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How does one make sure of proper shutter speed?
Old 02-13-2017   #1
MIkhail
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How does one make sure of proper shutter speed?

I figure this is a proper forum for this question.

When people sell used cameras it's almost a common phrase "shutter speeds are accurate", or "shutter works as it should" or "all speeds sound correct".
But how does one actually know?
I mean, I for one cannot tell the difference between 1/250 and 1/60 by listening (and I have been shooting since 2003). Nor do I consider that a necessary knowledge anyway.
But there has to be a better way.

Being an engineer by profession, I can think of several:
1) High speed camera recording the motions of shutter from the back of a camera in question
2) Microphone recording the sound and then user measures the difference between amplitude peaks.

Both methods are flawed in my mind.
First one - what about Leica IIIf and likes? How do you get behind the lens of this one?
Second - Tried, microphone with my computer using "audacity" app, not clear enough to know the exact numbers.

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-13-2017   #2
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Old 02-13-2017   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aperture64 View Post
There is no way to tell with the ear or eye. There is a machine for it, which I have seen in use in person and it was fascinating.

Even though the speeds were not precise on my M6, according to the machine, the technician said it would not be noticeable when using print film.
For print film (especially B/W) sure.
But for slide film, I figure that's a different story. Or with something as finicky as Ektar.
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Old 02-13-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
But how does one actually know?
I'd say by using a light meter, taking a photo at those settings.
And seeing if it comes out properly exposed.
Not to mention testing higher speeds for capping which would show on the image.
And slow speeds that hang open too long over exposing an image.

For me the only real way to know a shutter speed is accurate, is to actually test it to make an image.
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Old 02-13-2017   #6
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Here is a link to one approach...

http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/shutterspeedtester.html
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Old 02-13-2017   #7
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I can definitely hear a difference between 1/250th and 1/60th. Can't calibrate a shutter by ear, but you can definitely hear the difference between speeds that far apart.

There are a number of shutter testers out there. The one I use most is a light sensor that plugs into an old iPhone 4S that has a shutter speed app. Bought it years ago and can't quite remember from whom.

I've also used a Nikon 1 V2 with a Micro lens, set to 30 fps to test shutters, although it was more for determining shutter bounce than actual shutter speed.

Bounce

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Old 02-13-2017   #8
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I use a machine at work that tells me.
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Old 02-13-2017   #9
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For years I've had a small ZTS shutter speed tester (no longer in production, alas) and it's very revealing. There are two important lessons. First, shutters very rarely run fast. Second, if you shoot neg, extra exposure is generally to the good anyway. I have a Pentax which gives gorgeous tonality. Mostly this is because (as I discovered when I tested it), most speeds are about a stop slow...

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Old 02-13-2017   #10
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Then I'm taking pictures I'm not listening to the shutter. Then I'm repairing cameras, I'm not only listening, but some of them are also visible. And I could hear the difference between 1/60 and 1/250 at the cameras I have repaired.
Have you ever seen Leica trained technicians listening to the speeds of Leica? I have seen it done by them.
Any way, if you have problems with "shutter speeds are accurate", or "shutter works as it should" or "all speeds sound correct" here is your thing :
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Shutter-Spee...4AAOSw-0xYYhRa
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Old 02-13-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
When people sell used cameras it's almost a common phrase "shutter speeds are accurate", or "shutter works as it should" or "all speeds sound correct".
But how does one actually know?
I think you can generally know from using the camera (or at least approximate). Also, the slower shutter speeds are generally the ones that are most off and you can definitely tell when a 1 second shutter speed is off. You can also test it by looking at a camera with an electronic shutter that is known to be accurate and comparing.
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Old 02-13-2017   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
. . . Also, the slower shutter speeds are generally the ones that are most off . . .
Not in my experience (including actually measuring them). The fast ones are usually at least 1/3 stop slow, often 1/2 stop slow, and sometimes 2/3 stop slow or more. Yes, slow speed trains gum up, but unless they actually hang up for long enough that you can't hear the mechanism whirring, they are usually more accurate than 1/250 and up.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-13-2017   #13
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Not having the fancy electronic testing equipment I do a exposure test.
1. Short load Ilford Pan F from bulk.
2. Pick cloudy day
3. Camera on tripod, pick scene with moderate contrast.
4. Sequence:
1/1000 @ f2
1/500 @ f2.8
1/250 @ f4
1/125 @ f5.6
1/60 @ f8
1/30 @ f11
1/15 @ f16

Develop normally. You are not looking for perfect exposure, just consistency across all frames. There will be some variation, but not a lot if shutter is close to accurate.

By the way, I agree with Roger Hicks, even with a new camera. I think it would be interesting to place 10 new Leica MA cameras on a shutter testing device to see how far they are off right out of the box and after about 100 cycles for each speed and for good measure with the camera oriented both horizontal and then vertical.

This test really does not test for marked speeds. If, for instance all speeds were about 20% slow then the exposures would still be about even across the strip of negs.
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Old 02-13-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Not in my experience (including actually measuring them). The fast ones are usually at least 1/3 stop slow, often 1/2 stop slow, and sometimes 2/3 stop slow or more. Yes, slow speed trains gum up, but unless they actually hang up for long enough that you can't hear the mechanism whirring, they are usually more accurate than 1/250 and up.

Cheers,

R.
I guess I meant when the slow shutter speeds are off, they tend to be way off and very noticeable. Of course it is all relative to a stop, so perhaps I was loose (and still am being loose) with my language.
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Old 02-13-2017   #15
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OK, one clarification. I CAN hear the difference between 1/250 and 1/60 by listening, they certainly sound differently. What I meant to say - how does one know that 1/250 is indeed 1/250
What if what you are hearing is the difference between 1/125 and 1/30 instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zuiko85 View Post

This test really does not test for marked speeds. If, for instance all speeds were about 20% slow then the exposures would still be about even across the strip of negs.
Exactly.



Now, the approach of shooting the film at set shutter speed and seeing what result you get seems to me too non-scientific, if you will. There are plenty of other factors to sway the results during development, etc...

One obvious take away from this is -unless you are purchasing a new camera, any statements like "shutter accurate at all speeds" is mere wishful thinking. And should be factored into the price, I think.

Cam-Lite mini V2 Shutter Speed Tester seems like an interesting option to try.
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Old 02-13-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
For years I've had a small ZTS shutter speed tester (no longer in production, alas) and it's very revealing. There are two important lessons. First, shutters very rarely run fast. Second, if you shoot neg, extra exposure is generally to the good anyway. I have a Pentax which gives gorgeous tonality. Mostly this is because (as I discovered when I tested it), most speeds are about a stop slow...

Cheers,

R.
Agree.
I am OK with them being slow (have one camera like that, so I permanently set the exposure compensation accordingly) but one needs to know that, rather than keep guessing.
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Old 02-13-2017   #17
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IIRC, one can use a good old record player for that test.

You put the camera on the turntable, but how it works exactly slipped my mind.
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Old 02-13-2017   #18
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there is a way to test using a dslr, basically with the film camera back open no lens camera with shutter locked open using a dslr (or similar) take picture through the open shutter of camera say at 1/60 5.6 (dslr lens). Then set film camera to 1/60 but this time (with cover over both cameras to stop light leaks) set dslr on B and take picture using the shutter in the film camera. Both exposures should be the same and you can continue doing the same thing for all shutter speeds.
It sound more complicated than it is but works great!
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Old 02-13-2017   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
there is a way to test using a dslr, basically with the film camera back open no lens camera with shutter locked open using a dslr (or similar) take picture through the open shutter of camera say at 1/60 5.6 (dslr lens). Then set film camera to 1/60 but this time (with cover over both cameras to stop light leaks) set dslr on B and take picture using the shutter in the film camera. Both exposures should be the same and you can continue doing the same thing for all shutter speeds.
It sound more complicated than it is but works great!
This is similar to the method I mentioned originally with high speed camera.
However, what about Leica IIIf and likes? How do you get behind the lens of this one?
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Old 02-13-2017   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
For years I've had a small ZTS shutter speed tester (no longer in production, alas) and it's very revealing. There are two important lessons. First, shutters very rarely run fast. Second, if you shoot neg, extra exposure is generally to the good anyway. I have a Pentax which gives gorgeous tonality. Mostly this is because (as I discovered when I tested it), most speeds are about a stop slow...

Cheers,

R.
Wow, that's quite a lot, that would mean 1/1000 would be 1/500, 1/500 would be 1/250 etc.
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Old 02-13-2017   #21
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You can try this

http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-135.html

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Old 02-13-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
This is similar to the method I mentioned originally with high speed camera.
However, what about Leica IIIf and likes? How do you get behind the lens of this one?
well all my cameras are either remove or hinge back, tried the little gadget for iphone to test but much harder to use than dslr method.
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Old 02-13-2017   #23
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Proper shutter time measurement is surprisingly difficult, as shutters are not really on-off, but have a life of their own. The DIY single cell/single beam testers now common will not tell you about FP shutter fading, nor will they give correct time-equivalent results for leaf shutters.

I have a 1970's Kyoritsu tester (a device the size and weight of a drill press), which already used a matrix of five photo transistors to have reasonable accuracy on 35mm focal plane shutters - the same arrangement is of very limited value when it comes to testing the short times on a leaf shutter, and current testers are even less complex.

My advice would be to test EXPOSURE, on film, first of all! If there is a visible irregularity in a time-vs-aperture series, you can test the affected times with one of the now available devices. Do not forget to cross-check against the film - if the measurement gives one stop error while the film is a third stop off, trust the film, and adjust your test methodology.
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Old 02-13-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
This is similar to the method I mentioned originally with high speed camera.
However, what about Leica IIIf and likes? How do you get behind the lens of this one?
Easy! Drill a 1/4 inch hole through the back of the camera and pressure plate for the tester to look through then just cover the hole with black tape when your through.

Just kidding and couldn't resist a silly reply.
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Old 02-13-2017   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
You can try this

http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-135.html

Regards

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Excellent!

But, if I don't have a TV, or a cathode ray tube («CRT») computer monitor, does it work with a newer monitor too?
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Old 02-13-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Excellent!

But, if I don't have a TV, or a cathode ray tube («CRT») computer monitor, does it work with a newer monitor too?
I don’t believe so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zuiko85 View Post
Easy! Drill a 1/4 inch hole through the back of the camera and pressure plate for the tester to look through then just cover the hole with black tape when your through.

Just kidding and couldn't resist a silly reply.
That’s a good idea. This way you can come back and re-test again later.
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Old 02-13-2017   #27
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I think there is an app for that. They do it by sound, I believe.
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Old 02-13-2017   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
I guess I meant when the slow shutter speeds are off, they tend to be way off and very noticeable. Of course it is all relative to a stop, so perhaps I was loose (and still am being loose) with my language.
A friend who worked for Nikon repair in N.Y. taught me how to test one second and with experience it gets really reliable. For me in one second I can count aloud one-seven. For a reference I can use the highly accurate electronic shutter of one of my Nikon F3's to get the cadence.

On my M6 I had my camera looked at by Nippon. At that time the fast shutter speeds were deemed off, which seem to be the first to go. By the time the slow speeds are off you can kinda know the fast speeds are likely way-way off. Anyways this is on a well used camera.

Also on M-body Leicas when testing one second there is a whirling run on that kinda reveals the overall condition of the shutter.

Anyways electronic shutters are timed by quartz crystals and stay accurate. Anyways consider a M7 for shutter accuracy.

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Old 02-13-2017   #29
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Since I shoot b/w negative only, I never really had to worry too much about shutter speed accuracy beyond "sounds about right." For me, bigger issue over the years has been the curtain opening consistency specifically on Leica cameras with cloth shutter curtains. Inconsistent "shutter speed" during an exposure resulting in unevenly exposed photos was a headache to deal with in the past, as well as some cameras exhibiting bounce-back issue. Would be nice to know how one can check that without sending it for service or film testing.
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Old 02-13-2017   #30
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Yes Benlees, there's an app for that.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shut...560154244?mt=8

and

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...er_speed&hl=en

Requires a hardware plug.


Here is the developer's website: www.photoplug.de
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Old 02-13-2017   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
Yes Benlees, there's an app for that.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shut...560154244?mt=8

and

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...er_speed&hl=en

Requires a hardware plug.


Here is the developer's website: www.photoplug.de

Thats the one I bought its quite tricky and works better with leaf shutters.
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Old 02-13-2017   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
Yes Benlees, there's an app for that.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shut...560154244?mt=8

Requires a hardware plug.

Here is the developer's website: www.photoplug.de
That's the one I use
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Old 02-13-2017   #33
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Quote:
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Excellent!

But, if I don't have a TV, or a cathode ray tube («CRT») computer monitor, does it work with a newer monitor too?
Its to do with the refresh rates I think, I've used that method in the past and its good for checking consistency, but I still think the dslr method is by far the most accurate short of buying a proper shutter tester.
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Old 02-13-2017   #34
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If you don't have access to a proper shutter speed tester, you can use the computer CRT monitor test. That's if you can find a CRT monitor! It won't work with an LCD screen and it's not much use for speeds under 1/125 either. I've used it and found it informative, since it can show you capping and uneven exposure. It won't give you an accurate figure for speeds though.

Despite what's said above, I can certainly hear the difference between 1/250 and 1/60, to me it's blatantly obvious. I can also hear the difference between 1/40 and 1/60. What I can't do and I seriously doubt anyone can do is to hear the difference between (say) 1/260 and 1/250. Nor can I pin an accurate number on a shutter speed just from sound, especially over 1/250. Actually, I think folk obsess excessively about accurate speed too.

When sellers say "all shutter speeds correct" and so forth, I suspect they mean all speeds appear to sound approximately correct or give appropriate exposures with film. Frankly, it's what I would assume unless they state, explicitly, it's been tested on a pro shutter tester.
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Old 02-13-2017   #35
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Quote:
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If you don't have access to a proper shutter speed tester, you can use the computer CRT monitor test. That's if you can find a CRT monitor! It won't work with an LCD screen and it's not much use for speeds under 1/125 either. I've used it and found it informative, since it can show you capping and uneven exposure. It won't give you an accurate figure for speeds though.

Despite what's said above, I can certainly hear the difference between 1/250 and 1/60, to me it's blatantly obvious. I can also hear the difference between 1/40 and 1/60. What I can't do and I seriously doubt anyone can do is to hear the difference between (say) 1/260 and 1/250. Nor can I pin an accurate number on a shutter speed just from sound, especially over 1/250. Actually, I think folk obsess excessively about accurate speed too.

When sellers say "all shutter speeds correct" and so forth, I suspect they mean all speeds appear to sound approximately correct or give appropriate exposures with film. Frankly, it's what I would assume unless they state, explicitly, it's been tested on a pro shutter tester.
As I clarified further above, I can hear that they sound differently, I just don't know what they mean (what the 1/250 sounds like, for example?). And even if I cannot hear that... hearing cannot be any indication of accuracy, in my (engineering) world anyway.
Obsessing over the exact speed is not my issue at all. And it is what it is, on the camera that I already own. It is, however, seems useful to know what you are getting from the start, from eBay or otherwise.
I am going to get myself that tested KoFe suggested- seems like a good solution.
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Old 02-13-2017   #36
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I've been using this
http://www.baytan.org/prak/shutter.html
for over a year now, with the program Audacity to visualise the data. I use a spot lamp as the light source, or for curtain shutters, a laser (spirit level, pointer etc.) as the stray light gives false readings. It's cheap and works very well, at more or less any speed -I've measure 1 second up to 1/1000.

As Roger says above, accuracy is surprisingly poor; 20-25% is acceptably close. Many older cameras will actually run at anything up (down?) to half speed though, so an indicated 1/500 is really 1/300 at best, but at least you can get the speeds to cover a range i.e. 1/250 will give about twice the exposure of 1/500, at least it makes sense. I don't bother to correct for the inaccuracy when shooting unless it's really bad or you're struggling to find the right speed.

The error in the accuracy of the apertures is similar though, so without getting into the philosophy (argument) around "correct" or ideal exposure, take it all with a pinch of salt.

Oh and I think a lot of sellers say "the speeds sound right" when 1/30 still snaps instead of stalls, and 1/125 sounds faster than 1/30
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Old 02-13-2017   #37
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Many older cameras will actually run at anything up (down?) to half speed though, so an indicated 1/500 is really 1/300 at best,
That is often a side issue of the measurement methods - times for narrow slit widths on FP shutters and short times on leaf shutters both have to take into account that the shutter may also act as a variable aperture in these modes, if the blurred edge respective opening/closing take up a relevant part of the total. The absolute time measured may be longer than nominal, but can result in a exposure equivalent to the nominal.
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Old 02-13-2017   #38
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"All speeds sound correct" is not entirely useless information on a Leica. Each M Leica speed has a different sound. The slow speed running slower and unevenly is often a sign of poor lubrication and a need of a service. My M5 1/2s is slower than 1/2s, even though it was serviced by DAG before I bought it. I can live with that. My M6 and M2 are good, and the M2 was serviced very precisely in the last ten years.
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Old 02-14-2017   #39
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Determining the difference between adjacent speeds (Eg 1/125-1/250) is possible with enough experience, by ear. Most focal plane shutters are going to be moving at the same velocity across the gate at the faster speeds but they will produce a different sound when the exposure ends. It's because the interval between the first and second curtain capping varies with whatever slit width is used for the speed in question. Admittedly, with some SLRs the noise of a reflex mirror descending may make it harder to work out the exact moment of the second curtain capping. A tip here, if your SLR actually has a mirror lock up feature, is to use it, because it makes it that much easier for your ear to work out what the shutter is doing, by removing the mirror and its actuating mechanism from the equation.

Using a CRT television it's possible to get a decent idea of how accurate a focal plane shutter is, although the more practice you've had using one, the better you will be able to understand and interpret the results. For instance, it enables you to work out which curtain is moving fastest at different parts of the gate, based on the relative angles of the edges of the slit. No, it is nowhere near as accurate as a proper testing unit, and nobody (including myself) would suggest otherwise. But having used the method to set up a number of shutters made by different makers, I do know, from my own experience and results, that it can get a serviceable camera working to within tolerances that will give you well exposed negatives, (or even positives, for that matter) so, it can certainly be accurate enough. And actually, whereas some of the least sophisticated testers may give you much more accurate overall exposure measurement, they may be less useful than a CRT for gauging exposure variance across the gate, something you can actually see with a TV/monitor screen. Non-CRT monitors are unreliable for the above in my experience, I keep a CRT on hand for shutter evaluation.

It's also worth mentioning that checking a shutter for proper operation may or may not entail checking every speed range, anyway. Depending on the design, the maker may specify that once certain speeds have been correctly set, other speeds will be within tolerance. A Synchro Compur type is a case in point. The escapement is first positioned to achieve an accurate one second time, followed by the 1/15 speed, and, when these have been set, the other speeds will then be OK (this, sourced from the relevant pages of F Deckel's repair manual for the shutter). Even setting one up by ear is not really that hard, with enough experience. Why? Because, if the escapement is not located correctly, one second will usually be too short. And 1/15 will be about the same as, or shorter than, 1/30, if the escapement is not set in the best position for that speed. There's only a fairly small zone of acceptable placement for the escapement where both speeds will look and sound right. If you have half a clue about detecting the different times it should be obvious, because, if it is out, it will usually be really out. 1/250 and 1/500 are too close together to be able to detect visually by all but the most experienced eye (I can sometimes see a difference, sometimes not, depending on a few things) and, even then, you usually need the lens stopped right down and pointed into a very bright light source as the smaller aperture helps the eye spot a difference. But the change in pitch of the mechanism from the additional speed of 1/500 is definitely audibly different to 1/250, it is a slightly higher pitch, which is a result of the escapement being totally disengaged at the maximum speed (at 1/500 the shutter is running as flat out as the main spring will let it, without any inertia braking).

With all that said, a decent tester makes it possible to achieve not just more accurate results, but to do it faster and more consistently. Which is why I'll probably be purchasing one of these units later this year. It's going to save a lot of time, quite apart from the other benefits. And because it is also able to measure curtain velocity of each focal plane shutter curtain, not just the amount of exposure, I think it will assist in the adjustment of the appropriate curtain(s) first time around and save a lot of time. As some manufacturers are helpful enough to specify an actual velocity target for the curtains of some of their designs, being able to easily measure this, should, again, substantially shorten the amount of fine tuning needed to get such shutters bang on, in the minimum amount of time.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 02-14-2017   #40
Peter Jennings
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To test for consistency in the shutter opening in Leica-type shutters, I have been using my iPhone lately. Use the slo-mo setting in the camera app and look at the gap from opening to closing during playback. For bottom loaders, slip a piece of white paper behind the shutter curtains.
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