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Graflex Speed Graphic 23

Sander Meisner , Oct 21, 2010; 04:23 a.m.

I don't know if this has been asked before but I can't find it after searching the forum.

I can buy a Speed Graphic 23 with the 101mm Ektar tessar lens for 175 euro. The shutters work fine and the lens is clean. Tha camera has got a Kalart rangefinder.
I have been wanting to buy a 6x7 camera for a while now and was thinking to get a RB67 rollfilm holder and use it the Speed Graphic. My question is, will I be able to focus on the groundglass and will I have movements? I would like to perspective corrections in camera, (the other options would be a RB67 with tilt-shift lens or Fuji 680 (which I think is to big and heavy to take with me).
I kinda look upon this as a system between medium and large format with the size of a large medium format system, but with the movements (somewhat limited, but I don't think I'll need a lot of them).
This is the camera:
http://verkopen.marktplaats.nl/photopopup/381630465/1
http://verkopen.marktplaats.nl/photopopup/381630465/2
http://verkopen.marktplaats.nl/photopopup/381630465/3

Thanks...

Responses

Dave S , Oct 21, 2010; 05:05 a.m.

This is a Miniature Speed Graphic, a pre-1947 model. The lens is a coated Ektar from 1946, which is likely the original lens. The camera has been retrofitted with a Graflok back so it can take a rollholder. An old-style '23 Graphic' rollholder appears to come with the camera. Mamiya RB67 rollholders will also work, although the later models have safety interlocks that you would have to disable.

As far as ground glass focusing goes, yes, you can focus on the ground glass. *But* I don't see a ground glass focusing screen in the pictures, so it's possible it's missing. It would clip on the back where the rollfilm holder is.

I've never used a Miniature Speed, but I believe the only movement it has is a little front rise. If you are serious about needing camera movements, consider a different camera.

If you want to use a Graphic, an alternate choice would be a post-1947 Century Graphic or '23' Crown Graphic. Those cameras don't have the focal plane shutter of a Speed, so they are lighter in weight. They make good backpacking cameras.

Edward Ingold , Oct 21, 2010; 01:42 p.m.

With a Speed Graphic, you get rise only, back tilt only and about 1/4" of shift. The rise and tilt are mainly to compensate for using the drop bed with a wide angle lens. The film aspect is horizontal, and to use the camera vertically on a tripod, you have to remove the grip. Graphic lenses barely cover the format, and will vignette if tilted, raised or whatever.

A Speed Graphic should be used pretty much as-is. It is rugged, compact and definitely retro-cool. If you want movements, buy a Sinar F1, get all the movements, a rotating back and nearly any accessory you could want on the open market.

Dan Fromm , Oct 21, 2010; 06:23 p.m.

Edward, could you be thinking of the Pacemaker Graphics? I ask because (a) although its been decades since I had a Mini Speed I don't recall that it had tilt or shift and (b) quick checks at www.graflex.org and in the first edition of Graphic Graflex Photography corroborate my recollection. Pacemakers have the movements you mentioned.

Some of the original issue lenses cover more than 2x3. Not all. And of course there's no reason to limit oneself to original issue lenses with any camera that allows lens interchange, including a Graphic.

That said, having had a Mini Speed and having four Pacemaker Graphics on hand, of which I regularly use two, I prefer the Pacemakers to the Mini. Not sure why, and certainly a Mini with a Graflok like the one Sander showed us is can be a very usable camera.

Mr. Sims' comment that a focusing panel is necessary is very apt. You'll need one, if only to check that the RF is set up correctly for the lens on the camera. Sander, focusing panels for Graflok backs can be found, but never at an attractive price when wanted badly.

If you want to use a 2x3 Speed Graphic, you might want to shop for a 2x3 Pacemaker Speed -- learn to recognize it at www.graflex.org -- on www.ebay.com. I haven't paid attention to the US dollar-forint exchange rate, but it has to be more favorable to you than its been for quite a while.

Edward's suggestion that you get a Sinar is mischievous. If you must have movements and must shoot 6x7 or 6x9 there are 6x9 view cameras, also many makes and models of larger view cameras. Sinar isn't the only choice, may not be best for you if you want a 4x5 or larger view camera with full movements.

Edward Ingold , Oct 22, 2010; 01:46 a.m.

Mischevious? The Sinar F1 is an inexpensive monorail with rise, drop, tilt and swing, both front and rear. A field camera (i.e., with a bed that folds up and closes like a box) would be more closely related to the Graphic, but tend to be several times as expensive, as are the more popular 6x9 view cameras (e.g., Arca-Swiss "Technical"). Perhaps I should have merely suggested an inexpensive monorail camera, not brand-specific.

I suppose you could adapt a roll film back to an 8x10" view camera, but the standard 180mm lens is kinda' long for 6x7, and 40 pound cameras are not especially portable.

Every Speed Graphic I've seen has some movements, including my 4x5 Speed Graphic which predates the Pacemaker line. Backward (only) tilt has few if any applications for landscape or architectural photography. You can improvise forward tilt using the drop bed, but you don't have enough rise to re-center a "normal" 135-180mm lens.

Dave S , Oct 22, 2010; 03:24 a.m.

You can improvise forward tilt using the drop bed

The other well-known workaround is to position the camera upside-down, using the side tripod screw and angling the tripod head to 90 degrees. I have sometimes wondered why Graflex didn't provide a third tripod socket on top, for this purpose. Linhof did this on at least some of their cameras.

Mag Miksch , Oct 22, 2010; 05:45 a.m.

To focus on the groundglass and after that attaching a rollfilm holder needs a camera with the Graflok back, with the older backs you have to screw, which is not easy done on location.

Edward Ingold , Oct 22, 2010; 12:13 p.m.

The side tripod socket is obstructed by the carrying strap. The strap on Pacemaker Graphics was attached with spring clips, but not mine. It's a big camera to put to one side by flipping the head, but that may be the only practical option (other than an improvised L-bracket). It's not particularly hard to reverse the risers so that the lens tilts forward, and you don't mind spoiling a bit of historical value.

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