Why is the shutter in R3-R8 (minus R6.2) electronically controlled rather than mechanically powered?

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I am going to be getting my final Leica camera of the year the R4 in a few days I believe (just picked up the Summicron-R 50mm lens yesterday afternoon) and will be shooting pictures of my engagement next week... scary thoughts :p...

I know that the R4 has an electronically controlled shutter and was wondering why did Leica switch the design from the mechanical shutter control in the Leicaflex/SL/SL2 series towards an electronical mobility??? After all, that leaves the Leica R cameras battery dependent (and who can shoot photographs with a dead Leica R4???) and at the mercy of having to carry around extra battery in cold frozen weather.

So my surmise about why Leica switched to electronic controlled shutters are the following:

1) Better and more accurate shutter speeds determined by the computer chip? 2) Cheaper setup than having to built in mechanical shutters? 3) Decreased weight of the R body? 4) Ability to shoot photographs at slower shutter speeds because the electronically controlled shutter will vibrate less with less percussions?

I don't know much about the internal workings but I know for one thing sure that the Leica R4 is going to be an exciting new step in my Leica collection/photographing.

sincerely, Alfie

-- Albert Wang (albert.wang@ibx.com), November 13, 2001


Exposure automation and reduced cost. Electronic shutter timing is so common now that it cost less to make an electronically-timed shutter than a comparable mechanically-timed unit. Exposure automation, at least aperture-priority, is MUCH simpler with an electronically-timed shutter than with a mechanical shutter.

-- Douglas Herr (telyt@earthlink.net), November 13, 2001.

I suspect, that it was also felt that professional SLRS needed automation. Most of the competitors had it, so Leica had to have it. Most people like aperture priority AE so an electronic shutter is the only way to go. From then on there is no looking back. You can use the R4 on its manual speed of 1/100 actually I think if your battery dies.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), November 13, 2001.

Wow, looks like the dead Leica R4 could be similar to a Leica point and shoot camera with "fancier" controls :)... yep, I know that the 1/100 shutter speed is good especially in dark lighting when you can flash sync at that speed. However it doesn't help with ambient light so I will make sure to have some batteries around with me :)


-- Albert Wang (albert.wang@ibx.com), November 13, 2001.

It could have been because they were losing money on every SL2 they sold and were in danger of going under. I am not a big fan of the R3 and R4 cameras but they sure saved Leica.


-- John Collier (jbcollier@powersurfr.com), November 13, 2001.

Most SLR and compact camera shutters are quartz controlled.

Quartz timing circuit is very accurate; a good example is quartz wrist watches, their timing accuracy is better than mechanical chronometer watches.

Mechanical shutter's inaccuracy is particular evident at low speed such as 1/2, 1 sec etc.

Second advantage of quartz shutter is long time exposure

Third advantage of electronic timing circuit is the ease to integrate with built in exposure meter, in particular TTL flash metering--- which not possible with mechanical shutter.

The down side is you have to carry spare batteries.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), November 16, 2001.

Alfie: I have an R4 and carry spare batteries, warm and cold weather. If the shutter release is depressed any, the meter is energized. It does not matter if the film is advanced or not. I have gone through a couple of sets of batteries because of this, and have to be very careful nothing else in my case causes the foam to tough the release. Enjoy your new toy(?).

-- Mark A. Johnson (logic@gci.net), November 16, 2001.

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