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Shutter-setting on FSUs - before or after cocking?
Old 07-10-2013   #1
wolves3012
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Shutter-setting on FSUs - before or after cocking?

This is a really common question when people buy their first FSU camera, which often arrives without a manual. Here's the answer:

It depends which model you have!

If you have a Kiev, it's perfectly safe to alter the speed selector with the shutter cocked OR uncocked. However, if you change between certain speeds (mostly amongst the slow ones) and the shutter isn't cocked then you might not set the internal mechanics properly. This means you will not get the speed you expected on the next frame, so your exposure is likely to be wrong.

If you have a FED or Zorki, take a look at the speed selector dial. There are 2 styles: one has a one-piece dial marked with the speeds and an index mark on the camera body. The other has a 2-piece dial with a centre shaft that carries the index mark and an outer rim with the speeds marked. The dial AND index mark revolve together on the 2-piece dial.

If you have a 2-piece dial it is safe to adjust the speed at any time - provided the camera has no slow speeds (some FED 3a models have 2-piece dials AND slow speeds). If you have a 1-piece dial it is pointless and unsafe. Pointless because you'll have to guess what speed you've set since the index mark won't tell you. Unsafe because you can break the mechanics. If the camera has slow speeds it's much more likely to break than if it doesn't have them.

As a summary, here's a list:

SAFE
All Kievs (but note set-speed can be wrong). FED 2 (2-piece dials only), Zorki C, 2, 2C, 5 and 6.

UNSAFE:
FED 1, 3, 4a, 4b, 5, Zorki 1, 3, 3M, 3C, Mir, 4 and 4K.

If you own various types of FSU (as many people do), it's a simpler habit NEVER to set before cocking. That way, you will not make a mistake sometime when you forgot to think which one you were using!

If, in a fit of absentmindedness, you change the speed on the "wrong" type and you realise BEFORE you've wound on, here's what to do: first, rather obviously - DO NOT just wind on and pray. Select the highest speed you can get to, don't worry about which one it is, just lift and turn the dial until it stops and drop it into that speed. Now, wind on VERY slowly and carefully. If you feel a sudden resistance, STOP. Lift the dial and select the highest speed you can again, as above. Keep repeating this until you are sure the shutter is wound fully. You should find it's set to 1/30th and you can now safely set the speed you intended.
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Last edited by wolves3012 : 07-10-2013 at 03:54. Reason: added more info
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Old 07-10-2013   #2
Dez
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Thanks for the very helpful summary, Wolves. One minor point- there were FED 2's with both kinds of shutter, so it's safer to go by the two-piece dial rather than the model, or just get into the habit of always winding on after taking a picture.

Cheers,
Dez
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Old 07-10-2013   #3
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Umm, cheers Dez - I knew I'd forget to put that in about both types for the FED 2! I've added that and asked for the thread to be stickied.
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Old 02-28-2015   #4
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I have been very careful with my 'Gift' FED 4 to set speed AFTER winding, but I cannot seem to get the dial to drop into a slow speed -- I can hear some 'gears' working and there is a strong 'spring effect' but I cannot set any speed slower than 1/30 -- can you advise ?
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Old 03-01-2015   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmarman View Post
I have been very careful with my 'Gift' FED 4 to set speed AFTER winding, but I cannot seem to get the dial to drop into a slow speed -- I can hear some 'gears' working and there is a strong 'spring effect' but I cannot set any speed slower than 1/30 -- can you advise ?
Possibly someone's been and got the internals all out of whack before you took posession. Are you approaching the slow speeds from the "right" direction? 1/30 is all out on its own at one end of the speeds and not where it "belongs". You have to turn the dial the right way - towards 1/30 but from the high-speeds direction - to get at the slow speeds. Apologies if that's patronising you and you knew that all along but it's a ready source of confusion to the unfamiliar.
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Old 03-02-2015   #6
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Thanks for reply I never mind people telling me things -- although I have been in Photography since 1951 I am always finding out something new !! Well I found I cannot wind the speed selector PAST 1/30th to the slower speeds from 'clockwise' -- it stops -- BUT I can change to slower settings from the other way that is going 'anti-clockwise' and I got all the slower speeds but the dial did not 'sit down' in position -- it remained raised.
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Old 03-02-2015   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmarman View Post
Thanks for reply I never mind people telling me things -- although I have been in Photography since 1951 I am always finding out something new !! Well I found I cannot wind the speed selector PAST 1/30th to the slower speeds from 'clockwise' -- it stops -- BUT I can change to slower settings from the other way that is going 'anti-clockwise' and I got all the slower speeds but the dial did not 'sit down' in position -- it remained raised.
There's a difference in the way the mechanics work for "slow" and "fast" speeds. "Slow" ones engage the clockwork delay mechanism, "fast" do not. Because of how the delay mechanism is engaged, on "slow" speeds the selector dial sits a bit higher after dropping into its setting and that's perfectly normal. Side-effects of how the "slow" speeds are implemented are that the expected sequence isn't followed (B and 1/30th in odd places) and 1/60th is (technically) a "slow" speed whilst 1/30th and B are "fast" ones. Basically, as long as you can set the speeds and they work, just ignore the oddities!
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Old 03-03-2015   #8
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Very helpful many thanks !
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Old 10-09-2016   #9
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@wolves3012,

I saw the last paragraph of your first post a few weeks ago, and vaguely remembering some of it helped me out a lot when I recieved a zorki 4k I'd just bought on ebay and the the speed dial wouldn't lift up so I couldn't change speeds.

Luckily, I remembered some of the bit about 'winding slowly'.

What I did was slowly move the wind lever forward a tiny bit then took the pressure off it and let the wind lever spring back a tiny bit. I kept repeating this until the lever reached the end of it's travel and I then pressed the shutter button.

I did this whole process a couple of times and then tried to lift the speed dial. It was very stiff, but I managed to get it to 1/1000, and I repeated the 'slow wind' process as I'd remembered it. I did this for all speeds and by the end it was as free as it should be.

So Thanks for the help, even though your info wasn't for the actual problem I had.
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Old 10-09-2016   #10
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
This is a really common question when people buy their first FSU camera, which often arrives without a manual. Here's the answer:

It depends which model you have!

If you have a Kiev, it's perfectly safe to alter the speed selector with the shutter cocked OR uncocked. However, if you change between certain speeds (mostly amongst the slow ones) and the shutter isn't cocked then you might not set the internal mechanics properly. This means you will not get the speed you expected on the next frame, so your exposure is likely to be wrong.

If you have a FED or Zorki, take a look at the speed selector dial. There are 2 styles: one has a one-piece dial marked with the speeds and an index mark on the camera body. The other has a 2-piece dial with a centre shaft that carries the index mark and an outer rim with the speeds marked. The dial AND index mark revolve together on the 2-piece dial.

If you have a 2-piece dial it is safe to adjust the speed at any time - provided the camera has no slow speeds (some FED 3a models have 2-piece dials AND slow speeds). If you have a 1-piece dial it is pointless and unsafe. Pointless because you'll have to guess what speed you've set since the index mark won't tell you. Unsafe because you can break the mechanics. If the camera has slow speeds it's much more likely to break than if it doesn't have them.

As a summary, here's a list:

SAFE
All Kievs (but note set-speed can be wrong). FED 2 (2-piece dials only), Zorki C, 2, 2C, 5 and 6.

UNSAFE:
FED 1, 3, 4a, 4b, 5, Zorki 1, 3, 3M, 3C, Mir, 4 and 4K.

If you own various types of FSU (as many people do), it's a simpler habit NEVER to set before cocking. That way, you will not make a mistake sometime when you forgot to think which one you were using!

If, in a fit of absentmindedness, you change the speed on the "wrong" type and you realise BEFORE you've wound on, here's what to do: first, rather obviously - DO NOT just wind on and pray. Select the highest speed you can get to, don't worry about which one it is, just lift and turn the dial until it stops and drop it into that speed. Now, wind on VERY slowly and carefully. If you feel a sudden resistance, STOP. Lift the dial and select the highest speed you can again, as above. Keep repeating this until you are sure the shutter is wound fully. You should find it's set to 1/30th and you can now safely set the speed you intended.
I don't necessarily agree with the above (highlighted) completely. Here's a post I made elsewhere not so long ago. I was referring to the Contax II & III rangefinders but as we all know they're the progenitors of the earlier Kiev rangefinders.
The Contax II/III can tolerate having its speeds set before or after winding on. But it's a really bad idea to change speeds if the mechanism is neither one or the other (Ie. only partially wound). The problem with altering the speed before winding on is that, if you are, Eg. increasing the exposure duration, you must lift up and rotate the speed setting dial clockwise, which is, of course, the same direction the camera is wound in. It's then very easy indeed, to find yourself winding the camera on instead of changing the speeds (or indeed, doing a bit of both), because the spring for the setting dial is quite powerful, and if you don't keep a firm grip on the dial as you twist it and it drops down only slightly, the peg underneath will mesh with the wind gearing and you'll start to wind the camera. You have to be a bit unlucky, but it's possible to get the shutter ribbons in a real tangle if you have a half-wound Contax and you turn the setting dial the wrong way.
In this context, winding on the camera fully to the next film frame, and then, and only then, changing the speed, is a safer option. Once you have the mechanism safely cocked and the curtains latched, you can turn the setting dial back and forwards in either direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) without any fear of damage.

The reason I wrote the above is because in the process of testing the first Contax I worked on, I managed to get the ribbons tangled up off their drums at one point. I'd been firing it off at a number of speeds checking them for accuracy and adjusting the shutter speed before or after cocking the shutter. At one point I went to select a longer shutter speed (Ie. rotating the knob clockwise) and managed to partly wind on the camera. Because the peg had caught on the notched wheel underneath the wind knob which both advances the camera and determines which speed is selected (according to which notch the peg is inserted into) instead of just altering the speed selection it was wound a bit.

I can't recall precisely how I did it: whether I was obtuse enough to try to put the speed back to what it was previously on, or if I'd moved the speed knob back and forth. Whatever, the ribbons jumped off the drums and the wind side one also managed to get tangled up in the mechanism which did it no good. All ended well enough, I simply removed the damaged wind side ribbon and cut and stitched a new one in its place. But lesson learned.

I'm certainly not suggesting that the problem I had is a common one or that it's likely to happen if you should alter the shutter speed when your Kiev/Contax is partly wound. All I am saying is that this is what I did and this is what happened to me. It would only be an issue in the first place, if you were changing the speed from a shorter one to a longer one. If it was the reverse, you'd be turning the speed dial anti-clockwise, making it impossible to ever wind the camera on, obviously. Still, as unlucky (or foolish) as you might need to be to repeat my experience, it's one that is only ever going to happen if you try to adjust the shutter speed before you've wound on. If it's already cocked, the ribbon springs will have plenty of tension on them, and will never be able to jump off the drums, even if you sit there turning the dial back and forth a dozen times or more. All things considered, whilst you can certainly change the speeds whether you've cocked the shutter or not, personally, I think winding on first is a safer option, simply because it sidesteps any possible risk. FYI, anyway.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 10-09-2016   #11
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Making a good habit of cocking the shutter before setting the speed will always save you a lot. There are a few exceptions of course that this cannot be done, but they will be just a few.
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