This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Shutters. Among the attachments of a hand camera, next in importance to the lens is a good shutter. The best lens in the world will fail when the shutter is unreliable or does not work properly. In purchasing a hand camera then, make sure that your shutter can be regulated from one second to one-hundredth part of a second, and that your lens is fast enough to stand this latter brief exposure. The beginner who has his shutter working at one speed and one opening, and who tries to make pictures at any hour of the day, with any kind of light, cannot reasonably expect to have successful results. There are two types of hand camera shutters, one which has metal discs that pass across the lens, and the other a flexible blind on rollers. The latter is adapted to give the greatest efficiency and the highest speeds. It is best in the focal plane-shutter type, so-called because it lies almost in the focal plane of the lens, i. e., as close as possible to the plate. The former type gives slower speeds and is easier to manage with accuracy, and is, therefore, recommended for the beginner. (See Paragraphs 53-56, Chapter II (Warm Tones On Gelatin Glossy Paper).)
Rising Fronts. The rising front is a very important attachment to the hand camera, as it is available for both upright and horizontal views. It should give a movement of at least a quarter of the length of the plate. With this attachment an excess of foreground can be cut off, and often the tops of buildings or of trees may be included in the view without tilting the camera.
Levels And Finders. The level insures correct horizon in the picture, and holds upright the perpendicular lines of buildings, if there are any in the view. It is sometimes very annoying to find that your picture was spoiled because your camera was not held level and upright, which can always be effected with the aid of the level. Large finders are an advantage, as they show a full size image of the view to be taken, and enable one to better see and compose the picture up to the time of taking it.
631. Films vs. Plates. - The film and the plate camera both have their advantages even for the beginner. It is a matter of simply learning how to use the instrument at hand and obtain with it the very best results. With the film camera one has the advantage of lightness and portability. With the film pack or the single film one has almost the same advantage of developing each exposure before making others as he would have with the plate, thus enabling him to prove his results as he makes his exposures. Of course with the roll film the manufacturers, in addition to their 6 and 12 spool exposure, also make a double-two exposure film, thus enabling the user to make but two exposures before proving his results, thereby making it unnecessary to expose a complete roll. With the plate camera, while the weight of glass plates is a little more, yet one can by having numerous plate-holders carry as many plates with him as he desires, and when but a single exposure is desired he can make it and prove his result before making more exposures, thus enabling him at all times to profit by his previous experience. Either may be employed successfully by proper care in their manipulation.