A bench exam is a thorough evaluation of the shutter’s condition. During a bench exam, I check all shutter functions, investigate any customer-identified problems or abnormalities, and open up the shutter to examine the state of the wheels, levers, and springs that comprise the sub-assemblies.
I provide a written estimate of the services and costs required to restore your shutter to reliable functionality. I don’t proceed with any CLA or repairs without your written authorization.
Cost is $25 (waived if follow-on services are authorized).
CLA stands for Clean, Lubricate, and Adjust, and is the most common and economical service both for restoring shutters to useful function and for keeping working shutters at optimal performance. A CLA should make your shutter run as well as it is capable with its existing parts. It may not mean that every speed matches the value indicated on the shutter, but rather that the shutter fires on all speeds in a consistent, repeatable, and well-characterized manner.
In a CLA, I disassemble the shutter name plate, speed ring and top plate. Inside the shutter, I disassemble the entire lever assembly and speed retarding assembly and remove all moving parts from the support plate (also called the base plate). I do not remove the support plate to access the shutter blade or iris (aperture) assemblies during a CLA: these do not require routine service and are best left undisturbed unless a repair is specifically warranted.
After disassembly, I carefully clean off all old, congealed lubricants so parts can move freely and as intended. I then apply fresh, high quality lubricant (just the right amount in just the right places) and reassemble the entire shutter. Once reassembled, I re-test all shutter functions, measure all shutter speeds, and provide a speed test data sheet summarizing shutter performance. All CLAs are covered by my 90-day warranty.
Cost is $75.
Any work beyond a CLA described above is considered a repair. Usually this means repairing or replacing worn, missing, or damaged parts (subject to availability). All repairs are covered by my 90-day warranty. The cost of a repair is the cost of a CLA plus repair-specific parts and labor. I offer repairs on Alphax and Betax shutters, but due to the lack of suitable spare parts, Studio shutters and iris diaphragm barrels are limited to CLA services described above.
Repair labor is charged at $60 per hour in 15-minute increments. Parts fall into three categories as follows:
- Incidental parts ($1-3 each): Screws, plate spacers, washers, etc.
- Minor parts ($5-15 each): Shutter blades, most springs and levers, speed retarding assembly components, speed cam, diaphragm operating ring, etc.
- Major Parts ($15-40 each): Main lever, main spring, shutter case, entire aperture assembly, base plate, etc.
Replacement Alphax and Betax shutters are occasionally available. All shutters have been CLAd, include a speed test data sheet, and are covered by my 90-day warranty. Replacement shutter costs are as follows:
Shutter Speed Testing
I provide a shutter speed test data sheet with every Alphax and Betax shutter I service or sell.
Measuring the slow and medium speeds on leaf shutters is easy and accurate with readily available smart phone or computer applications. However, accurately measuring the fastest speeds of a leaf shutter is a bit more challenging.
Imagine an ideal leaf shutter: the blades open instantaneously, stay open for the desired exposure time, and then close instantaneously. Graphically, such an ideal shutter would be represented like this:
In the real world, leaf shutters require time for the blades to travel. The center of the shutter is the first area to open and the last to close. This video shows the blade movements of an Alphax 5 shutter as an example.
The open area grows as the blades continue to travel, eventually revealing the entire aperture. After staying open for the appropriate time, the shutter blades travel in reverse, obscuring the edges first until finally extinguishing the central pinprick of light. The Total Open Time (the time from which that central pinprick of light is first visible until the time it is extinguished) is significantly longer than the Full Open Time (the time during which the entire aperture area is uncovered by shutter blades). The midpoint between these two times is the Effective Shutter Speed. Graphically, a real leaf shutter is represented like this:
The key is that the Effective Exposure Time of a real shutter delivers the same exposure value as the earlier, ideal shutter for the nominal shutter speed. In other words, due to blade opening and closing times, it takes longer for a real-world shutter to deliver the same exposure value as an ideal shutter. The 1957 Wollensak Lens and Shutter Guide illustrates this succinctly:
I provide speed test data sheets which include not only the Effective Speed of your shutter at each Indicated Speed, but also include the Total Opening Time and Full Opening Time measurement data. This can be useful when compensating for changes in Effective Speed at small apertures. Here is an example:
Keep in mind that the shutter speed test data I provide is a starting point, not the final word. The results of speed tests on the highest speeds of leaf shutters are heavily influenced by the measurement technique. Testing your shutter with your own lenses, metering technique, working apertures, and films of choice is the only surefire way to ensure consistent, reproducible results.