View Full Version : Copal shutters: repair or exchange?

4-Aug-2004, 01:35
What is your experience with CLAs of current Copal shutters? My trusted repair person just told me, that Copal shutters are very difficult to maintain. In contrast to Compur shutters it takes a lot of working time to disassemble them, because their build quality is pretty mediocre compared to the real stuff.

Some minor CLA work is ok for him, but instead of a complete professional CLA he recommends to simply buy a new shutter.

Do you agree?

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2004, 06:42
"because their build quality is pretty mediocre compared to the real stuff"

I certainly do not agree!! If what your trusted repair person has told you is correct, then Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji, and Cooke have all made the mistake of choosing the current Copal shutters to mount their lenses. Copal shutters are the "real stuff".

Ask for another opinion from different repair person.

Brian Ellis
4-Aug-2004, 06:47
Did he tell you what the difference is between a "minor CLA" and a "complete professional CLA?" I thought a CLA was a CLA, I didn't realize there were gradations like this. But what do I know, I just cock 'em, trip 'em, and hope for the best.

Bob Salomon
4-Aug-2004, 06:54
" have all made the mistake of choosing the current Copal shutters to mount their lenses. Copal shutters are the "real stuff""

They are also the only thing. Prontor Werke stopped production of all shutters a few years ago so they no longer make Compur or Prontor shutters and Seiko makes printers today not shutters, so for a mechanical shutter, Copal is the only game in town.

The other choices are electronic shutters like the Rollei which only comes in 0 and 1 sizes or the Horseman in 0, 1 and 3 sizes but their prices make the cost of the most expensive glass pale by comparison.

Jim Galli
4-Aug-2004, 07:25
Does your "trusted repair person" speak with a heavy german accent? I find Copals far less fussy and far easier to service than the earlier German stuff.

4-Aug-2004, 08:19
Thought that it is generally agreed that Prontor and Compur shutters have been of better build quality than Copal shutters. It was not my intend to offend anyone by repeating this information.

In the past I saw this discussion more as an issue for equipment fetishists and recognized my Copals always as reliable.

Only yesterday I heard that for example cleaning aperture blades is pretty difficult with a Copal shutter because the blades are riveted and can not be disassembled or that assembly/disassembly in general takes considerably more time than with other shutters.

This information comes indeed from a trusted repair person working for one of the LF lens manufacturers since decades.

4-Aug-2004, 08:25

as I understood it, a complete CLA includes a extensive disassembly before cleaning. Just like it is recommended for your Rolex watch every 5 years.

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2004, 11:31
Hi again Marek,

Copal shutters are comparetively inexpensive. Perhaps your trusted repair person was trying to tell you that it would be less expensive to replace your entire Copal shutter, with a brand new one, than it would be to completely dis-assemble it, do a CLA, and re-assemble it.

It's a good thing that Copal shutters are as reliable as they are and don't need a CLA very often. Perhaps that's one of the contributing factors to the demise of their competetors.

Bob Salomon
4-Aug-2004, 11:57
"Perhaps that's one of the contributing factors to the demise of their competetors."

No, the demise of the shutters from Prontor Werke was a price increase of 1000% to the oEM users - that would be people like Linhof, Rodenstock, Schneider, etc. that was announced just prior to a Photokina. Zeiss (Prontor Werke) gave each OEM account the opportunity to place one final order at the older price - as long as stock was available - then the increase would be effective. They sold out their stock of shutters and everyone switched to Copal who did not increase price.

The stated reason for the price increase was that the consumer shutters did not return as much on their investment as their other product lines and the increase was needed so they fell into line with other products like the Prontor Magnetic industrial shutters which are still made.

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2004, 13:42
In other words, Bob, the competition was just un-able to make a shutter as good as the Copal for a price as reasonable as the Copal. Seems like a legitimate reason for them discontinue trying. A few U.S. auto makers gave up making their cars for the same reason.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
4-Aug-2004, 14:40
In my own experience, I have found modern Copal shutters MORE reliable than modern Compur shutters. For one lens, a Sinar-labeled Rodenstock which came in a Compur, I actually swapped the shutter for a Copal because it's speeds, even after two CLAs by a well regarded repairshop, were never consistent. My other Compur shutter seems to perform decently, but is VERY sensitive to dirt and dust, and so is never taken out of my studio.

4-Aug-2004, 15:09

LOL - Big difference between a CLA and a professional CLA...


Blower brush and cleaning cloth...

Professional CLA

They actually take the lens apart and do work on the shutter.

Mind you... they both charge the same! It just depends on whether you take the shutter to a pro or an amateur.

Still LOL! :>)


tim atherton
4-Aug-2004, 15:27
Not at all Henry - go to SK Grimes for example for a CLA and they will usually partially dis-assemble the shutter, clean it out, replace anythign obvious and check it - cost, what? Around $80.00 to $125.00. Usually all that's needed.

Send the shutter to someone who does a full (professional?) CLA, say KHB Photografix and they will fully dis-assemble the shutter, replace any parts that need replacing, re-assemble and adjust etc - cost? Around $250.00 to $450.00

Bob Salomon
4-Aug-2004, 17:34
"Bob, the competition was just un-able to make a shutter as good as the Copal for a price as reasonable as the Copal."

No, Copal shutters had been much less expensive then Compur shutters for at least 2 decades before the price increase.

The volume of sales made Compur shutters too expensive for a long time. Photographers decided that they did not need the features of later Compur shutters like behind the camera aperture setting accessories or 1/3rd stop or 1/2 stop click stops (depending on shutter size). While Copal did not, and do not, have these features they did have a much lower price.

And, yes, older Compur shutters were more trouble prone then the Copal shutter of the same vintage. But later Compur shutters were just as reliable as any other mechanical shutter.

Just look at the reliability of the shutter in the 2.8F for example.

5-Aug-2004, 01:04
Is it my poor english producing this misunderstandings or is the Copal vs. Compur/Prontor issue really that loaded with emotions?

Just tried to ask if some of you decided for a new Copal shutter instead of getting the old one repaired and in what cases you went that route.

Seems to be impossible to get through with this question...

5-Aug-2004, 03:51
No worries Marek - people on this forum often enjoy teasing each other (not to mention arguing over arcane matters of minute detail...). You sometimes need to delve between it to sort out the useful information, which *is* invariably there...

Whether a CLA or buying a new or reconditioned shutter is better for you depends on the state of the shutter, how good the repair shop is and how deep your pockets are. A reputable repair shop such as Grimes' will give you their opinion once they have had a shuffti at the shutter.


Bob Salomon
5-Aug-2004, 04:58

There is no reason whatsoever that a qualified repair shop can not repair a Copal shutter or CLA one. If your repairman can not then it is time to find another repai service.

Paul Ron
27-Aug-2004, 17:48
I like the replacing idea. Can you sell me all your old throw aways please????

John Kasaian
27-Aug-2004, 18:47
Of course everyone is completely ignoring the fact that Ilex Universals and Wollensak Betax are quintessential chick magnets.

Dan Fromm
27-Aug-2004, 19:07
Ilex Acmes, however, repel them.