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F. Deckel was a German company based in Munich and one of the top shutter makers in the history of photography. It was founded in 1903 and enjoyed their most prosperous phases in the 1930ies, and then again in the 1950ies and 1960ies. Besides leaf-shutters it produced its own machine tools and also manufactured machine tools for other industries. In 1994 it went bankrupt.


The precision mechanic Friedrich Deckel (born December 11, 1871 in Jungingen; † July 10, 1948 in Munich) started his carrier in 1889 as a laboratory mechanic at the Zeiss company in Jena.[1] He directly reported to Ernst Abbe, one of the Co-founder of the Zeiss company. At the end of 1898, Deckel went into business for himself with a mechanic's workshop and in 1903 founded the company "Bruns & Deckel" in Munich together with the inventor Christian Bruns. Bruns developed the Compound leaf-shutter, which the company successfully manufactured and marketed from 1904. Bruns left the company as early as 1905, but continued to develop shutters for cameras. Friedrich Deckel thus became the sole owner of the company now named as "Friedrich Deckel GmbH".

The companies Carl Zeiss, Bausch & Lomb and Deckel's most important competitor Alfred Gauthier became co-partners in 1910. In 1911, Carl Zeiss acquired the patents for the new Compur shutter from Christian Bruns and let Deckel produce it under license. The Compur shutter had a newly developed gear escapement for slow speeds and with this innovation it became the companies most important product for decades to come. In 1961 the venture was even renamed Compur-Werk GmbH & Co..

The company was an essential part of the somewhat hidden leaf-shutter cartel led by Carl Zeiss.[2] The foundation directly controlled Deckel's activities by its financial share as well as being the owner of its most important Compur patent (DRP 258.646). In 1931 Carl Zeiss also silently acquired the majority shares of Alfred Gauthier, Deckel's most important competitor and at the same time co-partner.[3] The merger of many small independent camera producers in 1926, which formed Zeiss Ikon (also controlled by Carl Zeiss), shut down most of their former shutter productions and switched to either Deckel or Gauthier shutters. Only very simple shutters would still be produced by some camera producers themselves.

At the beginning of the 1950s, Deckel designed the concept of the Light Value and Exposure Value Scales (LV/EV), and promoted light value coupled shutters as a general standard. Such shutters were used from 1954 by Rollei, Hasselblad, Voigtländer, Braun, Kodak and others. The concepts most prominent implementation was the Deckel bayonet mount (later named DKL-mount) in various mechanically slightly incompatible variants.

The decline of the West-German camera industry during the early 1970ies, which is at least partly connected with its adherence to the leaf shutter, also hit the Deckel company badly. With the exception of a few variants for Hasselblad cameras with Zeiss lenses, the production of camera shutters was discontinued in 1973, and finally in 1976. The Prontor factory of Alfred Gauthier in Calw took over the production and Deckel focused only on machine tools.


Camera industry in Munich
Agfa | Deckel | Eder | Enna | Friedrich | Kilfitt | Leitmeyr | Linhof | Niezoldi & Krämer | Perka | Rex | Rietzschel | Rodenstock | Staeble | Steinheil
  • 1904 - Compound leaf shutter with an air pneumatic escapement
  • 1911 - Compur leaf shutter with more precise mechanical gear escapement
  • 1928 - Compur V additional self-timer (German: Vorlaufwerk)
  • 1935 - Compur-Rapid shortest shutter speed 1/500 s (1/400 for larger shutter)
  • 1951 - Synchro-Compur additional flash synchronisation X and M
  • 1958 - DKL-mount a bayonet mount including a Synchro-Compur shutter with LV coupling


  1. Franz Ludwig Neher: Deckel, Friedrich Wilhelm in: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Volume 3, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1957, ISBN 3-428-00184-2, p. 543.
  2. Marco Kröger: Pronto, Presto, Subito ... on (in German)
  3. Michael Kegel: Kamera Verschlüsse on (in German)