Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The primary test camera in the lab
One of the great things about the Speed Graphic is the focal plane shutter. This allows you to mount any lens with or without a shutter and make a picture with it. Or, you can put a pinhole on it. There are hundreds of lenses that you can get for free that will produce Holga-like images using a camera like this. Many of the followers of this blog already know about Speed Graphics, but some might not have yet.
Speed Graphics are very versatile and inexpensive. You can mount various Polaroid and Fuji backs, rollfilm backs, and even sheet film! That was a joke. The famous Polaroid 545 back is the one that takes Type 55 and has built in rollers to burst and spread the reagent pod. That back fits in these cameras.
There are thousands of spare parts for it in every country. You can focus on the ground glass. Or, you can use the rangefinder and one of two viewfinders. The bellows extends far enough for closeups, and the bed tilts down for wide angle lenses and for some tilt. With a smaller standard lens, it all folds up into one solid box and strap handle that you could fight your way out of a mod riot with. People always look and smile at it, and it reminds them of old movies. It looks complicated but you can fix virtually anything on it yourself. In the old days, people converted it to an enlarger. Today, new uses for testing reclaimable Fuji negatives are being explored with it.
If I was only allowed one camera forever, if I had to choose, the Speed Graphic would be it.
Yesterday I was musing about the possibility of chopping a Fuji Instax camera which is finally available cheap to fit on the back, and be able to shoot integral film with a big lens.
Posted by Bob Crowley at 5:15 PM