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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Leaf v focal plane shutter

    Does anyone know why Oskar Barnack designed the Leica with a focal plane shutter in preference to a leaf shutter? I am aware of the leaf shutter summicron, but am not sure how this works, as surely it must operate with the focal permanently open to effectively cut down noise and vibration. However, to me, the concept of a leaf shutter seems a more ideal and purist form of exposure (dim to bright of the entire scene as the shutter opens to the working aperture and then closes). Although a focal plane may give faster speeds, the complete scene is not exposed at exactly the same moment in time. I am probably talking rubbish to even question the brilliance of Oskar’s thinking?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Just a guess, but since he designed it using cine film, were not the parts cobbled together from cine cameras? I know a rotary shutter isn't exactly a curtain, but they're close than a leaf.
    Also, I've read something about him wanting to double-duty lenses on enlargers, ergo the L39 mount, although that came a bit later after the fixed-lens versions.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  3. #3

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    One big advantage is that you don't need a shutter in each lens. Also, putting a leaf shutter on or in the body with interchangeable lenses costs a lot of space, which either needs a bigger body or relatively long flange distances.

    Hard to know exactly what he was thinking, but those are a couple of things that he may have been considering.

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdial View Post
    One big advantage is that you don't need a shutter in each lens.
    I understand the cost benefits of this, but surely his prime objective was engineering optimum form, function, perfection and not cost.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5

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    I have always thought that the Topcon Uni was an interesting concept with a leaf shutter just on the front of the body which the lenses bayonet into. No noticeable extra space required.
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  6. #6
    Hatchetman's Avatar
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    I don't think he designed it to be the status symbol that it became. He was being practical about cost, form, function, marketability, etc.

  7. #7
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    I have always thought that the Topcon Uni was an interesting concept with a leaf shutter just on the front of the body which the lenses bayonet into. No noticeable extra space required.
    The Yanks made one like that also...
    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    The original UrLeicas only had fixed lenses, so I don't know how pertinent would be anything regarding size of lenses and interchangeability. He may have made fixed lenses to begin with, fully aiming to make interchangeable ones later, or he may have just fudged as he went as we engineers so often do.

    I know one of his main goals was size and weight, I'm not sure of the difference between a curtain and leaf for non-interchangeable lenses though, it's hard to compare directly.
    At the least, curtains (especially vertical-slit/horizontal-travel) do make it easier to cock the shutter when winding on, as my Pentacon 6 attests.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  9. #9

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    just a guess, too -- he was an amateur photographer with asthma who couldn't haul his heavy gear around. He decided to make a small camera for personal use that used leftover movie film. Rather than farm around for parts, used what he had at hand in the microscope factory in Wetzlar -- lenses, machines to make parts.

    A focal plane shutter is a lot simpler to make yourself than a leaf shutter, and remember his first efforts weren't self-capping, were pretty crude by modern standards.

  10. #10
    mr rusty's Avatar
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    http://www.cameraquest.com/ret3s.htm

    One of the nicest cameras I own.

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