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08/28/13 Supply of Copal Shutters is drying up and no real replacement solution has been developed

Copal shutter 0 for use with Rodenstock and Schneider lenses

Copal Shutter 0 for use with Rodenstock and Schneider lenses

A while back I wrote a entry about the fact that Copal was no longer going to make the Copal 0 shutter.  For many photographers, the idea of a manual shutter is more than likely beyond comprehension as they are used to the modern electronic shutters that work in all DSLR cameras and Medium format cameras like the Phase One DF+ and Pentax 645 Digital cameras.  Here all you have to do is set the shutter from the camera controls, and take the shot.  The lens and camera communicate and the aperture is automatically stopped down a micro-second before the shutter opens.  Of course this is the way all modern cameras work unless you are working with a Large format camera or a tech camera.  Large format cameras can take either a film back or digital back, and most tech cameras are designed to work with a Medium format digital back.  In both situations, you are using a lens that has no communication electronically to the camera body, instead you have to manually set both the shutter and aperture.  The aperture is controlled by the aperture ring on the lens and this is controlled by the lens manufacturer i.e. Rodenstock or Schneider.   However neither of these companies manufacture a shutter.

Rodenstock and Schneider both have a very modern line-up of lenses that have been optimized for the higher end Medium Format Digital backs, like the Phase One P65+, IQ160 and IQ180.  However all of these lenses are still dependent on the Copal shutter 0.  (Both Schneider and Rodenstock make electronic shutters but as I explain below in most cases these shutters are not very practical).

The shutter in this case, is fitted between the lens elements during the creation of the lens.  By far the most common shutter in use today is the Copal shutter 0.  This shutter is used with every Rodenstock and Schneider lens that is being made currently and will also be installed in any of the older lenses made by both of these companies.  The Copal shutter is made in Japan and as far as I know has been the standard shutter for these lenses for years.  These shutters are also called leaf shutters by their design as they are placed inside the lens and thus the camera is not dependent on having a shutter installed.

About 4 months ago, Copal announced that they would no longer be making their manual shutters.  Apparently this part of their business model is not a large one and they are moving on with other products.  Copal is quite a large Japanese electronic company and they have many other products that are still being made.  So what does this mean?

For most photographers, nothing.  They are using cameras with focal plane shutters, ones that are built into the camera body, not the lens.  However for a small group of photographers, this is a huge deal.  These are the photographers using either large format cameras or tech cameras.  There are three tech camera companies, Alpa, Cambo and Arca and all of these companies design pancake cameras that are designed to use a medium format digital back and a Rodenstock or Schneider lens.  In this case the tech camera is basically just a platform that holds the digital back and lens for the photographer.  All tech cameras are totally dependent on the Copal shutter 0 since they are using lenses that require this shutter.

Eventually Rodenstock and Schneider will have to come up with a replacement shutter solution as they can no longer manufacture their lenses without a shutter solution.  I am curious as to just how many Copal shutters that each of these companies have in stock as it’s impossible to find a Copal shutter to purchase.  Companies like B&H photo have been back ordered for months and I am pretty sure that they will not be getting anymore stock.  When the original announcement came out on Copal discontinuing the Copal shutter 0, it was implied that there would be one last batch made.  As far as I can tell, no new shipments of these shutters has occurred.

If you have a tech camera or large format camera, this might not seem like a big deal.  But it will turn into one eventually for these reasons:

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Bluehost goes down for the big one–9 hours on 08/02/13

Bluehost goes down for the big one 9 hour outage

Bluehost goes down for the big one, a 9 hour outage


I have used  Bluehost for my webhosting  for almost 2 years and during that time, I have never experienced any downtime.  This ended on the 2nd of August when Bluehost took a major outage that lasted the entire day.  My two main sites were both offline for over 8 hours but when Bluehost finally got things fixed, I experienced no data loss that I could tell.  Overall I have to give Bluehost  a “F” on this situation.  Their non-ability to handle this size of an outage became quite clear.

What was interesting was that Bluehost’s main site, was also down and they were not answering their phones.  The phone part may have been because they were overloaded with calls, but they should have been able to have at least a recording, so that callers knew they knew something was going on.  Instead they tweeted all day long about possible fixes and when things might be fixed. As I am not a member of the tweeting generation, I did find this a bit distracting, but I guess it’s just how things work now.

I never did hear if Blue Host was hacked or not, but for my sites, the total downtime came to over 9 hours.  There was no loss of information on my sites and I did not have to bring up a site backup.  What seems interesting is how no communication from Blue Host was ever generated.  I received no email notice, or phone calls, even a a recorded phone call.  This is the normal way a company should handle a total outage that take them down 100%, so much so that their main website is down also.  Please don’t just respond via Twitter, that is a very non professional way of doing business.   Twitter is used by a younger-me now generation and I don’t believe it’s a very professional way to handle a business i.e. your only way to communication to the outside world for over 9 hours. 

My websites are my e-commerce venue for selling both my photography, and my printing services.  Taking a 9 hour downtime without any proactive communication from my hosting company is not what I expected.  I have used Bluehost’s technical support several times in the past and not had any issues.  However in regards to this outage, it’s given me enough concern that I am again looking for a hosting company and most likely will move my business.

08/02/13 New article on strange sensor behavior with D800 and night photographic work

Possible reticulation results with D800 and night photography

Possible reticulation results with D800 and night photography–Click on image for a larger view

I have written a brief article on a problem I had with my Nikon D800e on a night shoot back in May of 2013.  You can read the detailed article here:

Back in May of 2013 on a night shoot, I noticed a strange problem with my D800e images.  I was shooting for night star trails and using the stacking method of shooting.  Normally this will help reduce overall noise since the sensor does not have to stay on for a single long period.  On this night I was working a 1 minute 50 second stack series of images and when I previewed the files on the D800, I immediately noticed a large number of small white dots.  These were not from planes or any other man made device, and were very random through the image, very similar to how noise will look.

In post I found that Lightroom 4.4 had definitely more trouble when working with the raw files.  I did not take any jpgs during this shoot.  I also learned that Capture One Vr. 7, Phase One’s raw conversion software did a much better job overall of the files.  I was able to correct for all the small dots in Capture One, but never really was able to get all of them taken care of in Lightroom.

My D800e is a standard setup, with the Nikon Grip.  I have 1 Nikon Li-0n battery in the camera and the the grip has (8) Ni-MH batteries installed.  I have not had any issues before with this setup.  I will always run off the batteries in the grip first and then the battery in the camera.  Most times in about 4 hours of constant shooting and checking exposures, I will go through all of the power in the grip cells and then use up about 1/3 of the Li-on cell in the camera.  This particular night was not that hot, ambient temperatures were about 78 degrees and the humidity was low about 30 percent of less.  I have not had a chance to do another night shoot since the one in May but hope to get out soon and see if this is going to be a constant problem or a  one time occurrence.