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My Camera


My camera is, as I have said, a 4x5 Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic, built around 1952. I bought it from Biggs Camera in Charlotte, NC, USA about 1999. The camera itself was in about exc+ cosmetic condition, however the lens/shutter were only about in very good condition and obviously had been stuck on in place of the original lens. The price was right for then, and not too bad for today.

I have just completed a CLA on the shutter (1/2004), and cleaned things up a bit. Unfortunately, the flash synchronizer in the shutter is out to lunch until I get around to winding a spring for it, or find a parts shutter, however it has an HR solenoid on it and I now have that adjusted to work with flashbulbs. The lens has light cleaning marks and is worn from the push on filter retaining ring. I refinished the lens board which was pretty grubby and now the lens/shutter is almost up to the looks of the rest of the camera. It looks quite good. Something to be proud of. Kind of a mint-minus user (the touching up would not be appreciated by a collector).

Flash equipment consists of a couple of Graflite units, one a 2 cell, and the other a 3 cell. There are both 5 inch and 7 inch reflectors, also a battery case adaptor to mount a strobe on one of the battery PHOTO cases. I have two ugly Norman 200B's left over from years ago when I used them for home portrait work. Also I was given a large stock of flash bulbs a couple of years ago and look forward to using them up.

I have 12 Graphic Riteway film holders plus a spare --how's that for getting around saying 13? I also have a filter adapter ring, lenshood, and red, orange, yellow, green, and blue filters. Sync cords, changing bag, shutter release cable, light meter, etc. all stuffed into an aluminum toolbox style case from Harbor Freight Tools ($29.95) with a H-shaped partition in it I made out of foamcore held together with gaffers tape. That and the tripod makes my kit. Quite a bit bulkier than a Digital P&S.

Not shown, but an essential accessory, is the Kodak Pocket Photoguide, 1956 edition. The new ones do not give info like DOF for a 135mm lens on 4x5. And it is interesting to see what the old film speeds PHOTO were. I use the ones in the book as I find they are much closer to the my working exposure indexes than the ones they give now. It also has a handy flashbulb exposure calculator in it that has also been dropped from the new ones.

Just this past month (February 2004) I found a new replacement Kalart Rangefinder on eBay. The unit came in a sealed airtight mil-spec package dated 1967. It consisted of just he internals without the housing or linkage. Since I already had those that was ok. Took a couple of hours to install and adjust. Since everything else was already in adjustment I did not need to sort out a bunch of stuff, and it only took two passes to get it synchronized to the lens. Image is far brighter than the 52 year old unit that was on the camera. The new rangefinder makes a major difference in ease of use.

I Also finally obtained a newer Optar lens in a fully working shutter about a year back (beginning of '05) and installed it. Have not as yet (end of '05) gotten around to doing a CLA on it, but the camera is now fully functional. I also got ahold of a Polaroid 545 back, but then about a month later got a good deal on a used digital camera pretty much negating the need to buy spendy Polaroid film.

Top: My Camera.
Middle: The kit.
Bottom: Ready for the road.