View Full Version : Getting started with a Packard Shutter

Frank Petronio
12-Apr-2006, 05:55
Howdy -- Does anyone have a web reference or direct advice about getting and using a Packard Shutter set-up? I don't have anything yet (lens, camera body, or shutter) but am looking to get into using older brass barrel lenses in portrait lengths, probably on a vintage wooden 8x10. I know the shutters come in different sizes and I may be putting the kart ahead of the horse by focusing on the shutter first, but I suspect finding a nice Packard shutter is harder than finding a nice vintage camera and lens.

So, at the risk of bumping up the eBay prices, if people care to suggest a few starter combinations that might work well together -- camera, lens, and shutter - that might be a good starting point?

Jim Galli I await your esteemed advice. But I know several others are also hardcore into this genre and I thank you in advance.

steve simmons
12-Apr-2006, 06:38
How about contacting the Packard Shutter Co. directyly for info. They are still in existence.

phone 209-245-5719


steve simmons

Joseph O'Neil
12-Apr-2006, 06:59
I've never used a packard shutter (been thinking of one myself however) but I have used some of those old, brass lenses in the past - still have a 100 to 120ish year old one hand. Tried it out a few years ago.

The nostalgia and effects of using such an old lens, IMO, are highly over-rated. It's sorta like this - making coffee the "old fashioned way" over a fire while camping is fun to do once a year, but the other 364 days a year, God Bless the electric coffee maker & microwave.

There are a lot of good process lenses, usually around F9 (but then many older lenses are slow too) that will cover 8x10 that show up on ebay and other places, and i would suggest you look at one of those. The more moden coatings will benefit you, and i also find that the overall quality of many of these process lenses are pretty darned good. Not as good as some people make it sound - I would gladly trade my red dot artar and my APO ronar for a brand new super-symmar in a heartbeat for anyone foolish - er, kind enough to do so. :)

Another thing about process lenses, is if you are thinking of an older brass lens for a "different look" to your photograph as compared to modern lenses, a good process lens strikes a nice balance, IMO, between the the two. My red dot Artar has something about the "look" to the finished prints I do not see with new, modern glass. (a highly subjective and hard to define term here that could be easily challenged by anyone on this list, but still, I stand by it).

As for a used packard shutter off ebay, I imagine a new shutter might be easier & cheaper than a used one bought off ebay, then finding out you have to send it off for repair/service to SK Grimes (not withstanding the fact I like the fine people at SK Grimes and Co ). I think these people *might* be able to help you.

..and, don't be afraid of "no-name" process lenses. For example I have an older Brown Mfg. process lens I half hazardly tested once, and it isn't bad at all. Not everything has to be an Artar, Claron or APO Ronar to give you good results.


12-Apr-2006, 08:29

Just go here: http://www.packardshutter.com/ and more than you ever wanted to know is available. Why buy 50 year old junk from eBay when new is relatively inexpensive?

I will tell you from my experience, the instantaneous shutter at 1/25 is highly dependant upon you replicating the squeeze each and every time. I primarily use it on bulb and use it on larger and longer lenses that do not easily fit into any shutter (like a 21.5" wide field Ektar). You need a bigger lens board to mount the shutter (like a Fatif) or build it into the front standard (a 19th Century Sinar auto shutter) and just swap mounted lenses.

For my use in the field, I use this shutter as a substitute for removing and replacing the lens cap (I get heavy handed or clumsy and don't want to hit the lens) on my longer exposures. Good luck.


12-Apr-2006, 08:32
A lot is going to depend on how large a lens you want to hang on the camera. A Galliesque f4 16" petzval is going to need at least a 6 1/2x 6 1/2 shutter with a 3 1/2" hole. It will laso need a lens board of 6 1/2 inches for the flange.

Knowing what you want to do, I would look for a came4ra with at least a 6" lens board, and bigger is better. A camera with a 8 or 9 inch board will serve you well, then you will be able to mount a big enough packard behind the lens board. Even if the lens boards are smaller, if the front standard is large enough you will still be able to mount the packard inside the camera.

If you have to build a box that hangs off the front of the camera, make it with belt and suspenders, or you could rip the front standard right off the camera with a 7 or 8 pound lens.

Packards are so simple its hard to screw em up. As long as the blades arnt cracked and the mechanisim operates, your fine. No CLA required.

Ernest Purdum
12-Apr-2006, 10:32
Keep in mind that the conventional mounting behind the lensboard requires enough extra room to run the air tube through. (Also electrical connections if you are using synchro.)

12-Apr-2006, 10:51
I have 2 old cameras that had holes in the bellows for the air hose. Not recommonded, but an option.

Allan Connery
12-Apr-2006, 11:14
Bob Fowler's website (http://mysite.verizon.net/fowler/photo/photohome.htm) has three articles about mounting and flash-syncing Packard shutters.

David F. Stein
12-Apr-2006, 14:38
View Camera published an extensive article on the Packard in recent years. Check its article index.