Monday, February 5, 2007

A Little History...

Speed Graphic cameras were in production from 1912-1968. They were the dominant portable professional camera used by thousands of news photographers, studios and amateurs from the 1930's until the early 1960's. It's known as America's first and last great camera.

This camera here is the Anniversary Speed Graphic model and was in production from 1940-1947. It weighs about 5lbs, and uses 4x5cm sheet film loaded into the back. The lens is attached to the bellows, but in this specific model there wasn't that much flexibility, it was on a track, but you can't tilt or swing the lens. There wasn't a huge range of shutter speeds on this model. The fastest shutter available was 1/200s, and the slowest was 1/25s. And because you can't get any slower, the flash allows you to "start your picture-shooting when the sun goes down." The flash is my favourite thing about this camera. The bulb in that flash looks like a normal 60watt household bulb. I suppose it has quite the power, and that is why it was used for the press. This was also the primary World War II still camera, they made some versions in olive drab. (If you have seen the film 'Capote', you should recognize this camera.)

This camera was originally on the market for $250.00 in 1947. By the late 60's, they were going for $500, and now you can find them from $150-$500.

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