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02-03-2020, 03:18 PM   #1
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Why Bulb on modern cameras

I have wonder for many years. Why do modern slr cameras have a limit of maximum 30s shutter speed. Modern cameras have all sorts of wonders, but we still have to use the bulb function if we need shutter speed longer than 30s.
I hope Pentax would implement longer shutter speed in their new camera body so we donít need external controller for this purpose.

02-03-2020, 03:23 PM - 5 Likes   #2
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Pentax bodies since the K-70 all support timed shutter speeds up to 20 minutes

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02-03-2020, 03:40 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by KjellAV Quote
Why Bulb on modern cameras
Because it is useful for multiple things, including exposure ramping* for time lapse through the wired remote port. (It is also not well-appreciated that "B" may be for short as well as long exposures.)


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* Appropriately referred to as "bulb ramping".
02-03-2020, 03:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Pentax bodies since the K-70 all support timed shutter speeds up to 20 minutes
I didn't know that! Super neat. I'm a huge bulb mode user on my K3, wish I had a option for a 1, 5 or 10 minute exposure for night shots, this would be incredibly helpful at times. Does the K3II have that?

Edit: maaaaan, now I want a K70 as a second body. Newer sensor than the K3, longer manual modes and most of the time I'm using my camera as a pretty dumb light box, so pretty ok with it missing some niceties.

02-03-2020, 04:06 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Another option would be to automatically meter during the exposure, closing the shutter when enough light has been recorded. Only one camera is capable of that...
02-03-2020, 05:12 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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Another cool thing with Bulb mode is lightning photography. Let the shutter stay open a while, and then stop the exposure after the lightning strikes.
02-03-2020, 07:17 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Another cool thing with Bulb mode is lightning photography. Let the shutter stay open a while, and then stop the exposure after the lightning strikes.
And fireworks - open the shutter as the shell goes up, close when the burst is at maximum size.
02-03-2020, 07:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Pentax bodies since the K-70 all support timed shutter speeds up to 20 minutes
How do you do that on a K-1 II ? 4 minutes expo without the bulb mode?

02-03-2020, 07:39 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by gerardbaron Quote
How do you do that on a K-1 II ? 4 minutes expo without the bulb mode?
You can't. Although not explicitly explained above, extended exposure times (beyond 30s) is a feature of "B" mode. See page 51 in the user manual.


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02-03-2020, 08:03 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by gerardbaron Quote
How do you do that on a K-1 II ? 4 minutes expo without the bulb mode?
K1... Bulb timer !!

Its a game changer of an option when it was first available for the K1 (and not on any other brand), but we as Pentax users did not blow much of a trumpet about it....
02-03-2020, 08:18 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gerardbaron Quote
How do you do that on a K-1 II ? 4 minutes expo without the bulb mode?
Firmware version 1.40 added this function (Function Expand Firmware | PENTAX K-1 | RICOH IMAGING). Just put the camera in B mode, hit the green button and you can dial in shutter times of 10 sec to 20 minutes.
02-03-2020, 09:31 PM   #12
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As a computer programmer who does long exposure star trails, it does annoy me a little bit you canít dial up a 2 hour exposure exactly. I am going to try to get a k70 now, 5 minute exposures sound great for stacking and easy dark frames.
02-03-2020, 11:27 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Pentax bodies since the K-70 all support timed shutter speeds up to 20 minutes
I did not know it is possible to get 20 min exposure without using bulb. Where do I find this option on Pentax KP?

---------- Post added 02-04-20 at 07:31 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Another cool thing with Bulb mode is lightning photography. Let the shutter stay open a while, and then stop the exposure after the lightning strikes.
Didnít think of this way of using bulb. Nice.

---------- Post added 02-04-20 at 07:47 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Firmware version 1.40 added this function (Function Expand Firmware | PENTAX K-1 | RICOH IMAGING). Just put the camera in B mode, hit the green button and you can dial in shutter times of 10 sec to 20 minutes.
Thank you. Works on Pentax KP to. This is so cool. If I combine bulb long exposure in camera body with interval shooting, I can get as long exposure as the battery can manage. For long exposure I use battery grip and batteries from my Pentax K3 to get extra power.
Thanks for all replies.
02-04-2020, 12:15 AM   #14
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On very long exposures, let's remember where we started. For the manual mechanical shutters of the past the timing was very difficult and prone to inaccuracy for attempts at very fast speeds and very slow speeds. 1 second was the standard longest speed for a long time because cameras had to be affordable and practical. Since much longer exposures do not have to be anywhere near as precise the simplest solution was to count or use a watch second hand. Early models even had a "T" setting to make very long times easier.
Timed exposures after electronic shutters became popular relied on battery power and very long times could drain the battery.
A big limitation for DSLRs has always been the tendency to build up too much heat and noise with long exposures. The bigger improvement for this was much reduced noise while increasing low light sensitivity.
Solving the long exposure issues with an new and exotic fix might make the equipment that much more expensive so personally I don't see a problem using a simple app for the smartphone and the "Bulb" setting.
02-04-2020, 12:16 AM - 1 Like   #15
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One thing I realy like on the extended bulb mode is that, in daytime exposures at least, you can still see the scene clearly in live view even with a 10 stop ND filter if you just dial up the time far enough - it's a useful way of checking our exposure as well as last minute composition.

Last edited by ffking; 02-04-2020 at 08:58 AM. Reason: typo
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