Super Graphics advice : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi gang, I am looking to get into large format photography and have been contemplating a Super Graphics camera as it can be used as a hand held and because it will give me a curtain amount of movement. From what I understand from some advice on another user group list, the Super Graphics would give me the most movement in teh Graphics line. This is why I choose this model. Now I am looking to purchase one along with a good normal or wide angle lens that would give me proper coverage within the movement of this camera. Any advice as to what lens, my choice of camera and where I might purchase the equipment. I would prefer to trade some of my extra Rollei collectables to get the equipment but would consider a direct purchase. Thanks, jerry

-- Jerry (, May 25, 2002


Hello Jerry! Midwest Photo Exchange usually has Super Speed Graphics advertised and they do trades.FWIW, the website is a wealth of information on Graflex cameras and you can find out how to contact Fred Lustig of Reno,NV through them, he probably holds claim to the title of "High Graflex Guru."

-- John Kasaian (, May 25, 2002.

I've got two Super Graphics; one collects dust, and the other is a perfectly servicable door stop. While these are fine cameras, there are certainly better choices out there for the serious photographer. If on the other hand you're looking for a functioning collectable, the Super Graphic is probably a good choice (keep in mind that the better examples are priced as collectables).

If you are seriously planning on using your 4x5 handheld, then a press or technical camera is practically your only choice. Give careful consideration to what you'll use the camera for (I can't image shooting handheld and using movements). If you don't need the extra movements that a Super Graphic (or Linhof or Horseman) provides, consider the Crown Graphic, it is light, cheap, and like all of the others, a box with a lens on one end and film at the other. The Crown also is better suited to wide lenses (90mm) than the Super.

-- Dave Brown (, May 25, 2002.

I have a super graphic with a Schneider Symmar 135, rangefinder cam, in excellent working condition. I paid around $200 without the lens. The super will handle lenses down to 90mm no problem, no drop bed. (Nikkor 90mm SW f/8) As for movements, the one most important to me over the other graphics is the portrait/landscape rotation on the back. As for 'view camera' movements though, you would be better off with a field camera. It has front movements only, tilt and rise work good, shift and swing is limited and rather crudely implemented. It is my 'second' camera and would not be my choice for my only 4X5. It does excel in speed of use though. I frequently take it on trips where I need the speed. Setup is faster than a field camera: Open the front, lock on the infinity stops, use the range finder or distance scale to focus. I don't do anything with 4X5 handheld, so there is still the tripod. No dust on mine, and while it is rugged enough to use as a door stop, I have too much respect for mine to treat it this way. Maybe you can work out a trade for a good doorstop with Dave. ;^)

-- Gary Frost (, May 25, 2002.

I have a Graflex Super Graphic and I really like it. A good current field camera (for not much money new) would be the Shen-Hao, from Badger Graphic (

I bought mine for $300, and it came with a lens. I just put a Brightscreen ground glass in it because the ground glass which came with it was not original and thus was not in the same plane as the film plane. (that's something you have to watch for)

I take it with me, and I have found that for the stuff I do, I don't need a lot of movements. If I was doing architectural work, then I'd want something better.

Take a look on Ebay for some cheap stuff. There's a Super Speed Graphic ( ViewItem&item=1355285842) for cheap, but with a little work it looks like it'll be good.

I remember coming across the web page of a fellow who took his Graphic and extended its movements. He says it was a weekend project.

Gary is right about speed of use, this is a really fast camera to use. I like using it with Readyloads, it's just a hair slower to use than my Pentax 6x7.

-- Brian C. Miller (, May 25, 2002.

John's idea about checking is a great one.The Graphlex cameras are basically snapshot cameras.They were designed to enable the photographer to grab action shots to illustrate news stories.They needed extensive movements like submarines needed screen doors.They are an inexpensive beginners camera especially if you get one with the Optar lens most of them came with.These can be folded up in side the camera.If you are serious about doing photography that needs plenty of camera movement you are going to be very disapointed with the Graphlex.Unless your manual dexterity exceeds most humans; handholding and using camera movements are pretty much mutually exclusive.(another hand would help alot if available).If you are going to use a tripod you will be greatly handicapped by not having the flexibility afforded by even one of the less expensive field or monorail cameras.If you just want to test the water and see if you will like large format;then go for it.Make sure the that you can get the cam to match the focal length of the lens you plan to use.If you don't you will have to use the ground glass,another neat trick when handholding. Good shooting

-- asher galloway (, May 25, 2002.

I have a super graphic and enjoy using it. My lenses are the 135mm optar, 90mm optar, 8 1/4" tele Raptar, and a 15" tele Raptar (tripod only on this monster of a lens) I have used anything from the 90mm to the 8 1/4" tele handheld. Even handheld, where a lot of sharpness is lost from camera movement, there is something that makes the print look better than a handheld 35mm shot, or it could just be my imagination.

As far as movements, the only movement I have used is a little front tilt, and occasional front rise, but not much. My lenses get a little soft around the edges. To take advantage of movements, you might want to look at a field camera.

-- Eric Verheul (, May 26, 2002.

I'll have to disagree with those who are dissing the Super Speed Graphic. I used mine today and employed the drop bed front, front fall, front axis tilt and could have used front swing if needed. And all this was set up within a few seconds.

The Super Speed Graphic with 135 Rodenstock f/4.5 lens is a great bargain at the $400 to $600 typically seen in online auction sales. The camera has most movements one would ever need in a field camera for landscape work and has the added bonus of hand-holdability with a leaf shutter that synchs at up to 1/1000 second with electronic flash.

I have a friend who recently sold a Canham 4x5 (the lightweight, nice, two-railed job) in favor of using his Super Speed Graphic as his primary 4x5 camera. BTW, the Canham did NOT have front axis tilts, making it a hassle to use in the most common landscape situations.

Anyway, I love my SSG and believe it can easily do more than most photographers who buy the mega-expensive Canhams, Wisners, Ebonys, etc. will ever do with their nice toys.

-- David Haynes (, May 26, 2002.

I shoot an SG, lately more handheld than on a tripod. Most of the new stuff is candids, which is hard to do with a large camera. Not exactly stealth photography, and somewhat embaressing to use in this way. If you were interested more in landscapes, than another light field camera such as the Shen Hao would be a better way to go. Also, any back movements are nice for architectural; Especially indoor stuff. For SuperG lenses, and if handheld shooting, I'd buy a 90mm which has alot of DOF, and can be hyperfocal focused based on aperture. My second lens would be a 210 as you'll want the reach sooner or later. Overall a nice strong camera with rangefinding and a revolving back, but depending on your subject matter, you might want to explore your decision before you buy. BTW, front rise and tilt are the movements I use the most.

-- Wayne Crider (, May 28, 2002.

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