View Full Version : Of FP shutters

30-Sep-2005, 07:39
To a new thread derrived from the Linhof focal-plane shutter auction thread.

How much do the 4x5 FP shutters shake the camera? I'd think the inertial issues would be significant. Graflex people should be able to tell us since those shutters are more common than Linhofs.

30-Sep-2005, 08:24
One would expect a lot of shake from FP shutters, but apparently it just don't happen. On my Super D Graflex, the shake problem is from that big mirror flipping up, and I've never ruined a FP shot with my Pacemaker Speed. (It is noted, however, that Graflex limited the slow FP speed to 1/30 sec, or about 1/8 second in "drop curtain" operation). IMHO there's almost no longer any real need for FP shutters in LF cameras.

Bob Salomon
30-Sep-2005, 08:54
" IMHO there's almost no longer any real need for FP shutters in LF cameras."

The benefit to any in the camera shutter for LF is that they eliminate the requirement for a in the lens shutter thus opening up a vast range of lenses that can be easily mounted on a LF camera and use them with full confidence that exposure is correct and film isn't fogged.

A Packard shutter just isn't as accurate as a good in the camera shutter system.

David A. Goldfarb
30-Sep-2005, 10:17
With the 5x7" Press Graflex, there's a definite vibration from the mirror, but it makes a kind of soft landing, so it's not as bad as one might expect. The shutter vibrates, but the big thunk comes at the end of the exposure. The Linhof or a Graphic doesn't have a mirror, of course, and I suspect that a 1970's era shutter is probably a bit smoother than a circa 1910 shutter.

Tripod shots are definitely sharper than handheld with the Press Graflex, but it's a lot of fun to go out with the 5x7" SLR in full daylight with fast film and get some LF action shots and candid portraits for contact printing. The shutter goes up to 1/1500 sec.

J. P. Mose
30-Sep-2005, 13:06
I know you are more interested in the practical applications of LF focal plane shutter use. Others so far have described it quite well. I use my Super D Graflex at the highest speeds possible because to camera gets quite a jolt from the mirror when it makes contact!

Graflex Tip of the Day: Make sure the ground glass (upper one used with reflex hood) is well sealed around the edges (in contact with the body/frame). The air pressure acts as a dampener when the mirror reaches top! Bet you didn't know that one!

Now for my other words of wisdom....the Linhof accessory focal plane shutter should be obtained ONLY if you are interested in it as a collectors item! They were offered for 3-4 years at the most, starting in 1957. They were always problematic. As they were returned to Linhof for repair, customers were refunded full invoice. Hence, many have been scrapped.

John Cook
30-Sep-2005, 13:57
I have a wonderful theory, with no camera in front of me to prove it.

A 35mm FP camera has a two-piece shutter. Part one opens and slams against the stop, creating vibration.

Part two then travels across the opening, cutting off the light, and then in turn slams into the stop, creating a second vibration.

On short shutter speeds, the second curtain actually takes off across the film before the first curtain has fully opened. But still two vibrations: one at the beginning of the exposure (first curtain fully opening) and the other at the end of the exposure (second curtain fully closing).

The Speed Graphic FP shutter has different slits (or windows) in it. Each slit is calibrated to the duration of the chosen exposure. Wide for long exposures and narrower for shorter.

This cloth shutter curtain slams against its stop only once, at the end of the exposure. It is closed by the time the camera begins to shake.

It’s a neat theory, if it’s true.

The mirror is another matter, entirely.

By the way, these slits are horizontal on the Speed Graphic, so the bottom of the film (top of the inverted image) is exposed after the rest of the film. I believe this accounts for the “Barney Oldfield” stretched vintage race car photographs with the oval wheels.

30-Sep-2005, 16:18
John Cook: You might be comforted to know that even 35mm FP shutters use variable slits. Graflex people - the Linhof has no mirror or second ground glass to confuse things, but it is interesting that such a high-qualify manufacturer did not make a robust FP shutter. My take on that is 1) they wanted it to be modular and compact (which they did!) but 2) sales were too limited to warrant the expense. That's just guessing, of course.

Bob Salomon
30-Sep-2005, 17:01

As a studio tool there were serious limitations with the FP shutter with synch speeds. As an outdoor tool it was very delicate and finicky.

Perhaps with more demand it may have flown but the other Linhof shutter systems didn't either. The TK shutter which was very reliable was simply too expensive and the Prontor Magnetic system never worked properly and was awfully delicate. The Kardan shutter never got off the ground.

David A. Goldfarb
30-Sep-2005, 17:18
The Graflex shutters with fixed slits are wonderfully simple and robust. Occasionally the curtain or the ribbons need replacement, but they hold up remarkably well, and are surprisingly accurate.

For such a large shutter, without having an absurd price tag, it's probably best to have this kind of fixed slit size with its own awkward control and separate control for spring tension than to try to make it work like a 35mm or MF shutter, where you can just set the speed and let the shutter do the rest.