Graflex 'newbie': Help!!!
Greetings from Newburyport, MA!
Inherited 'Graflex Century Graphic' (2x3). It has red (?)bellows; Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:3,5/105 lens; Kalart Sync. Finder; "23" Graphic 120 film holder and I guess the standard back with groundglass. I've been a 35mm user starting back in 1965 w/Petri V (still using);( Konica, Pentacon, Exaktas, Mamiya, as well). Would really love to start shooting with this "critter" but... is roll film the better starting point? how accessible and practical is the cut film and where can I get a tutorial or similar? Is this Graflex suitable for a variety of photo situations or limited to more specific venues? And, I guess the lens choices are similar to 35mm options?
It's like starting all over again and I love it!! Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Okay- let's take this one query at a time:
1- "Is roll film the better starting point?"
Oh, yes... Have you loaded cut film holders? Usually we learned on 4x5 inch film holders. They were a bit of a pain, but nothing like the tiny 2x3 holders! If you look around, you'll be able to find rollfilm backs for every size from 2-1/4x2-1/4, to 2-1/4x2-3/4.
2 - "How accessible and practical is the cut film"
You can still buy 2x3 cut film from Ilford (don't... see above answer!)
2 - B: "and where can I get a tutorial or similar?"
Well, any tutorial on loading sheet film is going to be similar for "almost" every size... 4x5 & 5x7 is (in my oppinion) the easiest to load. When you get over 8x10 it starts to get a bit awkward... Larger sheets of film have a tendency to bend while you move them around, introducing artifacts into the film. You can work up to the ultra-large formats, but with a bit of practice along the way!
3 - "Is this Graflex suitable for a variety of photo situations or limited to more specific venues?"
The medium-format Graflex is usable for just about any kind of photograph you want to make. There are enough lenses available to be useful for just about every kind of photograph: 65mm for wide angle, 101 for about "normal", 125mm to 135mm for non-telephoto lenses (with 150mm being the maximum bellows draw). You can find telephoto lenses up to about 203mm (the TeleOptar 8") for a true telephoto.
The Century Graflex is not only a gorgeous camera (especially with the red bellows), but very useful & sturdy (the body takes a lot of abuse- like most of the Graflex's).
You can also look at this site for more info: http://graflex.org/speed-graphic/century-graphic.html
I have a few cameras of this size, (Pacemaker Crown Graphic, B&J and a Busch Pressman). I've used them both ways. What will work best for you will depend on what you want. Do you want to be able to shoot 8 images before changing film with the roll back; or do want to be able to tailor the development of your negs individually? There is also, of course, the issue of the wider availability of film in 120 rolls as opposed to 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 sheet film.
Everyone has an opinion.
If you are going to shoot roll film, you need to check the calibration of your rig. There are several tutorials on calibrating your Kalart to your film plane. I never bothered.
Or, go get a loupe and shoot it like the LF camera it is. I happen to like sheet film. I shoot 2x3 sheet film on my rb67 as well as on my Crown and Speed Graphics.
It gives you the chance to take notes, develop film on an individual basis, and take your time and make photographs vs. shootin' pitchers.
Film is available from 25 ASA to 400 ASA, all B&W, all available through APUG sponsors.
There are a couple of U-Tube demos of loading film. 2x3 is no harder than 4x5. It does feel fiddly at first but once you get use to the size, it goes fast.
If you use your Century like a LF camera, the use of lens is limited only by bellows draw and compression. It sets up nice for formal portraiture, take out to the wilds scenics, and around town not technical architecture. The Century is fairly light weight compared to the Speed. A camera, a couple film holders or a Graphmatic or two, two lens, medium sized tripod, meter, loupe, and dark cloth... you can hike just about anywhere and make your art.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
A good place to start would be to just go out and take pictures.
Take a look at graflex.org to see how to load the film, and get a quick run down on the camera,
and go make some snaps. Shoot some fast film to get used to handling the camera,
and after you have some good feelings about it, you may - or may not - choose to get fancy with it.
Never, never, never get rid of it. Pretend its just an overgrown 35.
Newburyport is a pretty fine place to own a camera like this !
(Oh, yes. There is a pretty high probability the camera came from Graflex as the kit you now posses.
If so, and if the previous owner wasn't a tinkerer, the rangefinder is dead on.)
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
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The best way to learn is to put as much film through the camera as possible. In my humble opinion, roll film is the best way to go to shoot lots of film. And there are many things worth photographing in your location.
John - first off, welcome to APUG from the other end of the state. Whitey Morange is a font of information, interesting character and great guy. He maybe of some help. I am sure he will chime in here in this thread when he gets a chance to read it.
I agree with Don... never get rid of that camera. It will outlast any digi-gizmo by years & years and be so much more fun to use.
Have fun and bring it to a NE-APUG gathering some time!!
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
As usual, papagene gives me far more credit than deserved, (check's in the mail, Gene... keep it up) but I'd be glad to be of any help I can with the Graflex. I have a 4x5 and a smaller Busch Pressman C (the 2x3 version.) I shoot the last of these with sheet film and with roll film. The roll film is definitely easier for an given session, but I didn't feel comfortable with it until I'd gone a few rounds with the ground glass and sheet film holders. After checking the rangefinder through a dozen or so images, I felt a lot more confident with the Adapt-a-roll attached. I have a sheet film development set-up for that size I can give you if that's of interest.
If you can join us for the BBQ in CT on the 21st, bring the camera and we'll get you shooting with it like there's no tomorrow. You'll also get to meet local APUGgers who really do know what they're doing, including papagene himself. I have holders and film and an extra tripod or three for that size camera l that I can bring to get you started. (add link doesn't seem to be working right now, look at the thread in the New England Regional forum for details) If you can't make the cook-out, I'd be happy to get together with you some time this summer. I live just a few miles down the road, in Acton, and would love to go shooting in the Newburyport area again.
Thanks for all the welcoming insights; the BBQ sounded great until I checked calendar: Strawberry Festival Weekend at St. Andrews!! Looking forward to getting together at another time. Being semi-retired (?) have most of the week for pursuing my passions, so let me know your schedule and we'll put a "shoot" together. (Boy, didn't that sound professional??!)
Sounds good. I'll be happy to respond if I can get in touch with you. As a member, can you send me a private message? If not, send a visitor message by clicking on my avatar and going to my profile.
That Strawberry Festival sounds like a photo opportunity to me. Take some pictures!