Lets talk Shutters: We carry a stock of good pre-owned large format shutters that are available for use in remounting your barrel lenses. Personally, I am a big fan of both the ilex shutter and Alphax shutter. Other popular well made shutters include the Copal, Compound, Prontor, and the Compur shutter. These are all nice shutters that have proven themselves over time as being both durable and reliable with the possible exception of the Compound shutter. The Compound is a wonderful shutter, but it is slightly more susceptible to damage from abuse than the others. Today the preference of the general population has fallen on the Copal shutter. Copal shutters are very nice but my personal preference is toward the classic shutters for custom lens mounting. Please see my comments on these large format shutters below.
ilex Shutter: The long time favorite shutter of large format photographers around the world especially for larger lenses. It would be safe to say that when it comes to custom lens mounting, the ilex shutter has been used more than any other shutter. They were the first choice for Kodak for their commercial Ektar line and all lenses requiring a #3 or larger shutter. I believe Kodak was correct in using other brands for their smaller shutters as they were of higher quality in general. The ilex #3, #4 and #5 shutters have been accepted as the standard large format shutter until they were overtaken by the smaller Copal shutter offerings. The #5 is highly sought after for mounting BIG barrel lenses in as it is one of the biggest standard shutters made second only to the big Compound shutter. It should be noted that the #5 Alphax and Betax shutters have only a slightly smaller lens mounting diameter but have a slightly larger maximum aperture than the #5 ilex shutter and are 1/2 inch smaller in overall diameter.
Copal Shutter: Let me start off by saying Copal shutters are nice shutters with excellent features. They work well and look nice. For most photographers a nice Copal shutter will outlive their days of taking pictures. I sell many Copal shutters and have Copal shutters on many of my personal lenses. However this humble photographer prefers to use the classic shutters on vintage lenses. I know I will catch a some flack for my opinion, never the less it is my opinion and feel I have to be honest about it. You will see countless examples of 60 to 90 year old shutters from the other manufacturers listed on this page in fine working order or in need of a simple clean and lube. With little care those that have not been abused will last another hundred years or more. They are more durable than modern shutters and will withstand much more abuse than a modern Copal. With that said, you have to love the way a beautiful lens looks in a Copal shutter. The black face complements many lenses. The Copal Press shutters are particularly nice. Unfortunately I am not a Copal shutter distributor yet. I do carry good, lightly used, 0 and #1 Copal Shutters as well as an occasional Copal #3.
Wollensak Shutters: Modern Wollensak shutters include the Alphax shutter, the Betax shutter, and Rapax shutter. Wollensak is an excellent manufacture whose products as a hole are highly under rated. They have many outstanding lenses, but that’s another story. Lets take a look at their large format shutters:
Compur Shutter: German quality and craftsmanship are clearly visible in the Compur shutter. They will typically last a lifetime or two of shooting as compared to the more limited life expectancy of the Copal shutters. I know I may catch a lot of flack for that statement but it is my opinion never the less. It has been my experience that while an older Compur shutter may require a clean & lube every 10 to 20 years, it is due to the much closer tolerances and precision craftsmanship. A Copal shutter on the other hand is unfortunately like many of today’s modern cameras. They are considered more like throw always. They are typically used until they die and usually replaced rather than repaired. If you watch ebay regularly you will frequently see relatively new lenses with nonfunctioning, broken, or as is most often the case, a replaced Copal shutter. By sharp contrast, it is very rare that you will see a lens in a Compur shutter that has been replaced or that needs anything more than a simple servicing. You will find this to be true even on Compur shutters over 50 years old. Last of all, the reason most of the new lenses come in Copals is really quite simple. They are less expensive than a Compur shutter. Personally, I do not see the logic in saving $50.00 on the price of a $600.00 -$5000.00 lens by using a shutter that is lless expensive. Time to get off the soapbox now. The Prontor shutter is also a well made German shutter but not very common so I will not go into detail on them.
Compound Shutter: One of the few pneumatic shutters that have survived in a world dominated by the clockwork shutters. They are high quality, German engineered, marvels. The #5 Compound is the largest commonly available shutter made for the large format photographer. With its massive 82.8mm front and rear lens opening it is the best choice for you if you have a monster barrel lens for custom lens mounting. They not only have the largest lens opening, but also have the largest clear aperture available on any standard shutter. Compound shutters are a bit more delicate than other shutters on my list with paper thin leaves that can be easily damaged by an inexperienced shutter service man. Overall, the Compound shutter is an exceptional shutter. There quality design enabled them to not only survive, but to compete with modern clockwork shutters many decades after pneumatic shutters were considered obsolete.
Need a Shutter? We carry a selection of well cared for classic shutters in sizes 00, 0, 1, 3, 4, & 5 including the #5 ilex shutter as well as some as new Copal 0 and 1 shutters for your custom lens mounting needs. A measurement of the diameter of your barrel lens would help narrow down what size shutter you will need. To be able to recommend the smallest size possible it is always best to have the lens in hand but I will do my best to help you select a shutter. Being a field photographer myself, size and weight are always an issue and I try to keep them to a minimum. All the shutters I sell with the exception of the as new Copals have been serviced (a 50 dollar value). The prices are as follows (with some exceptions).