Thursday, September 29, 2016

Testing the Phochron XA Shutter Tester!

Back in July, I met Eric Bergstrom at a photo meetup in Kalamazoo.  He's an interesting guy that lives on the W side of Michigan, and not only is he a film photography enthusiast, he's also a tinkerer, and an electrical engineer.  That means he knows a heck of a lot more about making electronic doodads than I do, and more than that, he's an entrepreneur.  He brought along a version of a compact device that tests shutter speeds, which he showed us in operation.  I was immediately hooked.   I liked the way the device did the thinking and just gave me a nice meaningful readout, and it was EASY to use.  Eric promised to send me a pre-production version to test out for the Film Photography Podcast, and yes, we did do a test, but it's audio only, so you can't really see it in action.  However, we were all impressed with the ease of use, compact size, and nice display with a menu system that's easy to navigate.

The  Phochron XA shutter tester is easy to use, and has a built-in illustrated manual available on the LCD display!
It's easy to just use the included LED and single sensor for any shutter type.  If you want to have more critical testing of a vertical or horizontal focal plane shutter, an additional plug-in sensor unit will be available. I didn't try it, as I just wanted the quick and easy shutter speed measurements from various cameras.

Why would you possibly want one?  
That's easy for me to answer. If I sell a camera on ebay, I would like to be able to state how accurate the shutter is.  Second, what about those box cameras?  What's the shutter speed.  Third, I am always surprised at how much off a shutter may be on old cameras.  If you are wondering why negatives may not be quite what you expected with a certain camera, it could very well be that the shutter you thought was firing at 1/500 sec is actually 1/125.  That's two stops off.   Of course, it's a useful testing item.

If I have any suggestions, it would be that some sort of cradle with a tripod socket could be an add-on.  It's useful to be able to have the Phochron XA solidly mounted for camera testing.  I found the shutter tester easy to use, and a lot of fun, since I could fire a shutter repeatedly, and the display would show me all of the tests for a certain setting, as well as a summary with the average time.

Eric plans to put together a Kickstarter to fund production of the shutter tester, which is called the Phochron XA.  You can see more about it at his website,

Testing the shutter.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Walker Evans, Wright Morris and Lee Friedlander share a cabin

Well, not really.  However, while we were staying at the tiny cabin along the AuTrain River in late August, I spent about 40 minutes doing some shooting inside the cabin. It was morning, Adrienne was still asleep, and I was feeling a bit  creative.  I got out my Nikon F3HP with a 50mm lens, tripod,  and did some shots of the interior.  I finished scanning in the Kentmere 100 negatives, and as I edited them, it occurred to me that there were elements I had seen before, made by other, earlier photographers that for whatever motivations, did the same thing at some point.  So, here are some images that I made, and you can decide who would have shot what, had they been there.