Graphic View or Calumet CC series? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have a Bender but I am considering buying something more rigid for critical work or where rigidity is needed (ie wind). I am a student and do not have much $$ to spend, so I was looking at either a Graphic View with graflock back or a Calumet CC series camera. What are the merits and pitfalls of each, and which one would you choose if given a choice between the two? Also, what is a fair price for each?

-- Erik Asgeirsson (, February 05, 2001


I use one of the Calumet CC things. Mine has a spring back (no graflock) and about 18" of usable extension. No rise or fall on the back, and no detents for swings. The front standard would not support a heavy lens (355 G Claron, #3 Copal) without fixing the lensboard in place using a big auxiliary aluminum plate. The camera has proven to permit fogging of the old Kodak IR film (no longer available, so maybe not an issue anymore as the new IR film is less sensitive). I think the monorail is a bit thin and flimsy-looking, but mine is still unbent after two years. And I'm not really convinced about its rigidity.

Good things about it include decent parts availability from Calumet, generous movements, and its ability to take abuse. I wouldn't buy another one, but I'm not going to replace it immediately. I also see them in camera stores for exorbidant prices ($300-400 sans lens?!) and think that they're probably worth about half that (I ended up paying $550 for mine, a 150 Sironar MC, and some odds and ends).

The Graphic Views are reviewed elsewhere on this site: my experience with them is limited to thinking their max extension was not enough.

-- John O'Connell (, February 06, 2001.

I used a Calumet CC400 for years and found it to be a real workhorse. Mine had 22 inches of bellows draw, which was nice for closeups. It had zero detents and was quick to set up in the field (I never went far from the car, so weight wasn't a big deal). About the only thing I didn't like about it was having to use a recessed lens board for my 90mm. The recessed board for that model camera makes it difficult to reach in with your fingers to set aperture and shutter speeds. I found it be a sturdy camera, and it gave me years of trouble-free service.

-- Ben Calwell (, February 06, 2001.

Many participants to this posting site, myself included, swear by the Graphic View II. The lendary O. Winston Link who died last week used it for his famous Norfolk and Western railroad steam engine series back in the 1950's. If it was good enough for O. Winston Link.......

-- Wayne Campbell (, February 06, 2001.

I have a CC400 wide body with the recessed front standard. The bellows won't extend out as far as the regular CC400...a 210mm lens is about as long as you can use. The nice part is you can go down to a 65mm easily without a recessed lens board.

-- Don Sparks (, February 06, 2001.

Well, I think it really comes down to what condition either of the two cameras are in. I've had experience with both the Graphic View II, and a variety of the older Calumets. The range of movements is similar on the two, but you would gain a revolving back with the Calumet, which might be a nice thing to have. There are also alot of different rail lengths with the Calumet, whereas the Graphic is like 17 inches or so. The rail on the Graphic cameras is also sort of geared, not in a modern way, but if that track is all stripped out you may be in trouble. I would probably opt for the Calumet, since this is probably younger than the Graphic, and the chances of you finding things like lensboards and other parts may be a little easier. I do have a Graphic View II that I use for some sporadic tabletop work at home, and it does this okay. I must admit that I'm spoiled with the Toyos we use where I work, but this camera was given to me, so I can't complain. If I had to buy one and had a choice, I'd probably go with a Calumet. There's enough rail on the Graphic for me to use a 240mm lens okay, and even though it might seem shaky, it always goes back to the same spot. The Calumets are the same that way too. I don't think I'd pay more than $200 (and it'd have to be mint) for a Graphic View body. If you go this route, make sure you get the Graflock back, and make sure it's included with the camera. Some people like to separate the backs on those since they're compatible with the Pacemakers and Crown graphics. I actually bought a second junked up Graphic View to use as parts for my other one. I paid under a $100 for it, it might have been considered usable, but it wouldn't have been much fun. Anyways, good luck, and I hope this helps. Oh yeah, if you go with the Graphic, get the tripod head as well...

-- D.K. Thompson (, February 06, 2001.

Hi Eric, I can't comment on the Calumet, but I have a GVII and like it a lot. It is cheap, well built, and capable. Check the link below for details:

My GVII has a removable Graflok, which is nice for both portrait and landscape work. If your classes require macro work you might want more bellow draw, since the 16" bellows on the GVII wiill run out at about 2x lifesize with a 200mm lens. I don't use the standard tripod adapter, as my camera has a solid tripod block. The Graflex tripod adapter adds to the purchase cost of the camera and they aren't very common. They aren't common because they're not very good when compared to a modern tripod head, so most of them ended up in the trash a long time ago. Here's a link describing what a Graflex tripod adapter is and how to modify it for use with a modern tripod:

I was saddened to hear of the death of O. Winston Link, suitably outside a train station in New York. His work with the Graphic View stands as some of the landmark photography of the 20th century. Godspeed Mr. Link.


-- Dan Carey (, February 08, 2001.

Thanks for the info. on the tripod head conversion. I really haven't ever had any problems with mine as far as stability but I have an extra one so maybe I'll try this. I've seen those things used for like $75 and always thought it was ridiculous, as it should be considered a part of the camera. Same goes for separating the focus panel from the graflok assembly. As far as Winston Link goes, you all might want to check out the Dec. 1999 issue of "Preservation" magazine. They had a real good interview in there with him. Thanks again for the tip.

-- D. K. Thompson (, February 08, 2001.

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