Vintage 4x5 Field Cameras
Super Graphic And The Busch Pressman Page 2
Busch Pressman and Super Graphic cameras are well made and can be capable, albeit basic, field cameras. Relatively compact, lightweight, and quickly set up for use, simplicity is their virtue. Lacking rear movements, these cameras cannot significantly alter image perspective. However, both are able to provide a useful range of front movements (rise, tilt, shift) typically used for landscape photography. The Super Graphic is more versatile in this regard (having front swings), but the Busch Pressman will take just as good pictures in a slightly more compact package.
Neither camera has an internal focusing track (like the Deardorff Triamapro or Linhof Master Technika) nor bag bellows. Recessed lensboards are virtually nonexistent, so use of extreme wide angle lenses is problematic. Probably the widest practical wide angle lens for either camera would be a 90mm Super Angulon or 100mm Wide Field Ektar. With a 12" bellows draw, you cannot get close-up with long focus lenses either. Both cameras were originally supplied with 127mm or 135mm tessar-type lenses (Ektar/Optar/Raptar) which just cover the 4x5 format and allow little capacity for movements. A 270mm Rotelar telephoto was made for the Super Graphic, but this is a portrait lens--tilts and swings with a telephoto lens are not easy. Let all of them go and substitute lenses which provide better coverage, such as I did with my 210mm f/6.3 Zeiss Tessar and 135mm f/6.3 Kodak Wide Field Ektar. Vintage lenses designed for the 5x7 format will allow you to get everything in focus (front tilt) and keep the trees straight up and down to boot (front rise). Plus, they are less expensive.
My outfit (the lenses, one camera, two lensboards, and five film holders) totaled less than $400. You will also need a cable release, focusing cloth (you can make your own cheaply), focus magnifier, light meter, and a tripod. Rummage through some camera shops for slip-on or series 6 adapters to mount filters and a lens shade (you'll get better image contrast with those vintage single or uncoated lenses) and with some film you are good to go. Your subject matter won't care about Apochromatic this or multi-coated that, or movements a contortionist would envy. Your compact, lightweight vintage outfit will be an inexpensive way to take some great large format pictures, and have some fun!
Body Size (HxWxD): 73/4x61/2x35/8"
Lensboard Size: 311/16"
Front Standard Opening: 27/8"
Maximum Size Lens Rear Element: 74mm
Maximum Lens Extension: 308mm
Minimum Lens Extension: ~70mm
Weight (Without Lensboard, Rangefinder, Or Viewfinder): 4.3 lbs
Movements: Front Tilt: +/-15Þ (on-axis tilt)
Front Rise2: 11/8"
Front Shift: +/-1/2"
Front Swing: +/-25Þ
Front Bed Drop: 15Þ
Body Size (HxWxD): 63/4x61/2x33/8"
Lensboard Size: 3"
Front Standard Opening: 21/8x21/2"
Maximum Size Lens Rear Element: 57mm
Maximum Lens Extension: 300mm
Minimum Lens Extension: ~80mm
Weight (Without Lensboard, Rangefinder, Or Viewfinder): 4.2 lbs
Movements: Front Tilt: +15Þ, -20Þ (base tilt)
Front Rise2: 21/8"
Front Shift: +/-11/16"
Front Swing: none
Front Bed Drop: 15Þ
1. www.graflex.org (info on Super Graphic)
2. www.cameraquest.com (operation and features of Super Graphic)
3. www.kyphoto.com/classics/instructionmanuals.html (Busch Pressman instruction manual)
4. www.vintagevisuals.com (info on Busch Pressman)
5. members.lycos.co.uk/jolommencam/Burke/ (info on Burke & James Press)
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