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  1. #1
    eSPhotos's Avatar
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    Question about Crown Graphic 4x5

    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

  2. #2
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    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.
    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)

  3. #3

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    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.

  4. #4

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    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.

  5. #5
    eSPhotos's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Discoman View Post
    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.
    Louie

  7. #7

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    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.

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    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

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    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.

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by Jim Jones; 06-08-2011 at 07:06 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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