‘New’ Camera – My Graflex Speed Graphic

So unless you listen to Soot or follow me on social media, you won’t know that back at the photography show in March last year (2019) I won a Graflex Speed Graphic. It was donated by Jeremy North as a project camera for someone to have a go shooting or rebuilding or whatever. There was a whole bunch of us that entered into the competition so we ended up pulling straws – short straw was the winner and hey, it was me!

I was properly happy with that. Large format is something that I’ve long wanted to have a go with but my only real foray into it has been with home made pinhole cameras, which is great, but a lensed 4×5…yes!

I carried that bad boy round all day at the show, along with some fucking great big darkroom developing trays…!

It was only when I got it home that I fully had the chance to look over it. It was as probably to be expected. He’d said it was a project and project it has become. It’s a pre-war model with the cloth shutter in the body which is great because it means you can use barrel lenses that don’t have a shutter in them.

It smelt a bit musty, and the leather/leatherette is shrunk and peeling off in places, but all the mechanical components work as they should. It has front rise and shift, a drop bed for slight fall. And that’s all I think for the movements.

The only thing that really worried me was the bellows. At full extension it is very clear that there are holes in some of the joins. This did really worry me at first because I’ve never made or even attempted to make bellows – even a chat with Ethan Moses who makes bellows didn’t ease me about it! Hell I couldn’t even work out how to get them off!

The strap, rangefinder, and any other accessories that once were screwed to the body are long since gone, but hey, I love it and look forward to using it.

There’s more, but I’ll leave this here for now.

N

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