Tag Archives: Graflex

Jason Brunner’s Introduction to the Graflex Speed Graphic

This is a video of Jason Brunner giving an introduction to the Graflex Speed Graphic. In this video, Jason shows how a focal plane shutter allows the use of a projector lens. He also demonstrates the use of a spot meter and a Polaroid back.

To see speed graphics currently for sale, click here
To see spot meters, like the one Jason used in the video, click here

Video of a 4×5 camera project – and some plans to build it

I found this video of a 4×5 camera that someone built. Looks nice. Though not nearly as rigid as my super graphic.

The only thing that makes this more challenging is that the 4×5 camera construction manual is in Italian. Hold it. Don’t go. It can be translated with google’s translation tool.

A new golden age of photography?

Before I start: No, I’m not talking about digital cameras. Yes, I still use them, no I’m not ripping on them.

So, here we are, at the end of 2008. Cameras, the kind that use film, are insanely inexpensive.

I went to Schiller’s in St. Louis last week. I saw a nice Nikon F4 for $199 and a very nice Nikon F5 for $299. These are premium cameras. Fantastic film cameras at really low prices considering their technology.

Now, if you go to all manual cameras, there are even more deals available. And darkrooms? Shocking. This is a great time to be buying film cameras. For $100, you can often get a great 35mm camera and a couple of lenses. I’ve definitely taken advantage of deals on ebay over the last few years to buy some nice old Pentax cameras, Graflex flashes and Gossen light meters. I’ve taken advantage of classifieds and photo stores as well. There are great deals to be had.

Yes, the world by and large has moved onto digital, but that has left some incredible equipment out there for the taking. This has made the hobby incredibly inexpensive. Grab an enlarger, a camera, and some film and you’re off to the races. Scan it and you can have digital too.

Do you want to save even more and have more control, get a bulk roll of 35mm black and white for $30-50 and you’ve got enough rolls of film on-hand to start getting serious.

This all sounds great, but what are the problems we face?

First off, a glut of inexpensive used equipment and wide distribution of digital cameras. Like I said, I’m not bashing digital. I do shoot it, but there has been a wholesale movement to it. Yep, time is money. So professionals and those not serious about the craft of photography alike go on to digital so they can expedite their pictures. Also, some very good art photographers move on to digital so they can manipulate their images more easily and more cheaply. And there are those that are truly dedicated to digital photography. Those are all great reasons to use it. Look, like I said, I’m not bashing it. My concern is the total abandonment by some of film.

So back to that glut. If the film camera companies do not keep creating new cameras because of lack of demand then the newbies, the next generation, will not work in that medium. All they might know is digital. That impedes our growth. It means that we won’t have people that have a classic education (even if self taught) in photography. We’ll be down to bits and bytes. (No, I’m not a Luddite, I’m a computer programmer by nature.)

I was talking to someone a couple days ago. He was telling me about his friend’s wedding. The photographer charged $3000 and handed the couple a disk with 1200 images on it. It’s interesting that there is no editing and little selectivity before handing a disk of what are essentially 1200 snapshots to someone to print out on a home computer. Can you imagine the wedding photographer of old burning through 1200 film exposures with a motor drive on a wedding? Well, I guess if you shoot enough something is bound to work out.

The other issue is that with far fewer people buying film, we are already seeing well respected films being retired. Companies concerned with the bottom line are coming out of the market. That leaves fewer companies and film emulsions to support us. Even with some of the competition out of the way, these smaller companies are seeing their market shrinking too.

We, as a community need to be purchasing film, chemicals, papers and keep promoting their use to the newbie. We need to promote experimentation across companies because the stronger the film market is for all, the stronger it will be for one. We don’t just need a market for Kodak as great as they are, but also Fuji, Ilford and numerous small players.

Now, let’s look at the darkroom market. Yep, they’re affected too. I can practically get darkroom equipment for free. Oh, wait, that is how I got some of my darkroom equipment. Totally free. Good for me, but how long will the manufacturers be out there supporting the craft if nobody is out there to buy the products?

Maybe this isn’t all so bad. Maybe, we’ll have a resurgence of film use. I’ve certainly seen some people come back to film. Maybe the dedicated photographer will do what he did a few short generations ago and build his equipment himself. Maybe it’s all progress, the old media and great branches of photography are dead, and I should get over it. Somehow, I think not.

Anyway, I’m buying.

35mm SLR Cameras on eBay