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  Wednesday  January 19  2005    10: 21 PM

new photography tools

Two packages arrived on my doorstep. The first one was the Burke & James 5x7. A view camera has been on my photographic wish list for some time. I bought this one because the price was just 5 rolls of film. Now that I've looked at it and played with it, those lines from a Rolling Stones song fit quite well:

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you might find
You get what you need

No shit!

This doesn't have the rigidity of the modern monorail view cameras but, when you look at it closely, it does everthing you need a view camera to do but just not with the finesse of the expensive ones. It also only weighs around 7 or 8 pounds. The Burke and James were always sort of a blue collar view camera.

This is a tailboard model. The focusing is done only with the rear standard. A simpler design that's cheaper to make and works just fine. See the big piece of glass? That's the negative size. Now, I had been looking for a 4x5 but, as I mentioned before, I used to have a 5x7 that Blaine has now. I've kind of wanted one for contact printing but I still need to be able to shoot 4x5.

The black thing is the 4x5 Graflok back that came with the camera. The back of the camera comes off and can be rotated for vertical shots. It can also be replaced with another back with the Graflok back mounted on it. The 4x5 lets me use more types of film as well as a Polaroid back that I have as well as roll film backs that I don't have, yet. Lots of them on eBay. And then opportunity banged on my door, again, and there was a Burke and James 5x7 back on eBay this afternoon.

It's now mine. Another package to wait for. It has a hood and all I need to do is take the glass out of the one on the camera and put in a wood insert to mount the Graflok back on.

This is another big reason for a view camera. It has the ability to do perspective control. It has all the rises, slides, swings and tilts on both front and rear standards that a person could want. I've been wrestling with refinishing it. Some like to remove the gray paint and expose the nice wood underneath but the gray paint and the red bellows is what a Burke and James is supposed to be. I've thought about putting on a new coat of gray but right now I'm leaning to just cleaning it up and polishing the chrome. Then I won't have to worry about scratching a new paint job. The bellows is light tight although a little frayed in spots. I think I will keep it as it is. It's kind of like the old pickups you see here on Whidbey Island. The paint is oxidized and there may be a dent here and there but they are working trucks. They actually haul things.

The other package that arrive was the lenses from Marja-Leena. The one right is the Schneider 5.6/150. It turns out to be a Comparon enlarging lens and not a real good one at that. One of the forums suggested making it into a loupe. I do need a good loop. The other lens is a G-Claron 9/210. All the entries in forums, about this lens, rave about it. Very, very, very sharp. It's a copy lens but it works very well for general photography when stopped down to f22. It stops all the way down to f90. It's also small and light. S.K. Grimes can mount it in a shiny new Copal #1 shutter, with f stop markings, for $300. One of these lense, in a Copal #1, went for $435 today on eBay. It will cover 8x10. It's going to be sweet. Marja-Leena was kind enough to only charge me postage which was US$10.50. I think, in keeping with the simplicity and low cost of the camera, I'm going to use a Packard shutter with this lens. I have one. Somewhere.

The camera came with a 254mm lens which covers 5x7. A 254 and a 210, for a 5x7, is equivalent to a 52mm and a 44mm lens in 35mm. In 4x5 it would be the equivalent of a 63mm and 53mm. I'm looking for the smallest G-claron, the 9/150. That covers 5x7 with an equivalency of 31mm and would be equivalent to 38mm on the 4x5. That should do for starters. The 210 would be equivalent to a 29mm lens on an 8x10. Hmmmm.