Packard Shutters : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have noticed that Packard Shutters are reasonably priced on Ebay but I really know nothing of how they function. I assume that they are behind the lens, but how are they tripped/how does the cable release get through to the shutter? How are they mounted? I also gather that they have only bulb and 1/25th sec -not sure if that's right. I would appreciate any help. Thanks very much! Matthew

-- Matthew Hoag (, May 18, 2002


SK Grimes has a nice page:

-- jason (, May 18, 2002.

Mr. Grimes site does give an excellent overview of Packards. is the site for the company that still makes them. Not a lot of information there, but does give specs on sizes available. I agree with Mr. Grimes, the 1/25 sec figure often given for these shutters is usually closer to 1/15 sec, at least for the old used ones. Packards are easy to take apart if they need cleaning. There are almost no parts inside. Someone recommended powdered graphite to lube the piston, and that worked quite well for me. I recently did a front mount for my 450mm Artar. Front mounting is nice because it is simple, and you can actually watch the shutter working. If you don't squeeze the air bulb hard enough and the shutter sticks open, you know you have a problem and can reshoot. I cut a square of 3/4" thick plywood the size of the Packard, bored a hole in the plywood the outside diameter of the lens barrel, and attached the shutter with four wood screws. I was able to bore the hole so it is a snug slip fit on the lens barrel and just the friction of the wood holds it on. To drill the hole for the pin that is slipped in for the 1/15 sec speed, I cut a small nail short enough the point just stuck out of the pin hole on the shutter, then pressed the shutter against the plywood and the nail point left a mark I could drill through for my pin. A pop rivet works well for a pin; it has a built in handle and spares are cheap.

-- Leonard Robertson (, May 19, 2002.

Mr. Grimes site is about as good as you will find for a quick, detailed, and easy to understand lesson on the Packards. Mounting the Packard in front of the lens is sometimes the only way to use them these days because of the smaller lens boards on newer cameras. It's a little more vulnerable to damage out front than when safely sealed within the camera. Either way they provide a very natural working sequence as the photographer mostly can stay behind the camera from composition through exposure. Portrait photographers with large studio view cameras were the big users through the mid 20th century.

If you decide to open one for cleaning, remember the advice of the present Packard manufacturer--no fluids or oils, the Packard works at its best clean and dry. A little Graphite is fine if you use it like a cook uses garlic--too much is worse than too little.

New users tend to have trouble if they do not get the correct bulb and tubing and do not learn the idiosyncrasies of the pin mentioned by Leonard Robertson above.

-- C. W. Dean (, May 19, 2002.

The shutter is also used in copy cameras. For accurate exposures the timing control is used on the lights rather than the shutter. Very much along the same order as it can be used with open flash.

-- James M Conway (, June 09, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ