When the word speed does not apply

Talking classic Speed Graphic cameras.

2 min read Filed in photography

As of late, a late 1940’s era Speed Graphic has been my camera of choice. It’s in great shape, picked up on Ebay by Monica some months ago. It wasn’t until recently that we put the camera into full service and ever since we developed the first negatives, it’s hard to turn back.

The one thing with this camera is that while it has speed in the name, speed does not apply. Setting up and taking a photograph is not a speedy proposition; it’s a lesson in patience. Setup tripod, frame scene, meter scene, set camera, load holder, pull slide, fire shutter, put slide back. Repeat. Sounds simple enough and to be honest it is. But should you happen to miss a critical part of the formula, say forgetting to stop down or better yet closing the shutter (been there) you’re time is all but gone on a negative that won’t come out (or at least not the way you want).

Apart from the care to cover the details, the camera itself has been producing wonderful negatives. The original Graflex Optar 135mm lens made by Wollensak is producing great results, and with the addition of some modern lens and maybe a vintage barrel lens thrown in should make for a reasonable field camera going forward.

Just remember, that just because speed is in the name doesn’t mean it’ll have the speed that you want.