Are "Old" Ilex and Acme Lens Shutters Reliable and Accurate After Many Many Years of Use? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Are Ilex and Acme lens shutters reliable and accurate after many many years of use? And, perhaps more importantly, how do they compare to contemporary Copal and Compur shutters? I am thinking of buying some older Goerz lenses that--more often than not--come mounted with ILEX or ACME shutters, and not having ever used them myself, I don't know how good they are. (I am only used to Copal.) If you were buying the lens yourself and you had the choice of purchasing the same lens in an earlier (1950's, 1960's) ILEX vs. a later (1970's, 1980's-present) COPAL (or COMPUR) shutter, which would you choose, and why?

Also: Is it true that ALL the old Ilex shutters had two-hole flash outlets, rather than the standard single-hole outlets common on all lenses made today? If so, is it easy and inexpensive to have the old outlet converted from two-hole to single-hole?

Thank you very much.

Nick Rowan

-- Nick Rowan (, March 04, 2000


Nick: You might be sick of seeing my answers to your questions, but I will try to help. The old Ilex and Compur shutters are just that...old. They were good shutters, but are seldom as accurate in the condition you find them as a Copal, simply because the Copal is a newer shutter. The Ilex and Compur have oil that has been them for many years and it gets dried out and sticky. Sticky oil leads to erratic shutter speeds and the speed will vary according to temperature. A shutter that works perfectly at room temperature may not work at all outside in the winter or early morning when the temperatures are colder. The solution if you are going to use them outside is to have them cleaned and oiled and calibrated, which can approach the price of a used Copal. I have and use several of the older Ilex and Compur shutters, but I know to cycle them several times before making a shot. Even then, I sometimes bracket exposure just to make sure. Good shooting, Doug. The old Ilex often had two posts for the flash. The cords are still available, or you can use an electric shaver cord and splice it to a PC cord. Actually, the two-post cords are a lot less prone to problems than the PC connections. Given a choice, I would choose the Copal.

-- Doug Paramore (, March 05, 2000.

I recently acquired an in the box mint 250 mm Kodak Wide Field Ektar in a #5 Ilex. I took it to the local shop for cleaning and lubrication before I used the lens. Cost me $75. I watched the tech take it through a shutter tester at the shop after adjusting and damn - it was pretty close. In my opinion, well within the accuracy of my photographic process. When you consider the variables we try to control in making images, a modest amount of possible inaccuracy does not prevent me from using these classic lenses as they were presented. Yes, a Copal is better made and more expensive, but there are plenty of folks that have in the past and continue to use these older mechanical shutters to produce fine images. My recommendation would be to have someone familiar with the older shutters open them up for a quick look. I have also considered acquiring a shutter tester for periodic checking of all of my shutters new and old.

Good Luck.

-- Michael Kadillak (, March 05, 2000.

There may be some confusion about current shutters.

Currently we can supply Rodenstock lenses in the following shutters all of which are in current production:

Mechanical types

Copal and Copal Press Compur and Prontor Professional Electronic types

Prontor Protronic Horseman ISS 2 Rollei Linear Motor

After Photokina there may be an additional electronic type from another source.

In cost Copal is the most common because it is simply the cheapest. Copal and Copal Press are the same price.

Many people prefer the Compur as it has click stops and, with an accessory, the apertures can be set from behind the camera. It is much more than the Copal.

The Prontor Professional has the least vibration nof any mechanical shutter and all controls can be set from behind the camera.

-- Bob Salomon (, March 05, 2000.

I don't worry about the "absolute" accuracy of my leaf shutters since I almost always use Polaroid. In many cases I have shot 2 sheets film - develop 1 and then develop the second, adjusting development up or down according to the first sheet.

I suspect that processing of film introduces more "x-factors" than an old shutter being a few milleseconds off.

-- alan dale (, March 06, 2000.

Check Steve Grimes site here for more info on Ilex shutters:

-- Ron Shaw (, March 06, 2000.

I just want to thank everyone that has so far replied with an answer, both on and off site--I am new to this website, and am just so impressed and gratified by the generosity and degree of knowledge of everyone involved; I learn so much from this forum.

I will try to reply individually in the next day or two to everyone who took the time to answer my question.

Nick Rowan

-- Nick Rowan (, March 06, 2000.

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