The Packard Shutter

Completing our discussion of shutters requires mention of a famous shutter that, although most commonly found on large format (4×5 in and larger) cameras, nevertheless holds a firm place in photographic history:  the Packard shutter. Throughout the late 19th and early to mid 20th century, many fine lenses were produced without shutters; in modern terminology, these are referred to as “barrel” lenses.  They were often designed for aerial photography (e.g. the Kodak 7″ f/2.5 Aero-Ektar), as industrial process lenses, or for use on cameras with alternate shutter types.  Some, such as the lovely East German f/4.5 Tessars (see above), the Cooke Anastigmats, and the Zeiss Jena Symmars and Planars, have excellent optical qualities.  Many of these classic lenses are of…Continue Reading

Leaf Shutters

  The Shutter Blade Blues The Klio, the Kolios, the Synchro, My God! An Alphax, a Betax, my head’s feeling odd! A Compound, a Graphex, the list just goes on, The Rapax, the Ilex – I’m awake until dawn! The Ibsor, the Deckel – such fine German parts, A dirty old Victor whose pistons won’t start.   The Vario snickers, “What speeds do I have?” I bet it’s a fiver – Or is it just three?   The Packard it clatters, the Acme it whirs, And – yes, oh, so  German – the Compur  just purrs. The Kodex, the Rulex, my nerves won’t unwind, The Kodak’s Ball Bearing, the Thornton’s a blind! A ring ‘round the edge, a dial at…Continue Reading

Shutters – A Landmark Patent!

In 1910, an event occurred that revolutionized photography:  two Bausch and Lomb shutter designers, Rudolph Klein and Theodor Brueck (the latter had designed the “Volute” shutter in 1902) filed U.S. Pat. 1,092,110 for a shutter delay mechanism involving a rotating gear and a rocking pallet.  This was the basis for the slow speed escapement that was to make possible the very best leaf shutters of the twentieth century – the Compur, the Copal, the Prontor, and the many, many other fine clockwork shutters that made possible the greatest images of the last century. Consequently, this patent is reproduced here in its entirety:…Continue Reading


This article introduces the topic of classic camera shutters.  Subsequent postings will explore in more detail the protean topic of clockwork leaf shutters, followed by discussions of pneumatic shutters and the various types of classic curtain shutters. There are two ways of controlling the amount light used in exposing a glass plate or sheet of photographic film: the area of the lens opening, known as the aperture or f-stop, and the length of the exposure.  In the early days, when plates were wet and emulsions were deadly slow, life was simple – the photographer merely removed his hat, placed it over the lens, removed the dark slide, and then uncovered the lens for the desired number of seconds. As emulsions…Continue Reading