DIY Focal Plane Shutters?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by real_psyence, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. real_psyence

    real_psyence Member

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    So I've got this idea, dangerous I know, for a camera.
    Hand-held, MFish, ground glass and/or uncoupled rangefinder / zone/hyper focused. Full front movements.

    Trouble is, I'd really like it to be able to use barrel lenses. Image circle will be dealt with, but basically I'm trying to figure out the best way to get a 6x9 or larger focal plane shutter as close to the film plane as possible (in case I use a really deep wide-angle or something). I'm wondering if it makes any sense to try and design one - loosely based on a speed graphic or similar curtain shutter.

    Or if I should just grab a speed graphic and re-purpose it. I'd hate to do that for a number of reasons, but it does seem like the quickest way to get a known quantity. Otherwise, suggestions for large FPS are welcome, as are info on simple mechanisms (Thornton-Pickard, Graflex, Leica?, Nikon?). Don't need higher than say 1/250 to start. Let's also suppose I had access to a precision machine shop...

    Thanks for entertaining me...
    -Dave
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Speed graphic.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's Thornton Pickard focal plane shutters that will go to 1/000th but they are hard to find these days and expensive if in working order, they were the first Roller blind shutters. I have quite a number of smaller TP shutters (I reduild & restore them) that fit on the front of a lens or to a lensboard but the top speed is normally 1/90th, there were much faster versions but essentially instead of a full slit they used a narrow slit.

    Personally I'd just use a Speed Graphic as fotch suggests. However there were a number of add-on Focal Plane shutter backs made to adapt cameras you might just strike lucky and find one.

    Ian
     
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Hmm. Barrel lenses? Which barrel lenses? In particular, what focal lengths and maximum apertures?

    I ask because I've had some success with barrel lenses mounted in front of a leaf shutter on my little Century Graphic. The shortest is a 60/14 Perigraphe stuffed into the front of a mutilated Ilex Universal #3 (top speed, and it is accurate, 1/100). Longer lenses in front of a Copal #1. I mention this not to recommend a Century Graphic but to point out that front-mounting is possible with lenses that aren't retrofocus.

    Shooting hand-held with guess focus and guess framing limits you to fairly short lenses, no movements. Think again about how you want to use your proposed camera.

    If you must have a focal plane shutter, you want an unmutilated Pacemaker 2x3 Speed Graphic. The frame finder and tubular view finder (with appropriate mask) work better than guess framing. The shortest lens I have in shutter that will make infinity on it is a 58/5.6 Grandagon (not retrofocus). It is in shutter. The shortest barrel lens lens I have that will make infinity on it is a 1.75"/2.8 Elcan (retrofocus) just covers 6x6; you're probably not going to find one of them at a reasonable price. If you must have one, 180633060975 has been on offer for months.

    make me think you intend to use a retrofocus lens from a 6x6 SLR. Bad idea on 2x3 because of limited coverage.

    If you must have movements, make an imitation 2x3 Galvin, focus on the GG, shoot from tripod, and use front-mounted lenses when you can't get a lens in shutter that will do. Or just get a Galvin, they turn up ...
     
  5. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    definatly!
     
  6. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    In theory a focal plane shutter is (or at least can be) quite simple. In practice it is probably the spring - and the means to tension and adjust it - that is the tricky bit.

    The speed graphic shutter uses a really long curtain with several different sized slots in it. More sophisticated shutters use two separate curtains so you can vary the slot size - but then you are getting complicated and in need of machine shop facilities.

    I always fancied a go at a really simple focal plane shutter for large format. I was thinking just two slots - one full frame (to allow focussing and slow exposures) and a narrower one for 'instantaneous' images - say around 1/125 s. I thought maybe of using an electric motor and plastic gearbox to spin the thing, too. These days it seems easier than playing with coiled springs, tensioning ratchets and gear mechanisms and removes the problem of the curtain slowing down as it traverses the slot (and loses spring tension).

    Like most of my bright ideas... it is like number 149 on the list, or something. Not sure if I'll ever get there....

    A speed graphic would make life a lot easier - but of course you may not be looking for easier ;-)
     
  7. real_psyence

    real_psyence Member

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    Thanks for your reply. Consensus does seem to point to a speed graphic, at least for a quick route to a large FPS.

    Which barrel lenses? Thing is, I don't know for sure. To give some background to my thought process, this all came about when I started shooting film, on 35mm, with a Canon FD. A friend had given it to me, and I asked why he didn't use it, wasn't only because he'd gone to the dark side, but mostly because Canon switched mounts. I later got a Nikon, different mount. Leica, etc. Some had reasons (better mount - bayonet vs. screw vs. ? - electrical contacts for AF, etc.) but I just wanted to use whatever lens on whatever camera I had and have it all work out. Manual everything. So I started researching extension tubes/adapters etc. Somewhere along the line I found movements and between the bellows adjustment and being able to control perspective, I was about it. Larger film formats were a bonus, and not the original goal. Panoramas on 35mm would be nice, and a 120 roll back covers all this nicely.

    Wide angles I was thinking of are like the Contax 35/2.8 biogon - AFAIK not a retrofocal lens, but almost touches the shutter - very deep. I think some of the angulons are similar? Very large rear element?

    I tend to take photographs of buildings and facades in the city I'm in - and it's usually somewhat spontaneous - not likely to pull out a tripod. I would however, like to be able to do some perspective control, swing to try and get a row of trees in focus, shift up to correct a tall building, that sort of thing. I think I can get close to what I want hand-held, but who knows. I may be way off base but that's where I'm at.

    Regarding the speed graphics, you recommend the Pacemaker - is that because of the extra movements or the finders? Also, the limitation on infinity focus is due to where the bellows attach in the body? i.e. if I were to take the shutter and repurpose it, I may be able to modify that? Or with a recessed lensboard?

    Again, thanks for all your input.
     
  8. real_psyence

    real_psyence Member

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    Steve - I'm with you on the electric motor, been doing some research and this may be where I end up. In fact, I think some of the first electrically controlled 35mm focal-plane shutters used small coreless motors (before the switch to vertical blades). Speed graphic is the closer route, simpler and proven.
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Thanks for the reply and explanation. There's no way to put this politely. You don't know enough to make a good decision. Part of the problem is that you're still thinking like a user of 35 mm cameras used to proprietary lens mounts and focusing and movements, if any, built into the lenses.

    Your enthusiasm is wonderful. Buy a book or two on LF photography and study them. Standard recommendations are Steve Simmons' Using the View Camera and L. Strobel's View Camera Technique. Make no commitments until you're better educated.
    Your head is deep in 35 mm-land. Angulons (very old technology) and Super Angulons and such, more generally w/a lenses for 2x3 and larger formats, aren't delivered in barrel. They were all, and those still in production still are, delivered in shutter.

    There are so many used LF lenses in shutter around that there's little reason to dick around with making a shutter unless you're trying to use a relatively extreme (long, usually) lens. Mounting a lens in barrel in front of a shutter can be very cost effective if the lens can be obtained at a low enough price, but buying an equivalent lens already in shutter is usually more economical. I've finessed the problem by front-mounting many lenses and using a single adapter for more than one lens.

    Rear elements' sizes can be limiting, but not that often. I have two w/a lenses, 35/4.5 Apo Grandagon and 58/5.6 Grandagon, whose rear groups are so big that they can't easily be mounted on a 2x3 Graphic. Some would say they can't be mounted at all. This isn't so, read my lens diary (http://www.galerie-photo.com/telechargement/dan-fromm-6x9-lenses-v2-2011-03-29.pdf ) to learn the trick. I have a 210/5.6 that absolutely positively can't be mounted on a 2x3 Graphic.

    You're way off base. Guess framing works very poorly. Been there, failed to make it work. Using movements requires shooting from a tripod.

    Pacemaker Speed Graphics' shutters are made with more durable fabric than most older Speed Graphics'. People who hack them go as far as cutting off most of the box. You don't want one for architecture, although 2x3 Pacemaker speeds have around 19 mm of rise so converging verticals (or too much foreground) can sometimes be corrected with one.

    What you need to accomplish most of what you want -- sorry, no hand-held shooting, no rapid spontaneity, calm deliberation all the way -- is an inexpensive used 4" x 5 " monorail. If you don't want to deal with 4x5 film, then get one that will accept a 2x3 roll holder. I have a 2x3 monorail, use my Graphics much more than I use it. Quicker setup, can use shorter lenses, and my shooting style doesn't often require more front rise than my Graphics can deliver.

    There are many many relatively inexpensive used lenses for LF cameras floating around. But relatively inexpensive has a different meaning in LF land than in 35 mm land. And, the very occasional and unrepeatable stroke of luck aside, there are no inexpensive w/a lenses for LF cameras.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Dan
     
  10. CuL8R

    CuL8R Member

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    Here is a shutter that is powered by gravity!

    Here is a shutter that is powered by gravity! It also has different shutter speeds by changing out the sliding bit. Too cool!

    [video=youtube;8odb2oeBrJA]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8odb2oeBrJA&feature=channel[/video]