Why I like my Century Graphic Classic

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by sg_adams, May 13, 2009.

  1. The Century Graphic really appealed to me after fooling around with the big brother Crown Graphic which seemed far too heavy to lug around in the mountains. Originally it appealed to me as a nice affordable way to enter medium format photography. And the Century Graphic was intended and sold as an entry level camera with similar funtions as the higher end press cameras. I figured to mess around with it for awhile and intended to put a modern MC lens on it. Never happened. The first Century I owened came with the Wollensak Trioptar 103mm, which according to information I gathered wasn't too hot. In fact it's been so lame I haven't found it necesarry to want to replace it, and is my most used lens. I've had to completely tear down the shutter twice, but it still fires dead on from 1/10 to 1/100. I did a lens test with the government target and it beat out like seven tessars ranging from 101 to 105 and a Rodenstock triplet 103. Century Graphics can often be found without a Kalart side RF mounted and this is what I first acquired and backpacked with. Simple box and belows with some movements. Having the Grafloc back built in is a real plus and I often travel with three or four roll backs with diffrent films. Backpacking I just carry one due to weight.
    The Century is easily (for the mechanically inclined) dissassembled for cleaning and lube service and re-allignment of the rails etc... So there is that part of refurbishing the camera myself and then taking it out and working with it that is extra satisfying. This I found to be a bonus as I never wanted or intended to fix cameras. Oops.
    Yeah, and there's that nostolgic part of enjoyment of using a vintage rig, but there's always been a sort of defiance also with regard to everyone trying to convince me that digital is the way to go. And then there's the challenge of trying to get the thing to do what I want it to, but that's another story and involves learning curves, lack of experience and being self taught.
    But on every roll of film seemed to be one or a couple images that suggested a cheap Century Graphic with a seemingly underated lens could do a whole lot more than one might expect from a hundred dollar camera with a bakelite plastic body, and hokey glued on leatherette vinyl patches.
    I found it hard not to like.



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  2. I've cross country hiked a lot with my Century kit, so when I go over a high pass I like to make an image for myself. I hauled the thing up there, I figure to use it, stellar composition or not. Not too many folks see this lake.
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  3. Summer in the Eastern Sierra. Warm evening breezes, sage and rabbit bush... I was composing a shot looking in the opposite direction over the pumice hills, and then picked the tripod up and turned around, re-set, and fired off two of these, turned around againand nailed the other one after the sun went lower. Perfect. I'll dig that one out when you all feellike looking at photos of rocks.
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  4. I haven't quite got myself to stop and shoot it no matter where I think I need to be. But I did stop to grab this shot near the jct of Interstate 395 and the 40 out in the Mohave. I have two times I didn't stop and shoot that I will never stop wondering if only I had. One was a train wreck.
     
  5. Lovely shots! the mountains are so inviting. I am also planning to go end of this month to the Western Ghats. Only problem is that I don't feel like coming back to the hopt plains. But there is work to be done here in the plains. regards, sp.
     
  6. Very impressive pictures, SG.
    I like my red bellows Century Graphic, too but I'm leaving it behind when I go to Austria next week and taking its new little brother, a Mess Ikonta. My thinking is that it's better to carry two pounds of camera up the mountains than four pounds. What can I say, I'm little and lazy!
     
  7. Great Shooting here. I am teribly envious! You do some really fine work. I think you should publish!
    I enjoy shooting my Graflexes too, but I can'T seem to come close to the level of your work!
    Respect! Thanks for shooting the lake, you're right probably few people see it!
     
  8. Good to see some cool mountain landscapes. These are really outstanding images and proof that these old cameras are efficient tools.
     
  9. Beautiful Landscapes, SG! The second one with the suns rays just rocks!
     
  10. Excellent stuff SG. I too love The Century Graphics; I have one with Kalart and one without and also a Miniature Speed. As you say they are so easy to maintain and try out with different lenses. I paid way too much for the first one as it came to the UK from the States and I got clobbered for Customs, VAT and handling. This put an extra £50 on the already top end price but I don't mind now as I will not be selling it any time in the foreseeable future. I usually don't go anywhere near plastic cameras but mahoganite isn't really plastic is it?
     
  11. No, no I guess we shouldn't call exotic Mahoganite plastic.
    Chuck ! publish where? and how? and I haven't got a clue???
    I thought about making my own calendars and offering them for $400 each on really nice paper ! One calendar wouldn't cover the gas on my last Nevada/Utah run.
     
  12. Lovely...beautiful shots. Now I also like your Century Graphic - yet another option for the wishlist. Sourcing one in the UK might be a bit tricky, though....
     
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    Hi Gang,
    I bought a Century in 2007 and am thoroughly enjoying it. I took it with me to Ireland and England last year and took some fantastic pictures with the various lenses I have. I have a 105mm Xenar, 65mm Angulon, 127mm Ektar (from my 4x5 Speed) and a 170mm Bauch and Lomb (from my Kodak 3A). It’s a very compact camera for what it can do. Hand held shots are really easy, the few movements are enough for my kind of photography and the modular nature of the camera really makes it versatile. I think the camera is slightly under-rated and the bakelite body I think scares some people away unnecessarily, it’s very light and sturdy.
    Take care,
    Zissis
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  14. "Sourcing one in the UK might be a bit tricky, though...."
    They come up surprisingly often. I got mine from Fotofix in Plymouth (they're now at http://www.pixel-store.co.uk/classic.html) and I've seen them on eBay UK from time to time. I paid £130 and that seems to be middle of the road for a decent example.
     
  15. O.M.G. That mountain shot is spectacular.
     

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