Lens Mounting/Packard Shutter

A Simple Way to Shutter Big Lenses


Because of their simplicity Packard and Packard type shutters can be mysterious.


Learn about how the Packard shutter operates and the different ways it can be installed.


  • Shown above installed in a wooden view camera this is one of the most common presentations of the Packard type shutter. To the right is the appearance of the plain shutter from the piston side
  • Next to covering a lens with a lenscap the most primitive way to “valve” the light from the film is the Packard shutter. It is an arrangement of three moving blades in a housing operated, usually, by a hand squeezed rubber bulb. This picture is the non piston side of a plain shutter. New ones have a black felt adhered to the metal.
  • Rubber tubing connects the hand bulb to a pneumatic piston which operates to open and close the shutter blades.
  • The usual operation of to hold your thumb over the hole in the end of the bulb, squeeze it, count off the time open then allow the bulb, with your thumb still over the hole to “suck” back and close the blades. Releasing your thumb from the hole will allow the blades to remain open indefinitly; they can be closed by squeezing the bulb, covering the hole and allowing the bulb to open causing the piston to be drawn back, closing the blades.
  • A clever arrangement of the parts allows installation of a pin into the mechanism which causes the blades to open and close with a single squeeze of the bulb to deliver an “instantaneous” speed. Depending on the condition of the shutter and the technique of the operater this is about 1/15 second.
  • Another application of the Packard shutter is to front mount it. Here is a 405 mm Kodak Portrait lens mounted to a Deardorf lensboard with the shutter mounted to the front of the lens.
  • Here is a 750 mm Zeiss Apo-Germinar lens mounted to a 4 inch Canham lensboard with the Packard shutter adapted to the front of the lens.
  • © 2016 S.K. Grimes
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