Testing Shutter Speeds

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by justin_stott, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. I have an old Hassie 500 C/M with 80 and 150 lenses, that I love to death. So far I've been using a couple of old Weston Master meters to measure (guestimate?) exposure.
    I recently purchased a nice used Sekonic spot/incident meter. I've had the camera body and film backs serviced, but not the lenses, I just don't shoot it enough to justify the expense right now.
    My question is, now that I have a more accurate light meter, does anyone have a trick for checking the accuracy of the shutter speeds on these old lenses other than "listening" to them?
    They've served me pretty well so far, and even though my negatives aren't entirely consistent, they are almost always printable. I was thinking about playing with some color and maybe transparency film instead of the B & W I've been shooting, which I understand to be a little less forgiving.
    Does anyone have any tricks to check out the accuracy of the shutters?
    Thanks a bunch!
  2. They used to say the proof was in the pudding. If your results are within "shooting distance" I wouldn't worry over much about what the actual shooting speeds are.
    On more primitive and/or older cameras than the Hasselblad, the key thing was to try out the lens/shutter and "work out what worked", so to speak. With negative films you've got so much leeway anyhow, that it hardly matters.
  3. "Does anyone have any tricks to check out the accuracy of the shutters?"
    Yes, use a CRT. Thanks again, Rick!
  4. Or, build one that works with your computer's sound card for about $10 worth of parts.
    I've done this, it works great.
  5. Thanks guys, great tricks!
  6. Hi Justin, If you have several classic cameras that can use testing check out www.papcoinstruments.com This tester may save you film and time.
  7. eBay seller vfmoto (Florin Vasile) makes a little shutter speed tester using the sound card principle for $15. I have one of these, and it works rather well for shutter speeds up to 1/1000. All it needs is a light source (I use a little clip-on LED light made for attaching to a laptop) and a way of lining up the light, camera, and shutter test sensor, for which I use some elastic bands and Blue-tack. The shutter action is recorded as a waveform on a sound recording program like Audacity, and the speed is simply read directly as the duration of the wave from ascent to start of descent. Florin in based in Romania, and the postage costs are generally a little more than the cost of the tester, though that's down to rather quaint regulations of the Romanian Post Office. He's very helpful, and responds quickly to queries on how to use the tester, as I can vouch from my experience.
    I've found some of my cameras surprisingly accurate, like my old Yashica FX-3, which is as good as my Contax RTS, and others, like old folders, run a little slow but consistently so, so now I can compensate easily for deviations of shutter speed from nominal values. It's a worthwhile exercise, moreso than I'd anticipated.
  8. Hey Justin,
    You can use the soundcard/listen method without any special equipment. Just open up some sound recording program and while recording hold your camera up to your computer's microphone. Trip the shutter at 1 second setting, stop recording and see the results.
    Now just highlight from the first spike to the last spike (shutter open and close) and see what the time interval looks like.
    This assumes your computer has a built in microphone and you have some sort of audio recording program, but the one second shutter time is often a pretty good indicator for the rest of the speeds.
    Good Luck,

Share This Page