I was delighted to pick up today’s “Herald Sun“, and find not one but TWO full page instances, of classic 1950’s Press Cameras being used in advertising and editorial!! But all is not as it seems, and as this blog’s resident press camera afficianado, pedant and author(!), I feel compelled to point out the things that are MISSING from these two pictures that would make the camera setups not work as they ought.
This first one, featuring a late 40s to early 70’s Graflex ‘Pacemaker’ 4×5 Speed Graphic camera, with Kalart rangefinder and Graflite flashbulb holder, at first glance, looks ok. Sure, the mysteriously famous Alex Fevola is merely resting on the camera, but then, they are heavy… No, there are actual flaws I can see:
1. That’s no flashbulb!! It’s just a regular light globe. For the purpose of comparison, I have made this picture of a fairly standard Press 40 bulb: This is what they look like prior to detonation – much like a regular light globe, except for all the little bits of aluminium wire sprinkled inside… And then AFTER detonation, they look like this: – all spotty, like the surface of an alien planet (it’s a safety laminate on the glass, to stop the glass from shattering, that crinkles and burns slightly).
In the flash holder itself, they look like this: – they stick out taller, and look kind of magical with all the wires reflected in the shiny reflector. Yes, I think I have proven that the Herald Sun pic is using a BOGUS lamp!! What a scandal – they’re not hard to find (I have 100’s!), and even still made, by a company in Ireland, albeit rather expensively…
2. There’s nothing electrically connecting the flashbulb holder to the camera!! Like, when you fire the shutter, what makes the flash detonate?? In this pic, I’ve photographed a similar Supermatic shutter (I just happened to have around!) to show the two posts that are “closed circuit” a short time after the shutter fires: These ought to be connected by a short cable to the two sockets on the Graflite flash holder marked “shutter” – in this picture of a Graflite (I just happened to have around!) you can see the sockets, which are (alarmingly) the same standard as US household electrical points (minus the earth): This camera will never fire its flash, no sir/ma’am! There could be a cable from the focal plane shutter (it IS a speed graphic after all), but you would still see it?
3. The front standard locking lever isn’t in its centre position, meaning that the standard isn’t locked on the bed, and could slip about in an annoying manner – making the rangefinder useless. At least the camera is LEVEL….
And so we come to the second subject: A Myer ad, featuring a charmingly obscure ‘Micro Precision Products‘ Micro Press 4×5 Press camera, again with a Graflite flash holder, aimed at the ribcage of the mysteriously famous Rebecca Twigley. The camera is a gem, representing the creme de la creme of the British camera industry, but once again there are issues…
Dubious composition aside, this time there is NO flashbulb in the holder at all, let alone a cable attaching it to the shutter or camera. Operationally, the placement of the fellow’s hands is odd too – neither hand is in position to focus (the little knobs bottom right of the camera, underneath the lens front standard), and his right hand is nowhere near either shutter control (that silver button on the body, or the catch on the lens itself. Tsk tsk tsk. I really ought to write a letter, but I suppose as consolation, I can write a happily self-indulgent blog entry instead.
All that said, I am still charmed to even see these beautiful cameras here – and two in the one paper! Mon dieu!