Used camera advice? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking to get into large format, most likely 4x5, and looking for any advice as to which camera/brand to go for...

I can't afford much (I just bought a hasselblad and am financially committed to the company for the next 30 years)... looking to spend between 0-$300. I'd love to get something handheld, versatile, and something that makes a great image. I see Crown Graphic and Speed Graphic on ebay for around $250, but have no idea what's good. Please help! Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

-- Bryan Sykora (, March 24, 2002


i have a 1948 crown graphic i paid $60 for that i just love. i use my regular rodenstock 135mm on it. keep your eyes open - even the beat-to-hell crown graphics can be great machines, and you can do almost anything with them. speed graphics are bulkier and dont offer any benefit unless you are specifically interested in having a film- plane shutter.

-- jnorman (, March 25, 2002.

I think a speed graphic is a great choice. It allows you to use a wide range of lenses, and the focal plane shutter saves youmoney in buying barrel lenses because you don't need " in the lens " shutter anymore!! I strip mine of the rangefinders to make it lighter and a little less bulkier. If youdecide for this camera give careful attention yo bellows conditions and expecially focal plane shutter. There are some with the 1/30 th as slower shutter speed and some with the 1/10. I would choose the latter.... These are great cameras, i don't know why nobody is building this kind of cameras anymore, ......

-- domenico (, March 25, 2002.

You just bought a Hasselblad - and now you want to do hand-held 4x5?
My only question is - <<>>
You will do nothing with a hand-held Graphic that wouldn't be better done with a Hassy.
Movements will not be available to you when holding the camera, and unless you plan on mural sized prints, you would be hard pressed to pick one over the other in a side by side comparison up to 20X30 -
Hassy lenses are FAR superior to what you can get for your $300 package.

-- Matt O. (, March 25, 2002.

matt says "You will do nothing with a hand-held Graphic that wouldn't be better done with a Hassy. Movements will not be available to you when holding the camera, "

sorry, but wrong, and wrong. i owned a hasselblad system for several years, and it is a very fine machine, but has many drawbacks, not the least of which is cost. i regularly use my old graphic in professional architectural situations where it is impossible to use a tripod (handheld in a hoppyclopter, or on the side of a steep slope, or up in a tree, etc.), and i dont have any trouble using front rise or fall when i need to. the negatives made with the graphic are acceptable to the LOC - medium format negs are not.

-- jnorman (, March 25, 2002.

I have a 49 Pacemaker Speed Graphic with a 127/4.7 Ektar, which I paid way too much for, at least compared to what you can get if you live in the US, but really like. My idea would be to get a good working camera, but spend the most of the money on a lens. If you are going for some kind of press camera, then by all means get yourself at least a 135-150 mm (my 127mm can only be used with minimal, if any movements) lens to get some movements. The advantage of a Pacemaker is the focal shutter, which can help you use cheap barrel lenses. Have a look at to get a feel for the cameras.

Many of the cameras come with lenses, so just keep a look out on e- bay, ask a few questions to the knowledgable guys and gals here and you'll be on your way to LF world in no time!

-- Jimi Axelsson (, March 25, 2002.

I agree, the Speed/Crown is a good way to start. The ground glass can be dim if you have slow lenses or low light, but I got an excellent Crown Graphic with Graflock back (you want it with one) not too long ago, all there, all works just like it should, with a 135mm Schneider Xenar for $295. Also test the shutters at all speeds. The slow speeds are notorious for sticking (after 50 years), but the fix should be only be about $50. If it sticks, bargain.

Be sure the rangefinder works if you want handheld, otherwise you'll have to scale focus. Rangefinders can and may be out of calibration after 50 years, but if it works, users can calibrate them. See for instructions.



-- Steve Hamley (, March 25, 2002.

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