Anyone here using rangefinder press cameras?

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Picked up an old Busch Pressman C-model (2-1/4x3-1/4"), all original from a local camera store (Camera & Darkroom, Albuquerque). It has a coated Wollensak Velostigmat 101mm lens with coupled rangefinder. Had to clean/recondition the shutter, as it was running slow due to age and disuse; it's pretty accurate now. The camera is in beautiful condition for its age - mid 1940s as far as I can tell.

Infinity focus was off, so had to adjust it - maybe the previous owner didn't use it because focus was off. Easy to adjust using a loupe on the ground glass and an allen wrench for the lens stop. Once infinity was set the rangefinder was accurate at all distances.

Great little package, but since it doesn't have a Graflok back I'm limited to 2x3 sheet film - I'd like to keep it original and not modify for roll film holders. Fortunately there are still a few of 2x3 emulsions available, all black & white. Picked up some stainless steel developing racks to use with dip tanks, and a box of film.
 
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choiliefan

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You can use a 23 Grafmatic.
Graflex also offered a kit consisting of two replacement springs which clip a standard rollholder in place of the ground glass panel. These spring sets are frequently available on the big auction site.
 

jim10219

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I have one of those. I use an Adapt-A-Roll 620 with it. You can use 120 film in the AAR 620, you just have to make sure to use a 620 spool for the take up. It will feed off a 120 roll just fine.

There are some issues with it. It's not easy to load (but once you get used to it, it's not too bad). You have to either develop the film yourself, respool it back onto 120 rolls, or ask the lab for you 620 roll back (they're not impossible to find, but why go through the extra hassle of having to replace a 620 roll every time you shoot a roll of film). Also, because the 620 spool is so much smaller than the 120, they have a tendency to unwind if you're not careful. So keep that in mind when you remove the film. And lastly, the AAR 620's are pretty old and will probably work a lot better if they are properly maintained. Mine had issues with skipping frames and wasting film until I cleaned the rollers and properly lubricated it.

Other than that (and it sounds like more trouble than it actually is), it's been a great little companion for my Pressman C. The 6x9 negatives are great and using the camera as a rangefinder is a lot of fun. Plus I didn't need to do any modifications to the camera. Using flash bulbs with the "light saber" is also a lot of fun (and the flash handle makes a convenient grip when the batteries aren't installed). I do wish I had a sharper lens for it (mines a Raptar 101mm), and a wider lens would be nice (and I actually have a 65mm Schneider for my 4x5 that would satisfy both needs), but then I'd have to recalibrate the rangefinder and find a new lens board (which is the Achilles' heel of these cameras). Plus, I use that lens a lot on my 4x5, so moving it over isn't really worth the effort. Especially since I have a 4x5 Speed Graphic with a rangefinder (should I feel the need to go that wide).
 

Hatchetman

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I have the Pressman D and the rangefinder was spot-on. that was until I changed the lens, obviously.
 

Paul Howell

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I have both a Speed and a Crown Graphic which I used for going on 50 years along with a newer Mamyia Press Universal that I have had 35 or so years. The Crown is lighter than either the Speed or Mamyia and a little more movement than the Speed as well. The big advantage of the Mamyia is interchangeable lens. I did swap out the Wollensake 135 on the crwon for a Zeiss on the Crown, did not affect the rangefinder, the Speed was Ex Navy and came with a Kodak 127. I think the Wollensake is just as sharp as the Zeiss but has better coverage with full raise. Now that the summer temps are gone will be doing some hiking with the Crown over the winter.
 
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Stopped by my friend's camera store this morning and he gave me this thing:
GX2QgNh.jpg

No idea if it works; was made by Graham. The take-up side comes off, allowing it to be slid under the ground glass. Once film is loaded it can't be removed.

We tried to push a Grafmatic in, but it was an extremely tight fit - seemed like it would permanently alter the springs for the spring back.
 

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I use a 2x3 Crown Graphic with Kalart rangefinder and Optar 101/4.5, works well once the RF is adjusted for the lens. With rollfilm holders in 3 formats, it's a flexible, convenient MF camera.
 

Theo Sulphate

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4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic with regular film holders and Grafmatics.

IMAG6627.jpg
 
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Eric Rose

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I have a Crown Graphic I use quite a bit. It's a great conversation piece when I am out shooting and I always let people take a look at the ground glass and explain how it works.
 

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My first 4x5 was Graflex Anniversary. Purchased as is on eBay. It was not in use for decades. I CLA'd it, all parts were still in tact. Very pleasing camera to work with. All CLA info is available online.
I used it with RF and handheld.



:smile:
 

Bob Eskridge

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I have a 2x3 Crown Graphic and use it mostly with a 100 Apo-Symmar and a 65mm Angulon lens. The rangefinder is set up for the 100mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar. And I have scales set up for the little 65mm Angulon. First focus with the 100, read the distance off of the scale and transfer the setting to the scale for the 65mm.
Also have several other lenses on the proper lensboards.

Also have a Bush Pressman D with several lenses. The rangefinder is adjusted for a 135mm Rodenstock Sironar.N.
 

Sirius Glass

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4"x5" 1953 Pacemaker Speed Graphic but not often enough.
 

Dan Fromm

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Axel, I have one of those roll holders. If you ever figure out how to make the frame counter work, please tell us. I can't see what the film can possibly move when advanced.
 
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Axel, I have one of those roll holders. If you ever figure out how to make the frame counter work, please tell us. I can't see what the film can possibly move when advanced.

It seems to me that it's an aid to advancing the film to the next frame so you don't have to use the red window. The stamped frame numbers aren't in sequential order and it takes a little more than 1 turn to go from 1 to 2 and so on. Since the diameter of a roll of 120 is about 2.5 to 3cm or so, film travel with one rotation would be 8 to 9-1/4 cm, plus a bit going to the next number on the counter.

I still haven't figured out how to put the "counter" on frame 1 to coincide with frame 1 in the red window (maybe turn it backwards?).
 
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Arklatexian

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Picked up an old Busch Pressman C-model (2-1/4x3-1/4"), all original from a local camera store (Camera & Darkroom, Albuquerque). It has a coated Wollensak Velostigmat 101mm lens with coupled rangefinder. Had to clean/recondition the shutter, as it was running slow due to age and disuse; it's pretty accurate now. The camera is in beautiful condition for its age - mid 1940s as far as I can tell.

Infinity focus was off, so had to adjust it - maybe the previous owner didn't use it because focus was off. Easy to adjust using a loupe on the ground glass and an allen wrench for the lens stop. Once infinity was set the rangefinder was accurate at all distances.

Great little package, but since it doesn't have a Graflok back I'm limited to 2x3 sheet film - I'd like to keep it original and not modify for roll film holders. Fortunately there are still a few of 2x3 emulsions available, all black & white. Picked up some stainless steel developing racks to use with dip tanks, and a box of film.
My first "good" camera was a Busch, Model "C" like yours. I was eighteen. I used an Ansco 50 speed sheet film, and you know what? I am 87 and I still have that camera. Needs the lens and shutter overhauled, rangefinder probably needs new mirrors, could use lots of work but it is not going anywhere until after I am gone. Enjoy your Busch. It is a fine little camera and if possible stay with sheet film.........Regards!
 

mshchem

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I shoot my Crown Graphic with rangefinder hand held with Tmax 400 . Love it. I still have some 16 exposure Tri-X professional film packs in the freezer, I'm saving those for the apocalypse :happy:. 135mm Xenon, top rangefinder. Super light and handy
 

Neal

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My Crown Graphic and a few Graphmatic backs loaded with 400 speed film walks around nicely. Quite the attention getter as well.
 
OP
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My first "good" camera was a Busch, Model "C" like yours. I was eighteen. I used an Ansco 50 speed sheet film, and you know what? I am 87 and I still have that camera. Needs the lens and shutter overhauled, rangefinder probably needs new mirrors, could use lots of work but it is not going anywhere until after I am gone. Enjoy your Busch. It is a fine little camera and if possible stay with sheet film.........Regards!
I may stay with sheet film as long as it stays available. The camera folds up nicely, and mine works perfectly in every way. When folded it takes less room than some 35mm and DSLRs. I have a box of 400 speed Arista EDU that will get used up before trying anything else. Thanks for posting.
 

nosmok

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I have a Plaubel Makina IIr and a Vidax. The latter has an adjustable rangefinder and infinity-stop system, enabling interchange of lenses without carrying around cams and what not, BUT-- it only allows for sheet film in interchangeable backs. You shoot rolls till they end; you can set up 6x4.5 6x6 or 6x9 format but can't change it mid roll. I guess I have a thing for weird engineering and ergonomics in cameras...
 

ic-racer

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I've seen that, and may try it someday. Neat idea. In the meantime I have a fully equipped darkroom, so will go that route for now.
If you do, please post your results. I have thought of shooting some 2x3 sheet film, as I see the little sheets can maybe slide into the holes of the Jobo 3005, but have never done it. Or were you going to tray process?
 
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