Speed Graphic Camera Review
– 4×5 Large Format Photography
Now I have had my new 4×5 large format camera for a few weeks I thought it was time to write a short Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera review! I recap on my progress so far and share some photos taken with the Speed Graphic.
Speed Graphic camera review – Operating a large format camera
Size – Well it’s bigger and heavier than my Leica M cameras for sure! Yes it is big and heavy and with the lenses I use attached the camera cannot be folded for carriage. I also use a heavy study Manfroto tripod that adds to the weight.
Focusing – I use an 8x magnifying loupe to focus the image on the rear ground glass and find it very easy from f5.6 and smaller, sometimes even without a hood. I currently pull my coat over my head if it is too bright to see the glass.
Speed of use – It is not as slow as I perhaps expected. I bought the large format camera for 4×5 portraiture rather than landscapes so I knew I would have to work fast. If you have a good rapport with a model it doesn’t cause any difficulties.
Image quality – If you nail the focus, then as you would expect the details captured by a large format camera far surpass 35mm and medium format.
Large format in the studio – I have done two large format shoot in the studio so far, with model Roisin and Karla. All the equipment was already on hand making it relatively stress free.
Large format on location – I did a location shoot with model Elizabeth in a local woodland and I then realised I had quite a lot to carry. That said it was possible but the camera suits locations closer to the car (10-15min walk max perhaps) rather than being a trekking camera.
4×5 Instant film – So far I have been using colour instant film, Fujifilm FP-100C and black and white instant film, Fuji FP-3000B. As the names suggest FP100C is ISO 100 film and FP3000B is ISO 3000 film so that needs to be considered before a shoot.
6×7 120 Roll film – I have shot one roll of 120 Kodak T-Max 100 in a my Horseman 6×7 roll film back and they were perhaps my favourite images so far. They are far from perfect but the negatives are much sharper than when using instant film (photo scans and reclaimed negative scans).
4×5 Sheet film – Coming soon for 2015. I will be developing my own black and white 4×5 film negatives in house.
4×5 Camera lenses – So far I have (1) Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f2.8 lens than has an aperture ring but no leaf shutter. I am yet to get the best from this lens but it suits available light photography. (2) Schneider Symmar-S 180mm f5.6 lens with aperture ring, leaf shutter and pc sync port. This is my go to lens for large format strobist work.
Speed Graphic camera review – Flickr Photos
6×7 Roll film
Speed Graphic camera vs Leica
How does a Leica man enjoy large format? I love my Leica M cameras due to their size, build quality, image quality and simplicity. Large format is, when you stop to think about it, almost as basic as photography can get. A big light box where you attach a lens one end and film back on the other. (Like all cameras really but the size and modular form makes it even more obvious). Yes the size is a big hindrance and requires forward planning, and yes the time to take each photo means it is difficult to retain a flow during a portrait shoot but the end result is to me worth it.
I like to create images than are different (in camera) and not the run of the mill digital photos. Almost everyone now owns a camera (on their smart phone or otherwise) so I want to create images that these common devices can’t. The first two photos shown above are my favourites so far and the second image especially is not something you could create easily with a DSLR (I think).
I took my large format camera to my family home for Christmas and was taking large format family portraits. I could have easily used my Leica M9 but wanted to do something a bit different. For 2015 I plan to bring large format photography into all areas of my work, whether model photography, wedding photography or otherwise.
Do I have the large format photography bug?
Yes. I just purchased my second large format camera and a third lens to use on both cameras. I will share more in the coming days.. 🙂
- Pacemaker Speed Graphic 4×5 Camera
- Sinar F2 Camera
- Intrepid 4×5 Camera – To Follow
- 4×5 Wedding Photography – Example images to follow!
7 thoughts on “Speed Graphic Camera Review”
Pingback: Sinar F2 Large Format | MrLeica.com – Matthew Osborne Photography
Beautiful images – well worth all the effort. This is something I’d like to try … I will start saving up for the equipment.
Thanks, you can find large format cameras relatively cheaply now though developing of 4×5 colour film is expensive if you send it to a lab. B&W film can be developed at home on the cheap 😉
Very fine !
How do you use the fuji FP 3000 B with a Speed Graflex ?
Hi Philippe, if you missed my reply on Flickr – My SG camera was modified with a rotating graflock back so it accepts standard instant film backs. Hope that helps explain the confusion. Matt
Think of it like this, speed graphics were best used by press photographers (photojournalists) and several were used during the second world war. Photographer Joe Rosenthal used one to photograph the flag raising by Marines on Iwo Jima.
Thanks Horace! 🙂