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Thread: Betax Shutter?

  1. #1
    Foamer
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    Betax Shutter?

    I just received a Wollensak Velostigmat 300mm in Betax 5. I didn't realize what a beast it would be! I have some questions. First, I'm not sure how to fire the lens! It looks like it has two different connections. On the left side (when facing) is a small metal tube with threaded end where a cable release would normally go. I'm assuming this is some kind of pneumatic release, like for a poofy bulb? Where would I get a poofy bulb that would fit this? At the one o'clock position on the shutter are two small metal equal sized prongs. Since this lens is uncoated and appears to be pretty early (like from the 1920s?), I'm betting the prongs are some sort of shutter release too and not a sync connection? Exactly what are these prongs and how do I use them?

    Second issue is the little aluminum cocking lever, at the ten o'clock position. It will lock the shutter open for "T", but not "B". Is that normal--I need a real "bulb" thingy to hold shutter open on "B" setting? I'm not real sure this shutter works, but then I don't have a poofy bulb to test it. Is the Betax a decent shutter? I'm think I could have an adapter made so I could shoot my 1847 Voigtlander on it.

    Third issue is the size of the beast. I think it weighs almost as much as my Chamonix 045n. While it looks really cool on that camera, and it looks like there is enough space on a lens board to mount it, I am having second thoughts about putting these kinds of "elephants" on that camera. I now have about three fairly heavy lenses (300mm Velostigmat, 7 inch Voightlander Petval, 10 in. George Wood pillbox) that really need something more sturdy than the Chamonix. I'm wanting to stick with a portable type camera, and something old that's about 4x5 sized. I have a Cambo 45NX monorail that would easily hold these lenses, but the camera is clunky and doesn't have that cool vintage look. I'm thinking of something like a Thornton Pickard Royal Ruby half plate with focal plane shutter? I shoot 4x5 now in my Watson & Son half plate tailboard. The Watson is too fragile for these lenses, and the lens opening is relatively small. I will likely end up selling it to buy something else that's a better fit for me. I'm assuming the Velostigmat was made for big studio 8x10 such as Kodak 2D, but I don't want to go that route. I'm an outdoor photographer, never shoot "studio" style.

    On the bright side, the 6 in. Heliar in Compur dialset I just bought is wonderful on the Chamonix!


    Kent in SD
    Gud blessi Island!

  2. #2

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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    On my Betaxes none of which I have any more, a standard long throw cable release fits into the "tube". A Leica-type release screws onto the "tube". Bipost synch connector?
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  3. #3
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    As stated, it just takes a regular screw-in cable release. The prongs are a bi-post flash attachment that was added.

    Your shutter apparently isn't working correctly, but working ones work well. The Kodak 2D is actually good as a fold-up field camera.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  4. #4

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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Shiu View Post
    As stated, it just takes a regular screw-in cable release. The prongs are a bi-post flash attachment that was added.

    Your shutter apparently isn't working correctly, but working ones work well. The Kodak 2D is actually good as a fold-up field camera.

    Jon
    And is available as a 5x7, on which you can put a 4x5 back.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  5. #5
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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    The Kodak 2D is suddenly looking like a good short term solution, modified for 4x5. It has a bit of vintage look, is cheap enough, and is certainly sturdy. It is a field camera style, too. I think my current Gitzo 1325 tripod would hold it OK. My berlebach would for sure. Long term, I think I'll look for an old style camera made by Star Camera. They do show up used every now and then. I could have them make a back for me to hold standard 4x5 holders.

    Now about the lens. The glass is perfect. I now think the two metal prongs are for an after market sync, as the two guys above thought. The prongs fit on a little rectanglur metal box, which is screwed to the shutter housing. It looks very similar to ones I've seen on other lenses. I might have a connector to test it. The shutter. I was able to screw a standard cable release into it, and when pushed I could hear it clicking. The bad news is the shutter isn't working properly. It will hold open on "T", but the other settings don't function right. I can cock the shutter, but it doesn't sound like it catches and holds. As I pull the lever back I feel tension, and the shutter will suddenly release as I get to the end of the pull. Speeds are too long on the slow speeds but sound right on the faster speeds. Obviously needs a repair.

    So it boils down to this. I paid $210 for the lens. The glass is perfect, and I like the lens. The shutter needs a repair--$100? I'm thinking of keeping it because I like the lens and I think the shutter could do double duty on my Voigtlander Petzval. I might pull out my Cambo 45nx which I haven't touched for 10 years, and try taking some timed shots with the Velostigmat. If I like the results, I think I'll just keep it and have shutter repaired. Does all the above sound like a reasonable plan?

    Who can I send the shutter to for repair?


    Kent in SD
    Gud blessi Island!

  6. #6

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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    This is a shutter of distinction, considerable size and useful for many classic lenses which is a good candidate for a repair. A costly replacement is also likely to need a service - at least
    I don't know which if the usual 3 (?) people/organisations has the best Betax parts stock/experience?

  7. #7

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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    When you say you can cock the shutter, but it releases when the cocking lever reaches the end of its travel, well that's the way Betax shutters work. They're not like modern shutters that have separate cocking and release levers. One lever does it all. Many cable releases don't have enough travel to cock and trip the monster Betax 5s. There is a thread here addressing that. There are a few releases that have enough travel to fire a Betax #5 reliably, I just don't remember which ones. It's very common for the speeds slower than 1/25 second to be too slow, and a CLA will fix this, but T, B, and 1/25 will work for many applications. With some practice, you can use B and get speeds from 1/5 to 1/2 to 1 second and longer.

    Edit: Congrats on getting a usable lens and huge shutter. As others have noted, you can use a shutter like that behind some classic barrel lenses. Others here who are knowledgeable about cable releases can probably recommend one that should work for your shutter.

  8. #8
    multi format
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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    betax shutters are great.
    they work in-between shutter speeds as well as
    on the speed itself, unlike most dial shutters.

    have fun !
    john

  9. #9
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    As explained, it is a self-cocking shutter, ie cocks and fires in a single action. Does the B work properly when you pull the lever and hold it all the way? You can send the shutter to Flutot's to get it cleaned and lubed (although there is a waiting list), or you could probably do it yourself.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  10. #10
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    Re: Betax Shutter?

    Quote Originally Posted by desertrat View Post
    When you say you can cock the shutter, but it releases when the cocking lever reaches the end of its travel, well that's the way Betax shutters work. They're not like modern shutters that have separate cocking and release levers.

    That makes sense. There is no separate lever as on the Compound and Optimo from the same time period. What time period is this lens likely from? I'm guessing 1920s. The ability to use the shutter on other large 19th century lenses was an attraction for me. I'll stay tuned to find out what cable release I need. The one I tried today is a generic modern one, with a throw of less than an inch. I'll try sticking a piece of stiff wire up the tube later and see what that does.


    Kent in SD
    Gud blessi Island!

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