I have a Graflex Speed Graphic (4x5). I'm interested in using the Nikon Nikkor M 300mm lens for landscape photography, so mostly focusing at infinity but sometimes closer.

I haven't found a clear answer on the blogs, though some people have suggested a 250mm lens would be the largest I'd want to consider. Common knowledge says "just measure from the film plane to the maximum bellows extension", and this is about 280mm. I don't want to give up hope, however.

Can I use a 300mm lens on a Speed Graphic?

  • There's no more "action" on the B&W tag, either. Unless you can indicate how your question specifically applies to B&W photography in a way it wouldn't apply to color photography it probably doesn't belong. – Michael C Feb 9 '17 at 0:49
  • @MichaelClark fair enough. I've removed it. – steel Feb 9 '17 at 0:50
  • Which Speed graphic model do you own? There is a wide variety under that moniker. – Michael C Feb 9 '17 at 0:54
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    @WayneF To focus a 250mm lens at anything other than infinity the lens must be moved even further away from the film plane than the 250mm needed for infinity focus. To get 1:1 magnification the distance must be doubled! Using a 250mm lens on a camera that can go out to 280mm only allows a 30mm movement of the lens for closer focusing. This should be enough for conventional subjects a few feet or more away. If a 280mm lens were placed at 280mm from the film plane and couldn't be extended further then focusing closer than infinity would not be possible. – Michael C Feb 9 '17 at 23:37
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    Further, the OP specifies that it is a Nikon M series lens, which is not a telephoto formula lens. See pages 231 (2nd paragraph) and page 235 of the above link. Without some type of bellows extension a Nikon M-series 300mm lens can not be focused on a camera with maximum extension of 280mm. – Michael C Feb 12 '17 at 15:58

To focus at infinity you will need to place the lens board 300mm in front of the film plane. To focus any closer you will have to place the lens even further away from the lens plane. So unless you can also extend your bellows further than the current 240mm of your Speed Graphic you won't be able to use your 300mm lens with it for anything except extremely blurry pictures.

The most likely way to make it work would probably be to create a box that is light tight on five sides (including the lens board on the front) and open in the rear that attaches to the frame where the current lens board is located.

  • Sounds like the answer is no. Thank you for clearly explaining the mechanics involved. – steel Feb 9 '17 at 1:13
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    See the edit. Without knowing your particular model that's about the best I can do. – Michael C Feb 9 '17 at 1:15

The normal method to mount a lens is to pass the rear threaded flange of the lens through a lens mount plate with a hole with a diameter that just clears the threads. A retainer ring then screws on the lens, this locks the lens in place. If the lens you own won't fit the existing lens board, a local machine shop can make one that will work. In other words a little clever mechanical work will allow you to mount the 300mm. The mount you make may need to be a tube that lengthens the distance lens to film plane. Use initiative and you can do this.

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  • Thank you for that answer. The limiting factor I am concerned about is bellows length, rather than mounting on to the lens board. – steel Feb 9 '17 at 1:04
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    The mount you make can be a tube that allows the lens to be positioned forward of the usual position. In other words - the lens board you make need not be a flat plate. – Alan Marcus Feb 9 '17 at 1:20
  • Very interesting. Have any pictures or links? – steel Feb 9 '17 at 2:29

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