air release/self timer for strong shutter? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking for an air release or a mechanical self-timer which can operate my big ol' #5 Betax press shutter. This shutter takes a real hefty push to trip it. I've already tried an older mechanical timer as well as a budget 20' air release, but neither one was up to the job. Any ideas?


-- Mark Parsons (, August 02, 2000


I know what you mean about the cheep bulbs. This is only an idea, though, brought about by an earlier posting. If a tiny solenoid can fire a supermatic shutter then what about a big one. Could you rig some kind of industrial solenoid to a cable release and power it with a big lantern battery? Not light, but I'm sure your camera isn't a feather either? If in studio, you could plug it in the wall. It's just an idea so don't laugh too hard. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, August 02, 2000.

I know what you mean about the pneumatic releases. I have a good one, it has a plenum (actuator?) that must be at least an inch in cross- section, it could punch the pin through a finger it's so strong. Unfortunately there are no identification markings on it. My one suggestion is to look at what's available, keeping in mind the physics involved, and go for the largest piston that you come across. Be careful with the solenoid idea - if you don't set it up precisely I would expect there would be a good chance for damage to occur.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, August 02, 2000.

Have you looked at using an air compressor and regulator to drive a pin to trip the shutter

-- bill jefferson (, August 02, 2000.

I'm not familar with your shutter, but it may be a very difficult task to easily construct a pneumatic air release of any sort. I went through a similar exercise for my Copal Press shutters and ended up modifying a De Groff air release to do the job. I know Copal Press shutters require relatively little pressure to trip compared to other press type shutters. When going though my design exercise, I consulted with an industrial automation supply company who had all sorts of minature pneumatic cylinders. It turned out they were all inappropriate to the task at hand. They required far more air pressure to activate than an air bulb could supply.

Steve Grimes has a prototype of an air release for old press shutters he once constructed. You should give him a call as well.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 02, 2000.

One simple way is to remove the bulb from a cheap air release and attach canned air to where the bulb was. You need to rig a valve so you can release the pressure to allow the shutter to recock. It's a little awkward but works. I fire my Prontor Professional modern self-cocking shutters this way. But BE CAREFUL with the amount of pressure you squeeze off. Close the valve, carefully meter out some air into the tube until the shutter fires, open valve to recock, and your ready again. Advantage: I asways carry a little canned air as it is and it works fine.

-- Rob Tucher (, August 02, 2000.

I've looked at the air release that I have - it only has "Germany" marked on it. I suspect it was maketed by either ROWI or HAMA. The one distinguishing feature is that the bulb resembles an egg, and is made out of blue rubber.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, August 02, 2000.

"I've looked at the air release that I have - it only has "Germany" marked on it. I suspect it was maketed by either ROWI or HAMA. The one distinguishing feature is that the bulb resembles an egg, and is made out of blue rubber. "

Sounds like one of ours from Kaiser. Available in 16 and 32' lengths.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 02, 2000.

Thanks Bob - I've had mine for awhile, it's about time to pickup a backup.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, August 02, 2000.

If you decide to try taking apart an inexpensive air shutter release, and using compressed air, be sure to check the throw of the release mechanism to be sure it will trip your shutter. I tried that with my Copal Press shutters, and found the inexpensive releases wouldn't trip the shutters because of insufficient throw rather than not enough force.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 02, 2000.

For your amusement only: OK, this isn't my idea -- I wasn't sure, so I looked it up in one of my old books -- an old Kodak "Here's How" publication. I wouldn't do this, but for laughs here it is. Kodak said to tie a mouse trap (or in your case, I guess, a rat trap) to the tri-pod, stick the cable release where the mouse's head should go, put string on the cheese part, and viola, you have a 5 to 50 foot cable release. Don't ask about vibration. There you go, Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, August 02, 2000.

Thanks, everyone, for the ideas. Rob, I'll try the canned air trick, and Bob, I'll look into the Kaiser release. Also, if anyone has had any luck with a mechanical self-timer on a self-cocking shutter I'd be very interested in hearing about it.


-- Mark Parsons (, August 04, 2000.

Before you try rigging up something complicated, have you had the shutter serviced lately? I sent a self-cocking Ilex #5 to Steve Grimes for a CLA. Before CLA even a cable release wouldn't always make the long throw, and I assumed that was just how it was, being a self-cocking shutter, but now it works like a charm. I gather this is pretty common for old shutters of this type.

-- David Goldfarb (, August 05, 2000.

Good idea, David, except that I bought the shutter from Steve Grimes and he made adapters and mounted the lens in it. I'm afraid it's as good as it's going to get, but thanks for the suggestion!

-- Mark Parsons (, August 05, 2000.

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