Large Format 4×5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic

Large Format 4×5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic

Matthew Osborne Photography (Mr Leica)

After a few weeks of waiting and many hours of reading finally my first large format camera arrives!  It is a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic 4×5 format film camera but with a few modifications.  The guy I bought it from in the US, Paul, specialised in refurbishing Speed Graphic cameras. More details below.

Purchase Decision

I knew large format photography was just a matter of time for me.  I have been tempted in the past but managed to resist the temptation until now.  As I am really into my film photography it seemed the natural progression to push me to learn something new and to challenge myself to master the art of large format photography.  When I was researching large format portrait photos that I liked on Flickr there seemed to be a general theme appearing.  Regardless of the camera body being used I kept seeing the words “Aero” and “Ektar” in the tags.

After some online research I found that an Aero Ektar was a 178mm f2.5 lens that created the most beautiful bokeh and out of focus areas.  An aperture of f2.5 is very bright for a large format lens (considering that for my 6×6/ 6×7 medium format cameras that I own the fastest lenses are f2.8 – Mamiya RZ67 / Rolleiflex SL66E etc).  When I then went to look to buy a large format camera body and an Aero Ektar lens it was like stepping into a mind field.  I had absolutely no clue what any of these cameras were, whether all lenses fit all cameras, whether these old camera worked, how to fit a lens to a lens board.. the list went on and on.

All the cameras I looked at had their standard f5.6 lenses included or no lens at all.  This was of no interest to me at this stage.  I then got lucky one day searching for the lens to find a modified Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera listed with a Aero Ektar lens attached!!  It came with a higher price tag but after many emails back and forth with Paul he persuaded me that it was worth it and most importantly I would have a working large format 4×5 camera straight out of the box.

Camera Specifics

Body

The camera I purchased was originally a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic with a rear focal plane shutter and shutter speeds up to 1/1000.  It has a Kalart rangefinder mounted on the body but I will use the rear ground glass for critical focus.  This camera was the standard issue press camera in the US until the 1960s often shot at around f11-f16 using the rangefinder and with flash bulbs for illumination.

Lens

The lens is a World War II Kodak Eastman Aero Ektar 178mm f2.5 millitary aerial reconnaissance lens, hence the wide aperture.  It is a huge and heavy piece of glass but Paul has mounted it to a Speed Graphic lens board so that is not front heavy.  It is also modified to accept 77mm filter and has a custom made hood.  The filter threads will be great on a bright day when I want to use the lens wide open at f2.5 as I can use ND filters and also yellow filters for black and white portraits.

Film Back

My Speed Graphic is fitted with a bespoke 4×5 rotating Cambo film back so I can shoot in portrait and landscape orientation without rotating the actual camera.  This is perfect for me.

Film Formats

  • 4×5 Sheet Film

The camera came with 4×5 double sided film holders to accept single sheet 4×5 film.  4×5 film is more expensive than medium format film and very expensive to develop at a lab.  I pay £3.00 a roll to develop C41 colour film (120 and 35mm).  4×5 film costs £3.00 each to develop!  I have looked into this in great depth and found you can actually develop your own 4×5 film in a mod that fits into a 3 roll Paterson tank.  This cuts the cost dramically and helped my overall decision to buy a 4×5 camera.  I will develop by own 4×5 black and white film in Rodinal as I do for 35mm and 120 film. 4×5 film itself is also expensive, especially colour film such as Kodak Portra.  4×5 Fomapan appears to be the most affordable option so I will try that first.  I have used 120 Fomapan film and it was fine to use.

  • 6×7 Roll Film

A cheaper option is to buy a roll film back to fit a 4×5 camera.  It means you do not get the benefit of the 4×5 film format but it will allow me to practise using the large format camera before I then move onto 4×5 sheet film.  120 roll film is fast and easy to load, cheap to develop and less expensive to buy  (per photo).  My film format options were 6×6, 6×7 or 6×9.  I wanted as big as possible ideally (to make use of the large format camera) but settled for a 6×7 Horseman roll film back as I get 10 exposures per roll plus I don’t use the 6×9 format camera I own very often.

  • 4×5 Polaroid Film

Polaroid no longer make 4×5 film but you can still buy expired 4×5 Polaroid film on eBay, just at a cost.  The next option was Fuji FP-100C45 but again this also has been discontinued.  After more reading I found I can use regular Fuji FP100C in a different Polaroid film back and it will work on the Speed Graphic.  This is perfect for me as I have a stock of FP-100C gloss colour film in the fridge that I bought for my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and better still I have the discontinued Fuji FP-3000B black and white instant film!!  It seemed a waste to use it on the Mamiya but to get a photo that fills the entire paper from the 4×5 camera is very exciting indeed.  I will practise with colour Fuji FP-100C that costs around £13 a pack (10 exposures) and once I am half decent I will start to use some of my black and white Polaorid film.

4x5 Speed Graphic + Kodak Aero Ektar Lens

I will do some detail photos of my modified Speed Graphic with Aero Ektar lens together with some sample images as soon as I get chance.  Interesting and exciting times ahead! 🙂

Advertisements

MrLeica.com – BLOG

MrLeica.com – BLOG

(Matthew Osborne Photography)

A one stop blog for Leica M cameras and Leica M lenses ..plus an array of film cameras, films and film formats

Leica M cameras are my workhorse tools for all types of photography, both digital Leica cameras and Leica film cameras. I also shoot medium format and large format film and my appetite for analogue film photography is stronger than ever.  The majority of the blog content is either Leica M camera related or film photography.  I am a people photographer, models, fashion, lifestyle and wedding photography so most of my photography is portraits, experimenting with various cameras, lenses and films.  The digital Leica M Typ 240 camera is my current do everything digital M camera but my favourite Leica camera is the Leica M3 film camera.  I am also a huge fan of Hasselblad medium format film cameras and I use them a lot for client film photography shoots.

 

Mr Leica – About:

Hi, I started this blog page in March 2013 as my Flickr followers keep asking me to share some of my thoughts. To give you a brief background, my photography began in 2008 after getting a Panasonic Lumix TZ5 for Christmas.  Today I have a lot of cameras and offer Photography Tuition to those who often get paid for their work. Besides teaching, I shoot as a Wedding Photographer and Model Photographer.  I am 100% self taught so thought a blog would be a great way to share some of the things I have learnt so far.  At the end of 2012 I started to develop a passion for Film Photography and in the summer of 2013 I bought my first Leica camera.  I am now officially a Leica nut and use a digital Leica M240 and M8 plus Leica M3s, M2, M4-P and M6 film cameras for most of my photography.  This includes Leica wedding photography, Leica lifestyle photography and Leica fashion / model photography.  I also enjoy using medium format film cameras such as the amazing Hasselblad 501C 6×6 camera (my main medium format film camera), Fuji GF670, Rolleiflex SL66E, Mamiya RZ67 Pro2 to name a few and 4×5 large format film using a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2.  In 2014 I started to teach portrait photography and lighting in London running monthly group photography workshops. Currently I teach photography on 1-2-1 basis providing 1-2-1 photography tuition (normally with a model) on location, often in London if on location and in the UK, from my Coventry UK studio or overseas such as New York, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Blog Content:

Sample of only. Please use the search box if you can’t see something listed (ie. lenses)

Leica Cameras

Non-Leica Cameras (A-Z)

Film (A-Z)

Destination Leica Wedding Photographer

Leica Wedding Photographer offering desination Wedding Photography both in the UK and overseas. Natural documentary style wedding photography fused with stylised wedding portraits.  As a Leica photographer I like to work quietly as an observer in the background and photograph by available light where possible.  I use both digital and film Leica cameras but my passion is film photography.

Analogue Film Wedding Photographer UK

Film wedding photographer that still prefers film cameras in the digital era.  I use 35mm Leica film cameras, medium format Hasselblad cameras and large format film cameras.  If you appreciate film photography as much as I do then I would be delighted to cover your wedding.  You may have already booked a wedding photographer but like the idea of a few special images shot on film?  I would be happy to oblige!

Engagement Sessions

Engagement photography is very rewarding and I enjoy working with a couple to create natural yet stylised images using a aray of cameras to give you as set of unique looking images.  E-sessions are invaluable for giving couples experience in front of the cameras ahead of their wedding day and it gives us a chance to get to know each other too.

Large Format Portrait Photographer

Large format camera portrait session that gives one of a kind photos.  4×5 format sheet film images and instant Polaroid photos.  I fuse my model photography experience with my passion for film photography.

Leica Lifestyle Photographer

I have realised from how I direct my model shoots that I am in fact a lifestyle photographer.  Posing often everyday people in everyday situations to look very natural.  I have not yet branded myself as a lifestyle photographer but it may be a route I take in the future as this style comes very naturally to me and I find it easy to work closely with my clients to get the best from the images.  If you are looking for new and creative photos for your social media site, blog, website or business then do get in touch.

Model Photographer

Studio based model photographer in Coventry specialising in black and white female portraiture using both digital and film cameras.  I help new models build a model portfolio and regularly collaborate with model agencies and published models in the UK, Europe and the US.

UK Photography Workshops

I provide 1-2-1 photography tuition and lighting workshops from my Coventry studio and on location.  I will help you to understand light and your camera to enhance your photography. Through 2014 I was running London photography workshops teaching small groups of photographers how to work with a professional model on location.  Currently I focus on providing 1-2-1 tuition rather than teaching groups both here in the UK and overseas.

I hope you find the content as enjoyable to read as I find it is to document.

Matt