Tag Archives: Shutter Speed Test

Mechanical Shutter Testing Part 2 & Giveaway

This week I want to share some of my own testing results and summarize the benefits and downsides of this specific shutter testing unit. The camera I selected to test is the Olympus OM-1n MD from 1979. To begin the test, the lens of the camera is removed. The LED must be placed in the center of the lens opening so that light can reach the sensor when the shutter is triggered. I’ve drilled a hole in a 35mm film canister and taped it to the desk, so it won’t move while testing. The curtain sensor is the placed on the back of the open camera. I’ve used a rubber band to keep the sensor in place and tight against the camera. Lastly, the testing unit is powered on and setup for the correct shutter type.

To record my results, I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet. The camera will be set at the fastest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording each of the results in the spreadsheet. Then the camera will be set to the next slowest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording the results. This process is repeated all the way to the slowest shutter speed on the camera. In the spreadsheet, I have it create an average speed based on the 10 individual tests.

When I received this unit, I went to my friend Maurice and asked him about industry standards and shutter test tolerances. He explained to me that for speeds 1/125th of a second and faster, there is a 30% tolerance on either side. For speeds slower than 1/125th of a second, shutter speeds can have an acceptable tolerance of 20% on either side.

When testing the OM-1, I could not get the unit to register a speed of 1/1000th. This unit is designed to test up to that speed, and other cameras I’ve tested at this speed have been successful. I’m not sure why the testing unit doesn’t like the OM-1 at this speed. As you can see from the results, at 1/500th of a second, the speed was too high, giving me about 1/910th of a second. As the shutter speeds became slower, the more accurate they became. What does that mean for this camera? It could be sent off for a CLA to have the speed adjusted. Or, I can simply make myself a note that the two highest speeds are a little too fast.

Pros of this unit:
– Small size.
– Easy to operate.
– Easy to read screen.
– Setup is quick.
– Build quality is good for a product that’s not mass produced.
– Price

Cons of this unit:
– Documentation is poor. Trial and error helped me more than trying to understand the documentation. The documentation for the sensor we’re giving away is much better.
– May not be 100% accurate, but close enough to help you make a decision about a camera.
– The unit must be turned off if you decide to make changes to the setup. For example, testing the shutter, then deciding to test the shutter and curtain.
– Navigating the menus with a single button can be difficult.

As I promised last week, let’s give away a shutter testing sensor! This is a sensor that can be used with a computer, tablet or smartphone. You will need to supply your own light source, like an LED flashlight. When you connect the light sensor to your preferred device, you will need (free) audio recording software. For example, Audacity on the PC. The sensor doesn’t record audio, it interprets the light and displays it on your screen. All of this information is detailed in the included instructions.

Rules: One (1) entry per person. Participants must provide email address, full name, shipping address, and country. Giveaway will be open 5/9/2018 through 5/31/2018. A winner will be chosen at random on 6/1/2018 and notified via email. A total number of participants and the winners name will be posted in the comments of this post on 6/1/2018.



Mechanical Shutter Testing – Part 1

Have you ever purchased a used film camera and asked yourself, “I wonder if the shutter speeds are accurate?” Or simply thought, “Sounds good enough.” There are inexpensive methods to test mechanical shutter speeds like mobile apps and do-it-yourself projects found online. When I was doing some research to test my own cameras, I came across Vasile Florin, a Romanian seller on eBay that sells premade shutter testing units. He has several combinations of equipment. For example, some units are made to test shutter speeds beyond 1/1000th, and others are simply a sensor that plug into the mic jack on your computer.

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

The tester I’m using is Vasile Florin’s version 10. It includes a main unit that has a 6 row, 14 column LCD display. On the main unit are jacks for an LED light source, a curtain sensor, and a DC input for power. The unit can also be powered by a 9-volt battery. When powering on the main unit, you use the black button below the curtain sensor input jack to make your selections in the testing menus.

Top to bottom: LED light jack, curtain sensor jack, menu selection button, on/off switch.

This unit can perform both a shutter test, or curtain and shutter test. The last menu prompt before testing begins is: focal plane, leaf, diaphragm, or other. This is a nice feature that separates this unit from cheaper ones. The curtain sensor on this model has 5 light sensing photo cells. The middle photo cell can be turned on by itself if you are using the sensor plugged into the mic jack on a computer.

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells

LED Light Source

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells – Close Up

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

Next week, I’ll continue with part 2 of this post and share some of my own testing results along with some pros and cons of this unit.

Make sure to come back for part 2, because I’ll be giving away a shutter tester that you can use with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.