View Full Version : Sinar Shutter - f/4 versus f/5.6 and Cables ?

Frank Petronio
26-Oct-2006, 05:25
I've been watching and wanting one of these for a couple of month now but the eBay decriptions kind of scare me and info on the web is scarce. I know there are several generations of models, from the Norma Era right up to battery powered "digital" ones.

For the first time I saw a reference to one being an f/4 aperture versus a f/5.6 aperture and now I am entirely dicombobulated. Are all the older ones f/5.6 or was this a difference they had in their models all along?

If I get a nice clean older one, will it work with the bargain 90/4.5 lens I hypothetically hope to find someday (you know, the $200 shutterless lens that nobody wants.)

Also, while I see some auctions with the special long throw $100 cable release included, I am not sure what the special cable that goes between the shutter and the film back (for auto stop down) is called and what that looks like.

And finally, I understand the Sinar DB lens mount works with the digital shutter. Does it also work with the older shutters? Or do I look for Norma era stuff, DB era stuff exclusively?

It is damn complicated and I am about to give up but I thought maybe one of you guys might understand the "big picture" and Sinar history.

Frank Petronio
7-Nov-2006, 22:25

Struan Gray
8-Nov-2006, 03:12
Frank, I'm surprised that noone else has answered this. I'll do my best from a strickly Norma-user, eBay-gawper perspective.

First, there is a set of cables on eBay.uk at the moment (item no. 280043782253 if the URL gets mangled).


The first picture shows the shutter release cable, with the usual sort of finger button on the hand end and a roughly four-inch long kinked metal tube on the other. The second shows what I have always called the stop-down cable. The third image shows the sync cable with the special connector needed for the later shutters.

If you are going to use a modern shutter with full automatic operation *and* flash you will need all three cables. The older Norma shutters have a regular flash connector so any old PC cable will do.

The shutter release cable is the only one you really need. You can fire the shutter with a long, thin rod (like a good jeweller's screwdriver or a long Allen key) but you have to push on the camera so much that this is only really useful for testing and emergencies.

The stop down cable has a bayonet fitting on each end and is symmetric. One bayonet fits onto the shutter, the other fits into an adaptor which screws onto the rear of the camera. The adaptor is there so that you can easily switch the cable between different backs, each with their own adaptor (for example, when shooting 4x5 polaroid prior to making an 8x10 exposure). In the eBay auction above, the adaptor is on the right hand end of the cable.

On Norma era 4x5 and 5x7 cameras (I don't have 8x10 but assume it's the same) there is a tube sticking out sideways from the international back at top left when in landscape orientation. This tube contains a plunger that is pushed when a holder is inserted, and the end of the tube is threaded to accept the threaded collar of the cable adaptor.

If you want automated stop-down and shutter closure you need the cable and at least one adaptor. Without them the shutter will be fully functional, but you will have to close it and stop down the aperture yourself. The automation is a mere convenience, but a useful one for studio portraits. I never took the stop-down cable into the field though.

So far as I know you can mix and match cables and shutters from different eras. The flash sync is the only one that is specific to a particular type of shutter.

You can also mix and match lensboards from different eras, provided you mount the shutter as Sinar recommends, i.e. behind the front standard with the shutter leaves to the rear. With Norma kit his way leaves about 5 mm of space between the lensboard and the front of the shutter housing, and 8 mm or so to the shutter blades, so there is lots of room for the DB connectors to dangle in space.

Norma shutter lensboards are simple cones. The aperture is in a seperate lens barrel which mounts into the coned board with a locking ring just like a shutter. In fact, many lenses were offered in coned boards with shutters, so you could chose whether to use the Sinar shutter or not.

Some Norma boards have the so-called micky-mouse aperture control. These can be operated from the rear of the camera, but are not linked to the stop-down cable: i.e. you have to stop down manually. Again, both lenses in barrel and lenses in shutter could be fitted with a Micky Mouse control.

Some Norma boards have an indicator on the front which shows if the shutter is open or not (it's at two o'clock as you look at the front of the board). There is a pin on the front of the Norma shutter which moves a lever on the back of the board, rotating the indicator on the front. Since there is a clear indicator on the shutter itself I have never seen the point of this. It makes no difference to your operations if it is there or not, unless it is broken and leaking light.

Boards for the modern black shutters with aperture control include a linkage for the shutter to stop down the aperture. I have never used one, but they work like the Micky-Mouse actuators with the aperture coded as a given amount of rotation around a large arc surrounding the lens. The f4 and f5.6 shutters have the same size through-hole, they differ only in the amount of travel along this arc at the wide aperture end. I.E., the f4 shutter lets you automate a 90 mm f4.5 but not big, long Tessars with huge rear elements.

Very late boards have a panel with electronic contacts on, which are just jumpers to let the electronic shutters know what sort of lens is attached (principally max aperture for metering I assume). Again, these will not foul the mechanisms of the earlier shutters and are simply ignored if not used.

DB boards *are* the barrel, so if you buy a lens in a modern DB mount it is hard to pull it off the board and use it on a different lensboard. You can unscrew the lens cells easily enough, but it's not like the Norma boards where you can remove a locking ring and have generally useful barrel lens.

That said, you can dismantle DB boards, and the black boards with a plastic circular insert that were intermediate between Norma and DB boards. This is a cheap source of Sinar boards with a usefully large hole already bored in it, for homebrew projects with big old lenses or, in my case, an iris mount.

Finally (I promise), if you are hunting for DB bargains it is worth distinguishing between DB and DBM boards. DBM boards have a distinctive white/grey aperture ring with a red button which lets you override the aperture set on the shutter. Perhaps more importantly, they let you control the aperture even when you don't have the shutter mounted, which can useful in the field.

Frank Petronio
8-Nov-2006, 05:43
THANK YOU that is the best explanation ever!

Struan Gray
8-Nov-2006, 05:59
Your're welcome Frank. I meant to add that the cameraeccentric website includes a manual for a f5.6 shutter: