Tag Archives: rangefinder

My latest victims …

The Yashica-MAT EM had been sitting on my workbench for the past two years … finally got assembled today. It came to me in rough shape, the focus knob was almost falling off, the winder was stuck, the shutter was jammed, broken screws, etc.

The only thing I could not fix was a glitch in the winder release mechanism … sometimes after winding the crank it will not complete, so you have to press the shutter button again to engage the winder release. Also I could not get into the light meter because all the screws were jammed. I don’t think I will continue to restore it with new leatherette, as I have grown weary of it.

The Canon IV sb with lens, was rusting all over … and I took the chance on buying it on the hopes the lens did not have haze/fungus.

The Canon IV sb and the Canon Serenar 50mm f/1.8 were a lot easier to handle. The IV sb needed a cleaning and removal of the top plate. Rusted/seized screws prevented me from going further, so I could not check the shutter for leaks.

The lens was completely disassembled and cleaned. The lens did not end up with any haze or fungus … but I did discover some decementing of the rear elements starting to occur.

 

The family of Yashica TLRs and Canon Barnack type rangefinders are all very similar in design, so if you have worked with one model the rest are almost the same … including lenses and shutters.

Well, my fixer upping will be going to slow down for a bit as it is becoming economically more difficult to get cameras … I will keep hunting for BB (broken bargains.)

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The designers

I thought I would put in some credit for those who gave us these great cameras … not the manufacturers but the ones that designed them. There are two names that need to be mentioned here based on the cameras that I have blogged about.

 

Oskar Barnack

For those in the world of old screw mount rangefinders you will know this name, or at least the last name.

Oskar Barnack worked for Ernst Leitz (and for those of you that do not know this name … he is the founder of Leica … and another note about Dr. Leitz is that he saved Jews working for him by transferring them to the offices outside of Germany which later became known as the “Leica Freedom Train”).

Oskar had this crazy idea of making the film format smaller to reduce the camera size, as a way to avoid using the large plate cameras available during the early 1900’s. The small image on the roll film would later be enlarged during the printing stage.

Oskar designed Leica’s first 35mm camera. It took him about 10 years to get something in 1914 (known as the Ur-Leica) that he would use to as a base to produce their first production model.

The Leica I was brought out at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925. It had a fixed collapsible lens.

In 1930 he designed the camera with an interchangeable mount … the first Leica threaded screw mount (LTM).

The Leica II came out in 1932 and added the coupled rangefinder.

 

Barnack’s design would trigger a number of camera companies to copy his design, and to this day the legacy of this camera can still be seen in the Leica M series.

 

 

Reinhold Heidecke

This is the guy who gave us the Rolleiflex.

Reinhold worked for Voigtlander. He left the company after his attempts to suggest a new type of roll film camera did not pan out. He tried to start his own company and ended up partnering with Paul Franke. Thus begat Franke & Heidecke.

Reinhold designed a Twin Lens Reflex camera. He did not invent the first TLR camera (I think the first was in 1885), but what he did with the concept was the thing. Using his design knowledge about the triple lens stereoscopic cameras he first designed, he took that further into a twin lens camera that was a reflex design, used medium format roll film (roll film invented by Eastman started to become common) and a new mechanism for focusing. The first prototype was made in 1928.

The Rolleiflex was immediately popular. Easy to use, small in size, a large film format, and some of the best optics (Zeiss).

 

This started the TLR revolution, and like the Leica II the designed was copied by numerous other manufacturers.

DHW Fototechnik still manufactures the classic Rolleiflex.

 

Canon rangefinder lens servicing

Canon lenses for their rangefinder line most often are found in not so mint state (you might want to look up my posts about haze/fungus) … well at least for us bargain hunters.

Many older Leica thread mount lenses from Canon suffer from haze and fungus.

There are many theories around why haze is common … many blame it on the evaporation of the lubricant used, or the type of glass used which is prone to corrosion by moisture. It tends to form on the element face above or below the aperture. In most cases haze can be remove with just a simple cleaning, but if it attacks the glass or coating the only way to fix this is by getting the element polished (which is very expensive to get done). The lens can sometimes still be usable but it will affect contrast and sharpness of the image … makes for an OK soft focus lens for portraiture.

Fungus, well that’s just due to the storage condition of the lens. Many of those found and up for sale have been lying around in some closet for decades.

For those that want to attempt cleaning the lens (I say attempt as in many cases the haze or fungus will never be removable), these older Canon lenses are not that difficult to take apart. Note that there are many other websites/blogs that go over this already, but I thought I would add it to my blog anyway.

Here is info on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 chrome model.

Tools: spanner wrench, rubber lens tool, blower, lens cleaning stuff, Ronsonol.

All access can be done by going through the back.

Unscrew, counter-clockwise, the retaining ring and pull it out.

You can then pull off the entire focus helix assembly.

Note that there is a brass shim around the lens collar. Do not lose or damage this. This is a specifically sized spacer.

Note that there is a brass shim around the lens column.

Do not lose or damage this as it is a specific sized spacer for the lense.

You can clean some of the old grease off of the focus helix and apply new stuff.

I didn’t go as far as complete disassembly to do a thorough cleaning.

The rear elements are in two pieces

Unscrew, counter-clockwise, the top lens group.

Unscrew, counter-clockwise, the lower lens group.

Now you have access to the rear of the aperture. I you open up the aperture you can then have access to the rear of the front lens element group.

Put some Ronsonol on the aperture blades to clean off any oil (if there is any).

Put everything back together one step at a time. Each time you should visually examine for dust.