bush pressman? super graphic? waste of time?

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Hi, I'm looking for a 4x5 field camera and wanted to start out with a press camera for reasons of cost, portability, etc... but mostly cost... anyway, I'm looking at a Busch (sic?) Pressman which seems very nice and adequate for what I need... do any of you have experience with this particular camera? how would it compare with a super graphic? I'm interested in the super graphic because of its front swings, but the price on the Pressman is much less than a Super Graphic usually runs for... Should I save my pennies and get the Super, buy the Pressman now... or wait and save and get a REAL field camera in the future... Any advice here would be very much appreicated. Thanks.

-- frank miller (fmiller4@buffalo.edu), July 07, 1999


My 0.02

I have a Super Graphic (I didnt buy, it belonged to my Granddad). Since then I acquired a 5x7 and an 8x10 will full movements, and "View Camera Technique" by Leslie Stroebel. Knowing what I know now, if I had to get only a 4x5, I would save my pennies and get an INEXSPENSIVE camera with full movements - the Calumet Cadet or the new Toyo for around $500.

I think the Graphics are fine if your work does not require a lot of movement - simple landscapes etc. By all means, if you find a press camera at a great price, grab it. After you learn, you can always sell if for what you paid.

-- sheldon hambrick (shambric@us.oracle.com), July 07, 1999.

I have owned several Busch cameras over the years, but they can't even come close to the versatility of a good field camera with back movements, and a large lensboard that will accept a #3 or maybe even a #4 shutter. However, that said...

For my money I would take the Busch over a Graphic/Graphlex, for a couple of reasons; The 360 degree revolving back is a must for the field, The solid all metal construction will take a beating and a lot of jostling (mine have), The focusing is smooth and geared, as are the front movements and last but not least, the look and feel of the brushed aircraft aluminum that this camera is made. There are drawbacks with the Busch, the most annoying is the lens board, it's tiny (forget anything larger than a #1 shutter, or anything that requires a recessed lensboard). The board is attached with a screw to the standard with this little tang that sticks out of the top. Finding used lensboards is nearly imposible, as is making your own. The camera has no movements on the back. There is not much of a market for used accesories such as rangefinder cams and the aforementioned lensboards.

-- Britt Leckman (bleckman@email.com), July 07, 1999.

Hi, I'm somewhat of a beginner myself, but happen to own both a Pressman and a Super. Both of these cameras have a rotating back (contrary to above). Busch lensboards can be made new for about $50 and there was one on ebay recently that went for much less. They can be had. Neither has back movements and both seem to have about the same tilts. The Super has swings that the Pressman does not - you must judge for yourself if you require this. Both are metal bodies. The Super is smaller and weighs about a pound or so less. The Pressman normally only has a spring back while the Super has a Grafloc to adapt other accessories such as a roll film back. The cams for the Super are easier to find if this is an issue. The Busch cameras are of an older vintage, for the odds of it having problems like light leaks in the bellows or other problems might be higher. Also, it seems to me that the Super is better construction. It also has a fresnel lens for brighter edge viewing on the ground glass.

All of this said, I think either camera is good for a beginner. My philosophy has been that there may be other things like film cost and continuing interest in LF that have prevented me from spending more money right now. I've had great fun with the Busch and have had some wonderful photos taken with it. But if you can afford a bit more, the Super has some features that make it a little easier to use, easier to get accessories and is generally a better camera. For the time being I'll play with both, but eventually will probably sell the Busch. If you don't really need the movements of a more sophisticated camera (like archetecture or table top work), I'd suggest using the price difference to buy better or more lenses. If you want to do this type of work right off, save for a different camera. But hey, I'm just a beginner, too.

-- roger rouch (rrouch@msn.com), July 07, 1999.

I have a Super Speed Graphic 4x5 camera which has an all metal frame, the lens has a top shutter speed of 1/1000, the back revolves 360 degrees, and the shutter is controlled by two 22.5-volt everready batteries which are currently avilable. This camera was one of the last Graphic production units that they manufactured and it seems to have many of the good features copied from the old Busch Pressman "D" camera. Toyo bought all the Super Speed Graphic designs many years ago and you can see where the roots of the newer Toyos developed.

-- Al Dodds (adodds@nbpd.org), July 07, 1999.

I agree that the Super Graphic is a much better made camera. However, that Busch will still make beautiful negatives. Just remember that they are ALL boxes to hold the lens and film, with some more sophisticated than others. It's the LENS that matters. It's the LENS that you should invest your pennies in to purchase. It's the LENS that will stay with you and go onto other boxes in the future. You can make wonderful photographs without ever swinging or tilting! Have fun.

-- Dick Fish (dfish@javanet.com), July 08, 1999.

Don't dismiss the Crown Graphic cameras. They are lighter and smaller than Speed Graphics. You'll lose some movements up front, and the rotating back, but you can compensate for the movements with the drop bed and for the back with the tripod hole on the side of the body.

The main drawbacks to the Busch Pressman cameras are weight and, well, weight. I sold mine after hiking six miles at 10,000 feet with that thing in my backpack.

As Dick said, spend your money on the lens. The camera is far less important. None of these cameras is a waste of time, so be patient and buy one that is in excellent condition.

-- Darron Spohn (dspohn@clicknet.com), July 08, 1999.

As an after thought I wanted to add, beginner to beginner, that I followed the advise of many by getting a basic sturdy press camera with as many movements as possible for the category. The Pressman and the Super are probably the tops for this. As obvious as it seems, I tended to ignore the fact that to use these movements, the standard 127 or 135 lens that will most likely come with the camera will not have enough coverage for any significant movements. You will have to add a minimum of $200 per lens and likely more to get optics that will allow the movements. This is a price consideration that I tended to ignore in my budget. A little more arguement for the spare the body spoil the lens arguement. Sure, you can get by without the movements and still cover a lot of situations and get great photos, but seems to me part of the fun and advantage of the format. But if your budget is tight, a basic $200 Pressman will give you a whole lot of pleasure and will probably surprize you with the photo quality.

-- roger (rrouch@msn.com), July 08, 1999.

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