Studio Shutter : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Does anyone have information on "studio" shutters? I often see them sold with older Wollensak portrait lenses, particularly soft-focus models. Was the shutter made by Wollensak? Is it mounted in the lens barrel or behind like a Packard? Does the shutter function on T, B, or both? Is it air-driven with a bulb apparatus or with a standard cable release? Finally, are there any typical mechanical defects that I should look for when buying used? Thanks.


-- Dave Willison (, March 18, 2001



The only one I have been fortunate to see was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in a display on Pictorial Photography circa 1933.

It was at least as big as a #5 Ilex, and probably bigger. It was marked Wollensak. It was air activated (piston on the left side as you look at the camera from the front) and had at least 3 speeds, T, B, and 1/30th or something. I doubt it could function much faster than that anyway, given it's size.

I cannot honestly recall now if the lens was mounted in the usual way (shutter between two halves of the lens) or it was "front mounted" - i.e. shutter mounted to outside of board, lens mounted to front of shutter. But I seem to recall the former rather than the latter.

Maybe someone who has one of the monsters will chime in?

-- Sean yates (, March 18, 2001.

Wollensak manufactured Studio Shutters into the 1920's. Following is summarized from a 1919 Wollensak consumer catalog:

Practically noiseless in operation, the Studio Shutter is an efficient outfit for both studio and home portraiture. The studio Shutter is operated by a three-foot wire release supplied with each shutter, or if desired with bulb and tube, can be furnished at slight cost with a "bulb attachment" which readily screws into the wire release socket. The Studio is a "between-the-lens" type, having ten leaves which constitute both diaphragm and shutter. Exposure is made by opening and closing at the center. Since the Studio Shutter is designed primarily for studio use, it is not equipped with automatic exposures, but allows exposure with bulb or wire release for about 1/5th of a second to any desired duration by continuous pressure of the bulb or release. It can also be opened for focusing or for time exposure by moving a lever.

Unfortunately, Studio Shutters found today in old lenses tend to be worn out from heavy use and may be uneconomically repairable. Good ones may be finicky and prone to fail at any time. Check that the iris/shutter blades make a reasonably round opening when the f stop is set. Check to see that you can get repeatable settings on f stops and that the shutter opens and closes smoothly. I use several with a Packard shutter where I have abandoned the Studio Shutter but still use the iris blades for f stops.

-- C. W. Dean (, March 18, 2001.

I asked Steve Grimes about the possibility of using a Studio Shutter for a very large 360mm/f:4.5 Heliar, which is a tad too big for even an Ilex 5 (it can be adapted at the cost of a half stop, but I might just do it anyway for convenience). He said they are very difficult to find and are almost always in irreparable condition.

-- David Goldfarb (, March 18, 2001.

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