More toys for the gear geek

I’ve been looking at a lot of portraiture lately and noticing that much of what I like was shot on a 4×5 camera. It inspired me to work more with my 4×5 view camera, for one, but that’s not nearly as much fun as buying a new camera altogether.

My new Crown Graphic camera.

The idea was that with the attached Kalart rangefinder I could focus without the slow agony of dealing with an upside down, backwards, and hard-to-see image on the ground glass.

To eBay! And to Goodwill to buy a vest! (I’ll need a hat, too, with a card sticking out of it saying “PRESS”.)

I have learned a few lessons already. First of all, just because you search for “4×5 speed graphic” on eBay does not mean that the results are necessarily all 4×5 cameras. This I found out when – auction won – I got the box in the mail, opened it, and pulled out the curiously small film holder that came with it. “Gee, that’s smaller than my other 4×5 film holders… and why does it say 31/4 x 41/4 on it?”

Lesson number two: when you ask somebody on eBay specifically “does the shutter function” and they reply “it looks great!” they may, in fact, not have a clue what they are talking about. It does, in fact, look great. It does not, however, “function”. Still, the guy who is going to clean and adjust the shutter (for another $75) assured me I got a decent deal on the whole thing anyhow and I should not be too upset.

As for the rangefinder to focus concept… well, that’s fine if you’re hand holding, but if you’re on a tripod for a nice studio portrait and your subject’s eyes don’t happen to be where the rangefinder zone is… not so useful. All of a sudden having that ground glass sure sounds like a nice idea.

Anyhow, enough complaining. The whole thing seems relatively decent. It came with a 120 roll film back which the repair man mused would, on its own, probably fetch what I paid for the whole kit. So I can shoot – and easily develop – 120 roll film with this (and the rangefinder) Once, that is, I get back on eBay and buy a developing tank, reel, and changing bag. Sigh.

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