View Full Version : Undetected shutter failure

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 10:11
Just pulled 4 blank sheets of film out of my processing drum, along with 2 good negatives. The two good ones were taken with my old Symmar, the bad ones with my new Grandagon 90mm. Pulled the lens out of the bag and tested the shutter - it was firing, the blades were just not opening. A long day's shooting and traveling down the toilet, along with 32 sheets of film. One more thing on the "things to check list" - occasionally dry fire the shutter and see if it opens.

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 10:21
Just did some more investigation - this is a Copal 0 on a 90mm 6.8. If the preview lever is set for open, the lens will not fire and you know it at once. If the preview lever is moved just slightly toward open from closed, with the shutter blades still closed, the shutter fires but the blades do not open. Can some with a fairly new copal 0 try this on their shutter - I am curious if it is a design failure or just a problem with my lens, i.e., should I send it in for work or just add checking the preview lever position to my check list?

27-Dec-2005, 10:32
The shutter leaves on my Copal 0 'snaps' open to preview and 'snaps' closed. I had a Copal 3 that was less certain about opening/closing for preview, until it was cleaned and lubed. The shutter leaves opened okay when the lever was pushed to the open position, but the shutter leaves wouldn't close completely unless the lever was 'flicked' closed. If gently pushed to closed position, the shutter leaves generally failed to completely closed. I couldn't live with the uncertainty. After clean/lube, it became a very happy shutter!

Oren Grad
27-Dec-2005, 10:45
Ed -

I just pulled my 90/6.8 Caltar II-N, and it behaved the same way. So I tried a bunch of other lenses in late-model Copal 0 - five total - and every one of them behaved the same way as well. There's a "sweet spot" - "sour spot"? - where if you position the preview lever just so, the shutter will do this. I couldn't reproduce this behavior on a Copal 1 that I tried, though.

I'd never run into this problem in my own shooting - maybe I'm just more energetic in flicking the preview lever all the way to the stop. But thanks for sharing this - now I'll know to be careful.

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 10:56
It was only a persistant problem because I used a Technika with the rangefinder for the day's shooting because it it easier to handle in difficult conditions - this was NO 9th Ward and I was in mud. Had I been flicking it on and off, I might have only missed one, but because I not using it, it compounded the bad luck of it having being knocked out of position.

Oren Grad
27-Dec-2005, 11:01
It was only a persistant problem because I used a Technika with the rangefinder for the day's shooting

Another really good point - thanks for mentioning that too. Once in a great while I'll haul out my Horseman VH-R and use it in viewfinder/rangefinder mode, and as you point out, that means that one messed up setting could affect a whole bunch of pictures and I'd be none the wiser until the film came out of the tank.

27-Dec-2005, 11:17
Ed... what a disappointment for you! I once screwed up a whole day's worth of film using my Super Graphic and it's viewfinder/rangefinder. I pulled the lensboard out in a hurry and locked in in place while talking to a buddy. Only after the entire day was over did I notice that the lensboard wasn't seated against the infinity stops. Oh... and then there was the time I forgot to take the darkslide out of the roll film holder. But that's a different story. I LOVE press cameras but one mistake can really wreck a perfectly good day!

I've become a "nervous Nellie" when setting up my cameras... test, check everything, check again, and tehn continually listen for the correct-sounding shutter noises. I've also started being a bit more aloof in an attempt to discourage too much chatter/taking with curious folks since I can only concentrate on one thing at a time (it's a personal problem of mine... not enough brain cells, I suppose).

Paul Butzi
27-Dec-2005, 12:12
All of my #0 copal shutters behave the same way - just a smidge of movement on the preview lever and the shutter fires but does not open.

The one bright side is that most of my exposures are fairly long, and when the shutter fires in this weird 'Richards' mode, it just opens and closes rapidly - and it sounds different. From now on, my ear will be alert for that different sound.

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 12:35
In retrospect, at the end of the day, as the light was going and I moved to longer exposures, I noticed that the shutter sounded funny, but not knowing of this failure mode, I did not explore it further. Probably would have been even worse to find it then when there was nothing left to do but drive home.:-)

27-Dec-2005, 14:19
Hmmm. I never have to wonder if my Speed Graphic's FP shutter has tripped. (Score one for Graflex.)

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 14:38
Oh yea? What if the shutter trips, but the curtains stay together so there is no slit?:-) That is analogus to what is happening with the Copal shutters.

27-Dec-2005, 19:09
The Graphic FP shutter design only has one curtain, with fixed openings -- it's like a window shade with holes in it. That's why you have to put in the darkslide between shots when you're rewinding the shutter. Actually, even if you can't hear the shutter going off, you can definitely feel it in your wrists. Also, Ed, you have my deepest sympathy; I feel your pain.

Ed Richards
27-Dec-2005, 19:50
Gee, maybe I will dig out my Speed Graph and put in back in service.:-) Then I could buy some of those weird barrel lenses.

>Also, Ed, you have my deepest sympathy; I feel your pain.

Not much pain - you have to have a sense of humor to use a 50 year old camera based on 100 year old technology. I am just glad it was not the error I feared - forgetting to take the rear lens cap off - something else you can do with a press camera. Harder to have a sense of humor for the complete dumb sh*t mistakes. I am considering printing a pre-exposure check list to glue to the back of the camera.

If I see the Hindenberg catching fire, I am grabbing my 10D.