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Shutter control: mechanical, eletromagnetic, and electric controlled
Old 05-30-2008   #1
john_van_v
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Shutter control: mechanical, eletromagnetic, and electric controlled

I have two kinds of cameras. One type, like my Bessas and OM-1, is purely mechanical. The other type is purely electrical, such as my Minolta X700 (workhorse for a decade) and my Olympus 170mm point and shoot, where the shutter is driven electromagnetically.

Both these types of cameras I can grok pretty easily.

There is a third type of camera that I don't own: the electrically controlled mechanical camera. Typical of these are the early auto metering SLRs such as the Pentax ES, which has a number of settings that work without a battery in the camera. Another example might be the Nikon EM that gives one speed without a battery, implying that the shutter is driven mechanically but the shutter speed is controlled electrically.

I am having trouble finding information on how these mechanical yet electronically controlled cameras work in comparison to mechanical cameras; I am assuming at the moment that these electronic controls are an evolutionary add-on to the purely mechanical systems of the classical SLR era.

I would also love to find, or develop, a comprehensive list of these hybrid cameras, especially including the fixed lens RF examples. Obviously I use purely electronic cameras such as my Oly 170mm point and shoot, and also digital cameras, but I might mention that I am biased towards mechanical cameras. I am getting very curious about the in between zone of the electronically controlled mechanical cameras, and I am wondering how they shoot in comparison to purely mechanical cameras.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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Last edited by john_van_v : 05-30-2008 at 19:17.
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Old 05-30-2008   #2
Chriscrawfordphoto
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A lot of SLRs with electronic shutters had one or more purely mechanical speeds. The Nikon F3 offered 1/80 mechanical speed. The Olympus OM-4, OM-4T, and OM-2SP had mechanical 1/60 and B. The Canon New F1 (the version made in the 80s), had mechanical speeds from 1/60 to 1/2000 with the lower speeds electonic control only.

There were several shutter types in use in SLRs over the years.

-Purely mechanical (you know how those work).

-Mechanical/Electric hybrid (springs open and shut the shutter, but speed control is electronic. Some, like those mentioned above, have some pure mechanical speeds too). This was very common in the 80's. Your Minolta X700 used this shutter type, as did the OM-2, 2SP, 4, and 4T models. Ditto the Nikon F3, the Canon New F1, AE1, AE1-program, Pentax LX, etc.

-Purely electronic. Used solonoids to drive shutter blades (used metal or plactic blades, not curtains), and computer to time shutter. used in most autofocus 35mm SLRs and Digital SLRs.
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Old 05-30-2008   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
-Mechanical/Electric hybrid .. your Minolta X700 used this shutter
To be honest, the shutter on the X700 feels like an electronic trigger, and hence there is no chance that this camera could have had "mechanical" speeds such as the Pentax ES did.

I think there are two more sub-categories here: electronic shutters releases of mechanical shutters, such as the X700 (I think) and mechanical shutter releases with electronic speed control such as with the Pentax ES.

It is this last category of hybrid that I am interested in, where only the shutter speed is electronically controlled, and not the tripping of the shutter itself. I imagine that all the cameras that have one or more "battery free" mechanical speeds are in this category. It seems unlikely that a camera would have both electronic and mechanical releases.

Thanks for the list.
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Old 05-30-2008   #4
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Wow, youse-and-cat really speaks volumes !! The print must be really startling in person.
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Old 05-31-2008   #5
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I as right about the X-700, it is fully electromechanical. From Wikipedia:
Quote:
In a step backwards, the new X-700 was not equipped with the modern fast vertical metal shutter of previous XE and XD cameras, and was instead fitted with a less expensive horizontal fabric-shutter curtain shutter operated by simple electromagnets.
I never really liked the x-700. I got a good price from a friend and it had a worthless Tokina zoom lens. One afternoon while on vacation I ripped the lens in half; I replaced it with a fantastic Sigma zoom with which I took this pictire:

The sigma as oil on the lens so I guess it is limited to summer use now; I am looking for a SRT 202 for the sigma, and maybe i will get some Rokkor-X lenses.

The Pentax ES intrigues me, but its low speed of a 25th is not ll that low; my low speed is an 15th for an SLR, and 8th for a RF leaning against a wall.

This particular hybrid seems to be the best of both worlds; you have electronic speed control, even quartz sometimes, and the "natural feel" of a fully mechanical system.

I have written a lot about my belief that the fully electronic shutter, and not digital, ruined photography. Digital is ironically bringing back old school photography.

Now all we need is behavioral congitive therapy for the obsessive collectors to get them to release their collections (before they die).

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Old 05-31-2008   #6
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John,

The X700 shutter curtains move by spring power. The electromagnets control when the curtains move, but the movement is powered by springs. That's why I called it a hybrid shutter. In a truly electronic shutter, the shutter curtains are moved by solonoids or electric motors. Most of the 35mm SLRs in the late 70's and early 80's use spring-powered electromagnet controlled shutters.

The photo of Mr Youse and his cat really is beautiful in a 16x20...Thanks!
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Old 05-31-2008   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
The X700 shutter curtains move by spring power. The electromagnets control when the curtains move
Heh, then the Wikipedia statement needs to be refined, and that is what a wiki is about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Most of the 35mm SLRs in the late 70's and early 80's use spring-powered electromagnet controlled shutters.
To be honest with you, the feel I get from the X-700 is of a purely electromagnetic system, but I am not about to dissect it to prove a point, lol

My reason for perfering purely mechanical cameras is that I feel that I have better synchronicity with the machine with a purely mechanical connection that I do if the linkage between my finger and the shutter is an electrical switch. I wrote (and fought) a lot about this when I first arrived here on RFF.

I took the mechanical vrs electrical debate to my empathy discusssion group on Care2, if anyone is curious -> Click


The list I am trying to make is of cameras that have the mechanical release, but have electromagnetic shutter speed control; the X-700 does not make it as its shutter release is an electrical switch. Obviously the early hybrids are, such as the Pentax ES, which brought me to this train of thought.

The Nikon EM probably is too, but it lacks manual override, making it totally useless in my opinion; it is also a disappointment especially coming from the Nikon who made the FM, my present favorite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
The photo of Mr Youse and his cat really is beautiful in a 16x20...Thanks!
So I imagine you did all your "Youse, his house and cats" work in large or medium format.
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Old 05-31-2008   #8
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That's quite a collection of camera you have there. I have way more than I can use easily, but no where near that. I was going to suggest the Fujica ST901 or the AZ-1, both of which were automatic and mechanical. However, they don't meet your desire for slow shutter speeds. The AZ-1 had only three mechanical speeds completely free of the electronic speeds. I don't recall about the ST 901, other than they used to advertise they were electronically controlled.

Can you give a short synopsis of why you think electronic shutters killed film. I never heard that before, and don't understand the idea. To me it ws just a convenience. Besides, many camera brands were shutter preferred, and may or may not have been electronically controlled as well as the aperture.
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Old 05-31-2008   #9
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[quote=oftheherd;828512]That's quite a collection of camera you have there.[/qoute]

Not mine (but I wish it was). That is only one wall of "Weirdcollector's" house in Thunder Bay, Ont. All the others are covered with cameras. I was using that picture as an example of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
I was going to suggest the Fujica ST901
Actually I just bought a 701; I like it a lot but the meter is broken. Stop-down metering is all I need, I think, and there is such a good supply of great M42 lenses.

About the 901, I have been told that the extra stuff on the camera-side lens flange can conflict with stuff on some M42 lenses causing big problems so I have avoided it, but it actually looks great. Do you know anything about this? Because I might get one if that danger is exaggerated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
Can you give a short synopsis of why you think electronic shutters killed film. I never heard that before, and don't understand the idea. To me it ws just a convenience.
Sure, here it is with some people supporting the idea Click

Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
Besides, many camera brands were shutter preferred, and may or may not have been electronically controlled as well as the aperture.
That might be true, but I find that hard to believe. When I started wondering about the mechanics of shutter control (while holding a brand new Fed5 I had just broken), I was surprised more companies didn't run to electronics even faster. I also feel surprised that the mechanical camera has survived at all, but I am glad it has.
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Old 05-31-2008   #10
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I put this on the Camerapedia shutter page and the x-700 page on Wikipedia:

From the control aspect, there are these different kinds of shutter systems (I have simplified things for the sake of brevity):
Quote:
* Purely mechanical -- A spring is released mechanically from the shutter release button that drives the curtain, and the curtain speed is controlled mechanically.

* Mechanical hybrid -- A spring is released mechanically from the shutter release button that drives the curtain, and the curtain speed is controlled electronically.

* Electrical hybrid -- A spring is released electromagnetically from the shutter release button, which is really a switch, and naturally the curtain speed is controlled electronically.

* Purely electrical -- Electromagnetics drive the curtain and are triggered by the shutter release button, which is a misnomer in this case as it is simply a switch for a horizontal motor.

Obviously you can substitute mechanical leaf shutter for curtain, and the "iris" type leaf shutters are ignored here; they are common in rangefinders and appeared in a few SLRs such as the Voitlander Bessamatic.
I might start a "shutter drive and control" page on Camerapedia.
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Old 05-31-2008   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_van_v View Post
Heh, then the Wikipedia statement needs to be refined, and that is what a wiki is about.

To be honest with you, the feel I get from the X-700 is of a purely electromagnetic system, but I am not about to dissect it to prove a point, lol

My reason for perfering purely mechanical cameras is that I feel that I have better synchronicity with the machine with a purely mechanical connection that I do if the linkage between my finger and the shutter is an electrical switch. I wrote (and fought) a lot about this when I first arrived here on RFF.

I took the mechanical vrs electrical debate to my empathy discusssion group on Care2, if anyone is curious -> Click


The list I am trying to make is of cameras that have the mechanical release, but have electromagnetic shutter speed control; the X-700 does not make it as its shutter release is an electrical switch. Obviously the early hybrids are, such as the Pentax ES, which brought me to this train of thought.

The Nikon EM probably is too, but it lacks manual override, making it totally useless in my opinion; it is also a disappointment especially coming from the Nikon who made the FM, my present favorite.



So I imagine you did all your "Youse, his house and cats" work in large or medium format.
The photo of Mr. Youse and the Cat was shot with a Mamiya 645 on Tmax 100 developed in Rodinal. All of the Youse series photos were done in 645 (some on Tmax100, some on Fuji Acros), except the one of him standing by himself in the doorway, which was done with a Nikon F4s on Tri-X. The F4s has a totally electronic shutter and I like it. I really prefer Olympus OM system cameras, with the OM-4T (I have 2 of them) my favorite of all. My problem with the F4 isn't the electronic shutter or the autofocus (I never use it) or the program exposure modes (don't use them either). Its the size and weight. The F4 is as big and heavy as a Mamiya 645 but still only uses 35mm film. If i'm shooting with 35, I want a small light camera like the OM-4T.

Electronic shutters don't bother me, and honestly I wonder why it bothers you so much. They're more accurate and less prone to tapering and other problems than mechanical ones, though a mechanical one will probably have better long-term repairablility. My F4 has a totally electronic shutter, the OM-4T's have a spring-driven electromagnet controlled shutter. I also have a totally mechanical OM-1 and see no difference in practical use from the OM-4T.

My problem with modern cameras is the stupid control wheels and LCDs for setting shutter speed and aperture (New Nikon's don't use the aperture ring on the lens and the newest lenses don't even have the aperture ring!). I have two digital SLRs and just cannot get used to the controls...I tolerate them, but I like old fashioned controls. The F4 is very advanced, yet still uses traditional shutter speed and aperture controls.

Last edited by Chriscrawfordphoto : 05-31-2008 at 14:17.
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Old 05-31-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
...except the one of him standing by himself in the doorway, which was done with a Nikon F4s on Tri-X.
Dayam!! That is the one I was hoping would have been 2 1/4. [/quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I really prefer Olympus OM system cameras, .. If i'm shooting with 35, I want a small light camera like the OM-4T.
I hear you there, though its the lenses I am starting to like. Both my 1.4 and my 135 are producing beautiful pictures of water, and I have a 200mm on the way. (I try to buy from "anal" photographers, so I get good lenses.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
honestly I wonder why [the electronic shutter] bothers you so much. They're more accurate and less prone to tapering and other problems than mechanical ones
You are absolutely right, and I myself wonder why, say, Olympus made mechanical for so long .. and wonder why Cosina still does, but then Cosina leaves me wondering a lot. But people actually bought, and still buy, the OM-3.

I can't say why electronic bothers, except that it does. But the best analogy is this: classical muscians would never use an electronic piano, and when I looked at display version of a piano hammer, I saw a lot of mechanics I see in cameras.

Obviously for landscapes or still-lifes, there is no difference. It is entirely action, I feel I can coordinate the shutter better with the surrounding action with a mechanical release than an electronic button. The seconds get split very closely, just as in musical rhythm.

Jupiter-8


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I also have a totally mechanical OM-1 and see no difference in practical use from the OM-4T.
Ok, OM-4s (and 2s) are in my budget, I will wait for one w/ a lens on it that I need, and see the difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
My problem with modern cameras is the stupid control wheels and LCDs
No sh*t. All my success with digital so far has been with a Kodak Easyshare c875 under bright sunlight. I just got a EOS XT simply because I am getting into situations with bird photography were I run out of film too quickly. I am going to mount my Oly lenses on it rather than pandering to the industry's recent lens stupidity.

OK big thunder storm, have to shut down till it passes.
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Old 05-31-2008   #13
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If you're doing bird photography, I think you'd be a lot better off buying Canon lenses. I'm not a Canon user, but I know several people using zuiko manual focus lenses on Canon D-SLRs and they're not easy to use. You have to manually stop down the aperture before you shoot and manually open it again to focus. I'd put up with it for the kind of stuff i shoot, but no way would i deal with all that if I shot wildlife (or sports or journalism or anything that requires fast shooting).

I think you'd like an OM-4T. The original OM-4 is nice but most of them drain batteries fast, even if not being used. The 4T fixed the battery drain issue. The 2S also had battery drain problems and it was never fixed.

I like the 4/4T because they focus fast (nice viewfinder, easy to focus screen), they have an incedible spot metering system, are light and strong built.
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Old 07-13-2008   #14
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The Yaschica Electro 35 has a shutter which I would describe as electronically controlled. A solenoid holds the shutter open until the electronics release it. The solenoid is the retard mechanism. In the absence of any electronic control, the shutter operates at its fastest speed.
This type of shutter gives it two additional features over the normal auto exposure camera of that era. First , long exposure times in the order of 8 seconds or so are achievable and second the camera is an aperture controlled auto exposure camera.

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Old 12-07-2009   #15
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[quote=john_van_v;828532
...

About the 901, I have been told that the extra stuff on the camera-side lens flange can conflict with stuff on some M42 lenses causing big problems so I have avoided it, but it actually looks great. Do you know anything about this? Because I might get one if that danger is exaggerated.
...
[/QUOTE]

Never mind what brought me to this thread, but when I saw this, I realized I had not seen it before and not answered it. Better late than never, and besides, I just answered it for another forum member in a PM.

Looking at this photo (edit: it didn't link in, so I will just provide the link itself)

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/phot...hp?photo=65368

You can see a round knurled knob just to the right of the lens. That is the depth of field button, and if depressed and turned to the right (hence the knurling), it is locked in place. That allows non-Fujica mount lenses to be used in stop down metering mode. So many M42 mount lenses were intended to be usable on the ST 901.

The problem is with the lens lock. Not visible in the photo, but near the knob, next to the lens, is a spring loaded sliding lever. It controls a pin that moves up into a recessed part of the Fujica mount lens and provides a common locking point for any Fujica lens.

The problem is that lens locking pin. On a few lenses, a Mamiya 28mm is one I know of, there is a danger of the lens locking pin being jammed by a part of the rear of the Mamiya's lens. It can be difficult to unjam. I don't know how many other manufacture's lens lines may cause this problem, but most do not. I have used a lot of M42 lenses without any problem other than forgetting to use the knurled knob for exposure control.

I don't know how many may be contemplating an ST 901. Not many I expect, since people aren't jamming my PM mail box clammering for answers. But believe it or not, there are a few who do ask once in a while; and for those enlightened folk, the above is provided.
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Old 12-07-2009   #16
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Note: I wrote this w/o reading the above, but the information was confirmed by another owner, perhaps both our 901s are foobar.

I own a 901 -- it only goes down to 1/60th in manual mode, and the manual mode is disconnected from the metering, meaning it only meters w/ a "V" lens. The manual lies about this: CLICK for manual scans

Its only upside is that it has a EV of -2 (which is relative to the ASA, and ASA is not mentioned), but the low level is irrelevant for manual control, which is usually what you do at low light levels.

I assumed it has the LED system of the 801, but doesn't -- seems nobody is mentioning this till now...
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Old 12-07-2009   #17
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Seems to me that one classic example of the type of camera you're asking about would be the Yashica G-series rangefinders. You can go to the Yashica Guy website and find repair tutorials that might show you what you want to know. http://www.yashica-guy.com/
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