Pronto, pronto … Prontor.

Ok, so I got a … with the bunch of folders from Goodwill.

This camera was really cheap … so this has now become a test subject … or should I say an experience building project. Since joining the Learn Camera Repair FaceBook group, I have worked further into the restorations that have have done, particularly the shutter … scientia potentia est … knowledge is power.

I tore down this shutter to individual components, cleaning them, and then tried to put it all back in WORKING order … well, it was a chore … appears I have taken this apart about five times.

What did I learn?

  1. Camera Repair tech’s deserve the money they charge.
  2. Read repair course lesson 7.
  3. You never have enough hands.

So lets take a look at a Gauthier based Prontor-S shutter.

Note: if the metal parts look nice and clean it is because I took these images after I cleaned it … and sorry about the different colour temp of light as I added an additional illumination but it is warm white.

Another Note: to really finish off the blades you should put a bit of Moly on them … Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) powder.

DSC00819First you need to get the front element ring cap thing off.

Set focus to infinity. Loosen the three tiny grub screws, then remove the ring. Mark the front elements position to the focus mark … or just collimate later.

Unscrew front element

Unscrew rear element.

DSC00820Turn half-head lock screw

Unscrew inner notched securing ring.

Take off cover plate.


Full off speed cam ring.



The printed speeds point to the shutter setting lever.





Take a real good look at the movement of the levers and also how the tension springs are located … I have a closeup image later in the program.

Setting/main lever on top … speeds escapement … delay timer escapement … release lever … bunch of other levers.


So lets go … take apart to reveal shutter blades … layered

aperture | shutter | everything else

DSC00823Flip over – turn the aperture dial to reveal the four screws … mark the position of the long one

Hold the bottom, and pivot out with the flash port at base and pull off



DSC00815Clean blades (those are my fingerprints before I  cleaned up the blades … I really should not be handling them that way) and other things

Note the orientation/position of the blades.

Flip over.


Remove little tension spring on the bottom, one end of it anchors to the shutter ring and the other to the long screw that was removed from the back.

At 1 o’clock you can see the leaf lever engaging the pin on the shutter ring. Remove the cover thing. You will need to disengage the leaf lever from the pin.

Flip over


Remove the five screws+washers

Now you can clean up the ring and other surfaces.

Put the ring back on and remember to attach the leaf lever.




To take off self timer escapement, note the positioning of the large spring and pop it off the left side. Underneath there is an arm that catches the escapement that you will have to release, then turn self timer lever to align the  curved cutout notch

To take off speed escapement you have to cock the shutter to reveal a black screw … the second screw is the tall one.

Off to the ultrasonic cleaner … and a tiny dab of watch oil on the pins afterwards.


You can take this entire part into a cleaning bath … or if you are really ambitious you can take it all apart. I have done it but I did not take any pictures of it … and I really do not want to do it again just to show you.

At this point you really want to take good look at how all the levers are positioned, how they move, and most importantly how the springs are anchored … draw a spring map of what you can see.

Some tips from the experience:

Go slow and start with the topmost items (you really don’t have a choice about that).

One by one take one item off (well sometimes one becomes many) and note any springs that come with it … look at where the spring would be anchored

The shutter cocking arm main lever has a loaded main spring, when you try to pull it off it will pop !!! It is revolved once, so remember to do that when you put it back. I lifted it, almost off the post, with the spring attached and revolved it once (while keeping the leaf lever out of the way). Note one end of the main spring is anchored on a brass slotted washer, the slotted part rests on the bottom. Repair course lesson 7 has a trick using a wire string which looks easier than what I did.

You can start putting everything back together … but if you really really really, and I mean really, want to take the aperture apart you can continue on.


Turn aperture ring to open it up.

On the cover plate mark it where the flash socket is in relation to it.

Remove the two screws.

Tip: temporarily put it the plate back on so you get used to its position … note that it sits without much movement if all the holes line up.

DSC00828Take of the plate

Now you will see the aperture blades … do not feel bad if you feel like running away at this point, cause it’s gonna get worse.

Flip it over and let the blades drop out as one whole unit.


Here it it semi unfolded.

Look at how the blades overlap, which looks like a nightmare … its not that bad.

Take a really close look at the position of the pins on the top and bottom … they are slightly different. You will need to know this when you put it back. This image is of the bottom … you can see a slight difference to the image above

Separate the blades and clean them


Two screws hold the aperture plate on and also the aperture lever. When you remove the two screws the lever behind will fall off from the rear.




Now putting the aperture blades back together is the reason why this is a #$%@ pain in the ass …. though the more you do it the easier it gets … by the time you have done this a hunderd times it should be easy.

I noticed that all the blades were not cut the same … I could not figure out why, and most importantly if they had a major affect if they where not put into a correct order. I just put them in whatever order and it appeared to have no affect.

One way is to use the cover plate. Flip it over to the side that the blades would contact. Put the blades in the holes but leave them hanging outward with a weight in the middle … I did not take an image of this, but this site has a picture of what I mean: Prontor aperture blade assembly Then start pushing the blades towards the center one by one making sure to overlap them.

Once they are centered you can then place the bottom section on top of it … make sure the pins of the blades appear stay in the holes. Put the screws back in but not completely tightened. Open and close the aperture to see if the blade pins have fit properly.

Well if you made this far … you are doing pretty good.

Leica IIIC … P … O.

Ok, so another Leica Barnack camera … I am not a collector, nor a user of these cameras … but they do feel cool in the hand … anyway … sometimes I stumble upon these cameras for a cheap price (probably because they are being sold as parts/repair) and I get to pick one up.

This is a story about my latest … the Leica IIIC … LOOHW !!

Now, like most Leica Barnacks (and other clones) it is not that easy to tell what you got … like a box of chocolates … until you closely examine them, and also get the serial number. Since I bought this as a parts camera it could easily be a number of different Leica parts put together in one sale … well maybe not.

Back to the story … the IIIC was produced between 1940 to 1951. Leica made physical improvements on this model by making the internal body as a single piece die cast part, single piece top plate, and improvements to internal mechanisms.

Ok, go look on the Web … you will find lots of docs and discussion about anything Leica.

This camera that I have in hand started as a bit of a mystery because of the paint colour … the only image that was presented showed that it has a black top and bottom plate.

During WWII many Leica devices were made for the military but there was also a shortage of materials, and they tried to reduce usage of them  … so there were Leica IIIC’s that were painted grey/black over the top and bottom brass plates due to lack of chromium, or the use of nickel plating on the knobs. Many of the cameras made for the military were painted grey (and typically are engraved).

The serial number indicates that it is a post-war model, so it is not one of those. There were some black paint models that were make for people within the company that are labeled Leitz-Eigentum (Leitz Property). There were also some special order cameras that were custom ordered black.

Once I had it in hand, I realized it is not any of the above.

Mine (sadly) is as a repaint … definitely not done by Leica. It does appear that whoever did it was knowledgeable enough to remove the chrome, and then apply the paint (which probably was baked).

Remember in Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back, when Chewie was left with a bunch of C-3PO parts that he had to put back together … well that’s what I recieved. I purchased the camera knowing the major parts were disassembled (and some small parts missing) … the below image shows it loosely fitted together.

The restoration of this one will have to wait until I get the missing parts, and replace the shutter curtains.


Collimating … collimating … hello?

At some point in time you will need to collimate a lens/camera.

I recently serviced a Frank Six TKS shutter, and I had to unscrew the front cell. As the camera not a through the lens viewfinder, I am not sure if the lens has been correctly set for infinity focusing … how do I know I screwed it back on the correct starting thread ?

This is where you need to check with a lens callimator … well I do not have such a dedicated machine, so lets go with a DIY solution … so I checked the web. There are many online docs about this (I noted some below) … so here is what I did.

First you need to have a camera to mount the lens on … unless the lens is part of the camera … then you need to put something on the film plane for the calibrator to focus on, then you need a second camera with a (preferably) telephoto lens to be the calibrator, and lastly some light.

  • I cut down the clear plastic from an old CD case (a Dremel is really handy for this) to about 61.5mm x 63mm (in this case the camera was Frank Six 6×6 format). I roughly sanded one side to make it a ground screen, and used a Sharpie to make some marks on it.
  • Sony NEX-6 with an adapted Minolta MD 135mm f/2.8 lens
  • USB LED light

I taped the “ground screen”, ground side inside, to the back of the camera. I pointed the LED light to shine on the screen. The Frank Six lens was set to infinity.

The Sony NEX was positioned right up to the Frank Six lens as close as possible but left enough room for me to turn the front lens cell, and the Minolta lens set to infinity.

Using the Sony live view and flip up rear screen, I was able to see if the marks on the ground screen were in focus, or not. First try it was not, so I back out the front cell and tried a different starting thread … until the Sony showed an in-focus marking. Done.

Callibrator Camera+Lens — infinity — Lens+Camera+target

As I mentioned … more detailed info can be read below:

Rick Oleson – collimator options

Mike Elek – collimating your lens

Addicted2Light – collimator

Feuerbacher – infinity lens calibrator

FD lock … not lock?

Thought I would put this up since I looked into the back of my Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 to see how the lock button worked … as I have never paid much attention to how this actually worked.

Looking at the back of your typical FD lens, and not the breech lock ones ..


The metal securing ring can be taken out after removing the three black screws on the outside of the barrel







You can pull it off







You will probably see that there is a mixture of grease and dirt on that part.





The middle rear cap can be removed by revolving it clockwise until the lump lines up with the release button.


The back of this shows the ring that couples with the aperture arm … than inverted U.

When the lens turns (when you lock it on the body) the U sits in front of the release button … until it lens reaches the end when the release button slips behind it, thus locking.


DSC00795Make sure the release button is not gummed up.


Sonic … hedgehog, screwdriver … no, ultra!!

Tools … tools … more toooooollllllls.

Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisps … opps, wrong thought. Ok, tools.

Eh, got mentally distracted by the TV.


My last post was about taking a Gauthier type shutter apart … and one of the things I really did not want to do was break the escapements down to their individual gears to give them a cleaning, as I would have to put it back together. So I thought of getting an ultrasonic cleaner.

Now I know somewhat about them, as my clock fixing friend has one and has suggested I get one, and also suggested by the Learn Camera Repair group … but I have never felt I needed it. Well, I changed my mind once I noticed that these thing are pretty cheap … in price, and possibly in quality … so why not.

I decided to buy the Magnasonic Compact Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner, cause it looked cute … and it was one of the cheapest ones, yes I have a cheap thing. Ok, so lets try out cleaning stuff by putting it into a collapsing void !!


Well, it is slightly larger than a Rolleicord.

Ok, so lets see how it does … I took a knob off of a Kodak Vigilant Six-20 (1939-49). I cleaned the right half with my usual Q-tip, toothbrush, ronsonal, alcohol, and soapy water … the left I left untouched for the ultrasonic cleaner to tackle.


First attempt at cleaning by hand.








One round through the ultrasonic cleaner … which is only 5 minutes long.

Solution of water, a drop of dish soap, and a cap of vinegar.



DSC00776This is the second round.


I will let you be the judge.

I think it is a keeper.





Clean up those escapements.




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

%d bloggers like this: