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View Full Version : How do I make a shutter to use with $1 lenses? (For soft focus portraits.)



AtlantaTerry
7-Apr-2016, 22:21
I have been buying some inexpensive magnifying glasses (US $1 to $6 or so) with the goal of creating some soft focus portraits.

I have a couple 4x5" Cambo cameras and will be buying a Crown Graphic to replace one that was stolen. I have experimented with making Cambo lens boards out of black foamcore boards and they seem to work just fine. The advantage of the Cambo lens board is the size - at something like 6x6 inches there is more room to work with than a Crown board which is about 4x4 inches. Plus the Cambo has a much longer bellows available than any Crown or Speed Graphic.

The next step I have in mind is to make a shutter to use with the lenses. I don't have a workshop but do have a couple woodworking tools (jig saw, router, hand tools, clamps, drills, etc.) I don't want to use my hat, ;)

Can anyone give me some advice on building a simple / fairly reliable shutter? (Yes, I know Packard shutters are available but I am retired and don't have much money to spend on this project.)

I was thinking something like a Harris drop shutter might be a way to go. Any opinions on that?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Terry

barnacle
8-Apr-2016, 00:20
What sort of exposure times are you expecting? I suspect that's going to be the limiting factor on a home-built design... the shorter the time, the less accurate I think it might be.

One might posit some sort of elastic band powered device, say a rotating segment with a slit in it that sweeps the lens. Or a small solenoid might be used to open and close a flap, though with perhaps longer exposure.

Mount the lens behind the lens board, so you've room to play with the bit that's going to break in front of it!

I don't think shutters are an *easy* thing... but at least with a dark slide at the film end you don't have to worry about resetting the thing and maintaining light-tightness; it's just got to work once (per shot).

Neil

Tim Meisburger
8-Apr-2016, 03:45
Drop shutters work fine, but the weight involved might be too much for a foamcore lensboard. I did what you are doing. Hot glued a lens to a board, then glues on a piece of cardboard shipping tube (painted black) and cut a slot for cardboard waterhouse stops. I like the simple glass at around f8. Its still wild, but not too much. Wide open is extreme. I've used a galli shutter and a cap. I've made drop shutters with cardboard, but the best would be made out of something like darkslide material, I think.

Tobias Key
8-Apr-2016, 03:48
Would a drop shutter be the way to go? If you could put together a light tight box which could take various slotted pieces of wood or aluminium at the front, they could be actuated by pulling a pin. Slot would drop across the lens, after which the shutter would be light tight again. Varying sized slots would give you different shutter speeds.

I have seen these used on a TV program about historical processes and they seemed to work well, gravity being nothing if not consistent. This link shows the design under guillotine shutters although they describe it as rubber band or spring powered going across the lens, I think it might simpler and more consistent dropping down with gravity.

http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/shuttern.html

Greg
8-Apr-2016, 05:56
Have had great luck with purchasing lenses in shutters in which the glass is all but unusable but the shutter still good. Throw away the glass and use the shutter. Have won a few on that auction site for $20-$30.

Also self cocking Polaroid MP-4 shutters can be had for same cost. Front opening is 1.5 inches. I've hot-glued meniscus elements and old brass lenses onto the front of these shutters... works and is easily removable.

Drew Bedo
8-Apr-2016, 06:08
Go to the-Bay and look at oscilloscope lenses. Sometimes they come up for not too much and have an Ilex leaf shutter.

Randy
8-Apr-2016, 06:41
Terry, I use one Packard shutter behind my lens-board on my 8X10 camera, held in place by magnets - so I can use any of my 5 lenses in barrel on that camera - so - no need to have a different shutter for each lens.

Sean Mac
8-Apr-2016, 07:12
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/guillotine-shutter/guillotine-shutter-construction.html:)

Jim Noel
8-Apr-2016, 08:31
All you need is a couple of dark slides, or similar, to make a Galli shutter. It will take a little practice to get consistent, but it works. Look for posts by Jim Galli on this forum.

SergeiR
8-Apr-2016, 09:26
Dark cloth, and shooting with flash works like a charm. Just need to have relatively low light in the room ;)

Eric Biggerstaff
8-Apr-2016, 09:58
I use a lens cap for mine, not hard at all, just use low light.

AtlantaTerry
8-Apr-2016, 15:53
Would a drop shutter be the way to go? If you could put together a light tight box which could take various slotted pieces of wood or aluminium at the front, they could be actuated by pulling a pin. Slot would drop across the lens, after which the shutter would be light tight again. Varying sized slots would give you different shutter speeds.

I have seen these used on a TV program about historical processes and they seemed to work well, gravity being nothing if not consistent. This link shows the design under guillotine shutters although they describe it as rubber band or spring powered going across the lens, I think it might simpler and more consistent dropping down with gravity.

http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/shuttern.html

Thanks for the feedback and link to the history of shutters. I had been thinking of something along this line - a box with several drop boards that have different sizes of openings so as to give me different exposure times.

A while back I saw a video of a photographer (in Japan?) who used a drop shutter. He held a rubber bulb that when squeezed pushed a pin that released the drop component. Simple yet effective.

I am thinking of using felt to form a light tight slit at the top of the box. This is similar to 35mm film cartridges or sheet film holders both of which have felt light traps so that gives me confidence.

LabRat
8-Apr-2016, 16:43
The other thing to consider is the possibility of making a rotary shutter... You know, like on those old box cameras, only larger...

If there was a disc with a sector cut/drilled out in the light path that was rotated by the rim using springs, rubber bands, motor, human powered lever, etc, it would be able to operate in more orientations than a drop shutter... And it might be able to shoot at different speeds... But would need a larger lensboard/FS for space for the gizmo... (Or over the front element...)

Steve K

Mark Sawyer
8-Apr-2016, 17:30
You might try removing the cells from a shutter you already have. The #4 Ilex and #3 Copal each have 58mm threads at the rear. If you buy a #4 close-up diopter lens, it will screw right into the rear, and you'll have a nice f/4.3, 250mm Wollaston Meniscus in a synch'd shutter with a diaphragm!

jon.oman
8-Apr-2016, 18:34
From Joe Van Cleave:

http://pinholeobscura.blogspot.com/2015/12/mechanical-shutter-experiments.html

AtlantaTerry
8-Apr-2016, 19:12
You might try removing the cells from a shutter you already have. The #4 Ilex and #3 Copal each have 58mm threads at the rear. If you buy a #4 close-up diopter lens, it will screw right into the rear, and you'll have a nice f/4.3, 250mm Wollaston Meniscus in a synch'd shutter with a diaphragm!

I afraid to mess up my 300mm f/5.6 Schneider lens by removing the Copal 3 shutter.

AtlantaTerry
8-Apr-2016, 19:13
From Joe Van Cleave:

http://pinholeobscura.blogspot.com/2015/12/mechanical-shutter-experiments.html

Thanks! Very cool.

Peter De Smidt
8-Apr-2016, 19:28
I afraid to mess up my 300mm f/5.6 Schneider lens by removing the Copal 3 shutter.

If you're moderately careful, this is no problem at all. It's no harder than making sure a lens board is properly attached to a camera.

Put the lens on a clean desk or table. Remove top lens cap. (You never want to lift the lens cell just by grabbing the cap.) Unscrew the front element. Put the cap on. Set cell down on clean part of table. Cover other end of cell with another cap or similar. Flip shutter over and repeat. It only takes a few seconds. I'd rubber band the caps on the cells and put them in a safe place. I have a tool cart in my studio, and that's where all of the lenses go when not in use.

When replacing the cells. Do the same thing in reverse. When you have the cell place on the threads, turn the cell counter clockwise a bit until the threads align, and then slowly, carefully, and gently turn the element clockwise. Never force this. The only danger is cross threading the threads, but that's easy to avoid if you simply pay attention.

Some lenses, especially graphic arts lenses, might have spacers between the cells and the shutter. I doubt very much that your 300mm has them.

Remember that people have been safely using convertible lenses in the field for years.

jbenedict
9-Apr-2016, 11:24
I
I have a couple 4x5" Cambo cameras and will be buying a Crown Graphic to replace one that was stolen. I have experimented with making Cambo lens boards out of black foamcore boards and they seem to work just fine. The advantage of the Cambo lens board is the size - at something like 6x6 inches there is more room to work with than a Crown board which is about 4x4 inches. Plus the Cambo has a much longer bellows available than any Crown or Speed Graphic.


A Spped Graphic has its own shutter in the back. Depending of with year it was made, there are differences in how they are used but they are simple and easy. Speeds: 'Really Long (T setting) to 1/000 of a second. Not sure of the accuracy of the fastest speed but the slower speed should be OK,]