So tell me about old Speed/Crown Graphics...

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by cigrainger, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    I'm getting more and more interested in vintage cameras and larger negatives. The Crown Graphic seems like a readily available, well priced, high quality 4x5 format camera. Am I right? Would this be a great camera for landscapes, cityscapes, and sunrises/sunsets?
     
  2. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Well I have a crown graphic but I seldom use it. I probably will start to use it more. The 4x5 negative is great. You will like it but mostly the quality is in the lens.
     
  3. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    Is the Ektar 127mm f/4.5 a good lens? Which ones should I look for?

    Is large format better about reciprocity failure? I'd love to take super long exposures of sunrises/sunsets at the beach at home (in FL) and in Scotland to get surreal water.
     
  4. Seefutlung

    Seefutlung TPF Noob!

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    I have a Speed Graphic which I liberated from a newspaper when I was a news photog. Like all things photographic (especially film) ... and as mysteryscribe stated ... it's all in the lens. I haven't used a 4x5 in decades but for architecture ... I think a non-field 4x5 would be best as Field Cameras have limited front movements and no rear movements (The Speed Graphic is a "Field" camera.) They are handy and portable. Once again, for architecture I'd look into a Horseman or Linholf Technika or Toyo. Look at monorail 4x5 like a Calumet, Linholf or Toho (not Toyo). The monorails will be more expensive but also more adjustments.

    The bellows dictates how wide and long you can go, for landscapes and architecture I think you may want/need somewhere in the 58mm to 65mm range .... and not all 4x5s can accept these lenses.

    I imagine that Crown/Speed Graphics are pretty cheap ... but I do suggest some Googling and reading to find the best match of camera/lens and subject.

    Good Luck,
    Gary
     
  5. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The Ektar 127mm was designed for the 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" but will cover the 4x5 with no movements. It's a Tessar style lens and it will perform fine, as long as movements are not necessary. Good sharpness and resolution.
     
  6. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Oh, BTW, the Ektar 127mm only comes with a maximum aperture of 4.7 and not 4.5 ;)
     
  7. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    So which lens is best for 4x5"? And I meant 4.7.. typo. :) Thanks for all the info guys!
     
  8. montresor

    montresor TPF Noob!

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    Everything I've read about the Ektar was that it was a top-notch lens in its day. I have an Anniversary Speed with a 127 Ektar and a field Crown with a 135 Optar, I like them both, but tend to find the 127 a little easier to compose with. Because the 127 will be slightly wide on a 4x5, there's a little more latitude with DOF, important with these long lenses. The 135 demands more accuracy.

    The neat thing about the Speed Graphics is that Graflex designed them with such amazing logic. If you spend enough time reading about them, by the time you actually handle one, you'll already know how to operate it.

    Reciprocity failure's the same no matter the size of the negative.

    Consider finding a good, clean, working 2x3 Crown Graphic or Century Graphic with a Graflok back and Graphic 23 roll film holder for 120 film. You'll have some nice, big 6x9 negs and you won't have to worry about loading film holders in a darkroom, worrying about dust, etc., and having to more or less immediately process the sheets. And you still will have the wonderful experience of working with the Graflex system.

    Let us know if you get one and how you like it!
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I was a 2x3 for those reasons but also I shoot a lot of sheet film. I love the concept one shot one usable image. I spent a year doing that then somehow it all slipped away. That's what I love about photography it is ever changing.

    I had the optar on mine originally, but I changed it for the lens from a like new 3a. That lens is about 170mm I think.
     
  10. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    While reciprocity is something to think about in all formats, you will run into longer shutter times with LF and it will come into play more often, once your exposrues run past 1 second. Most film makers provide a reciprocity chart, I have one that I use that works well for most films let me know if you want it and I will post it. You will also need to increase exposure once you extend your bellows past the focal length of a particular lens, i.e. during close up work.

    As for the graphics, they are decent cameras with a strong following and are readily available. Think about what you want this camera for as each choice of field, monorail or press has their pros and cons. And, you can get into a monorail with way more movements for around the same money as a quality SG.

    Lenses are a huge topic on their own. "What lens is best?" One that produces the results you want. Ektars are decent on the whole. G-Clarons are a great modern process lens choice with huge coverage for their size, Symmars, Artars, Dagors, Nikkors, Fujinon all fine choices. Make sure the shutter functions properly as well.

    Have fun!
     
  11. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the information guys! I'd like to stick to 4x5 or larger because I'm already getting a Bronica 645 for medium format. I like the idea, like mysteryscribe, of one shot one usable image.

    What monorail systems can I get into for the same price as the SG?

    Thanks again all! I'm a complete newb when it comes to LF. I read through a little of Ansel Adams' The Camera yesterday though. :D
     
  12. ksmattfish

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

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    http://graflex.org/

    I've used fancier 4x5 cameras, but I love Speed Graphics. My monorail sits on the shelf collecting dust, because my Super Graphic is a lot more portable, quick to use, and gets the job done 99.9% of the time. Some Graphics have limited front movements; the last Speed Graphic, the Super Graphic has front rise, shift, swing, and tilt, as well as a drop bed and a revolving film back. I've seen website where people have modified Graphics to add or increase front movements, and even add rear movements.

    Speed Graphics usually come with press lenses. These are cheaper, simpler designs that may barely cover 4x5 with no room for movements. That said some are wonderful lenses. You can use almost any large format lens. It's just a matter of having the right lens board with the right sized hole. Actually, you can probably use just about anything you could mount in a lensboard; what about a hotel door peephole? ;) I use a Schneider APO Symmar f/5.6 150mm, and a Schneider Super Angulon f/8 90mm (that would be similat to 50mm and 28mm lenses in 35mm format).

    Another advantage of a Speed Graphic over a monorail: remember, they used to use these things hand held! I definately use a tripod most of the time, but I have played around with some hand held 4x5 shooting. I have a 6 shot grafmatic back, and I've recalibrated the rangefinder for my lenses (they are normally set up for the original press lenses). As long as you have the arm strength (and it's really not any heavier than a medium format SLR) it's a lot of fun. I keep telling myself I should do it more often.
     

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