Adequacy of Speed-Graphic Movements for Tilt Portrait Effects?
I reviewed the description of the front movements available on Speed Graphics and other press cameras here:
I'm mostly interested in acquiring a press camera for outdoor and environmental portrait work. I'd like to experiment with tilt effects in my portraits; does anyone know if the range of movement the Speed Graphic offers will be sufficient for this? Should I try for one of the drop-bed press cameras instead?
The Speed is not too good for this because the back is fixed, ie normally landscape orientation, you turn the whole camera on it's side for portrait orientation. This might mess up your tilt plans, because any tilt movement ability would then become "swing" (side to side tilt).
Last edited by Jon Shiu; 12-16-2011 at 06:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
The graphics don't have front tilt, only rear. They can be easily modified to add front tilt. AFAIK they all have a drop bed. + what Jon said.
Thanks for correcting my terminology; obviously, I've never played with a camera with movements!
I know that the Crown graphic has a side tripod mount, and some of the other press cameras have rotating backs ... but this issue hadn't even occurred to me.
But, yeah, it's kind of hilarious that I hadn't thought of the logistical challenges presented by the combination of fixed format and large camera. It's no big deal to hold a 35mm camera sideways, and my MF is a 6x6 -- this wasn't even on my radar!
I consider it adequate, if you have a postwar pacemaker or crown camera (with the shiny front standard rather than black or dark gray).
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If you're going to use movements you'll be shooting from tripod. So get a camera with adequate movements, not a Graphic.
For the record, I shoot 2x3 Graphics. They have drop beds. The bed is dropped to get it out of the frame when using a wide angle lens. They all have front standards that tilt backwards. This feature is used with all 18 mm of front rise (2x3 Pacemaker Graphics) to center a w/a lens on the gate when the front standard is near the rear of the outer rails and the bed is dropped. They all have a little shift that can't be unless the front standard is in front of the bed struts. As I mentioned, they have front rise; in practice this is their only generally useful movement.
I like my little Graphics. But if you want what a view camera does, get a view camera, don't screw around with a press camera.
Dan, you might consider a horseman VH or similar mini view camera. It'll give you a lot more capability if you want to tilt; you can also put a monocular viewer on those cameras, which can be very helpful.
What is your purpose for the tilt? If you simply wish to throw focus, you can do that with some modifications or at the enlarger. If you need tilt to bring a particular plane into focus, and thus need finer movements, then a view camera will do much better.
Tilt is not generally used on portraits. Maybe a little swing but...at least in my experience, you need to have a pretty patient subject to even make a straight portrait with large format. If you start trying to get fancy with movements...well, I've never found a sitter that was THAT patient.
Anyway, the real beauty of shooting people with the crown / speed graphic is the ability to shoot range finder focused and hand held! It handles like a big folder! It is the perfect camera for shooting portraits on 4x5.
However, for the record, the pacemaker graphics all have tilt. You can tilt the lens board backward easily and forward tilt can be achieved by dropping the bed and tilting backward less than all the way back....but it is a pain in the ass to focus when playing this game. Just remember, with a crown/speed graphic, you don't need no stinking tilt!
a pacemaker and crown graphic for portrait work,
they work very well in this way, they are press cameras
and were built for documentary and portrait work.
i have a 50s pacemaker and have made environmental portraits
with it since it was purchased in 1988.
i wouldn't consider these cameras for architectural work
( unless i was using a wide lens and shooting straight on )
but for portraits, i wouldn't hesitate.
Does an unmodified camera have any front swing? If setup in portrait orientation you would need to use the swing to get a tilt movement. I believe this is not available. This would limit your tilt play to landscape orientation only.