Pacemaker Speed Graphic,

The end of a period, 

The beginning of a legend.


The Pacemaker Speed Graphic equipped with a Kodak Ektar 127 mm in a Super-matic M-F  shutter controlled by an electric solenoid.

From the in 1907 introduced Graflex Press Camera, up to the Pacemakers Speed Graphic in the sixties, Graflex cameras witnessed conflicts all over the world during the 20th Century. These reliable cameras, precious instruments of famous press photographers such as Weegee, took pictures of G- men in Chicago, armed conflicts, wars, student revolutions, and civil disturbances. They covered the Nuremberg trial, the Korean war, and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald who killed president Kennedy. At the end of the sixties, Graflex cameras were still present on most of the theaters of historical events, but their number decreased as if it was as a last salute to the end of a photographic period of time, where Large Format cameras such as the Speed Graphic dominated the scene there where the event took place. The end of a long successful era was around the late sixties. 

Short History.ll

The Pacemaker Speed Graphic has a long list of predecessors. Basically it was a design from the twenties to provide focal plane shutter efficiency in a folding, large format camera. The original Speed Graphic was not equipped with a rangefinder. A sort of Newton finder was placed on the camera top as well as the handle. The rising lens board was the only adjustment. The focal plane shutter speeds 1/10 to 1/100 second were achieved by 4 slits and 6 different spring tensions. Film format 3 x 5 inch and 4 x 5 inch. Most of these cameras had a spring back.  These early "Speeds" were followed by the 4x5 "Pre Anniversary" equipped with a stronger body and a bigger lensboard to enable the use of a front shutter. The camera was produced from 1928 to 1939. During that period of time the Newton finder was replaced by a tubular optic viewfinder. As from 1939 the camera was equipped with a coupled Kalart rangefinder invented by Morris Schwartz. The Pre-Anniversaries were made in several sizes and models up till 1940. From 1940 to 1946 the Anniversary was produced in 3 x 4 and 4 x 5 inch. These cameras were equipped with rising and shifting lens, drop bed of metal and dual focusing knobs.

The new Pacemaker Speed Graphic.

From 1947-1973.

Comparing to its predecessors as described above, the Pacemaker cameras including the Crown, were equipped with new desirable features. To start with it has a build in release knob which could control the front as well as the focal plane shutter. Further more: Metal front with stainless steel U support with metal light trapping. Precision made magnesium backs and focusing panels. Four sided metal folding focusing hood. Hinged Infinity stops allowing free forward movement of front standard. Optical viewfinder with vertical and horizontal parallax correction. Build in focal plane flash synchronization. Sealed window shows shutter speeds. Tilting front.  Stainless steel open sports frame finder with parallax adjustment. Interchangeable aluminum lens boards. Provision for use of focusing scales with wide angle lenses. Last but not least: In 1947 the horizontal Graphic or Graflex back were changed into the International Graflok back. This international back became world wide standard in the next decennia for all 4x5 film cassettes.

Side Mounted and Top mounted

The Pacemakers were the last Graphics build along the familiar lines. There were two types: The Pacemaker Speed "Side Mounted"  and "Top Mounted".  Originally like all the pre-war predecessors, the Pacemaker Speed Graphic was equipped with a Kalart Rangefinder, mounted on the side of the camera next to the winding key. There was no feature to match the rangefinder with the lens when changing lenses. For focusing with a different lens than the standard one. The photographer should focus on the ground glass or even on a lens related focusing scale next to the track.

Its successor, introduced in the late 1950's was the so-called "Top Mounted" Speed Graphic. It had a Graphic Rangefinder especially designed for the Graphic cameras (Speed and... Crown) placed on top of the housing. The principal feature of the new rangefinder is that it is instantly adaptable to any of the 9 standard lenses of different focal length. Each interchangeable cam is matched at the factory to the lens with which it will be used. Changing cams was relatively easy by exchanging the cam in the tube that couples the interchangeable lens to the rangefinder. Never the less in both cases the lens standard should be placed against the infinity stops of the related lens. Some cameras had more than one distance scale to enable working with different lenses. Beside the interchangeable cam, one would need for each lens a matching distance scale. Further more for each lens a couple of infinity stops which should be fixed on the right spot of the focusing track.


Back to Graflex cameras

Graflex Cameras

    Home  Jo Lommen camera