In the Flavour of Maple

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner is the start of the maple season here in Ontario, where the sugar bushes come alive with the sound of sap dripping into buckets and the sweet smoke pouring out of the many sugar shacks across the province.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

For Heather and I that thankfully does not mean long hours working out in the bush, but rather a drive out to Mountsburg Conservation Area for their Maple Town event. You get all the sweet rewards but without any of the hard work attached to it. Despite the cold weather, which worked a bit in our favour, we headed out all bundled up. While the weather was cold, the sun was out and high in the sky.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

The Maple industry is closely tied to the history and growth of this part of Canada. The sap once reduced down could be turned into a sweet syrup or reduced down further to sugar that could be eaten as a treat or a replacement for the refined white and brown sugar that isn’t grown in the area. So when supply ships could not get through, the early settlers learned of maple sugar from the first nations that had been gathering the sweet stuff for many years.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Of course for Heather and I, we just had to join the queue and had pancakes the size of dinner plates served up to us with the syrup made right there in Maple Town which we then enjoyed in the brisk winter air. The event is great fun for the family and is open through all of March and into April when the season ends. You can find out more at: www.conservationhalton.ca/maple-town.

Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

#photochat – 23 March 2017 – Photographic Fails

Established in 2013 by MainStreetHost and taken on by Alex Luyckx Photography in 2015, #photochat is a community of photography professionals and enthusiasts who congregate to talk shop and discuss anything and everything photography. To participate in our weekly chat (every Thursday at 1:00pm ET) search the #photochat hashtag to see the conversation, or find me at @AlexLuyckxPhoto on Twitter for more info. Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets to answer the questions and talk with the other participants.

If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered in #photochat, hop onto Facebook, Twitter, or good old fashioned Email and let me know!

The Topic for Thursday 23 March 2017 is about Photographic Fails.

Question 1 – What is your biggest failures you’ve ever had with Photography?
Question 2 – Have you ever dropped gear?
Question 3 – Have you ever messed up a client shoot through a mistake?
Question 4 – What have you done to midigate potential failures?
Question 5 – Share what you learned from any mistakes?

Past topics have included: Still Life, Portrait Photography, Automotive Photography (2017), Traveling With Gear, Photographic Quirks, Why is Photography Important (2017), Ethics (2017), Difficult Situations, Phone Photography, Websites, Self-Improvement (2017), Personal Branding, Photographic Gifts, Brand Loyalties (2016), Location Scouting, Food Photography, The Good, The Bad, Photographic Slumps, Wedding Photography, Post-Processing, Digital Photography, Film Photography, Keeping It Simple, Photographic Fads, Regular Maintenance, Personal Vision, Travel, Snapshots, Extreme Weather, Sports Photography, Pet Peeves, Out of the Box, Portrait Photography, Infrared Photography, Good Practices, Landscape Photography, Photography as a Skill, Photography as an Art, Getting Noticed, Post-Processing, Film Processing, Instant Photography, Tripods, Pet Photography, Budget Photography, Nude Photography, Workflow, Vintage Gear, The 5 W’s, Going Pro, Importance of Photography, Filters, Photography & the Law, Editing Your Work, Travelling with Gear, Street Photography, Get Up and Go (Motivation), Photographic Goals (2016), Low-Light Photography, Photographic Dreams, Cold Weather, Naturally Artificial, LoFi Love, Product Photography, Chasing Light, Automotive Photography, Finding Inspiration, All About You, Landscapes, Shooting for Colour, Digital Video, Back to School Parts I and II, Self-Publishing, Keeping Calm, Photography & Zen, Camera Bags, Dealing with People, Printing Your Work, Adventure Photography, Camera Clubs, Fireworks Photography, Aircraft Photography, Architectural Photography, Photo meetups, Getting Rid of GAS, Keeping it Organized, Favourite Things, Photo Competitions, Biggest Challenges, Compact System Cameras, film vs. digital, landscape photography, seasonal photography, the basics of composition, what’s in your camera bag?, night photography, portrait photography, forced perspective photography, black and white photography, golden hour photography, macro photography, how photography has changed your life, to photoshop or not, motion photography, photojournalism, the best gifts for photographers in 2014, extreme weather photography, photographic aspirations, street photography, “why are you a photographer?”, improvisational lighting tactics, post-processing rituals, photographic blunders, getting paid, photographic triumphs, shooting hardship, photographic anxieties, quick thinking, making a difference, favorites, appropriation, brand loyalties, small photography, BIG photography, focus, photography in advertising, battle scars, sharing your photography, creative evolution, the inanimate subject, photo vs. video, emerging tech, teaching the craft, getting the shot, traveling with your camera, sweet gear deals, mobile lighting solutions, quelling frustrations, finding work, sensitive subjects, DIY projects, defamation, making and maintaining a website, in defense of photography, capturing action, post-processing, photo lingo, cold weather shooting, food photography, death in photography, film photography, famous photos, critiques, videography, user generated content, composition, iPhoneography, standing up for yourself, blogging, workflow, the first time, candid portraiture, copyright and licensing, ethics, gear investments, inspiration, long shots, making it in the photo business, networking, night photography, perks of being a photographer, photographer stressors, photography philosophy, photography trends, picking your priorities, pricing, promoting yourself and your work, protecting your assets, self-improvement, odd photography, and travel.

It’s a TMAX Party – Part I

The fine folks behind the film photography promotion website Emulsive have done it again! In the footsteps of last year’s FP4Party, they have started to run a couple of different monthly participation events for film photographers around the globe through the use of Twitter. Sadly I didn’t participate much in the FP4Party mostly because of time conflicts; I decided to make a point to join in on this year’s film parties. Being free of most projects it freed my hand to keep up this time around. This year’s first party is a celebration of Kodak TMax. Tmax a modern film emulsion that was released in the late 20th-Century and use a tabular grain rather than a traditional grain like Tri-X or Plus-X.

While I figured the easiest way to jump into the TMaxParty was to dig into my box of 4×5 TMax 100. While TMax isn’t always my first choice, I’m more of a classic grain shooter. But hey sometimes it’s good to jump a little bit outside of your comfort zone. So into Hamilton, I went, and while I had planned to shoot all eight loaded sheets that day but the cold weather told me otherwise.

HMCS Haida
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Craft Beers
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Whitehern
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Well in Canada, March can be a bit of a hit and miss, and while the weather kept me from shooting outside, my shutters tend to get laggy in sub-zero weather I again had to dive outside of my comfort zone. Usually, when I’m shooting large format I stick to deep depth-of-field, we’re talking f/32 and up on my aperture. Sure it makes for longer shutter times, but it gives the images incredible sharpness. Well, the temperatures stuck below zero so open up the lens I did.

Retention
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

Take Flight
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

The Lights Above
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

While I’m pretty happy with my results for this month, I hope next month’s TMax Party I’ll have some more outdoor shots. Of course, the big question is what format will I shoot, and in what camera! Current runners are my Contax IIIa, Rolleiflex 2.8F, or Hasselblad 500c. So we’ll see next month!

CCR Review 59 – Canon FTb

While I have shot only a handful of Canon products during my reviews, they’ve all given positive results in my books. The Canon FTb is not bucking this trend as a solid match needle, mechanical SLR it is certainly a top pick for me as a student camera. Simple in its operation, and yet provides a good solid introduction to 35mm film photography. Special thanks to Bill Smith for loaning out this black beauty!

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Dirt

  • Make: Canon
  • Model: FTb
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36×24
  • Len: Interchangeable, Canon FD Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1971

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Good
The number one thing I love about this camera is the Quick Load function. Often with older cameras it takes a bit of fiddling to get the film loaded up, some cameras are easier than others, and then there’s the Canon Quick Load. It seriously makes it easy like my Nikon F5, lay down the film, close the door, advance fire, advance, fire and you’re ready to rock and roll. Everything else is fairly well laid out and in a normal place. A power switch to save on battery power, a short throw on the film advance and a pleasing weight in hand. And finally, it’s a match needle metering system very similar to my first SLR, the Minolta SRT-102, put the hole over the needle, nice and easy!

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Bad
By this point, reader, you will probably realize that there are some cameras that I try hard to find a fault in, and I normally will go for something petty, well the FTb is one such camera. And that fault is, of course, the battery. The camera does need a mercury cell to work, a power source that isn’t exactly easy to find these days. Now there are some alternatives such as an adapter to step down the power out of a current battery or an air-zinc battery. Then again as the FTb is a mechanical camera all the battery powers is the internal meter, so it isn’t that big of a deal.

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Lowdown
If you don’t want to spend a fortune to get a solid learner camera, then the FTb is certainly for you. With or without a working meter you get the most bang for your buck, and both the camera bodies and lenses are plentiful online and in reputable used camera shops. If I didn’t already have an extensive selection of Nikon cameras and lenses, an FTb would certainly be a welcome addition to my camera bag. So if you don’t like the idea of grabbing a cliche K1000 or FM, then give the FTb another look, it won’t let you down.

All Photos Taken in Guelph, Ontario
Canon FTb – Canon Lens FD 50mm 1:1.8 – ORWO UN54 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. A 7:30 @ 20C

Expired Film Day – 2017

Two Stops Over and Straight On ‘Til Morning.

Expired Film Day 2017

Ah yes, the mantra of Expired Film Day. EFD is the brainchild of fellow film photographer Daniel J. Schneider. The day is a celebration of shooting and enjoying the wacky results you get from shooting expired film. I tend to shy away from colour films mostly because of having to send them away for processing. So this year I had a pile of the mid-1990s expired TMax 100 floating around to shoot. Most Kodak B&W films are fairly stable, and you could shoot them at box speed if you wanted and get good results. I know because I’ve been using the film to try out cameras for the Classic Camera Revival Review blogs.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

To make matters a little more interesting, we recently got hit with a big winter storm which turned our near Spring area into a winter wonderland, and a cold snap forced me to make some different choices when it came to going out and shooting. Ditching the idea of taking out any camera or meter with a battery because I figured it would be at least an hour to walk and shoot in the awful weather I settled on an old war standby. The Contax IIIa and mounting a 1942 era Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm lens, as for a meter it was the Gossen Pilot.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

There was a plus to all this, the overcast sky and bright sun behind the clouds made the light bright but even making metering fairly consistent no matter what I was shooting. As for the subject, I decided to take to my old stomping grounds, the campus of my former High School. This was where I started with serious photography, often taking time between classes to figure out my newest camera. I was pretty frozen by the time I made it back, but the camera had survived. The older lens gave everything a bit of a hazy look about it which only added to the strangeness of EFD. Maybe next year I’ll plan it out better to have a batch of colour negative waiting for developing and then shoot some expired slide film and Xpro it!

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

Contax IIIa – Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1:3,5 f=5cm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-64 (TMX)
SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:30 @ 20C
Meter: Gossen Pilot
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2017)

#photochat – 16 March 2017 – Still Life

Established in 2013 by MainStreetHost and taken on by Alex Luyckx Photography in 2015, #photochat is a community of photography professionals and enthusiasts who congregate to talk shop and discuss anything and everything photography. To participate in our weekly chat (every Thursday at 1:00pm ET) search the #photochat hashtag to see the conversation, or find me at @AlexLuyckxPhoto on Twitter for more info. Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets to answer the questions and talk with the other participants.

If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered in #photochat, hop onto Facebook, Twitter, or good old fashioned Email and let me know!

The Topic for Thursday 16 March 2017 is about Still Life.

Question 1 – What would classify as still-life to you?
Question 2 – Do you prefer natural light or strobe work?
Question 3 – What do you like or dis-like about still-life work?
Question 4 – What sort of kit would you use for still-life work?
Question 5 – Share any still life images that you have!

Past topics have included: Portrait Photography, Automotive Photography (2017), Traveling With Gear, Photographic Quirks, Why is Photography Important (2017), Ethics (2017), Difficult Situations, Phone Photography, Websites, Self-Improvement (2017), Personal Branding, Photographic Gifts, Brand Loyalties (2016), Location Scouting, Food Photography, The Good, The Bad, Photographic Slumps, Wedding Photography, Post-Processing, Digital Photography, Film Photography, Keeping It Simple, Photographic Fads, Regular Maintenance, Personal Vision, Travel, Snapshots, Extreme Weather, Sports Photography, Pet Peeves, Out of the Box, Portrait Photography, Infrared Photography, Good Practices, Landscape Photography, Photography as a Skill, Photography as an Art, Getting Noticed, Post-Processing, Film Processing, Instant Photography, Tripods, Pet Photography, Budget Photography, Nude Photography, Workflow, Vintage Gear, The 5 W’s, Going Pro, Importance of Photography, Filters, Photography & the Law, Editing Your Work, Travelling with Gear, Street Photography, Get Up and Go (Motivation), Photographic Goals (2016), Low-Light Photography, Photographic Dreams, Cold Weather, Naturally Artificial, LoFi Love, Product Photography, Chasing Light, Automotive Photography, Finding Inspiration, All About You, Landscapes, Shooting for Colour, Digital Video, Back to School Parts I and II, Self-Publishing, Keeping Calm, Photography & Zen, Camera Bags, Dealing with People, Printing Your Work, Adventure Photography, Camera Clubs, Fireworks Photography, Aircraft Photography, Architectural Photography, Photo meetups, Getting Rid of GAS, Keeping it Organized, Favourite Things, Photo Competitions, Biggest Challenges, Compact System Cameras, film vs. digital, landscape photography, seasonal photography, the basics of composition, what’s in your camera bag?, night photography, portrait photography, forced perspective photography, black and white photography, golden hour photography, macro photography, how photography has changed your life, to photoshop or not, motion photography, photojournalism, the best gifts for photographers in 2014, extreme weather photography, photographic aspirations, street photography, “why are you a photographer?”, improvisational lighting tactics, post-processing rituals, photographic blunders, getting paid, photographic triumphs, shooting hardship, photographic anxieties, quick thinking, making a difference, favorites, appropriation, brand loyalties, small photography, BIG photography, focus, photography in advertising, battle scars, sharing your photography, creative evolution, the inanimate subject, photo vs. video, emerging tech, teaching the craft, getting the shot, traveling with your camera, sweet gear deals, mobile lighting solutions, quelling frustrations, finding work, sensitive subjects, DIY projects, defamation, making and maintaining a website, in defense of photography, capturing action, post-processing, photo lingo, cold weather shooting, food photography, death in photography, film photography, famous photos, critiques, videography, user generated content, composition, iPhoneography, standing up for yourself, blogging, workflow, the first time, candid portraiture, copyright and licensing, ethics, gear investments, inspiration, long shots, making it in the photo business, networking, night photography, perks of being a photographer, photographer stressors, photography philosophy, photography trends, picking your priorities, pricing, promoting yourself and your work, protecting your assets, self-improvement, odd photography, and travel.

A Cold Day on James Street

For the past several years I’ve been working on a series of photo projects that usually resulted in me going out to shoot on a regular basis but for project reasons. But this year, despite still going out and shooting film for camera reviews I’ve started just taking cameras out for the pure reason of going out to shoot for my enjoyment.

LUiNA Station

A Fountain

And while I had brought a camera to review with me, and my 4×5 along for this month’s TMAX Party I did get out and do some shooting for just me. Having shot the Hasselblad once a week every week last year I’ve been letting it sit for a bit on my shelves while I played with other cameras through the first couple months. But I thought it would survive a rather cold Saturday morning in Hamilton while Heather was at a baby shower for my future sister-in-law.

Pig in the Window

Rusted Out

So while Heather was up on the mountain, I took a wander along James Street. While there is always much to see in downtown Hamilton I, usually stick to the same box and area. So this time I wandered a bit further afield along James Street towards the waterfront. While there were many familiar sites once I got past the Christ Cathedral, they were no longer too familiar, and I finally got to see the beautiful LUiNA Station. A former train station turned event venue.

Little India

Opposing Doors

The weather it turned out was a little colder than I expected and by the time I got back to my car I was pretty uncomfortable, and so was my 4×5 that had been sitting inside the car so the other four sheets of film would have to wait for warmer weather. But I was happy with the results I got from the Hasselblad.


Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100
Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C
Meter: Gossen Lunasix F
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2017)

#photochat – 9 March 2017 – Portrait Work

Established in 2013 by MainStreetHost and taken on by Alex Luyckx Photography in 2015, #photochat is a community of photography professionals and enthusiasts who congregate to talk shop and discuss anything and everything photography. To participate in our weekly chat (every Thursday at 1:00pm ET) search the #photochat hashtag to see the conversation, or find me at @AlexLuyckxPhoto on Twitter for more info. Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets to answer the questions and talk with the other participants.

If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered in #photochat, hop onto Facebook, Twitter, or good old fashioned Email and let me know!

The Topic for Thursday 9 March 2017 is about Portrait Photography

Question 1 – What sort of Portraits do you like to shoot (People, Animal, Ect)?
Question 2 – What is your preferred space (Studio, Outdoor, Other)?
Question 3 – Do you prefer posed, candid or a little of both?
Question 4 – What sort of kit would you bring to a portrait shoot?
Question 5 – Share any portraits you’re proud of!

Past topics have included: Automotive Photography (2017), Traveling With Gear, Photographic Quirks, Why is Photography Important (2017), Ethics (2017), Difficult Situations, Phone Photography, Websites, Self-Improvement (2017), Personal Branding, Photographic Gifts, Brand Loyalties (2016), Location Scouting, Food Photography, The Good, The Bad, Photographic Slumps, Wedding Photography, Post-Processing, Digital Photography, Film Photography, Keeping It Simple, Photographic Fads, Regular Maintenance, Personal Vision, Travel, Snapshots, Extreme Weather, Sports Photography, Pet Peeves, Out of the Box, Portrait Photography, Infrared Photography, Good Practices, Landscape Photography, Photography as a Skill, Photography as an Art, Getting Noticed, Post-Processing, Film Processing, Instant Photography, Tripods, Pet Photography, Budget Photography, Nude Photography, Workflow, Vintage Gear, The 5 W’s, Going Pro, Importance of Photography, Filters, Photography & the Law, Editing Your Work, Travelling with Gear, Street Photography, Get Up and Go (Motivation), Photographic Goals (2016), Low-Light Photography, Photographic Dreams, Cold Weather, Naturally Artificial, LoFi Love, Product Photography, Chasing Light, Automotive Photography, Finding Inspiration, All About You, Landscapes, Shooting for Colour, Digital Video, Back to School Parts I and II, Self-Publishing, Keeping Calm, Photography & Zen, Camera Bags, Dealing with People, Printing Your Work, Adventure Photography, Camera Clubs, Fireworks Photography, Aircraft Photography, Architectural Photography, Photo meetups, Getting Rid of GAS, Keeping it Organized, Favourite Things, Photo Competitions, Biggest Challenges, Compact System Cameras, film vs. digital, landscape photography, seasonal photography, the basics of composition, what’s in your camera bag?, night photography, portrait photography, forced perspective photography, black and white photography, golden hour photography, macro photography, how photography has changed your life, to photoshop or not, motion photography, photojournalism, the best gifts for photographers in 2014, extreme weather photography, photographic aspirations, street photography, “why are you a photographer?”, improvisational lighting tactics, post-processing rituals, photographic blunders, getting paid, photographic triumphs, shooting hardship, photographic anxieties, quick thinking, making a difference, favorites, appropriation, brand loyalties, small photography, BIG photography, focus, photography in advertising, battle scars, sharing your photography, creative evolution, the inanimate subject, photo vs. video, emerging tech, teaching the craft, getting the shot, traveling with your camera, sweet gear deals, mobile lighting solutions, quelling frustrations, finding work, sensitive subjects, DIY projects, defamation, making and maintaining a website, in defense of photography, capturing action, post-processing, photo lingo, cold weather shooting, food photography, death in photography, film photography, famous photos, critiques, videography, user generated content, composition, iPhoneography, standing up for yourself, blogging, workflow, the first time, candid portraiture, copyright and licensing, ethics, gear investments, inspiration, long shots, making it in the photo business, networking, night photography, perks of being a photographer, photographer stressors, photography philosophy, photography trends, picking your priorities, pricing, promoting yourself and your work, protecting your assets, self-improvement, odd photography, and travel.

Exploring the Kitchen – Slow Cooker General Tao Chicken

Whenever I’m out traveling and come into a new town or city, there are two types of takeout that I often will judge a location on, the local hole-in-the-wall pizza joint and the Chinese place, specifically their General Tao Chicken. I’ve had some excellent General Tao such as Chambersburg and Waterville, and some terrible ones in Ottawa and Gent. Now, this can be a bit of a difficult dish to master at home. Thankfully Heather and I in our trips through Pinterest ran across a Slow Cooker version of the dish and decided to give it a go.

INGREDIENTS
One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can get all the items at your local grocery store!

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (between 1-3)
  • 1/4 Cup of Corn starch
  • Vegetable oil (Enough to cover the bottom of a wok/skillet/electric frying pan
  • 1 Cup of Hoisin Sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Sesame Oil
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

Additionally, you can have Sesame Seeds, and Green Onions for garnish, Heather and I opted to serve with rice and steamed broccoli, but noodles would work as well!

Make It!
Cut the chicken up into small bite-sized chunks, place into a ziplock bag with the corn starch. Shake until all the chicken has a good coating.

Heat up the vegetable oil in your wok/skillet/electric frying pan. You want it hot but not smoking. Saute the chicken, giving it about two minutes on each side. You won’t fully cook the chicken, but that’s okay. Once done, transfer the chicken to your slow cooker.

In a bowl combine the Hoisin Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Sesame Oil, and Red Pepper Flakes, whisk until combined. Pour over the chicken and stir to coat.

Set the slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours.

While this dish is excellent as it stands there are certainly some changes that I want to make to it. The first being is that Heather and I were unable to find just regular hoisin sauce and used a garlic hoisin sauce which added a bit of a different flavour. The second and this is mostly a personal preference is that I wasn’t happy with the chicken, it wasn’t as crispy as I would like so I’ll probably make a thicker coating the next time using flour, cornstarch, and baking powder with some extra spices. But this one is certainly a keeper!

CCR Review 58 – Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

At the very beginning of these review blogs I had laid out some rules, and now I’m going to break one of them and review a large format, sheet film camera. The Crown Graphic is my 4×5 camera of choice these days; it’s reliable camera that can take a hit and keep on taking photos. I mean that is what it’s designed to do, it’s a press camera. And when it comes to large format, I’m glad that my first experiences with the format were on a press camera rather than a field or monorail because I don’t think I would have taken to the format in the same way.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Dirt

  • Make: Graflex
  • Model: Pacemaker Crown Graphic
  • Type: Press Camera, View/Rangefinder
  • Format: Multiple, Graflok Back (Roll film, or Sheet Film)
  • Len: Interchangeable, Crown Graphic Lens Boards
  • Year of Manufacture: 1955-1973 (This Model, 1968)

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Good
The number one thing I love about the Crown Graphic is that it’s versatile with a single camera I have both a handheld rangefinder based camera that I can just point, focus and shoot, at least when I’m using the Xenar 135mm lens, as I’ve calibrated the rangefinder for the lens. I much prefer to shoot the camera like a field camera, on a tripod, composing and focusing using the ground glass on the back. Using the glass gives me full creative control and use of some fantastic lenses, like the Symmar-S 210mm (which is the lens I use the most). Plus that’s the power of large format, your Crown will be able to use most lenses out there, and all the film holders and the Graflok back means you can attach all sorts of accessories such as roll film magazines and Polaroid Type 100 film holders. And finally, this camera has a nice fast setup, pop the front cover, drop the bed pull out the bellows. And if you’re using ‘pancake’ style lenses, you can keep the lens on the camera when you close the door.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Bad
Like any large format camera, the biggest detractor to them is the size and the amount of stuff you need to bring to use the camera well. Tripod, multiple film holders, meter, and the lenses all mounted on their boards. It adds up after a while. But for me, it’s worth the effort. Another issue that only large format shooters will note with a press camera is the lack of movements, while the Crown Graphic gives more than the Speed Graphic, you are still only limited to movements on your front standard, and even then you’re relatively limited. But again this was a camera not designed for shooting that requires much in the way of movements. And finally there is starting to be a lack of spare parts for these cameras, so getting bits and pieces replaced or repaired is starting to become a problem, either you can grab ones that are already broken for spare parts or pray that you know someone who can machine the appropriate piece. Thankfully their rugged build means they are designed to last.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Lowdown
If you’re like me and shoot on a mobile basis, then the press camera is certainly the best option, and often a Crown Graphic kit can be had for an inexpensive out of pocket cost. Being highly adaptable to multiple shooting situations and with a quick setup and tear down it’s a great camera for learning on. Of course, if you’re a technical shooter who needs movements then I would avoid press cameras altogether and go for something a little more expensive. Intrepid, Shen-Hao, Takahara, Linhoff, and Sinar are all excellent options. But for me, I’m sticking to the Crown.

All Photos Taken in Georgetown, Ontario
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:4,7/135 – Kodak Tri-X Pan @ ASA-200
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 10:00 @ 20C