Back to that F-1n needle … solution.

Soooooo, I got everything working on that F-1n except for that sticky needle. I really did not want to take the mirror box out to get at the mechanism as I tried it on my test subject and it is not an easy thing to remove and especially replace.

I figured if I washed out the area it will eventually run free … but every time the Naptha dried out the needle would stick. I figured that it needed some oil to keep the metal parts moving … but that means opening it up !!!

DSC00630Then I remembered a tip that someone told me … put a drop or two of Nyoil in a bath of Naptha. Well I did not have any Nyoil, but I did have some Moebius 8040 watch oil, so I made a bath … then dribbled some into the opening for the diaphragm sensing lever (or the servo port if it isn’t covered).

Some exercise of the lever and stop down switch … and then waited for the solution to dry.

Next day … the lever does not stick !! Thanks Dimitri.


Working with seals … this ain’t MarineLand, no fish for you!

There is one thing that is common to more modern camera’s is light seal material … something I started encountering when I got into cameras made in the 60’s and 70’s. Older cameras were physically designed to reduce light leaks coming in. Over time as camera design changed they became more susceptible to light entering the film chamber from the film loading door. Manufactures started adding in fabric and foam material to reduce light entry.

Many of the TLR’s I’ve had used simple yarn type material, some wooden cameras use velvet, while the rangefinder cameras added felt and more modern foam material. While the yarn and felt materials survived decades, the foam material they used had a tendency to degrade … becoming brittle or soften with age, and eventually requiring replacement. The Canon QL’s and the Olympus SP that I have written about all required a light seal replacement … ahhhh, I am melting!!!!!

Now, this ain’t a tutorial on how exactly to do this … there are already sooooo many references on the Web about how to do this on many different cameras … I am just going to mention some things to add to what is already out there.

You have a choice of buying material then cutting them to size to fit your camera. This is a more economic way if you have a lot of cameras, but if you just have one camera then you probably can get a pre-cut kit.

There are many types of foam you can source. One thing you will probably see is open and closed cell types. If the cells are open they will allow more air between cells to escape, thus is more flexible … but less durable and may leak light through if it has very large cells. Closed cell is most common if you just look for foam, it is less compressible as it has enclosed air pockets.

I have read many articles from DIY’rs that use things like mouse pads …. as I was a scuba diver and being familiar with Neoprene, I can say that this type of closed cell foam is way too uncompressable for usage in camera seals. Many of the old cameras that I have had used open cell foam. I did find some semi-open cell foam which is kinda in the middle … also there are a number of different materials used to make foam, and that plays a part in its feel.

Milly’s Camera has a nice set of various types of foam for camera seals. Here are a couple links to instructions on replacing seals: Matt’s Classic Cameraspeter_de_waalbikebeerun1960.

If you search the web for pre-cut kits you will probably come across Jon Goodman’s name. Jon started selling kits over a decade ago, and has been the go-to-guy for them. Many people have praised the materials and instructions he provides … though he has disappeared from the Web ( old Classic Camera Repair forum ) and eBay but you can contact him directly via email  or

DIY material:

  • 8 ply black yarn
  • velvet strips or felt
  • open, semi-open, closed cell foam
  • Ronsonol
  • acetone – use with care as it will dissolve plastic
  • bamboo chopsticks – a straw – toothpicks
  • glue – Pliobond
  • and I don’t have to mention Q-tips

Carefully look and feel the original material and try to replicate it.

Draw a map (so you can get back to where you came from), then measure the existing foam before removing.

Removing old foam seal material is a messy thing.

With self adhesive type foam, you can use hand sanitizer or lick the back to delay the adhesive … this is handy if you are putting the thin ones in those slots.

bikebeerrun’s video shows G-S hypo cement … hmm, that precision tip looks very helpful getting glue into tight spots.

F-1 … we can rebuild it.

I bought a Canon F-1n some time ago thinking I could repair its shutter problem … I got it cheap so I did not press the seller much on details … well, it was fairly obvious what the shutter problem was; Canon F-1n, almost original. So, I hunted for a parts camera with an intact shutter.

Sooo, now I have two partially working camera’s … now to make one !!!

As the F-1 system is very modular in nature it was easy to swap out the parts. There were issues that I encountered, but I expected that since both cameras were somewhat non-working. The “working” camera had problems with the aperture indicator, so I had to start taking things apart.


Mechanical parts Canon F-1.image (40k Jpeg)

I will have to warn everyone that this is not the sort of camera you really want to jump into.

Canon media documents state that there are over 10,000 parts, and I think they are right.

I did find some videos on youtube – (“fix old cameras”), but not a lot of websites of anyone specifically working on an F-1 … I guess not many wanted to tackle this one.

OK, so after I put the parts on the working camera I slapped on a lens to check the light meter … hmm, the needle is moving but the aperture circle is stuck at the top of the window? After some hunting I found an old article from the Classic Camera Repair Forum about this issue. The diaphram sensing lever was not freely moving up and down … it keeps getting stuck at its lowest position. I can lightly push it up and it then freely moves. As Brcamera states in his post, the ramp has some sort of abrasion/wear/gunk that makes it stick.


Hmm, I wonder if it has to do with crap getting into the inside of the camera? I say this because the door is broken off on my camera. What door ? The F-1 happens to have port on left side of the camera mount ring that is used to couple with the Servo EE Finder. This is covered by a plastic door. My camera has no door, so stuff can get in over time. If yours is like this also, I highly suggest taking the door parts off and then putting in something to cover over the port (I suspect that you are probably not going to use a servo EE finder). I used some leatherette material and screwed the remaining door cover over it.

Note, in the image  I have removed the lens mounting ring, as I did notice that if the mirrorbox is not tightly screwed onto the body then it will affect the diaphram sensing levers movement.

I squirted some Ronsonol in the area to see if that loosened things up … and exersized the lever. It was not sticking … so I let it dry out. It continued to stick, so I did it again.

I will just continue to work on that method … I tried getting the mirrorbox out, but that proved to be too much … until it doesn’t stick, but in the meantime if you are looking through your viewfinder and see a circle in the sky you can just push the stop down lever to force it down.

Ok, so on to the next thing … the battery check is not working.

With the F-1 you set the ASA to 100 and shutter speed to 1/2000s, then turn the light meter switch to C. Looking through the viewfinder you can see if the need sits at the mark. Mine does not move … but it is getting power as the light meter needle is moving.

This requires getting into the top left side of the camera to check the electronic contacts, and give it a cleaning.

First you need to remove front cover plate that surrounds the lens mount, as it hides screws holding the top cover plates on … four screws

Remove finder and ground screen.

Top Left (backfacing) side


Remove flash PC socket … unscrew using clamp wrench

Remove meter on/off switch … unscrew center pin face screw … I used my pointy tweezers … then pull off switch knob. Note that there is a brass washer down in there also.

Remove rewind crank … open the back and hold onto the rewind spool while unscrew the rewind crank counterclock wise.


Remove three screws, pull off accessory shoe base. This is actually muliple pieces but can be removed whole.

Top plate is held by two screws one in back and one in front.


DSC00629 1

For anyone thinking of adjusting recalibrating the light meter … don’t try it. I can’t figure out how it is done without getting deeper into the camera. There is reference to some adjustment in the Service Manual which I note at the end of this post.

At the bottom of the image you will see some metal contact closures. The top and middle contact eachother when the battery check is switched. I found that the metal needed cleaning to make make them connect.

If your light meter does not turn on it could be that the bottom two metal contacts are dirtly so you can give those two a cleaning.

Now lets see what the right side looks like.


I really did not have much reason to look at this side but I thought … heck, why not.

Maybe you want to clean the counter dial or something … or just wanta take a look.

DSC00636Remove shutter speed dial … note the speed it is set to.

Pop off centre cap, it is glued on (yes, I am as surprised as you are). Then remove screw, pull off speed dial. There is a plastic ring glued onto the cover (don’t have to remove it).

DSC00637Remove the advance lever … remove centre screw, pull off lever, pull out the multiple parts … remember their order and position.

DSC00634Remove shutter button lock … warning there is a ball bearing …

Loosen three screws around the outside. WARNING … slowly carefully pull off and look for spring loaded bearing. Then pull off lock ring … there are two indents on the ring where the bearing will sit that keeps the dial in A or L setting.

DSC00629Top cover … three screws, back side and the front

note position of spiral plate



I was actually surprised to read up on the link between the shutter speed dial and the light meter mechanism … there are wires that span the back that link the two together. Thats what the service manual references for adjustment … but as I mentioned, that is a bit too much for me right now.


Below image from the Service Manual … it notes that fine adjustement to the metering needle position can be done by turning screw A.


Something to hear about …

Soooo … hmm, do I have a tendency of starting out my sentences with that? OK … hmm, that is another word that I use to start. Let’s start this again.

Taking a break from posting the F-1 stuff, it stuck me that I could post something about what I am hearing … no, not what I am listening to but what I am listening with.

Some months ago my earbuds ran into a problem … no sound on one side due to electrical problem. I was not surprised as these buds have lasted me over 5 years of use. So I started a search for a replacement.

Now I am somewhat of an audiophile … but a really cheap one, so I was looking for the best quality earbuds for the lowest price !! The last ones I had were Panasonic something (it appears there is no model labelled), and I specifically got them because they were cheap but most importantly they had a really good frequency range. So now I search for something like it.

What I ended up with is … the Symphonized NRG 3.0.

Why, frequency response of 18Hz-22kHz and it was clean throughout. They are not for bassheads (unlike my Panasonic ones) but they do produce a “nice” overall range. Very pleasant while listening to Pink Floyd – Brain Damage or Vince Guaraldi Trio – Linus and Lucy (makes you want to do those odd dance moves). They also have an angled plug so it doesn’t pull at a right angle when plugged into the side my laptop.

Oh, and I forgot to mention … they have a real wood enclosure, so yeah they look cool (at least to me).

For under $30 they are a great buy.

FFFF… well just F-1 … nnnnn

My first SLR camera was a Canon T-70 … ah, I thought it was the greatest camera … it was the greatest camera as it was my first. That started my thing for Canon cameras, not that I had many of them, so I was not one of those people that became obsesest and collect every single one of them. My second camera was a Canon T-90, cause it was really electronically cool … but, I became more appreciative of the simple things, shutter, aperture, and the film. My next, and final, film camera was the oh so awesome New F-1 (or is it the F-1N … not to be confused with the F-1n ??)

… but this ain’t a story about that one, this is the story about the one that came before, the one that started it … the Canon F-1, the original and the revised F-1n (it had a plastic tip on the film advance lever and some other mods).


The Canon F-1 is a legendary camera for this company. It was a reaction to the Nikon F2 camera … though it was released in 1971 about 6 months before the F2 … and it was (in my mind) their equals. Canon’s 5 year reaction was full on (the Canonflex vs F didn’t work out so well) … not only did they bring in a new modular camera, it was built to take a beating in extreme environments, they also developed a crap load of accessories and the new line of FD lenses to support the automatic aperture system allows the lens to remain wide open all the time, until the camera takes the shot.

They updated the F-1 five years later (F-1n, note the camera keeps its F-1 label) with about 13 improvements, like a brighter mirror … including changes to the advance lever to make it quicker.

To identify an F-1n vs the F-1, look at the film advance lever … you can see the updated plastic tip on the n model (on the right).

f-1_lever f-1n_lever

… anyway, as a New F-1 (or F-1N) user, I can see that this was an awesome camera system. It feels like a block of steel, feels like a professional camera that was the basis of the even more awesome camera. Oh, and this camera was also the base for the unique Canon EF.

The adventures of this guy who tries to restore and repair vintage photographic equipment … and wins (most of the time).

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