View Full Version : Front Mounted Shutter for Ancient Lens

Gordon Moat
16-Dec-2008, 14:41
Just thought I would share this. I recently acquired a Betax #4 in very good condition. It came with several different threaded parts, and so I did a few measurements. What I discovered is that it fits over the barrel of my ancient Holmes, Booth & Haydens 1/4 plate Petzval type lens. So with a little artist tape for protecting the brass, I slipped the Betax over the end of the HB&H.

I did a sound test of shutter speeds earlier today, and the Betax is nearly at the marked speeds. Quite impressive for a very old shutter. I have one of the old style long throw cable releases, so now it is a ready to go bit of gear.

What I am curious about is making a different set-up for using the shutter, or getting a different adapter made to rear mount the shutter. An informal check shows that vignetting is slightly less at the front, than at the back, though the difference is only a few millimeters of image circle. My other thought was to have a filter adapter made for the front of the shutter, so I could use more modern filters with this set-up. Thought? Ideas?

I did one test shot on Fuji Instant FP100C45, using a Polaroid 550 holder on my Shen-Hao. I think I am ready to use this with transparency film next, like Fuji Astia 100F, or Kodak E100VS. There is a portrait project for some musicians that I have set-up for January or February 2009, and I think this might be an interesting approach, due to the unique signature of this HB&H lens. The shutter makes it much easier to use. Also, anyone with ideas on flash sync for a Betax #4?


Dan Fromm
16-Dec-2008, 16:26
Gordon, if you're going to be shooting reversal film with ambient light you really should know exactly what the shutter's speeds are. Some of mine that sounded ok turned out not to be.

Time's a-wastin'. Call Adam or Sharkey tomorrow and ask how quickly synch can be added.

A stupid practical question. So the lens is quarter plate, should cover 3.25" x 4.25". What format are you using it on?

Clever adaptation, you've sparked thoughts I shouldn't be thinking.



Richard Rankin
16-Dec-2008, 17:32
I've tried front mounting packard style shutters on the front of old lenses with varying success, but it never occurred to me to try a 'real' shutter on the front! Great idea and one I will definitely try and 'borrow'.


Gordon Moat
16-Dec-2008, 18:41
Hello Dan & Richard,

I timed the Betax with a microphone and audio software. The results are:

1/2 second = 0.5
1/5 second = 0.25
1/10 sec = 0.12
1/25 sec = 0.036 to 0.039
1/50 sec = 0.196

Overall that is fairly accurate. The lens is roughly in the f3.4 to f3.6 range. So super precise exposure might take some practice, but the results are Fuji Instant are consistent.

I was actually looking for an old Compound shutter to front mount, or make a rear mount. They all went for what I felt was ridiculous money, or were attached to lenses. Then suddenly this Betax #4 happened along, and it has become an ideal solution.

I have a Packard shutter, but the lack of multiple speed settings kept me from doing much with it. Now I am not sure what I will do with that, because other than a sync connection there is no advantage to using it.

I'll have to see what sort of pricing a sync conversion will reach, and whether it is cost effective. Also, I am not yet sure if I want the shutter cut into to create a sync. Any chance there was some sort of cable release sync, or some other device?


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

Glenn Thoreson
16-Dec-2008, 18:54
Pretty neat looking affair. If the price of adding sync to your shutter seems high, or you don't want to alter it, it might be more economical to go with a #4 Ilex. They already have sync. If you're going to use flash, have you thought about open flash? It doesn't require a shutter at all. Just an iris and a dark room.

Gordon Moat
16-Dec-2008, 19:00
Almost forgot to mention, the lens is originally 1/4 plate, but the coverage is slightly more. So while it is 3.25" by 4.25" originally, it works nicely on my 4x5, with only a slight darkening at the corners at portrait distances. Used at infinity, the corners would get darker.

Take a look at the Fuji FP100C45 shot in those two images. That film area is 89mm by 118mm, or about 3.5" by 4.65". The corners are only slightly dark. I actually think the vignetting adds to the effect.

The Betax on the HB&H is actually shorter than the brass HB&H lens hood. I might have to watch for flare, or light falling upon the lens front optic. So far, that is my only big concern in using this combination.

I had considered open flash. Both the B and T settings on the shutter work nicely, and I have a locking cable release for the Betax. I was trying to find an Ilex #4 originally, but the prices were always higher than for Betax. However, now I might want to get an Ilex #4 with sync in the future.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

Jon Wilson
16-Dec-2008, 21:50
Yes, cold nites can be the inspiration for alternative shutters. I just recently determined a nice Darlot Opticien Wide Angle lens I had purchased a while back from Ernest P. will fit the front of an extra #3 Compound Shutter I had laying around. I hope to try it out on my V8 soon.

Gene McCluney
20-Dec-2008, 08:03
If you have an Fuji instant film back, and a stock of fuji instant film, then you really don't need to have your shutter calibrated to shoot Chromes. Just shoot a test first.