Where does the term SHUTTER SPEED come from?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by photo1x1.com, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hey everyone!

    Not being a native English speaker, I often wonder where the term shutter speed comes from.
    In German, we say "Belichtungszeit" which would translate to exposure time - which is rather logical and found in the EXIF data.

    But where does the rather misleading "shutter speed" come from? I could only imagine these are from rotary shutters of movie cameras. But as far as I know, they rotate at the same speed.

    Any historians here in the group?


     
  2. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Shutter speed simply refers to the amount of time that the camera's shutter is open. The longer the shutter is open, the more light that passes through to the camera's sensor. Conversely, the shorter the shutter is open, the less light that's able to pass through.
     
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  3. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Jeff. But that was not my question ;)
     
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  4. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    When cameras first became cameras the mechanism that allowed light into the camera was a device called the shutter this is because it operated like a shutter a device that could be opened or closed by the photographer by pressing a button on the camera.
     
  5. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    That´s still the case for many cameras, Jeff. But what about "speed". The speed the shutter opens and closes doesn´t have all that much influence. It is more the time that is open. So why has "shutter speed" become more popular than "exposure time"?
     
  6. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    The name has just stuck, with modern technology with my camera for example (Sony RX10 M4) it's all electronic now. Its just a name.
     
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  7. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I think it is a very confusing name when you are trying to teach people photography, while exposure time is so clear and easy. So I was wondering where that term came from, and if it ever made sense.
     
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  8. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    It is what it is.......
     
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  9. Original katomi

    Original katomi TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Like a lot terms and phrases like shutter speed were coined by someone to describe something or an action
    And the phrases has stuck even though over time it has become less and less accurate.
    There are a lot of words, term and phrases that are used that sometimes depend on location to properly describe an event or object.
    I am in the UK, and this site is global sometimes people use words that to them mean one thing and something different to me.
    I have heard the term shutter speed used by people to explain how fast the shutter moved, thus controlling the exposure. Whilst not correct and as Jeff 15 said it is often no longer relevant.
    I have done some web search, and there is not a lot on the origin of the phrase the nearest is from a
    navy Site.
    The phrase shutter speed to them was to do with signaling lamps that sent messages in morse code by light these lamps worked on shutters being opened and closed by hand. And that the seaman operating the lamp had to maintain a steady shutter speed so that the signal could be read.
     
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  10. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Early cameras had a device called a 'lens cap' that was removed to create the exposure. The photographer would set up the camera, put the lens cap on, put the film in, then remove the lens cap. If there was a lot of light, the photographer would have to be quick to replace the cap. If the scene was dimly lit, he could take his time replacing the cap.

    So 'speed' came from how fast or slow the shooter needed to be to replace the lens cap.
     
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  11. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Think back to the beginning where there were no shutters on cameras or lenses. All the photographer did was calculate the exposure time and uncovered the lens cover, for exposure time, and then placed the cover back over the lens. I assume that when shutter's were invented and attached to the lens, speed referred to this time.
     
  12. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    As usual the Germans are more logical than Brits.
    I suppose with a leaf shutter the blades have to move fast to get shorter exposures, but it not a well chosen term!
     
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