Medalist as a press camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by yefei_he|1, May 20, 2011.

  1. Last night was the Esther Williams night on Turner Classic Movies Channel. So I was admiring the bathing beauty in the movie "Easy to Love", in which she performed in a water show in Florida's Cypress Gardens owned by Van Johnson. She was ready for an outdoor portrait session in the gardens, and the photographer was using a screwmount Leica. Suddenly she made a run for the telephone booth, with a pack of paparazzi already waiting. The arsenals included miniature rangefinders, TLRs, the usual Graflexes, and, lo and behold, one guy had a Kodak Modalist! Was he the smart guy, or being smart, or not so smart? I can visualize him running around chasing the subject, having a hard time holding on to that round brick. Perhaps the retractable lens is a type of protection to prevent the lens from being knocked out of alignment while constantly bumping into the photographer or other things!
     
  2. Oh no.... it seems now I need to get a Medalist into my presscam collection... what next :))
     
  3. The Medalist is probably no more difficult to use than some of the others in the circumstances. I think they were standard issue to the US forces in World War 2.
     
  4. Press wisdom: "f8 and be there"
     
  5. File under: Useless information from old people.
    Smart.
    Press cameras usually came in three sheet film sizes, (nominally) 4x5, 3x4 and 2x3. There were "speed loaders" for the backs that held 6 sheets but most news guys used double sided film holders. The Medalist had available 2x3 sheet film backs at extra cost but came with standard 620 roll film backs that allowed an exposure size about the same as a 2x3 sheet film exposure (2.25"x3.25"), eight to a roll.
    If you were looking to get that one good shot, many press guys set their distance scale on a number they were used to shooting at and waited for the moving subject to arrive "in focus" and took the picture. For that you could easily use a standard press camera.
    If your buyer or publisher wanted multiple shots to choose from, a fellow with a Medalist, or in 1953 more likely a Medalist II could change focus with one hand as he kept his prey in the finder/rangefinder while advancing the roll film which cocked the shutter with the other hand and shoot several shots in the time the press camera user would take to push back in the dark slide, flip or change the holder, re-open the dark slide, cock the shutter, adjust the focus, and shoot again.
    Not all prospective photo purchasers or editors would accept the smaller 2x3 size, but if they did the Medalist II shooter got more shots and developed them all in one run through the soup.
    The Medalist II with lens extended could take a lot more bumping around then the typical bellows above bed press camera. If tempers flared among the competition, swinging a Medalist on its strap made a formidable weapon, much like a roll of quarters in a long sock. You could get all the elbow room you needed and the camera would still work after being slammed against some poor slobs skull.
     
  6. Damn spell checker changed than to then in the last paragraph above.
     
  7. Maybe the movie props person just got it wrong - an old camera is an old camera.
     
  8. I hate bad spelling, Art. Be more carful in the future.
     
  9. Maybe the movie props person just got it wrong​
    The movie props person probably got it right, I'd say. The film was made in 1953, before the SLR fad that came with the Nikon F, and no Leica M3 either. This proves one thing -- unlike Leica M3, Contaxes were so inconvenient to use that some paparazzi preferred Medalist to Contax.

    I do wish Kodak made a handle for the Medalist. Maybe a flash bracket will do.
    Hey, Art, I see you looked up the year the movie was made as well!
     
  10. "Gene M [​IMG][​IMG], May 21, 2011; 04:30 p.m.
    I hate bad spelling, Art. Be more carful in the future."
    *****
    Ok, ille trie two due beterer an teh foutore. I haave enuf trubl spellling ande tippin witout teh damn spellling shekker massing mi upe.
     
  11. "Yefei He , May 21, 2011; 10:32 p.m.
    Hey, Art, I see you looked up the year the movie was made as well!"
    *****
    Yup, and bought a VHS copy off sleezebay to boot.
     
  12. Huh? Most press photographers in 1953 didn't use 35mm, period. Of those photographers who did, plenty (incl. Capa, etc.) used the Contax.
    This proves one thing -- unlike Leica M3, Contaxes were so inconvenient to use that some paparazzi preferred Medalist to Contax.​
     
  13. Christopher Chen , May 24, 2011; 08:25 a.m. said...
    "Huh? Most press photographers in 1953 didn't use 35mm, period."
    *********
    I may be misreading your post, but it seemed to imply that you were thinking the Medalist was a 35mm camera or that the Leica was being used as a press camera. The non-35mm Medalist produced either 2x3 sheet film, or 6x9 roll film exposures. The TRLs in mentioned as press cameras made an even smaller 6x6 exposure, but still larger than 35mm.
    The reference about the Leica was made as scripted where an actor was taking a photo of another actor as part and parcel of the movie. I doubt that the script writer specified make and model of the camera. Probably whatever was used was what the prop man had available and the director or director's assistant approved of.
    Still pictures were often taken on movie sets by the various personnel working there along with hired employees to take publicity photos for advertising use. Who knows, maybe the bit player acting in his roll of photographer loaded the camera with film (with or without the knowledge of the director) so that he could show friends and family he was working in a Esther Williams/Van Johnson film. If so, those shots may have already traded on sleezebay.
     
  14. I was disputing to the OP's statement that some of the "paparazzi" of that time period preferred the Medalist to the Contax because the Contax was "inconvenient." I'm quite familiar w/Medalists, TLRs, Leicas, & Contaxes. My point was that most press photographers of that era, the closest equivalent to modern paparazzi back then, didn't shoot 35mm @ all & that those who did often used the Contax rather than a Leica, so I think we are actually in agreement. IMHO, anyone who thinks a screw-mount "Barnack" Leica is more convenient to use than a Contax II/III clearly lacks experience handling both cameras.
    I may be misreading your post, but it seemed to imply that you were thinking the Medalist was a 35mm camera or that the Leica was being used as a press camera. The non-35mm Medalist produced either 2x3 sheet film, or 6x9 roll film exposures. The TRLs in mentioned as press cameras made an even smaller 6x6 exposure, but still larger than 35mm.​
     
  15. For the curious the six-sheet speed loaders were commonly Grafmatics, which are still in use today, and are compatible with one and a half* of the main Large Format camera back systems. An earlier variation nicknamed the 'bag mag' let you shuffle 12 sheets of 4x5 film. I'm not clear if they were used on press cameras, but there were bag mags that were compatible with the 4x5 Graflex SLRs. Which used a third type of camera back with a confusingly similar name.
    The Medalist would presumably have been a better choice than a 2x3 press camera with a rollfilm back, since early rollfilm holders tended to have iffy film flatness, which becomes more evident at larger apertures and bigger enlargements.
    Summary for the truly bored:
    *Spring back a/k/a Graphic Back - film holders, Calumet rollfilm holders, Grafmatics? (according to one of the Graflex faqs they can be made to fit under a spring back, but it's really tight.)
    Graflock Back - film holders, almost every rollfilm/Polaroid holder, Grafmatics
    Graflex Back - for SLRs, film holders, oversized rollfilm holders, oversize Grafmatics, bag mags.
    Note that these were all manufactured by the Folmer Graflex company, for cameras containing the word "Graphic", for extra confusion and bafflement. Oh, and some backs & accessories were made in multiple sizes (2x3, 3x4, 4x5) and modern 2x3 Polaroid/Fuji pack film holders only fit 4x5 backs. Beware on the big 'ol auction site, incompatibilities abound.
    If you're reading this, you probably already knew all this. Sorry.
    Will
     
  16. Will Frost , May 24, 2011; 11:09 p.m. said...
    "For the curious the six-sheet speed loaders were commonly Grafmatics, which are still in use today,....."
    *******
    Between Mr. A. T. Burke and myself we have three Grafmatics and about four spare septums, all 4x5. I did not know that there were 2x3 Grafmatics until I saw them recently in an old Wards photo catalog. I wonder if they ever made them in 3x4?
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Christopher Chen , May 24, 2011; 10:08 p.m. said...
    "I was disputing to the OP's statement that some of the "paparazzi" of that time period preferred the Medalist to the Contax because the Contax was "inconvenient."
    *************
    I see your point. It concerns the OP's second post. Perhaps wrong again, I took the statement about Leica vs Contax without reference to the Press Photographers. As stated (I'll know when the movie copy I ordered arrives) it was the outdoor portrait photographer who was using a 35mm. I attempted to addresse that as just being what the prop department had available and was or was not approved by the director or his/her assistant for use that day.
    In 1953 any 35mm camera with a high quality lens would have been appropriate to take Kodachrome color portraits. Kodachrome was so much sharper and grainless than any other color film in 1953 it could take advantage of a high quality lens for big enlargements. Kodachrome sheet film would have been fine for one or two shots but cost prohibitive if 20 or 40 frames were needed for the assignment. Hence the logical use of a 35mm camera rather than a sheet film camera or TLR (TLR would have had to use a sheetfilm back) as part of the scripted story.
    Why not B&W? Cypress Gardens loses a lot of its "magic" without color.
     
  17. I just received the VHS tape of the movie. Getting ready to travel I did not watch it at regular speed but fast forwarded to what I thought were the events cited.
    1. Press photographers...Were only at the bedroom/dressing room door and turned away by Van Johnson. I do not believe the photographer group who took the outdoor photographs were from the press.
    2. The Leica user...was a key employee of the park. He was taking photos of the heroine for his employer for minor publicity use. In real life that kind of shot would not have rated the expense of setting up a 8x10, reflectors, booms etc. It would also not rate the expense of many large format film sheets, processing etc. There were a lot of other scenes involving picture taking. Many were were formal high cost publicity type sessions with the use of an 8x10, lighting, reflectors, work crew, etc. Only one or two exposures were made per session.
    3. With the caveat that I did not watch the whole film at regular speed, I believe the "paparazzi" comment came from a scene when the heroine had run off from the Leica user to take a phone call in an outdoor phone booth. By doing so she exposed her panty clad bottom to a bunch of male customers standing at a sales kiosk who then used their various personal cameras to "catch her in the raw". The fact that all the people at the kiosk were male and not a mix of men, women and children was poetic license.
    I'm out of town (and off Photonet) for three months. I'll watch the movie in real time when I return.
     

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