The Shutters of Film Camera Shutters in Super Slow-Mo

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 11.30.20 AM

Photographer Rio Akasaka is the Canon Film guy, and he recently shared a very interesting video (after the jump) showing off how the shutters of old film cameras work He uses a Canon F-1, Nikon FM10, and a Canon EF and slows the video down from 240fps to a speed that lets us see how the shutters work. The result is that you can see that some cameras have vertical shutters while others have horizontal shutters.

These days, most camera shutters are vertical, though there are some that move from side to side.

For those of you interested in more, know that these are focal plane shutters. They have two curtains (shutter blades for those who don’t necessarily understand): a front and a rear curtain. The curtains open and close to expose the film. Because of the way that this works, when you introduce a flash into the mix, you can choose to set the camera to a second curtain or first curtain shutter. Second curtain flash usually lets you stop fast moving motion and allow some sort of cool blur into the scene. It’s super fun.

In contrast, leaf shutters are based in the lens and allow you to shoot with a flash at a super fast shutter speed.

  • John Ward
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    My recollection is that the FM series was Nikon’s first vertical-travel shutter, which allowed them to boost the flash sync speed (I think to 200 or so). Have you ever displayed a photo of a shutter mechanism, out of the body? They are pretty impressive (especially from the old Nikon F2 – they’re enormous).

    • Zos Xavius
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      Yeah the vertical metal shutter. I think Nikon used Seiko shutters when they went all metal. Pentax used those shutters in a few of their cameras like the ME and ME Super. The seiko shutters have a really distinct and satisfying sound.