Talk:Bulb (photography)

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T or B?[edit]

While the 'T' setting seems common on cameras that provide shutter priority I'm not so sure about the 'B' setting - can anyone confirm/deny this?--Hooperbloob 01:50, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't know, but I have one DSLR; it has Bulb and no T setting (Sigma SD10). Most old cameras that I have had over the years had both B and T. Dicklyon 02:21, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
My Canon 400d (Digital Rebel XTI) has a 'bulb' setting. Not seeing a 'T' setting anywhere. Gh5046 06:12, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I reverted my possibly mistaken historical interpretation, after finding two books supporting the other (pneumatic bulb) interpretation. Apparently the flash bulb was invented in 1929, and the B setting was common on cameras long before that. Dicklyon 18:14, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

The abbreviations T,Z,P or M,I and B on ancient shutters have their specific meaning depending the country where the shutter comes from. Actually there were three settings. One for the (adjustable) fractions of a second (I - Instantaneous or M - Moment (German)). One setting opened the shutter when pressed and closed it by triggering again (T - Time or Z - Zeit (German) or P Permanent (French)). The third setting opened the shutter when pressed and closed it when released (B - Beliebig (German) i.e. 'any' in English). It was introduced with a shutter from C.A. Steinheil & Söhne in Munich 1894 (The first industrial shutter manufacturers were in Austria, Germany and France). The first U.S. manufactured shutter 'Unicum' (1899) by Bausch & Lomb, Rochester didn't have a cable release. It was triggered by a rubber hose with a rubber bulb at the end. Because of that the 'B'-setting is called 'bulb' in the English-speaking countries. With the very popular 'Optimo' shutter from 'Wollensak' (1909) the abbreviations T,I and B became international standard.--Frank Gosebruch 16:10, 13 March 2013 (UTC)


It would be useful to have links to photos demonstrating the technique. Lee M 01:03, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Will this reference be useful?[edit] RPSM 15:36, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

With the rubber bulb, you could make exposures of about 1/5 sec. and with a dark slide in front of the lens too if you give it a swish. In portrait photography, it made a more satisfying sound. The pneumatic shutters made a hiss with the escape of air. Bulb was for any speed you could manage. T was when the exposures were longer - minutes or hours. Rubber bulbs are still sold: Kaiser does one with yards and yards of tubing. There is a hemispherical one you put on the floor and step on. They let you walk around and interact with your subject or have someone else do so.RPSM 15:44, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Photos taken with rubber bulb here:-[edit]

"By early 1898, Mattie's interest in photography expanded; she purchased a 4"x5" plate camera that offered ground glass focusing, and a multispeed shutter thereby allowing her to keep a more detailed photographic journal of her new life. Curiously, Mattie appears in many of her own photographs. She made this possible by using a long piece of rubber tubing which was attached to her camera's pneumatic shutter at one end with a rubber bulb at the other. Squeezing or stepping on the bulb released the shutter and made an exposure." (Vancouver Public Library)RPSM 15:52, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

I have used a camera with a rubber bulb without a pneumatic shutter. It was in The Camera Club in London in about 1968. They had a dangerous looking flash that crackled and sparked, and you were supposed to use open flash (no article yet) keeping the room lighting low; pressing the rubber bulb then the flash switch and then releasing the bulb. I have also seen a collection of mahogany cameras for sale, one of them fitted with a shutter of rubber I think like two eyelids in some material with concertina box pleats.

Previous to a rubber bulb or shutter, there were cameras without shutters using the lens cap. You take of the lens cap, wait a moment for the camera to stabilize while shielding the lens. Remove the lens cap. Count seconds and then replace.

Withdrawing the dark slide completely it can also be used as a shutter, and then it is possible to achieve 1/4 of a second or so. Normal expose for portraits with tungsten lighting is around 1/8 second in any case. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RPSM (talkcontribs) 14:01, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Original research?[edit]

The M and T information in this article may be original research and may be specific to a particular manufacturer. Some references would clear this up though. The article should first be neutral to any manufacturer though some examples would be fine as long as it's clear that they are specific to a manufacturer.--RadioFan (talk) 03:38, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I think you added the M, didn't you? And you added some confusion about the T, which was referring to time exposure, and you half-changed it to refer to shutter priority mode, which is an entirely different T. Why not just put a citation needed tag on anything you want a cite for? The OR tag is not specific enough to be useful. Dicklyon (talk) 04:21, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Here's a modern ref on T: [1]. Dicklyon (talk) 04:23, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for reverting my edits, they do need some more work. However T is referred to as both shutter priority and time mode. some mention of shutter priority seems appropriate there. Then waht should be done about the original research? Are there references that can be added? I'm still concerned that this doesn't represent a broad spectrum of how this functionality is available on various cameras. It could be made much clearer, especially for new photographers.--RadioFan (talk) 12:45, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Shutter priority mode is not the "T" that's mentioned in the lead, as it's unrelated to "bulb"; that may be Canon's unique designation; my camera calls it "S". I agree we don't want original research; if you put a citation needed tag on anything you think is questionable, I'll work on finding sources, such as the one I mention above. Dicklyon (talk) 12:53, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
The opening section and the use section need references. Anything that is specific to a particular brand of camera should also be noted or at least mentioned as an example as in "selected via the 'T' mode referred to as shutter priority on Canon cameras or foobar mode on widget brand camera". I'm making assumptions based on my experience with Canons, other editors are likely doing the same, it makes it hard for readers to apply whats presented here to their own cameras.--RadioFan (talk) 12:58, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
I recommend you not make assumptions based on your camera; that's OR. A good way to find sources, verify or correct questionable info, etc., is to search in books. The URLs in the refs I added will take you to a book page, showing also the search that found it. Dicklyon (talk) 13:10, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, which is why I have no problem with my edits being removed. These look like excellent references, I'm going to try to find these at my library. Thanks--RadioFan (talk) 14:01, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

BULB in shutter priority mode[edit]

In order to help out with one of the "citation needed" tags, I just added a citation in regard to the existance of a BULB setting in shutter priority mode on some cameras, notably the Minolta Maxxum 9000, Maxxum 7000, Maxxum 8000i, Maxxum 7000i. I am not aware of any other cameras supporting BULB in S-mode, certainly no Minoltas, but I would be interested to learn about them, if they exist. It remains unclear to me why Minolta might have implemented it this way in these cameras, when at the same time they warned about using BULB in S-mode in their user manuals and suggested to use M-mode instead. After all, these are fully electronic cameras, so this cannot be down to some mechanical constraints. Also, these cameras are quite different internally, so it cannot be a design oversight or bug, either, in particular since the low-end models did support BULB in M-mode only. Minolta must have designed it this way on purpose, but why? Any ideas? -- (talk) 01:43, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


Should the section on digital photography perhaps be last, rather than first? History and uses seem more general, and thus applicable to all cameras, and perhaps should be first? (talk) 01:42, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes. Done. Dicklyon (talk) 03:37, 24 June 2009 (UTC)