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100 Years since first Compur Shutter was Introduced

Compur ShutterIn August 1962 a note was passed from the Friedrich Deckel firm to the UK’s Amateur Photographer Magazine reminding them that it was 50 years this month since the first Compur shutter was introduced.

Although patents were applied for in 1910 for a Compur type shutter, it seems it took two years before they became commercially available in 1912.

Prior to Compur leaf shutters Friedrich Deckel and most notably Christian Bruns had been working on what was considered later their rather unreliable Compound leaf shutter which they developed ten years earlier in 1902. The Compound shutter utilised an air brake, (cylinder with piston) to control shutter speeds, where as the new Compur shutter used a train of gears in a clockwork fashion, hence where the name Compur is derived from. “Compur”, a fusion of “Compound” and “Uhrwerk”, the German word for “clockwork”.

The Compur shutter was not only at the time state-of-the-art but it remained so until the 1970s when film material with a higher tolerance to light exposure variations came onto the market. Over the years the Compur shutter had seen many developments from the original Dial Set, where a dial was employed above the shutter to set speeds, also known as the Rim Set, (as seen in the image above left). The Dial Set was introduced in 1927 and a year later in 1928 saw the introduction of the Compur S with extra gears to control a self timer for shutter release. In 1935 the Compur Rapid was released and as the name suggests it incorporated faster shutter speeds of 1/400 for the #0 sized shutter and 1/500 for the #00. The last of the most notable developments came after World War II around 1953 with the introduction of the Synchro-Compur, a shutter which was synchronised for flash use.

Through out this time Deckel saw direct competition from Gauthier with their early Koilos shutter and later Prontor shutter. Its recorded that during the boom of  leaf shutter production of 1957-60 Gauthier employed 3250 workers and had a daily output of 10.000 shutters while Deckel Compur Works employed just 1,500, suggesting that its shutter production for this period was less.

The Compur leaf shutter has definitely stood its place in time and not surprisingly a refined design of it is still used today by Hasselblad cameras.


Amateur Photographer Magazine 15th August 1962
Modern Mechanix; How a Camera Shutter Works. February 1938
Up and Down with Compur