Graflex Anniversary Speed Graphic 4×5

The Speed Graphic is a real icon in camera history and probably the most famous press camera ever. The first Speed Graphic cameras where produced by Graflex in Rochester, New York, in 1912. Production of later models continued until 1973. Until the mid-1960s a Speed Graphic was the standard equipment for many press photographers.

The Speed Graphic is made for hand-held shooting and therefore gives all the focusing and viewfinder options you can think of: the usual ground glass focusing any view camera provides, a coupled rangefinder, a tubular optical finder with parallax adjustment, and a folding wireframe finder. Another amazing feature is the focal plane shutter with speeds up to 1/1000. The shutter release on the right of the body can be switched to trigger the front leaf shutter or the focal plane shutter.

Compared to a “full-fledged” view camera movements are somewhat limited: the back is stationary (horizontal), rise, shift, and upward tilt on the front standart is all you get with respect to movements. But for the purpose of the Graflex as a field camera this is no limitation at all.

When you take the Speed Graphic to the field you get a feeling for the work of a press photographer in the 1950s or 1960s. Taking a picture is time-consuming: you have to change the sheet film holder, cock the shutter, focus, and shoot. Therefore you have to anticipate when the action is about to take place to take the right picture. Usually there is no second chance. When you’ve changed the film holder and are ready for another shot the “perfect moment” might have long gone. When you’ve tried this yourself, your appreciation of the amazing press photos of that time really rises. That kind of press photography was an art form by itself.



One thought on “Graflex Anniversary Speed Graphic 4×5

  1. This is the very first camera I ever bought in my life. I was walking around Santa Monica Beach in back in 1970 with it. I came back to Tokyo in 1980 and presented the camera at Pentax Camera Museum in Roppongi, Tokyo. Later I was offered a job as an translator for 6×7, LX, and ME-F. Ever since I owed half dz of 4x5s but this speed graphic was the only one I would like to poses one day again. …..I have been in Tahiti since 1985 and shoot just about everything photographers dream of….

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