View Full Version : Focal Plane Shutter

12-Jul-2011, 07:53
I've been coming across some 1920s vintage field cameras with focal plane shutters. I would assume that was about the end of them as Compur shutters started rolling out? Anyway, I now have three 19th century lenses with no shutters, and am thinking that buying an old camera with a FP shutter might be the way to go. Are these shutters very finicky? Require regular calibration etc.? Should I instead be looking for something like a Sanderson or T-P roller blind?

Kent in SD

Bob Salomon
12-Jul-2011, 08:19
Do you mean press cameras? They are different then field cameras which usually have no built-in shutter.

Emmanuel BIGLER
12-Jul-2011, 08:37
I would assume that was about the end of them as Compur shutters started rolling out?

Well, yes and no.

Speed Graphic press cameras had focal plane shutters and were manufactured up to ... the sixties ??
The Arca Swiss reflex cameras (the 4x5" and the smaller 6x9cm) had focal plane shutters and were built in the sixties-seventies.
My understanding is that the use of electronic flash units has boosted the use of leaf shutters( among them, of course, synchro-compur shutters) vs. focal plane shutters .... for large format cameras. But LF camera gradually gave their place to smaller format cameras in the Press, eventually the focal plane shutter became the de-facto standard in 35-mm reflex systems.
However, until the end of the XX-st century, there were several medium format cameras with focal plane shutters, for example the Pentax 6x7, the Rolleiflex SL-66, the Hasselblad 2000-200 series, the Pentacon 6, the Kiev 88 etc ..

am thinking that buying an old camera with a FP shutter might be the way to go

Well probably a Speed Graphic or a salvaged speed graphic shutter is what you need.
See this article by J.B. Maison (the text is in French but I hope that the images are self-explanatry) (http://www.galerie-photo.com/metissage-arca-swiss-speed-graphic.html) how to combine the back of a Speed Graphic camera with a modern monorail view camera to allow the use of barrel lenses or shutter-less lenses.
And of course you should have a look at Dan Fromm's article (in English) about using barrel lenses on graflex and other similar press cameras. (http://www.galerie-photo.com/1-lens-6x9-dan-fromm.html)

12-Jul-2011, 10:03

Years ago I collected "auxillary Focal Plane Shutters" Kodak, Graflex, Folmer and others made them. They would fit on the back of, say, a Eastman 2D. (I know you know this. Others may not) When they were new the curtain was soft and would roll freely and had speeds higher than a leaf shutter. My 8x10 model would fire at nearly a 1/000 sec. Its low speed was a 1/10sec. The curtain was exactly like a roller shutter in a Graflex / Graphic camera. As they get older they slow and the fabric rots. This leaves debris on the film. If you have one from the late 30s you might have one made from a UNIROYAL coated fabric. These stay suptle. Nothing will soften up the dryed out ones though. Oh......I almost forgot. They vibrate as they roll. If you want razor sharp images use a leaf shutter. I gave up on the experimenting years ago. It was fun. I learned alot and have some neat photos. But the need for sharpness overpowered all.

12-Jul-2011, 11:25
Hmm. I hadn't thought of the vibrations. What I've been looking at are the Thornton-Pickard focal plane shutters, and something like an Imperial Triple Extension. I love the look of those old birds! However, I might scratch the idea of roller blind and FP shutters and just have adapters made for a couple of lenses. I've found I like using historical gear, but not sure I could tolerate vibration blur any better than you did. That might have me back looking at cameras from the 1880s rather 1900.

Kent in SD

12-Jul-2011, 14:20
Packard Shutters are balanced nicely. I have one mounted on a 6x6 to 4x4 adapter board. My barrel lenses are mounted on 4x4 boards. I machine new flanges that do not allow and of the lens to stick past the back surface of the board.