How to test (check) my new Leica shutter speeds

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by troll, May 6, 2015.

  1. I feel really silly asking this question. In the "old days" I would have just gone down to the local camera store and bought a 24 exposure roll of slide film, found a "typical" scene, metered with a calibrated meter, and shot one exposure at each shutter speed plus each lower and higher speed. With my "new" Leica Standard, that would be 7 different speeds for a total of 21 shots. And have it processed that day without mounting.
    Now, no local store sells or processes slide film. I have no idea which, if any, of my several light meters are accurate. (Shall I go by the apparently correct meters in my digital cameras?). Where to send it for processing that doesn't charge an arm and a leg?
    I have some 36 exposure Fujichrome Velvia 50 in my Freezer. I seem to recall that i used to expose it at ISO=40. Seems a shame to waste it making tests, but ordering ONE roll of film from B&H seems really silly -- the shipping would probably be more than the film.
    Your suggestions, please.
  2. Is there a camera repair shop anywhere nearby that you could simply take the camera and have it tested on a shutter speed tester? And there's always something you can have on-hand, like this..
    E-6 processors are few and far between today. None I know of in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I live. I believe there's someone in Austin where I could mail it, or send off to a California lab. I know some who have resorted to doing E-6 themselves, buying the kits from Freestyle. For me, it's all I can do self-processing and scanning my own black & white film and I'm going to start shooting some color negative film this next weekend, having it processed at a local lab and then do the scanning myself.
  3. You have to pull the body on a Leica Standard to measure the shutter speeds.
    The shutter speeds on the early screw-mount Leica's aren't super-accurate, and hard to fine-tune. (There were major improvements in the IIIc, allowing fine-tuning 1/500 and 1/1000 separately.)
    Shoot the clear sky with any film, what you're looking for is even exposure from one side of the frame to the other. If that's OK, the shutter is probably running fine.
    You also need to check for pinholes in the shutter curtain. Shoot a dark scene, but hold the camera towards the sky (not sun) before the exposure on one frame, and after the exposure on another. Pinholes will reveal as bright spots.
  4. "my "new" Leica Standard"
    So this would be a very early, non-RF, no slow speed thread mount unit?

    John S. is correct, but to avoid an obvious waste of valuable film:
    Unless this camera has been stored properly and serviced in the past 5 years, it's a safe bet that the top two speeds are out of factory tolerance (200th & 500th).
    So it's best to only use speeds from 100th and under. This is where the balance of the two curtains are less critical; the slowest 20th has an obvious delay.

    If there isn't any knowledge of a service, then a close look at the 1st & 2nd curtains is very important (John's "pinholes" concern). If you notice odd irregularities such as cracks or blemishes on the "rubberize" side, or if only the cloth side is visible,
    you might see the backside of cracks, then your big issue will be the failure of the curtains and their inability to be light-tight...
  5. You don't have to pull the body. Place a sheet of white paper in the film slot and read the shutter from the front by reflected light. A Radio Shack photo cell and a borrowed oscilloscope could do the job.
  6. If someone near you does C-41 processing, here is an alternative using a roll of cheap colour negative film. Photograph a plain surface which gives a meter reading of 1/500 sec. and f/4. Next shot, one speed slower and one stop smaller. And so on. You should get roughly the same negative density throughout. The rest of the roll can be used on dogs, cats and grand-kids. Others have dealt already with curtain condition and evenness of curtain travel.
  7. Unfortunately (in this case), the only way to determine correct shutter speeds depends on utilizing the narrow exposure latitude of color transparency film.
    Much as I love my new Leica Standard, I am aware that I probably overpaid for it, and am loath to spend another couple of hundred bucks to DAG for a CLA. (Besides, I am enjoying dry shooting so much that i don't want to be without it for a couple of months while it's being serviced.)
  8. I haven't tried this but I believe there is are sound triggered iphone (probably Android too) oscilloscope apps. Depending upon how adjustable the trigger sync threshold is you may be able to trigger on the edge of the sound waveform created by the shutter. Obviously experimentation required but I would be very curious to see if it worked. In fact I'm almost tempted enough to get one of the apps and try it on my III-F. Almost...
  9. Can't Load the Camera!
    I decided to run one of my rolls of Velvia 50 through the camera. Used my Leica Template to trim the leader, stuck the end under the flap of the takeup spool, and tried to slip it into place.
    Jiggled it a lot, and finally got the cassette to seat, but the winding knob doesn't wind the film forward. Only by putting it on "rewind" was I able to extract the film. Compared loading it with my Leica II -- there's definitely something bad wrong here.
    Houston, I got a problem. Back it goes to KEH (still only 60 days post-sale). I've fallen in love/lust with this camera, and hope it can be fixed.
    Thanks for all the help I've gotten on this forum. I'll try to post the final outcome.
  11. A late-afternoon email to KEH, and when I got up the next morning there's a pre-paid FedX mailing label waiting for me on line. Such service!
    Gawd, I hope they can fix it -- I really love this camera.
    (PS, I'm also sending them a roll of film with the leader cut as required for this old Leica, just in case.)
  12. App author warns on his site that the app (or if you use a sound editor instead of this app) can only be useful up to 1/125 when testing curtain shutter cameras, because of all the mechanism noise masks the open/close peaks.
    I was trying to test a Leica II and it was pretty hard with faster than 1/100 speeds...
    (and of course, the light plug can't be used with this cameras unless you take them apart)

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