obsolete film sizes?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by nealjpage, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    I'm thinking of getting into large-format photography and need a bit of help here. My uncle has an old Speed Graphic camera from the '50s that he said I could have--he doesn't use it because he says he can't find film for it. Size is 2.25x3.25. All B&H lists are sizes 4x5 and larger. Is there an outlet for the smaller film or should I just watch ebay for a 4x5 camera? Or do I build some sort of jig to cut film down to size in a darkroom?:meh:
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    The size you refer to is obsolete in sheet form. It is, however, the same width as 120 roll film. If your camera takes darkslides then you could cut lengths off a roll of 120. Or you may be able to find a roll film back for it.
    I'm sure KSMatt will be along to give you the benefit of his greater knowledge in these matters.
    Another format that went obsolete is 127 film - you used to be able to get it in France until the 80's but not any more.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I think Hertz's suggestion of cutting sheets off 120 roll film has got to be easier than cutting down 4x5, although I wonder if the curl will give you much trouble.

    I'd look for a 120 rollfilm back, but you'll need to make sure you are getting the right one. For more info check out

    www.graflex.org

    This place sells all sorts of obsolete film, including 127, but I don't know if they carry the 2.25 x 3.25 sheet film.

    http://jandcphotography.com/

    Lot's of people are using these smaller Speed Graphics, so they are getting the film somewhere.
     
  4. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Thanks. J & C has it. But, in the grand scheme of things, is the Speed Graphic a good camera to learn large-format on?
     
  5. montresor

    montresor TPF Noob!

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    Seems like every question here gets answered with "It depends." This one's no exception.

    Technically, your 2x3 Speed is a medium format camera, shooting negatives that are 6x9 cm. Large format begins with the 4x5 size, and moves up through 5x7 and 8x10 (and bigger, but that's getting into rarefied stratosphere).

    The answer to your question depends on what you mean by "large format." Both sizes of Speed Graphics are basically handheld cameras with big negatives, so if "large format" means the kind of stuff you get with a monorail view camera, the Graphics can't do it, though the 4x5 has limited rise and tilt, and the 2x3 a limited amount of rise. But if it just means getting that bigger negative, and the clarity that comes with it, you'll do all right.

    Many's the photo student of the 1940s and 50s whose first experience was with a Graphic. The longer lenses (101 to 105 on the 2x3) are a little less forgiving in matters of focus, make sure the rangefinder is adjusted for accuracy or things will look fuzzy!

    I agree that the rollback is the way to go. If your 2x3 is from the 50s, it should have the Graflok back, which you'll need for the back (the Graphic "23").

    All in all, the Graphics are fun to use and designed to mesh well with your intuition. Have a tech go over it before taking it out for a spin, though. Good luck!
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    It depends on what your subject matter is, and what you want to do. I learned LF with an Anniversary Speed Graphic. I still use a Super Speed Graphic as my main LF camera today.

    Older Speed Graphics don't have many movements. More recent models have more movements. No Speed Graphic comes stock with any rear movements except some have a rotating back that allows vertical or horizontal composition without moving the camera body. There are websites out there that demonstrat how to modify a Speed Graphic to have some rear movements. The Super Speed Graphic has a decent range of front movements; it can handle what I want to do (landscapes and portraits) 95% of the time. If I need more movements I break out a monorail view camera.

    EDIT: One thing I really like about Speed Graphics vs. a fancier, more expensive field camera (with more movements and features) for landscape photography is that the Speed Graphics are cheap, and bullet proof. I've put my Speed Graphics through rain, snow, mud, dunked in rivers, heat, and so on, and they always come back for more (maybe not the lenses). Even if I were to destroy one, it can be replaced for $200 or less. The cheapest field cameras out there start around $600, and go up in price fast. And while they aren't exactly fragile, they aren't built like a Speed Graphic. People often say that you should spend your money on the glass, and not worry about the body so much. Get a Speed Graphic, and save your money for some good LF lenses to put on it.
     
  7. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the link.
    I might just have to check out some 127 film. I've got a few cameras that take it - including a Brownie 127, the first camera I ever owned and took pictures with (I was 11... 1964... Mmmmm...)
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I like to support J & C Photo. They aren't doing it just for the money (although I'm sure that is important to them), they are doing it because they want to make sure us film freaks have a source for film in the digital future.
     
  9. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Matt,
    Are either of those Speed Graphics really hand-held cameras? What I mean is are they useful for 'from the hip' photos or are they really meant to be used with a tripod and composed shots? I'd be using it for landscapes, architecture, and a few "action" shots, like concerts and sporting events.
     
  10. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Speed Graphics were news photographers' cameras. People like WeeGee used to use them. Mine even has a sports finder.
    In efect you can use them as either - hand-held or tripod.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Like Hertz said, people used them hand held for decades.

    I usually use mine on a tripod, but have occasionally shot it hand held. The main reason I haven't used it hand held more is that the rangefinders on my Speed Graphics are sort of messed up.

    This was taken with a Super Speed Graphic hand held

    [​IMG]


    This was taken with an Anniversary Speed Graphic hand held

    [​IMG]


    Both look a lot better as an 8x10+ print than these little web friendly files.
     
  12. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Excellent. Thanks for the info. I'll hit him up next time I'm home and see if the offer still stands. I guess a free camera (even if the film size is smaller) is better than no camera, right?
     

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