September 21, 2023


How Art Works

How Leica Measured Shutter Speeds to the Millisecond with the Bare Eye

3 min read

Alabama-based photographer and engineer Destin Sandin of the YouTube channel SmarterEveryDay lately visited KameraStore in Finland. Sandin, whose movies ship in-depth technical info in an entertaining and comprehensible method, discovered about Kamerastore’s specialised restoration and testing course of, which incorporates utilizing period-appropriate equipment.

Past repairing and testing cameras, Kamerastore presents the world’s solely digicam mechanics coaching program and technician coaching college. It’s house to gear and machines that will excite any images fanatic, particularly one as within the technical points as Sandin.

SmarterEveryDay KameraStore

Sandin’s newest video goes behind the scenes at Kamerastore, together with a have a look at a really particular Leica testing machine from the Thirties. The gadget permits a skilled technician, like Ari at Kamerastore, to calibrate an previous Leica curtain-type focal aircraft digicam shutter. The machine depends upon a rolling shutter-like impact that permits a skilled technician to calibrate a shutter by eye.

Leica’s first commercially accessible 35mm digicam, the Leica 1(A), hit retailer cabinets in 1925. It, and later Leica cameras, had been among the many greatest in the marketplace. Like many later cameras, early Leica fashions included a shutter velocity dial on prime. This mechanical dial allowed the photographer to pick a shutter velocity, like 1/1,000 second, for instance. The shutter velocity dial have to be exactly calibrated to the precise velocity of the shutter.

SmarterEveryDay KameraStore

If the photographer selects the 1/1,000 second shutter velocity, which means the shutter is open and the movie is uncovered to gentle for only one millisecond. Leica engineers wanted to tune its cameras to make sure that the shutter was open for the anticipated period, with excessive precision. That’s the place the particular calibration machine Sandin noticed in Finland is available in.

The machine measures a millisecond mechanically. Accompanying the machine is an unique Leica restore handbook — in German, in fact — that features diagrams displaying exactly what the shutter ought to appear like via the machine at completely different shutter speeds. At varied rotational charges, a correctly-calibrated shutter will produce differently-curved traces.

SmarterEveryDay KameraStore

Not glad to depart such cool know-how behind in Finland, upon his return to the U.S., Sandin recreated the unimaginable machine utilizing a drill, ketchup bottle, and magic marker. Mixed with a phantom high-speed digicam and intensely brilliant Nanolux gentle that doesn’t flicker, Sandin can use the high-speed digicam to view traces on the ketchup bottle because it spins behind the digicam on a drill.

SmarterEveryDay KameraStore

Utilizing an additive animation method, it’s attainable to see the curved traces like what was seen utilizing the devoted Leica machine. Whereas a ketchup bottle with marker traces could appear crude, Sandin’s setup is subtle. Leica technicians carried out these measurements with a single machine and the bare eye. Kamerastore’s expert technicians nonetheless do.

SmarterEveryDay KameraStore

One other piece of the puzzle is making certain that the machine’s rotation, or ketchup bottle in Sandin’s case, matches up with a normal velocity. In any other case, the achieved shutter velocity measurements could also be incorrect. The Leica machine makes use of aliasing, very similar to a report participant, to permit the person to dial in a exact benchmark velocity. It’s an unimaginable machine.

Picture credit: SmarterEveryDay, Kamerastore

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