Monday, March 1, 2010

Shutter Island

No, not the taught psychological cinema thriller, but my own taught psychological thrills while trying to figure out why my vintage shutter only worked in one speed ("T") Turns out I had accidentally let loose a small brass cylinder in the works which needed to be reattached, and I had to bend up a small worn nub of metal to engage some other speed-thingamabob. It's all very complex, but now I can honestly say that I have stared into the face of a shutter mechanism and lived to tell the tale.

I took this to document where are the parts were before I started messing around, but as an appreciator of fine mechanical handiwork, I realize now how pretty this is, too, in its own German-functional way. Hope you appreciate it, too.

Optimo 1A shutter mechanism

Click through to the actual image for a commented breakdown of the parts.


Joe V said...

Well, at least you managed to get the thing back together and working. I have a Kodak Ektar 127mm lens/shutter for my Speed Graphic that, when I disassembled it to clean it, lost a crucial little metal bit onto the floor of my garage, never to be seen again. I swept and swept and searched on hands and knees for hours, but to no avail. Luckily, the Speed Graphic still has the curtain shutter that works.

I appreciate these old mechanical marvels. I've thought about making my own mechanical shutter for box cameras (guillotine style, actuated by rubber bands or springs), but the idea seems primitive in comparison to these.


Strikethru said...

I came here to vent my hatred for Leo DiCaprio, what's this about a camera? Man, I need to learn more about cameras.

mpclemens said...

This design is maligned in various places on the 'Nets, I suppose because of the general imprecision with using air as a timing mechanism. (Your shutter changes speeds by elevation: fun!) I find it fascinating to watch and work, though. Always impressed by the shinies.

Joe, I saw someone used the spring-loaded door from an old 3.5" floppy disk as a pinhole shutter for their Holga -- a cable release opens it, and the spring forces it shut. Seems to me a slow film or one of your paper-negative projects would be best for any home-made operation, especially if you go with the time-tested method of using a hat in front of the lens.

I am just learning about original shutter designs, while I was looking for details on this one. A guillotine-type sounds the most doable for the DIY-er.

Olivander said...

That's scary that I recognized a Wollensak shutter just from its innards.

You did a better job of reassembling yours than I did my Victo, the bits of which are now in a Ziplock on my workbench.

mpclemens said...

The Secret, it turns out, is not to take the silly thing all the way apart in the first place. I re-attached the cylinder, bent up the piece that's used for setting the speed, and fixed the tension... thingie. But I only unscrewed parts as far as what you see here.

I read somewhere about old shutter or aperture blades being made of paper (!) which pretty much stopped me from any crazy disassembly attempts.