View Full Version : Exposure wide open barrel lenses?

Gene McCluney
10-May-2007, 09:27
I know a lot of you folks like to shoot wide-open with classic lenses. Probably a lot of you do this without any kind of shutter attached, Packard, or otherwise. I was just contemplating how most of you do this when the exposure required, using modern films is usually in the fractions of a second? Average old lens wide open hovers around F8. This is too much light to have time to remove and replace a lens cap with ISO 100 film. Share with all of us your techniques.

Hugo Zhang
10-May-2007, 09:32

Jim Galli has a trick. I have to use a Packard shutter.

Gene McCluney
10-May-2007, 09:40

Jim Galli has a trick. I have to use a Packard shutter.

Yes, a Packard shutter, but even with that, one is flirting with overexposure because a Packard is not capable of a speed faster than about 1/25 of a second at best. F8 with ISO 100 film would generally call for a shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/400 or so, without bellow factor. Do you all just "deal" with dense negatives, and pull your development? Lowest speed LF film (other than possibly ortho/litho) would be ISO 25 or 50 from Efke, right? Do any of you use neutral density filters?

10-May-2007, 09:41

i either use a graflex slr or a speed graphic, both
have built in shutters :)


Kerry L. Thalmann
10-May-2007, 09:50

If you have a Sinar camera, or can adapt your front standard to accept a Sinar shutter, it's a great solution for use with barrel lenses. The top speed is "only" 1/60, but that has proven adequate for my needs - although I don't usually shoot wide open and even if I did, most of my barrel ULF lenses have max. apertures in the f9 - f14 range. You get nice accurate shutter speeds from 32 sec. to 1/60, plus "B". One other potential issue - if you're using REALLY big lenses (as many of the fast old portrait lenses are), the throat of Sinar shutter might not be big enough to accommodate shooting wide open.


10-May-2007, 09:54
I use old compur shutter for RR lens. I just ordered adapter rings and mounted RR cells in the shutter. Of course the lens does not look as nice as it used to look in brass finish, but it works perfectly well.
For two other classic lenses I have, Bush Bis-Telar and Puyo_de Pulligny The Adjustable Landscape Lens, I use Ilex #4 shutter. I ordered custom adapter rings to front-mount the lenses in the Ilex, the entire lens goes into the front opening of the shutter. I was using Packard for Bis-Telar for some time. The Tachihara I had those days did not allow to install packard behind the lens so I had to mount it in front of the lens using Cokin filter adapter. It did not work well - first it had light leaks, second it was quite unstable and third Packard was giving only one exposure time around 1/20 sec.


Kerik Kouklis
10-May-2007, 10:02
Neutral density filters to "stop" the lens down.

Kerry L. Thalmann
10-May-2007, 10:11
Jan brings up a good point, if the lens is small enough to be front mounted in a large shutter, that's a great cost-effective option. I bought a Compound No. 5 shutter for this purpose. I got it at a bargain price as it was missing the built-in aperture blades. I suspect someone tried a soak-in-lighter-fluid CLA at some point that destroyed the original aperture blades. That's fine for front mounting as you use the diaphragm (or waterhouse stops) of the barrel mount lenses. I've seen other Compound shutters with missing aperture blades on occasion (the original blades were made from paper and can be damaged/destroyed if handled improperly). If your goal is front mounting lenses, it would be worth it to try to locate one.

Again, there are size limitations and the potential for mechanical vignetting when front mounting barrel lenses. The biggest shutter I've seen for this purpose is the long discontinued Compur Electronic 5FS. Just make sure you get a working controller box with the shutter. It's a beast, but if you're working with fast old portrait lenses, I'm guessing weight isn't your highest priority.


10-May-2007, 10:20
i try to pick a film speed and light that's close to 1/8 sec. then i can usually hit it with a black kitchen towel draped over the barrel. i have a packard shutter and a newly acquired universal lens iris mount, so i'm working on mating the two together. something slightly fancier :)

Jan Pedersen
10-May-2007, 10:36
Gene, you may want to look for Luc shutters too. Front mounted and comes in various sizes. Only one speed in addtion to bulb about 1/25sec. works great with slow film such as Efkes 25

Gene McCluney
10-May-2007, 10:43
I still think that almost all of the solutions outlined above will result in overexposure with most films when shooting wide-open in daylight.

10-May-2007, 10:56
Depends on where you're shooting. Here in Florida, where I need rather long exposures for shadow detail in the swamps, I can shoot f/8 shutterless with my 8x10 even on Efke PL100.

william linne
10-May-2007, 11:02
Twilight or overcast skies or bedrooms. Neutral density or yellow filters. 100 asa film. A flick of the wrist and a one stop pull.

10-May-2007, 11:07
Get a Lee Gel-Snap adapter, and some gel holders. Then purchase a 2.0 neutral density filter. Gel-Snaps can be had from Adorama, and the ND from BHPhotovideo. Kodak makes them. They are not inexpensive (about $75). They are real gelatin, so that's why you want the Gel-Snap gel holders and adapter. Kodak also makes 3.0 and 4.0 ND's.

The 2.0 slows things down by 6.5 stops, and the 3.0 by 7 or 8. At that point, a piece of cardboard and your wrist are practical even with 100 or 200 ASA film


Jim Galli
10-May-2007, 11:49
Here's a shot done on Efke 100 with a Packard shutter that is a consistant 1/30. Meter was calling for 1/500. PyroCat HD and a pull gives a dense but useable negative. I never don't take the picture.

Amargosa Dreams
Done with a 14" Verito at f4

Here's another way to do it but there's no way to really know what you're getting.


Gordon Moat
10-May-2007, 12:31
As someone else mentioned, use ND filters. On my Zeiss Tessar 21cm f4.5, I stacked a couple ND filters to get down to a 2 second exposure, which is the fastest reliable lens cap speed at which I am consistant. One issue was the need to make an adapter for the filter threads of the ND filters, which took me some time on a lathe.

While ND filters work, one issue is the ground glass being way too dark. So I tend to set up everything first, then place the ND filter(s) on the lens, then load the film holder and do an exposure.

After seeing what I felt were too high prices on very old shutters, I basically left my old Zeiss lens mounted to a Tecknika board as only a barrel lens. I ended up getting a great deal on a modern 180mm through MPEX (http://www.mpex.com), which works far better for me than spending more money on a really old lens.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

16-May-2007, 11:31
I'm new to this forum, coming back to LF after 35 years away from it due to a lifestyle hitherto not conducive to having a darkroom. Finally at age 62 having decided to live in a house with electricity and running water again, I find all the old longings coming back. I've picked up a Linhof monorail with Super Angulon 8/90, Sironar 5.6/180, and Symmar-S 5.6/210 for essentially the value of the lenses alone; worse yet, I succumbed to the temptation of a Toyo/Calumet 8x10 at an attractive price. Now I'm prowling eBay for 360's, 408's, or 500+'s.

Most of the decent, *affordable* optics for the 8x10 seem to be in barrel mount (APO-Ronars and the like), not to mention various interesting old brassies. OK, big lenses ARE available in big leaf shutters, but at prices that take my breath away. I've read this thread with interest, because the real issue here is *control* -- the point is well taken that modern film doesn't give you a lot of time in hand for lens-cap flourishing, at least not in good bright daylight. Stop down *too* far and resolution becomes diffraction-limited. I've never used a Packard, but suppose they are a bit tricky to mount behind the lens, and limited in their "I" top speed. ND filters create another mounting problem and are pretty fiddly.

The problem of covering a sizable area with a fast shutter speed (where leaf shutters come a cropper) was solved a long time ago with the Speed Graphic focal-plane shutter. WHY do you suppose has nobody repackaged this mechanism as a BTL or even in-front-of-the-lens shutter to solve the barrel-mount problem once for all? With modern materials, it ought to be possible to produce a 1-1/1000 travelling-slit shutter that could be mounted to ANYTHING at all. Its accuracy ought to be superior to any leaf-shutter, too!

Short of that desired ideal, what other options are there apart from ND filters, Packard shutter, and the venerable lens cap for timing exposure in the absence of a leaf shutter?

Dan Fromm
16-May-2007, 12:35
<large snip>

Short of that desired ideal, what other options are there apart from ND filters, Packard shutter, and the venerable lens cap for timing exposure in the absence of a leaf shutter? You already named it. I don't like the idea, but you can always get a Speed Graphic and mutilate it.

16-May-2007, 12:47
Lith film is pretty slow. If you like the results then it's slow enough for a lenscap even outdoors.

Even modern film isn't too bad if you stick to 100ISO. Odds are you'll rate it lower. If it's 8x10 you might be shooting F/45. You might stick an orange filter on the front. Combine all that and even on a bright sunny day and you might manage with a lenscap.

16-May-2007, 13:19
You already named it. I don't like the idea, but you can always get a Speed Graphic and mutilate it.

Exactly the thought that crossed my mind! However, I loved the Speed and Crown Graphics in their day, cut my teeth on 'em just about, and the thought of cruelly disembowelling one is not a happy thought. Moreover, I wonder if in practice there would be vibration issues. I *really wish* somebody would take this concept and redesign the clunky old Speed Graphic f.p. shutter with modern materials (titanium, carbon fibre, etc.) and technology borrowed from 35mm SLRs. A good project for the guys that were seriously discussing redesigning and building old portrait-type lenses, and a lot more economically feasible I'd think. Jim Galli had the concept right in his hand with his two 5x7 darkslides waved in front of the lens of his 11x14 camera! All he lacked was the speed-regulation gear to provide repeatability...

Dan Fromm
16-May-2007, 17:01
ditkoofseppala, there's another possibility. Not as inexpensive as one might want, but ... And I know it sounds absurd but I'm sort doing it now. Sort of because I shoot 2x3. The longest lens I use is a 480 Apo Nikkor, hung out in front of a Copal #1.

If you want to use a long lens in barrel on 8x10 and get timed exposures, probably not that fast, and can live with minimal movements, consider front mounting.

The hurdle you have to jump is approximately: (diaphragm's diameter, wide open)/(lens' exit pupil-to-shutter diaphragm distance)>= (diameter of circle to be covered)/(lens' focal length) Focal length is approximately exit pupil-to-film plane distance.

Example: Alphax #5's max iris is 2.525" (see www.skgrimes.com), exit pupil to iris is 2" with lens on adapter (that's my 360 Apo Saphir). Circle to be covered is 12", f = 16". 2.5/2 > 12/16. You're home free.

Got the idea?



16-May-2007, 20:03
Well, that's another possible expedient, all right enough; and this is a field of grimy little expedients, from the venerable Packard through ND filters to Jim Galli's sleight-of-wrist with the darkslides.

What I can't get out of my head is the feeling that the problem has already been solved more elegantly and efficiently. Leaf-shutter inaccuracy and inefficiency are notorious, not surprising when you consider the fractional-second speeds demanded, the tight space requirements, the basic physics problems of inertia and momentum in the blades, et patati et patata. The focal-plane shutter is more accurate, and these days all the knotty engineering problems have already been dealt with by SLR and MF manufacturers. The thing is, there's no real reason it should have to be near the focal plane, especially in large formats. It could be right behind the lens or (if somewhat bigger) even in front of it.

It would, of course, be possible to make a super-technical thing out of it such that it would cost a couple or three thousand bucks, like so many upscale photographic toys these days. But consider how LITTLE improvement would actually be required to relegate the Packard to the dustbin of history! If you could accurately time 1/125, 1/60, and 1/30, add a simple gear-train or even pneumatic delay for the slow speeds, it could be put on the market at a very affordable price and everybody with barrel lenses would HAVE to have one, because it would more than pay for itself in kicking the Copal #3 / Ilex #5 habit! And you would interchange lenses without ever worrying about exposure inaccuracies from one leaf shutter to the next.

Didn't some of the old Pentacon 6's have fp shutters? I know Hasselblad used to make an fp model long ago. That would be the place to start, by cannibalising an old fp-shutter MF camera and sticking the gruesome remains decently out of sight behind an 8x10 lensboard. Hmmmm...

16-May-2007, 22:41
i use a card board cut out like a shutter curtain. i cut one opening 1/4 in wide and another 1/2 in wide. i then pull the "slit" across the front of the lens. with a bit of practice you can get pretty consistant results. (i use two slit sizes so i can have 2 sghutter speeds available.)


Neil Purling
17-May-2007, 01:24
I have been using Maco Print Film. I rate it at 3 ASA and develope it in Rodinal for 7min diluted 1:50. It is not colour sensitive. If you were shooting a red brick wall then over exposure beyond the meter reccomendation maybe in order.

Jim Noel
18-May-2007, 09:36
With my soft focus lenses which tend to run in the f4 - f4.5 range, I use neutral density filters and Jim Galli's dark slide shutter. I have no problem with overexposure. Occasionally my shutter is too fast and I end up with under-exposure.

Jim Noel
18-May-2007, 09:41
Neutral density filters are available in 12"x12" and larger sheets at Stage Lighting suppliers. They run less than $20 for a 12x12 sheet and are available from .3 to 3.0.