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On a camera in which the film advance is not coupled to the shutter, do you advance it to a new frame after releasing the shutter, or wait until you're next ready to shoot before winding it on?

If you forget the state the camera is in, on your next shot you risk either making a double exposure or wasting a frame of film, so it seems sensible to be consistent about it.

Which way though? I can see reasons for doing it either way.

With a shutter-coupled film advance, one would normally prefer not to put the camera away with the shutter cocked, for the sake of the mechanism. This would make the practice of not advancing the film in an uncoupled camera consistent with that, and easy to remember for that reason.

On the other hand, advancing the film only when you're ready to shoot makes taking photos slower. Depending on how fiddly the advance mechanism is and whether you need to watch the symbols carefully through the little red window on the back could consume enough time to miss an opportunity.

I'm inclined to the first practice, but perhaps there's some very conclusive reason for doing it one way rather than the other.

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  • What camera do you have that allows you actuate the shutter more than once without using the film advance lever? – Alaska Man Jan 2 at 0:21
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    I think there is no answer to this question. As you said, it makes sense to be consistent. Beyond that, I think it's nothing more than personal preference. – osullic Jan 2 at 10:16
  • @AlaskaMan I have a few... the one that prompted the question is a Zeiss Ikon Nettar. – Daniele Procida Jan 2 at 10:26
  • If you can actuate the shutter more than once without using the film advance lever then can you advance the film lever more then once without actuating the shutter. If not than you know the film has been advance and the shutter not actuated. – Alaska Man Jan 3 at 20:40
  • @AlaskaMan I don't follow that sentence at all, sorry... – Daniele Procida Jan 3 at 21:22
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When I was shooting film, I always immediately advanced and cocked to be ready for a quick shot.

Inadvertent double exposures were not possible on my camera as cocking was default coupled to film advance. Similarly wasting a frame by double advancing was not possible either, you couldn't advance without triggering the shutter.

On the rare instances where I accidentally triggered the shutter with the lens cap on while putting it away, I enabled the intentional double exposure capability, allowing me to cock the shutter without advancing the film.

Now with digital, it's more, "Why won't ... or yeah ... off!"

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You need to specify how your camera works. When I shot film, winding the film forward also stretched the spring to allow the shutter to operate for the next shot. There was a way to push the advance lever without advancing the film if you intentionally wanted a double exposure, but I never used it.

If your camera works the same way, the only downside to not advancing the film immediately after a shot is that the spring is stretched all the time. At the end of a day you shoot the last photo and advance the film, stretching the spring. The spring stays stretched while the camera is on your shelf waiting for the next day. I advanced the film after every shot and did not see any problem from this. Maybe the camera would have lasted longer if I didn't do that, but my first failed due to moisture and my second was retired because I went digital.

If you don't advance the film after a picture, it takes you a bit longer to get ready for the next one. Back then, I didn't want a shot RIGHT NOW as often as today, but why miss one?

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If I am shooting an entire roll in one day I advance the film after every shot. If I am not using the camera regularly I always leave it un-cocked. Leaving the shutter cocked for extended periods of time will damage the mechanism. Cameras with internal motor drives. i.e. Nikon 6006, are an exception to this rule.

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