Pacemaker Speed Graphic

The Speed Graphic is probably one of the most recognizable cameras ever made. It was the undisputed "press" camera prior to the 35mm SLR. Many great moments in history were recorded with this camera. It was the primary military camera during World War II (the famous photo of the US flag being raised on Iwo Jima was taken with a Speed Graphic).

The first Speed Graphics started in 1912. Several models and film format sizes were made during the life of the camera. The Pacemaker came in three formats - 4 x 5, 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ and 2 ¼ x 3 ¼.

Exposures were made by tripping the shutter in the lens. However, there was also a built-in dual range focal plane shutter (controlled by a switch on the body). A separate push button on the side of the camera tripped the focal plane shutter or shutter in the lens. The fastest time available was 1/000 sec utilizing the focal plane mechanism, hence the name “Speed Graphic”. A sister camera, the Crown Graphic was made without an internal shutter and was therefore a lighter camera and permitted use of wider angled lenses.

The large photoflashes used single use flash bulbs which were available in various sizes. Sheet film holders were used extensively. Other film devices included film packs, Grafmatic Film holder (loaded with several sheets of film interleaved by metal septums), roll film backs and Polaroid film backs.

The Speed Graphic is often overlooked as a large format camera but it is extremely capable of producing high quality images and is available in numbers at very reasonable prices.

Visit www.graphlex.org for very comprehensive information on Speed Graphic cameras.

  • Above photo - 1948 Pacemaker-2 1/4 x 3 1/4
    Model 2747 R/2773 Battery Case
    Graphic Supermatic Shutter
    Kodak Ektar 152mm-f/4.5

    • 1947 - 1970 Graphlex Incorporated, Rochester, New York
    • Interchangeable lenses (typically Kodak Ektar)
    • Interchangeable shutters (typically Graphic)
    • Sheet film (see above)
    • The Graflex flash handle was used as a prop for a "light sabre" in the first Star Wars movie