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Measuring shutter speed accuracy
Old 03-23-2018   #1
Joao
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Measuring shutter speed accuracy

Hello
I am looking for sugestions concerning a reliable device for accurately measuring shutter speeds in film cameras. I am interested in something that
1. Measures light I dont want anything measuring sound
2. Can be used with both leaf shutters and focal plane shutters
3. Is easy to use and ready to use I am not so skilled to build one myself
4. Can be used with a desktop/laptop computer (I do not intend to carry the device when I am out to shoot)
I have seen some models advertised but before I make a decision I would like to know practical experiences from members of RFF.
I remember seeing a thread on this topic in the past, but I was not able to find it...
Thank you in advance for your input
Regards
Joao
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Old 03-23-2018   #2
Beemermark
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Do a google search on using your TV. The TV (like fluorescent light bulbs) oscillates too fast for the eye to see. But when you take a picture of the screen you'll see slightly diagonal bands on the screen. By counting the number of lines you can calculate the speed. Then again Calumet used to make a less than $100 USD shutter speed tester. I have one (made 20 years ago and still use it).
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Old 03-23-2018   #3
Glenn2
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I recall seeing one that used a photo diode coupled to the input of a PC sound card. It gave a plot of the shutter response (is that the right word) so you could work out efficiency as well as speed.


Glenn
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Old 03-23-2018   #4
retinax
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For very basic tests a digital camera can work. Point it through the shutter at something illuminated and make sure no light falls on the shutter from the side the digital camera is on - work in a dark room. Use a long shutter speed in the digital, trip the shutter you want to test during the exposure. Also test the setup without opening the shutter. The resulting picture of the shutter should be completely black at the long exposure you want to use.
Resulting pictures can be compared to a picture made with the digital camera set to the relevant shutter speed. To check for tapering, up the contrast, and make sure the background is lit evenly, by comparing with shots made with the digital camera not through the shutter, also with cranked up contrast.
I have only done this with a focal plane shutter, I think it'll work for leaf shutters if the shutter is in focus, otherwise vignetting will mess with the result.
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Old 03-23-2018   #5
Moto-Uno
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^^Although he remarked on not using a sound card , I put together one a number of years ago and when using the Audacity app found the unit accurate and the light sensing diode used very little power from the 9v battery . It also showed bouncing shutters .
Peter
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Old 03-23-2018   #6
btamas
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He is against measuring sound. These photodiode - soundcard -audacity solutions actually measure light and not sound , and are are quite accurate compared to their price.

Ebay member "vfmoto" (Vasile Florin from Romania) has a large selection of such gadgets. I have one of his first (and quite basic) models and it works well for leaf shutters. Now he has more advanced models, too, both pc-based and stand alone ones.
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Old 03-23-2018   #7
Dan Daniel
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Here's a good one-
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Camera-shut...kAAOxywh1TEj24

The guy who makes them is solid and trustworthy. I ran tests comparing his results to a high-end repair shop level speed tester and this $95 dollar thing matched the $5000 or whatever machine.

You can try 8 different other ways, you can hack a variety of things, or you can buy a tester like this and get on with it....
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Old 03-23-2018   #8
shimokita
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Check out "Test Equipment" by Henry Taber

http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/testequipment.html

scroll down to see "Shutter speed tester"
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Old 03-23-2018   #9
RichC
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All you need is a digital camera, a desk lamp and a black t-shirt.

Ive been using this method for years to check film cameras - its accurate, fast and easy. Details here. The image on the website has gone AWOL - so Ive attached a copy to this post.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg img_0736.jpg (20.3 KB, 92 views)
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Old 03-23-2018   #10
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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I'd suggest that if you are looking for a tester that offers maximum versatility, ensure you obtain one that measures focal plane shutter curtain velocity and effective exposure. It can make the process of diagnosing and adjusting one correctly a little quicker, in some cases. I believe both Florin (vfmoto on eBay) and Eric Bergstrom (Phocron XA) offer compact, ready to go units that include this feature.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 03-23-2018   #11
Joao
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Thank you all for your replies.
Using a TV monitor is a classic option but I think it only works with CRT monitors. Am I wrong ?
I will try first the digital camera method, and keep in mind the device sold at ebay (I found it before, but it is reassuring to have positive opinions of its use in practice).
I am grateful for your input
Best regards
Joao
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Old 03-24-2018   #12
David Hughes
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Interesting that there's no mention of the turntable and white card disc (in place of the vinyl LP) but I guess people forget...


Regards, David
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Old 03-24-2018   #13
RichC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Interesting that there's no mention of the turntable and white card disc (in place of the vinyl LP) but I guess people forget...
Does that work with digital music players? I got rid of my turntable a couple of decades ago, like most folk...!
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Old 03-24-2018   #14
Fraser
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
Thank you all for your replies.
Using a TV monitor is a classic option but I think it only works with CRT monitors. Am I wrong ?
I will try first the digital camera method, and keep in mind the device sold at ebay (I found it before, but it is reassuring to have positive opinions of its use in practice).
I am grateful for your input
Best regards
Joao
I bought the little sensor thing and used it with the app but don't bother with it now it too tricky I found, I think the digital camera method already mentioned is much easier and better.
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Old 03-24-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
Using a TV monitor is a classic option but I think it only works with CRT monitors. Am I wrong ?
Joao
I think you are right.
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Old 03-24-2018   #16
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichC View Post
Does that work with digital music players? I got rid of my turntable a couple of decades ago, like most folk...!
Hi,

Yes, but you just have to drop it out of an upstairs window and remember that it will accelerate at 32ft per second per second...

Arranging to trip the shutter as the player flies past is fairly simple.

Regards, David

PS It's based on a falling rod chronograph, btw.
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Old 03-24-2018   #17
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
Thank you all for your replies.
Using a TV monitor is a classic option but I think it only works with CRT monitors. Am I wrong ?
I will try first the digital camera method, and keep in mind the device sold at ebay (I found it before, but it is reassuring to have positive opinions of its use in practice).
I am grateful for your input
Best regards
Joao
Not wrong, that is correct. I keep a small cathode ray tube receiver on hand, and still use it occasionally even though I have a tester now. Mine is a professional model but it is an older one that does not display curtain velocity (hence my previous suggestion). Sometimes it can be helpful to visually inspect the slit across the gate—the angle itself, and any taper of the slit in a particular orientation can inform which curtain gains or lags (based on the taper) and also a rough visual indication of curtain acceleration (the angle, which will usually alter across the gate as the curtains accelerate). I don’t see the CRT set as a replacement for my tester—but I will use it in conjunction with it from time to time.

Note that merely having a CRT set turned on is not sufficient. It must be tuned into a frequency that’s transmitting a picture, to be of any use. We’ve been digital only in Australia for a few years, so I keep a small digital set top receiver on hand to enable me to view a digital signal on the older analog CRT set.
Cheers
Brett
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Old 03-24-2018   #18
Dwig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
Thank you all for your replies.
Using a TV monitor is a classic option but I think it only works with CRT monitors. Am I wrong ? ...
You're quite right. It only works with CRT TVs and works best with B&W TVs. It requires some different math with computer driven CRTs as the scan frequency will be different than the old broadcast standard.

The old turntable trick is very good for a modest range of middle speeds. It is a bit hard to do well at speeds over 1/250th, though with careful measurement it can handle the speeds on most "classic" shutters.

Both methods work best with leaf shutters and neither works well for speeds slower than 1/30th.
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Old 03-24-2018   #19
Ronald M
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Calumet shutter tester if you can find one.

Digital camera should work ok as shown above.

TV screens and record players were used in the past
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Old 03-24-2018   #20
Joao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
... Sometimes it can be helpful to visually inspect the slit across the gatethe angle itself, and any taper of the slit in a particular orientation can inform which curtain gains or lags (based on the taper) and also a rough visual indication of curtain acceleration (the angle, which will usually alter across the gate as the curtains accelerate). ...

Note that merely having a CRT set turned on is not sufficient. It must be tuned into a frequency thats transmitting a picture, to be of any use. ...
Now I learned something new. Good point!
Thanks again.
Joao
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Old 03-24-2018   #21
Barry Kirsten
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I built a sound card shutter tester a few years ago for my LF lenses. It works very well. I'm now hoping to get a Barnack Leica shortly, but can't see that the tester would work with one since there is no easy access to the camera's shutter. The only work around would be to replace the photodiode with one similar to that used in the Leica CLE, which might be thin enough to slip down inside the camera back. A bit messy, I reckon.

Last edited by Barry Kirsten : 03-24-2018 at 11:06. Reason: grammar correstion
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Old 03-24-2018   #22
webOSUser
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There is an app that can be used called 'Shutter-Speed by Lukas Fritz. It natively uses the shutter sounds, but they sell a small 'Photo-Plug' thru the Filmomat store that plugs into the device's headphones jack. The device lists at €25 inc. VAT excl shipping.

I did not have great luck testing higher shutter speeds when I used it. It is available for both iOS and Android. I used the iOS version. It is an iPhone application, but will work on an iPad.

Steve W.

Last edited by webOSUser : 03-24-2018 at 12:47. Reason: Adding additional information.
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Old 03-25-2018   #23
David Hughes
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Hi,

As the original question was about film cameras I wonder how accurate we need it for exposure. I mean, a lot of us are quite happy thinking we have a top speed of 1000th or 500th of a second available but I have my doubts about the exact speeds in use.

Luckily both film and digital have a bit of latitude...

Regards, David
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Old 03-25-2018   #24
Joao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,


... I wonder how accurate we need it for exposure. ...


....Luckily both film and digital have a bit of latitude...

David
You are right - and I took advantage of the film latitude many times.
But knowing a reasonably accurate measurement of the shutter speeds will allow me to compare the results of different cameras (same film, same exposure). Sometimes I find differences in the results- and very different real shutter speeds may help to explain them.
What is a "reasonably accurate" measurement is subjective, im my opinion...
Regards
Joao
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Old 03-26-2018   #25
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I have been using the phototransistor setup and Audacity for a couple of years now. It's cheap and works well. For focal plane shutters, the phototransistor is prone to light coming from the side, so you either need to fit a tube to the phototransistor to narrow its field of view, or just use a laser instead of a bare bulb as the light source - I use the laser on a spirit level which are dirt cheap from Aldi. I do amateur CLA and this is perfectly adequate. You could do a twin-phototranssitor setup to get opening and closing of the shutter curtains and record them simultaneously as left and right audio channels.

Sorry, added notes on exposure. 20-25% accuracy is considered good enough in shutter speeds - about half a stop. Most of my cameras are old leaf shutters from the 1950s and 60s (or earlier), most of these even on a good day run anything down to half speed, so overexposing - good for film lowlights, bad for camera shake. The few SLRs I have are accurate though.
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Old 11-19-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichC View Post
All you need is a digital camera, a desk lamp and a black t-shirt.

Ive been using this method for years to check film cameras - its accurate, fast and easy. Details here. The image on the website has gone AWOL - so Ive attached a copy to this post.
I followed, but lazy.
With bright screen of the phone, shutter on top of it, taking camera on top of it via tripd. 4 sec taking exposure at ISO100 and f5.6.

all at 1/250:

ebay FED-5D with OK exposures.




FED-2 from ... needs service.




M4-2 serviced in 2018.




26CAD Nikkormat from charity store.

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Old 11-20-2018   #27
Murray Kelly
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https://www.ebay.com/bhp/shutter-tester
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