Graflex Series D was used by Dorothea Lang during the Depression era.
Dorothea Lang February 1936. ( added information by Bruce Thomas.)
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
Dorothea Lang - Photographer
Graflex Cameras, such as the Graflex Junior and the Revolving Back Series B are basically the same and are operated in the same way .Principle features were the collapsible self erecting focusing hood, the reflecting mirror, the focal plane shutter and the revolving back. All packed together in a neat cube housing covered with black leather. The camera was build around a mirror which reflects the image formed by the lens on the ground glass. The image appears straight up on the ground glass. Sharpness and depth of field can be judged on the ground glass. The mirror is made to swing upwards for exposure. At the same time the focal plane shutter starts to travel across the film surface to produce the exposure. This is the basic principle of the operation of each Graflex camera model.
The 3/14 x 4 1/4 was manufactured from 1941 - 1963.
Note the flash bi post mounted on the upper panel right below the winding key and the flash bracket near the front side.
The 4 x 5 inch Super D was manufactured from 1948 up till 1958 basically equipped with the semi automatic diaphragm 152 mm Kodak Ektar lens or the Kodak Ektar 190 mm - f=5,6. It was an updated Series D camera with chrome trim and a synchronized outlet for the focal plane shutter open flash method. The newer versions were equipped with a reliable flash contact for use with the focal plane shutter. The improved shutter would permit high speed synchronization with long peak bulbs, such as the #31 and Sylvania 2 A bulbs at 1/200= 1/400 and 1/1000.
While winding the curtain by the winding key, disconnect the cable connecting the flash with the camera to prevent pre firing of the bulb as the curtain is packed.
The 34" Super D with 152 mm f=4,5 Ektar in semi automatic diaphragm was like the 45" especially designed for the professional photographer. The interchangeable lens board made it possible to use different lenses such as the 10 inch 5,6 Tele Optar, which was very popular with the portraitists.
Based on a 1912 concept, the Super D Graflex was until the sixties a very usable camera for portraits. The lack of tilt and shift made it unsuitable for architectural work. Despite the fact that it was not a typical press camera, because one has to focus with the head down looking on the ground glass rather than keeping an eye on the scene in front, Dorothea Lang took the finest photos with this type of camera. The predecessors of the Super D camera were also present with the Byrd Expedition to the South Pole. Photo on the right side is a Graflex 5 x 7 Series B with a stationary back.
The semi automatic diaphragm of the Super D enabled the photograph to focus the subject with open diaphragm. When firing, the release lever activates the pre selected diaphragm setting just before the mirror is rising. When the mirror is up, the curtain with the slit will pass along the film surface to expose. The diaphragm has to be manually re-cocked before each exposure. It is said that the automatic diaphragm was invented and patented by a Chicago photographer of children Torkel Korlin (1903-1998). The Super D sales did not came up to expectations, reason why Korling decided no to renewal the patent. Shortly after this sadly decision the automatic diaphragm became very popular with the 35 mm cameras.
Patented by Torkel Korling January 28, 1936.
AUTOMATIC DIAPHRAGM ADJUSTING MECHANISM FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC CAMERAS.
The automatic diaphragm was one of the accessories that made this camera so special. Because of its old fashion design and using old techniques together with new developments, the Graflex Super D was loved by the professional photographer up to the late sixties, but also by the today's camera collector and even more by the user of classic cameras. It's quite a nice usable camera and it offers the use of some interesting lenses. A very important feature of this invention is that all the mechanism directly connected or related to the automatic diaphragm control mechanism is mounted on the lens board which can be removed from the camera without in any way disarranging other controls of the camera. These lens boards are removed by pushing lens and lens board straight up against a build in hidden spring, until the lens board is free.
The Super D is equipped with the 5 slit focal plane shutter. Unlike its predecessors, the Super D has only 2 spring tensions L and H speed selections, ranged from 1/30 to 1/1000. From 1948 on, the camera was refined to include a choice of two Ektar lenses and an Ektalite field lens under the ground glass. The advantage of using barrel lenses is one of the successes of this classic camera. However, you wont get infinity focus with a shorter lens than the 190 mm because of the construction of the camera. The bellows when fully cranked back, has to clear the reflex mirror. About 152 mm (3x4 camera) and 190 mm (4x5" camera) was the minimum focus distance that could be accommodated. Another advantage of the most up to date Graflex Super D was the build in flash synchronization. The circuit of the build in "open flash" synchronizing feature is closed by a silver spring contact on the mirror and the other on the release lever. As the release lever is depressed the mirror rises and the electric circuit is closed, igniting the bulb just before the curtain begins to close, thus giving a open flash exposure, the duration of which is determined by the flash lamp employed.
The Post War Super D can easily be identified by its chrome ID tag above the lens and the simplified shutter-speed plate with the sync outlet. The improved shutter would permit high speed synchronization with Sylvania 2A PF long peak bulb at 1/200 - 1/400 and 1/1000 second.
Graflex Super D - 4 x 5 inch
Automatic diaphragm Kodak Ektar190 mm f=5,6 1/125 sec.
ILFORD - FP4 PLUS 125
The Graflex Super D equiped with the 8 inch Pentac lens.
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