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Re: "B" shutter setting?

 
 
nospam
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      02-09-2012
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Jennifer
Murphy <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I happened to see this question on an old Trivial Pursuit card:
>
> What does the camera shutter speed B stand for?
>
> The answer is "Bulb".
>
> Is this still used?


yes. many cameras have a 'b' or bulb setting.

> Does it mean "flash"?


no.

> What, exactly, does it do (or did it do)?


bulb is for exposures longer than the slowest built-in shutter speed,
generally ranging from a few seconds to a few hours.

you press the shutter release button to open the shutter, hold it down
to keep it open and when you let go, it closes. it gets its name from
air bulbs, similar to the one your doctor uses when taking blood
pressure. these days, you can lock it open so you don't have to stand
there holding it.

there used to also be a setting called 't' for time, which was press
once to open and press again to close. since cameras now have a way to
lock bulb open, t isn't needed anymore.
 
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Robert Coe
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      02-17-2012
On Thu, 09 Feb 2012 12:50:25 -0500, nospam <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
: In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Jennifer
: Murphy <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
:
: > I happened to see this question on an old Trivial Pursuit card:
: >
: > What does the camera shutter speed B stand for?
: >
: > The answer is "Bulb".
: >
: > Is this still used?
:
: yes. many cameras have a 'b' or bulb setting.
:
: > Does it mean "flash"?
:
: no.
:
: > What, exactly, does it do (or did it do)?
:
: bulb is for exposures longer than the slowest built-in shutter speed,
: generally ranging from a few seconds to a few hours.
:
: you press the shutter release button to open the shutter, hold it down
: to keep it open and when you let go, it closes. it gets its name from
: air bulbs, similar to the one your doctor uses when taking blood
: pressure.

Does anyone else question that etymology? Since I first picked up a camera,
I've understood the "bulb" referred to by the "B" setting to be a flashbulb.
Early flashbulbs had a variety of speeds at which they reached full
brightness, and some flash units were independent of the camera and had to be
set off by hand. (My dad had one of those.) I was told that the "B" setting
was to accommodate the variety of different equipment in use.

I consider the air-release bulb explanation to be suspect anyway, because I
doubt that an air release could be counted on to hold pressure well enough to
guarantee that the shutter would stay open. I've seen air releases used a fair
number of times, but never to control a long exposure. For that you would have
used a cable release with a ratchet or screw lock. An air release was for when
you were too far from the camera to use a cable release.

I realize that I'm at odds with Wikipedia. But it wouldn't be the first time
they've been wrong.

Bob
 
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nospam
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      02-17-2012
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Robert Coe
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> : > What, exactly, does it do (or did it do)?
> :
> : bulb is for exposures longer than the slowest built-in shutter speed,
> : generally ranging from a few seconds to a few hours.
> :
> : you press the shutter release button to open the shutter, hold it down
> : to keep it open and when you let go, it closes. it gets its name from
> : air bulbs, similar to the one your doctor uses when taking blood
> : pressure.
>
> Does anyone else question that etymology?


i don't. i remember air bulb shutter releases, and it wasn't all that
long ago either. cable releases work well for short distances, but for
longer runs they tend to bind. using air is a lot more reliable.

> Since I first picked up a camera,
> I've understood the "bulb" referred to by the "B" setting to be a flashbulb.
> Early flashbulbs had a variety of speeds at which they reached full
> brightness, and some flash units were independent of the camera and had to be
> set off by hand. (My dad had one of those.) I was told that the "B" setting
> was to accommodate the variety of different equipment in use.


some cameras had multiple flash sync terminals to match flash bulb
timings versus electronic flash.

> I consider the air-release bulb explanation to be suspect anyway, because I
> doubt that an air release could be counted on to hold pressure well enough to
> guarantee that the shutter would stay open. I've seen air releases used a fair
> number of times, but never to control a long exposure. For that you would have
> used a cable release with a ratchet or screw lock. An air release was for when
> you were too far from the camera to use a cable release.


ever have your blood pressure taken? that seems to hold pretty well,
does it not?

> I realize that I'm at odds with Wikipedia. But it wouldn't be the first time
> they've been wrong.


true, but this isn't one of them.
 
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Peter Irwin
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      02-17-2012
Robert Coe <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> Does anyone else question that etymology? Since I first picked up a camera,
> I've understood the "bulb" referred to by the "B" setting to be a flashbulb.


It can't be. "B" appears on shutters made well before the advent
of flashbulbs. You can see "B" on late 19th century shutters,
while flashbulbs were developed in the late 1920s and were rare
before the 1930s.

The "B" setting is useful for open flash with bulbs or flashpowder,
but the "bulb" of the name is the pneumatic release.
>
> I consider the air-release bulb explanation to be suspect anyway, because I
> doubt that an air release could be counted on to hold pressure well enough to
> guarantee that the shutter would stay open. I've seen air releases used a fair
> number of times, but never to control a long exposure.


That's because you haven't met good ones. Good quality rubber
bulbs, valves and hoses can hold pressure all day. They used
to be common in the era of pneumatic shutters 100 years ago.

> An air release was for when
> you were too far from the camera to use a cable release.


The cable release started taking over from the air release about
100 years ago. It happened about the same time that clockwork
shutters started taking over from pneumatic ones. (You can use
a cable release with many pneumatic shutters, the standard screw
fitting is actually originally intended to fit the Compound pneumatic
shutters, but by and large you can't hook up a hose directly to
a clockwork shutter.)

Peter.
--
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)

 
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David Dyer-Bennet
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      02-17-2012
Robert Coe <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> On Thu, 09 Feb 2012 12:50:25 -0500, nospam <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> : In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Jennifer
> : Murphy <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> :
> : > I happened to see this question on an old Trivial Pursuit card:
> : >
> : > What does the camera shutter speed B stand for?
> : >
> : > The answer is "Bulb".
> : >
> : > Is this still used?
> :
> : yes. many cameras have a 'b' or bulb setting.
> :
> : > Does it mean "flash"?
> :
> : no.
> :
> : > What, exactly, does it do (or did it do)?
> :
> : bulb is for exposures longer than the slowest built-in shutter speed,
> : generally ranging from a few seconds to a few hours.
> :
> : you press the shutter release button to open the shutter, hold it down
> : to keep it open and when you let go, it closes. it gets its name from
> : air bulbs, similar to the one your doctor uses when taking blood
> : pressure.
>
> Does anyone else question that etymology? Since I first picked up a camera,
> I've understood the "bulb" referred to by the "B" setting to be a flashbulb.
> Early flashbulbs had a variety of speeds at which they reached full
> brightness, and some flash units were independent of the camera and had to be
> set off by hand. (My dad had one of those.) I was told that the "B" setting
> was to accommodate the variety of different equipment in use.
>
> I consider the air-release bulb explanation to be suspect anyway, because I
> doubt that an air release could be counted on to hold pressure well enough to
> guarantee that the shutter would stay open. I've seen air releases used a fair
> number of times, but never to control a long exposure. For that you would have
> used a cable release with a ratchet or screw lock. An air release was for when
> you were too far from the camera to use a cable release.


I've used air releases, for the sort of time that would be needed to
trigger a bulb, I've never had one leak down enough to close the
shutter. (This doesn't mean I can in any way confirm that etymology;
but my experience is that an air release *could* be used as described,
at least.)

For real time exposures, you use the "T" shutter setting of course,
which doesn't have those problems.

(Another advantage of bulb releases is that the tubing was less stiff,
so it was harder to move the camera accidentally while manipulating it.)

> I realize that I'm at odds with Wikipedia. But it wouldn't be the first time
> they've been wrong.


Indeed not.

What citations do they give to support the current article?
--
David Dyer-Bennet, (E-Mail Removed); http://dd-b.net/
Snapshots: http://dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/data/
Photos: http://dd-b.net/photography/gallery/
Dragaera: http://dragaera.info
 
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Peter Irwin
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      02-18-2012
Eric Stevens <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:31:46 +0000 (UTC), Peter Irwin <(E-Mail Removed)>
> wrote:
>>It can't be. "B" appears on shutters made well before the advent
>>of flashbulbs. You can see "B" on late 19th century shutters,
>>while flashbulbs were developed in the late 1920s and were rare
>>before the 1930s.

>
> First flashes were in 1899. See
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash-lamp


That "Flash lamp" is a device for setting off flash powder,
not a flashbulb.

Peter.
--
(E-Mail Removed)

 
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