View Full Version : Nikon/Copal shutters vs Plain-Old-Copal - The Secret

Steve Goldstein
9-Aug-2009, 14:30
It always bothered me about these shutters. I couldn't believe either Nikon or Copal would go to the trouble to make custom shutters, it seemed like it would be too expensive to do. Well, I was right. Now that I've finally figured out the secret about what makes Nikon's versions of Copal shutters so special, it turns out to be fairly trivial.

Enough verbiage, on to the partial dissection of the two Copal 1 shutters I am comparing...

The non-Nikon shutter has two aperture bands, each attached with two easy-to-lose screws. These must be removed. It turns out there's another band encircling the entire shutter barrel, on which the shutter speeds are marked. I'll call this the "body band". It can be removed by first removing the cable-release mount (two more screws, only slightly less easy to lose). Once this band has been removed you are down to the basic shutter.

Now to my Nikon/Copal 1. Both shutter speeds and aperture markings are printed on a single band encircling the entire shutter barrel and held in place by the cable release mount. Remove the mount, remove the band, and voila - a basic shutter! The shutter itself has the four threaded mounting points for standard aperture bands; these were covered over by the Nikon body band.

So this is the only real difference - the Nikon used lens-specific body bands, whereas everyone else uses standard shutters with a standard body band and custom aperture bands. If you have the right bands and bits you can convert a Nikon/Copal 1 into a standard version, and vice versa.

Copal 0s look almost the same. The only substantive difference I see is that the flash sync mount on the Copal 0 must also be removed to swap body bands. I didn't actually pull one apart to check as I didn't feel like pressing my luck on the tiny screws.

Caveat the First: I examined one #1-size Nikon/Copal shutter. I've no reason to suspect any others are different. YMMV.

Caveat the Second: Like I said, I didn't go to the trouble to remove the band on a Nikon/Copal 0 shutter. Again, I've no reason to expect the configuration to be any different - it simply wouldn't have been economical. YMMV.

Caveat the Third: Nikon has stopped making LF lenses. New body bands are pretty much unobtanium.

Caveat the Fourth: The screws really are tiny, especially those for the standard-shutter aperture bands. Work over a small pan lined with a cloth handkerchief so the screws don't bounce into oblivion when they're removed. I learned this one the hard way a few years ago.

Ernest Purdum
9-Aug-2009, 16:38
Over the years Copal has made quite a few "custom" LF shutters (and even more for smaller formats). The various types made for Polaroid are perhaps the most common.

Awhile back I bought a very nice Copal 1 shutter. When I started to mount lens cells to it, I was very surprised to find the same size opening in the krear as on the front. It's a pity all No.1 shutters aren't like that.

Steve Goldstein
9-Aug-2009, 16:50
Your post reminded me - I was explicitly looking at the "standard" shutters, not the "press" version.

9-Aug-2009, 19:56
thanks for posting this. I'm in the process of getting screwed by a forum member I bought a lens from several months ago and I'm looking for a solution with a replacement copal#0 shutter.

13-Aug-2009, 12:37
Another difference is that the "Nikon" shutters have the speeds and "Copal" engraving on the outer rotating knurled ring and the red arrow on the inner stationary ring, while regular Copal shutters have the red arrow on the outer ring, and the speeds and "Copal" on the inner ring.

And then there's Fuji, who have their own design of knurled ring and shutter cocking knob...

It's easy to tell if the shutter has been replaced, unless it's replaced with the lens manufacturer's part or the unique parts are moved from across from the old shutter to the new.