 Auto-Graflex which cost me $20. I held it together with Gaffer's tape, but it worked.
    Michael Cienfuegos


    If you don't want to stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    BTW a 127mm Ektar, which is a commonly found aboard Speeders and Crowns, is a first rate lens (just no wiggle room for movements, which old pacemaker and anny speeders don't have much of anyway) Even the older uncoated ones are pretty darn good IMHO.
    I wholeheartedly agree. The tonality and resolution of the 4X5 simply blows the doors off any medium format. Having said that, I find myself using medium format more than the 4X5.
    Rick Jason.
    "I'm still developing"

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    What's that about solenoids?
    They're pretty much useless today. They used to be used with the big flashbulb rigs to synch shutter with flash bulb.

    Now, they mostly just get in the way....and look cool.

  8. #18
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS View Post
    They're pretty much useless today. They used to be used with the big flashbulb rigs to synch shutter with flash bulb.

    Now, they mostly just get in the way....and look cool.
    FWIW, I use mine every single time I shoot my Speed Graphic, either hand held or on a tripod. It acts as my shutter release 100% of the time. I trigger the shutter from the flash handle, not from the body release. It makes the whole thing smoother and more steady. They also are adjustable to allow you to time class M bulbs for use with an X-synch shutter, like my Supermatic X. All in all, they are very useful, IMO.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #19

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    What Wayne said.

    If you're trying to save money then forget the big name brands. A B&J press camera will hold a lens and often costs a fraction of a Graflex. There are other cameras lacking in name value. No point paying for a name.

    Same thing with the 645N. An older 645 will take the same pictures but cost less.

  10. #20
    BradS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    FWIW, I use mine every single time I shoot my Speed Graphic, either hand held or on a tripod. It acts as my shutter release 100% of the time. I trigger the shutter from the flash handle, not from the body release. It makes the whole thing smoother and more steady. They also are adjustable to allow you to time class M bulbs for use with an X-synch shutter, like my Supermatic X. All in all, they are very useful, IMO.
    .....but, surely you have realized by now that you are different...right?


    But seriously, that's great that you're using it as designed but, you have to admit very, very few people do...and, if you don't have one of those nifty flash handles...then it (the solenoid) just gets in the way.

    as an aside, I've often thought about using the solenoid for a remote shutter release but, have been too lazy to bother.

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