Press camera

A press camera is a medium or large format camera suitable for use by press photographers.

Press cameras were widely used from the 1900s through the early 1960s and commonly had the following features:

* collapsible into strong, compact boxes
* easily interchangeable lenses
* accept sheet film, film packs, and rollfilm, through the use of interchangeable film backs and holders, often conforming to the "Graflock" standard set by Graflex
* bellows focusing
* optical rangefinder focusing
* ground glass focusing
* handheld operation
* flash-synchronized central shutter (many older cameras had focal-plane shutters)
* some have both a focal-plane and a central shutter, allowing fast shutter speeds and the use of barrel lenses with the focal plane shutter and flash synchronization at any speed with the central shutter.
* reduced number or absence of movements, in contrast to field cameras

Press cameras most commonly employ the 4×5 inch film format. Models have also been produced for the 2×3 inch format, and various 120 film formats from 6×6 cm. through 6×12 cm. European press cameras, such as the Goertz and Van Neck, used the 9x12cm format, marginally smaller than the 4"x5" format.

The press camera is still in wide use in photoreportage and among fine art photographers who use it as a low cost more compact alternative to a view camera. Advances in film technology, notably finer film grain, have obviated the need for large-format cameras for most press assignments, however. In news photography, the press camera has been largely supplanted by the smaller formats of 120 film and 135 film, and more recently by digital cameras.

Press cameras were largely superseded by the 6x6cm medium format Rolleiflex in the early-to mid 1960s and later by 35mm rangefinder or single lens reflex cameras. The smaller formats gained acceptance as film technology advanced and quality of the smaller negatives was deemed acceptable by picture editors. The smaller cameras generally offered lenses with faster maximum apertures and by the nature of their smaller size, were easier to transport and use. The bulk and weight of glass negatives in their holders limited the number of exposures photographers could make on an assignment; this was less of an issue with 12 exposures on a roll of 120 film, or 36 exposures on 35mm film.

Compared to technical cameras, press cameras do not have the range of swing/tilt movements of the front standard, and rarely have back movements due to the fact that many were fitted with focal plane shutters.

List of press cameras

* Linhof
** Super Technika
** Technika Press, model of both Graflex XL and Mamiya Press
** Press 70
* Graflex
** Speed Graphic, the classic American press camera
** Crown Graphic
** Super Graphic
* Omega
** Koni Omega
** Rapid Omega
* Mamiya
** Mamiya Press
** Mamiya Universal
* Plaubel Makina
* Burke & James Press
* Busch Pressman
* Meridan
* Van Neck, derivative of Goertz press camera
* Thornton Pickard, pre-World War Two camera manufactured in the UK
* MPP MicroPress - English design focal plane shutter camera from 1950s, based on top rangefinder Speed Graphic

External links

* [ More about press cameras ]
* [ Graflex Press Camera]
* [ Many European pre-ww2 press cameras]

ee also

* Field camera
* Weegee - Reporter-turned-artist. One of the most well-known users of press cameras.
* Digital camera
* 35mm camera

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