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Exakta VX IIa Shutter setting dial for B, T, Speeds c1958

Toronto. Over the years from photography’s beginning in 1839 to current times there have been a few trends. Cameras have gotten smaller. Images became more realistic beginning with monochrome photos across part of the visible spectrum, then across all of it (panchromatic), colour – first by hand then with rudimentary dyes trying to mimic life and finally digital colour covering a much wider gamut. Cameras and processes were very technical and difficult at first on down to so simple anyone can take a decent photo today. Media and lenses were dog slow at first, moving on to super fast media and fast lenses. Costs have continued to spiral downwards.

In a post a few days back called “why the tripod?” you met ‘B‘ and ‘I‘ – the Bulb and Instantaneous shutter settings used when dry plates came into vogue (c1870). The instantaneous setting bloomed as media increased in speed. ‘I‘ changed into a series of shutter speeds eventually reaching and exceeding 1/1000 second. And the Bulb setting, where you hold down the shutter release to keep the shutter open, was augmented by a ‘T‘ setting where you pressed the shutter release to open the shutter and then pressed it again to close the shutter. The ‘T‘ stands for Time (sometimes it was ‘Z‘ or Zeit which is Time in German).

Over the years after shutters came out, the shutter settings often reverted to eitherB‘ or ‘T‘ since the speed timed could be measured using either setting.

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