Graflex Speed Graphic

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The famous Graphic press cameras from Graflex were made in a number of variants and in several formats. "Speed" referred to the high shutter speeds available from the rear focal-plane shutter used in these models.

Contents


The earliest Speed Graphics were available in 3¼x4¼, 4x5 and 5x7 formats. By 1939-1940 the 5x7 format was dropped and the 2¼x 3¼ format was added. Focal plane shutters were available from the beginning until 1970. Models with a focal plane shutter can use lenses mounted in shutters or barrel lenses (without shutters). The Pacemaker Crown Graphic, introduced in 1947, was the first model available without a focal plane shutter, followed by the Century Graphic. Otherwise these share features with the Speed Graphic series.

Models

"Top Handle" Speed Graphic
1912-1927, 3x4, 3¼ x 5 1/2, 4x5 and 5x7. Focal plane shutter. Had very small lensboards so they are unable to use most later (large) lenses.
"Pre-Anniversary” Speed Graphic
1928-1939, 4x5 and 5x7, (also 3¼ x4¼ from 1935 to 1939) Had larger lensboard. Focal plane shutter.
"Miniature" Speed Graphic
1939-1946, 2¼ x 3¼. Used the Graphic (spring) back. There were Graflok back kits made that had a round depression with two contacts for the focal-plane-shutter flash-sync contacts where the peep sight usually folds down. Focal plane shutter.
"Anniversary" Speed Graphic
1940-1946, 3x4, 4x5. Satin black with chrome trim except the wartime model had no chrome. Bed and body track rails were linked, allowing focusing of wide angle lenses within body. Solid wire frame viewfinder. Focal plane shutter.
Pacemaker Speed Graphic
1947-1970, 2¼ x 3¼, 3x4, 4x5. Mahogany/metal body. Coated lenses, lenses in shutters, body release, folding infinity stops. Side mounted rangefinder replaced by top rangefinder on 4x5" Graphics in 1955. Most Pacemakers have the Graflok back. The Graflex back (usually found on the "Graflex" SLR cameras) was an option on some Pacemaker models. Newly designed focal plane shutter. The shutter table of the old cameras with 24 speeds was changed to 6 speeds in this camera. Focal plane shutter.
Pacemaker Crown Graphic
1947-1973, 2¼ x 3¼, 3x4, 4x5. Same as the Pacemaker Speed Graphic but without the focal plane shutter, resulting in a thinner, lighter camera. No focal plane shutter.
Century Graphic
1949-1970, 2¼ x 3¼ only. Plastic-body. Graflok back molded as part of body. No body-mount shutter release. early models had a flat bar viewfinder, followed later by models with a flexible wire viewfinder. No focal plane shutter.
Super Graphic
1958-1973, 4x5. All metal body, flash computer, electric shutter release, front standard had swing capability, revolving back. No focal plane shutter.
Super Speed Graphic
1961-1970, 4x5. Same as the Super Graphic but with faster shutter (speed to 1/1000) No focal plane shutter.


Backs

Graphic

The Graphic back (also known as the "Spring Back") retains the focusing screen and hood assembly to the back of the camera using a pair of wide flat springs. This permits cut film holders to be inserted between the focusing screen and hood assembly and the camera body. When the cut film holder is inserted, it pushes the focusing screen assembly back slightly. The tension of the springs holds the film holder in place.

Because there is no mechanism (other than removing a pair of screws) to permit the focusing screen to be removed, roll film holders were made to slide in place and be retained by the focusing screen, just as with cut film holders. Some roll film holders were made with a "straight through" film path. These had the supply spool on one side and the take-up spool on the other. This meant that the partially-assembled roll holder was inserted into the back and then the take-up side was assembled from the opposite (left) side. This type of roll film holder could not be removed until the roll was finished. Roll film holders with a "u-turn" film path were made. This type had the supply and take-up speels on the same side of the camera. They ran the film path over a roller. If supplied with a dark slide, they could be removed mid-roll.

On the Anniversary model, the entire Graphic back assembly could be removed from the back of the camera for replacement with a Graflok back. Graflok backs were sold by Graflex for this purpose.

Graflok

The cast-magnesium Graflok back was introduced in 1949. "Anniversary" and "Pacemaker" models that were made with Graphic backs could have Graflok backs installed. (These backs are attached to the cameras with just four screws.) Graflok backs were sold by Graflex for this purpose. All "Century" models had the Graflok back molded as part of the body. The "Super Graphic" and "Super Speed Graphic" models have rotating Graflok backs. Graflok backs can accept acecessories for either the Graphic or the Graflok back.

The Graflok back has two retention systems. Each system is a quick-release type. One system retains the focusing screen and hood assembly and the other system retains accessories such as roll film backs.

  1. The focusing screen and hood assembly has a pair spring-loaded arms that engage a matching pair of hooks cast into the Graflok back. Pushing in on the arms will disengage them. The focusing screen and hood assembly can then be slid slightly to the right in order to remove it from the back.
  2. A pair of sliding metal plates cross the back, one over the negative opening and one below. These plates engage matching slots on the removable roll film backs.

Cut film holders are retained under the Graflok focusing screen and hood assembly in the same manner as with the Graphic backs. Cut film holders are interchangable between Graphic and Graflok backs.

Graflex

The film folders and focusing screen and hood assembly alike are retained by a dual plate or strip system similar to that used to retain roll film backs on the Graflok back. The focusing screen and hood assembly is not spring loaded and must be removed in order to install any film holder. Graflex film holders are not interchangeable with Graflok or Graphic film holders. Graflex backs were available as an option, but are not frequently seen on Graflex press cameras.

Movements

Graflex press cameras have no rear movements.

Front movements by model in inches or degrees
Model Rise Shift Tilt (deg.) Swing (deg.) Bed drop (deg.)
Top Handle 0 0 0
Pre-Anniversary 4x5 0 0 0
Miniature y 0 0 0
Anniversary 4x5 y y 0 y
Pacemaker
(Crown and Speed) 4x5
1.0 0.75 20 0 20
Pacemaker
(Crown and Speed) 2x3
0.625 0.375 20 0 20
Century y y y
Super and Super Speed 1.125 0.5 +/-15 +/-25 15

Note: "y" means the movement is possible but exact figure is not available. Please help to complete this table.

Framing

Sports Finder

A sports finder was standard equipment on all Graflex press cameras. Parallax adjustment is on the hoop or the eyepiece, depending on model.

"Automatically adjusts for most different lenses, because the hoop of the finder is the same size as the image being formed, and is at about the same distance from your eye as it is from the film, except for telephoto lenses, which are not placed their focal length away from the image plane." -www.graflex.org

Optical "Telescope" Viewfinder

This was an optional finder, also known as a "tubular" finder. The finder eyepiece rotates to provide a rough parallax correction.

This finder uses "masks" inserted behind the finder objective lens to present the "correct" field of view for different lens/format combinations. This was an approximation only, though. Note for example that the same mask is used for 2¼x2¾ and 2¼x3¼ roll film backs when a 101mm lens is used.

Format 2¼x2¼ 2¼x2¾ 2¼x3¼ 3¼x4¼ 4x5
Roll back RH-12 RH-10
RH-20
RH-50
RH-8
Catalog no. Focal length (mm)
9105-4 70-84 78-82 114-121 127-149
9105-3 86-90 83-98 122-133 150-162
9105-2 92-101 100-114 135-152 164-168
9105-9 103-125 116-127 154-178 170-216
9105-10 127-138 129-152 179-203 217-241
9105-11 140-162 154-191 205-216 243-267
9105-8 164-191 192-197 217-305 268-343
9105-7 192-227 198-241 307-352 344-381
9105-6 229-267 243-302 354-406 383-429
9105-5 268-305 303-330 408-508 431-508
9105-12 100-114
9105-13 243-302
9105-14 116-127
9105-15 129-152
9105-17 154-191
9105-20 78-90
3060 W.A.
Adapter
47-69 47-75 82-98

Source: Rapid-Vance 120 Roll Film Holder Guidebook (1967)

References

Press cameras made in the United States of America
Beseler 4x5 Press Camera | Burke & James 4x5 Speed Press | Busch Pressman Model C | Busch Pressman Model D | Graflex Speed Graphic | Meridian 45A | Meridian 45B | Omega 120 | Printex Press | Rilex | Tower Press Camera


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