Why Leaf Shutters Are Sometimes Preferable to Focal Plane Shutters

Focal plane shutters are by far the most common mechanism for controlling exposure times, but leaf shutters are still around and preferred by some photographers, particularly when it comes to working with flash. This excellent video will show you the advantages of a leaf shutter when working with a strobe.

Coming to you from David Bergman with Adorama TV, this helpful video will show you the advantages a leaf shutter has over the more common focal plane shutter when working with flash. For the most part, leaf shutters exist in the medium format realm, though there are a few to be found outside it, perhaps most notably in the Fuji X100 series of cameras. You might be wondering why photographers do not just use technologies like high-speed sync. Many do, but there are disadvantages to HSS, the most notable being a loss of maximum power, which can be a problem when you are competing with the midday sun. Personally, HSS has made my life a lot easier, but some photographers still have a strong preference for leaf shutters, even going so far as to invest in medium format systems to retain the capability. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Bergman.

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10 Comments

I have long advocated for more LS lenses in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
There is no reason (other than low demand) that they cannot be offered by the manufacturers.
Just a 24-70 f4 (2.8 would be nice but that is more money and bulk in a LS lens) would make many pros and others shooting flash regularly very happy.
The range advantage over the kludge of HSS is not to be underestimated.

Low demand and and it would increase the price of the lens. You'd probably enter tilt-shift territory in terms of pricing and niche. Not saying that it wouldn't be viable, but I'm guessing most companies don't deem it worth it since HSS and HS are a thing.

I agree on the limited demand. However the TS lenses have very limited demand and their prices are not out of sight. IMO a LS 24-70 would actually have greater demand than most TS lenses particularly the 135 TS-E.

Presumably we’ll get the same benefits when we get true global shutter sensors?

In theory. We will have to wait until we see how well they actually perform. I wonder if we will see uneveness due to imperfect synchronization or some other effect.

I have often been disappointed by the promise of magical tech.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Just a couple of years and we will have global electronic shutters in our cameras - all problems with x-sync will be solved ;)

Please do consider the read out time of the sensors. The full frame Canon R needs 16.6ms, which is just 1/60s. And it is one of the fastest. So it is still long way to go and probably needs much longer than just a couple of years.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

They already exist, just not yet for consumer still-camera market. (check Black Magic, Phantoms and most CCD sensors...) As I spoke with Fuji rep. it was one of the reasons to not have LS lenses for GFX line - the R&D wasn't worth it in scope of "sudden" global shutter CMOS(?) sensors appearance...

While they exist they may not have the uniformity of operation that flash photography requires. Motion allows a lot of imperfection.

Sony A9's readout takes about 1/150s, compared with about 1/300s (nonlinear) of its mechanical shutter (https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2017/08/22/a-new-test-debuts-at-ir...). There are good quality charge-domain global shutter sensors but they typically have 1/4 the dynamic range of rolling shutter sensors with the same pixel pitch. There are other ideas like organic films, quantum dots, and per-pixel-ADCs, all of which have shown promises.