Allen's Blog

The Busch Pressman Model D – A (Decidedly) Non-Pocket-Size Point-and-Shoot

I recently acquired a 4×5 camera that I’d never heard of before: a Busch Pressman Model D, vintage late 50’s. About 40+ years ago, my assignment editor at the AP had given me one of his ancient Speed Graphics, but it mostly sat on the shelf as a curiosity item. The Busch camera, made in Chicago,  is something else entirely – an aluminum body, precision machining of all the controls, multiple viewfinder and framing options, including a flip up wire frame; and it folds up just like the Graflex series of 4×5’s. the lens is a Wollensak 135mm Raptar (made in Rochester). I don’t know how many of this and other Busch models were made, but it was certainly a workhorse for press photographers in the days when 4×5 dominated. And for breaking news, with a film holder in place, the dark slide pulled, and the wire frame viewfinder up, it really was a point-and-shoot (assuming you’d read the light correctly and set the shutter and f/stop correctly).

Busch Pressman Model D

Busch Pressman manual

Although much of its operation is intuitive (no electronics or multi-level menus), I still wanted some kind of instruction manual, and, of course, turned to Google. That quickly led me to a site that has manuals and documentation for a very wide range of cameras, lenses, and accessories. Everything  can be downloaded in PDF format, and all that the fellow behind the site asks is an “honor system” payment of $3.00. No problems there, my three bucks are in the mail today. Many thanks to Michael Butkus for that.

I haven’t had a chance to put the camera to work, yet, but if you’re interested, Flickr user Stuart Grout has a nice set of images to browse, experimenting with a variety of print materials. Otherwise, please enjoy a couple more angles on this very attractive vintage camera.

Busch Pressman Model D lens from aboveBusch Pressman Model D lens from below