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  1. #1

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    Portraits with a Crown Graphic

    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

    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. #2

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    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. #3
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    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 Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Erin Portrait 01.jpg  
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #4

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    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.
    Dave

    "She's always out making pictures, She's always out making scenes.
    She's always out the window, When it comes to making Dreams.

    It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up."

    From It's All Mixed Up by The Cars

  5. #5

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    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

    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. #6
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    look at the 203 7.7 ektar

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucemuir View Post
    look at the 203 7.7 ektar
    I second that. It's a really fabulous lens!
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8

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    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.
    Dave

    "She's always out making pictures, She's always out making scenes.
    She's always out the window, When it comes to making Dreams.

    It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up."

    From It's All Mixed Up by The Cars

  9. #9

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    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
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  10. #10

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    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 2F/2F; 05-14-2011 at 03:29 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."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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