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.)


Canon rangefinder repair … note to self

Mental note of importance:

Do NOT remove the two black screws beside the winding knob if you are just going to clean out the rangefinder mechanics.

The top is made of two covers, so the screws on the lower plate do not need to be touched (six around the outside and the two black ones).

… unless you want to curse and swear … an then spend the next hour trying to re-attach the winding spool.

Another note;

When dealing with a dented circular metal piece that is threaded for a filter …

Get a wooden surface, a bamboo chopstick, and a light hammer.

Use the chopstick as a punch and lightly pound out the dented areas to form a circle again.

Leica IIF – starting from the top

Well, I forgot I had not put this up on the Blog. This was the first Barnack rangefinder that I purchased.

After many decades of wanting to own a Leica I got one. Sadly there was a problem with it … one of the eye piece lenses was missing (which explained why everything looked out of focus).

Even though Leica has a nice service manual for the IIIF, and there are other numerous sites that describe this, I am providing my info on the procedure … including some images taken from the IIIF service manual.


Wind the film and set the shutter speed to Bulb.

Remove the two screws that secure the flash shoe. Remove the shoe.

Remove the reverse lever screw and pull off the lever.

Note that under this lever there is a cylindrical collar. Remove, or it will fall out while servicing the camera and get lost. This keeps the lever free to move when the screw is tightened.

Remove the flash shoe bed plate.

Unscrew the threaded sleeve around the shutter release button.

Pull the rewind knob up.

Loosen the screw until you can pull the rewind knob off.


Pull the lock collar off.

Use tweezers to unscrew the locking collar.


Remove the diopter adjustment lever.

Remove the two screws that hold the eyepiece cover.

Remove the cover and be aware of the lenses behind it.


Viewfinder | Rangefinder

These two lenses are not the same, so if you remove these (they could be partially adhered) mark which one goes where.


Sadly, in my case the viewfinder lens was missing.

Set the ISO to 125.

This will line up the hole with the internal screw.

Pull the dial up to access the screw.

Loosen the screw (do not remove it) so that the dial can be unscrewed counter-clockwise.

Pull off the film counter dial.


Pull off the gear.

This was the hardest part, because I did not have the best tool.

Remove the two retaining ring around the viewfinder and rangefinder ports.

Note that the rangefinder ring is larger than the viewfinder ring.

These are probably secured very tightly. I used pliers with very little force, just enough to loosen them so I can turn them off by hand. You would put a thin elastic between to keep the metal from being scratched.

A flexi-clamp would be the appropriate tool for handling Leicas.

Remove the viewfinder port lens by just prying it out. It is held by tension.


The rangefinder port lens is screwed in.

Remove the adjustment cover screw. Note the plastic washer.

Remove the two screws by the film winding side.

The shutter speed dial is secured by three screws around the edge. Loosen those to pull off the dial. This will reveal the cam that it is secured to.

The cam can be removed by pulling it up to expose the lock screws.

Loosen this screws to pull off.

Note that the shaft pull itself back down, and it will make it harder to put back on … so I am not sure if this part needs to be removed to get the top plate off.

The last two screws securing the top plate are underneath the film rewind knob section.


Pull off the top plate.

Be aware that the wiring to the PC socket is still attached.

Pull the top plate up. You will have to carefully pry the front section, above the lens mount, to get around the viewfinder/rangefinder ports.

Now you can access the viewfinder/rangefinder section for cleaning.

The end caps (noted as B in the diagram) of the view/rangefinder block are just lacquer secured so you can pop them off.

I can’t say much further as I just did a surface clean.


Put the top plate back on and proceed backwards.

The rectangular hole of the eyepiece cover is on the right (covering the viewfinder port).

When you get to the point of putting the winding mechanism back together you will need to fit the takeup spool correctly.

When putting the film takeup spool you have to position it correctly.

Under the top plate there is a hooked lever.

This lever is notched

The top of the takeup spool has a spring attached.

The spring must fit the notch in the above hooked lever so that the tooth on the lever locks into the gear at the top of the pickup spool

When putting the winding knob back on, you will have to pay attention to over tightening it. If it is screwed on too far it will interfere with the shutter release mechanism … so make sure the shutter is firing properly before tightening the locking screw.

After securing the winding knob, attach the shutter speed dial. Do not tighten it as you will probably need to make sure the cam is in the Bulb position (wind film and fire shutter to figure if you got it right). Once the cam is in the bulb position you can adjust and secure the shutter speed dial.

The rangefinder alignment is done like the Canon … vertical by turning the rangefinder port (after removing the cover ring), and then the horizontal by turning the rangefinder port (remove the screw beside the viewfinder port).


Leica IIF – some history

This is a Barnack screwmount camera … which you should know already. They are probably the most collected and discussed cameras. There were many different models of this design … but you will note that there was no printed model name on the cameras. Which is why you will occasionally see these cameras up for sale describing them as a Leica DRP model. Leica DRP was printed on the top plate … D.R.P. means Deutsches Reichs Patent.

The Leica II series first came out in 1932. The last model type, the IIF, was produced between 1951 and 56.

Most of the classic Leica rangefinder cameras look similar … I figure that they thought there was really no need to make any major physical changes. The IIF is identical to the IIIF with exception of the slow shutter speeds, the IIF didn’t have any below 1/25s (except bulb). There were two variants … the red dial and the black dial. The black dial had shutter speeds from 1/30s to 1/500s, while the red dial (brought out in 1952) had 1/25s to 1/500s or 1/1000s speeds.

These Leicas had two windows … one rangefinder window to focus the image, and the other viewfinder to frame the image. The F models introduced flash synch.

This was my first Leica that I ever had (I actually wanted an M series but I couldn’t justify the cost of the lenses). Actually it was the first Branack type camera I ever had. This was my into into screwmount rangefinders.

It came to me with a missing lens on the viewfinder, the seller did give a partial refund so I decided to take it apart … I did eventually find someone on the rangefinder forum that sold be the part, and did have a working camera.

Canon IIF rangefinder – the inside out

OK, so back to the Canon IIF. This time I am going after the slow speed gears, as it appears that some of the speeds from 1/25s to 1s were off key and I needed to get a good look at the shutter curtains. Getting the inside out wasn’t too much of an effort, and is the only way to really visually check the shutter curtains … as this is a bottom loader Barnack style camera.

Tools: screw drivers, tweezers, Ronsonol, q-tips, and liquid electrical tape.

First remove the bottom film loading cover plate and set that aside.

Remove the bottom cover plate.



Unscrew the flash trigger wire terminal.

The lens mount has to come off as there are two retainers, behind the ring, that will get in the way in removing the body.

Unscrew the four screws on the ring, take the two left first. This will cause the retainer to fall into the body. Note that this will be different in shape than the one on the right.

Carefully pull off the lens mount ring as there may be brass shims behind it. Make note of exactly where the shims are positioned as they will need to go back in the same place.

The slow shutter speed dial will be removed next. There is a small lock screw on the side of the knob, loosen it and unscrew the knob counter-clockwise.

Unscrew the retaining nut with tweezers. Pull off the low shutter speed dial.

Remove the three screws that hold the slow shutter speed registration pin, and pull it off the body. Remove the spacer plate.

The body is held on by the four screws on the front (the short one was hidden under the slow shutter speed dial plate), and the six screws (three in front and three in back) connected to the top plate.

Push down the rangefinder coupling lever to get it out of the way and pull off the body … note that the film pressure plate will pop off, including the two springs.

The slow speed gears are on the bottom with a cover that is held on with two screws. The front screw is easy to take off, while the back one is in an awkward position. I tried to access it from the back with the shutter opened (bulb) but I could not get enough catch on the slotted head due to the angle. Possibly a screw driver with a long and thin shaft may be able to do it. I just put Ronsonol around the openings and soaked the general area, and it eventually got to the gears.

Note: refer to Graham’s comment about getting to the slow shutter box …

You can exercise the gears by pushing on the lever to the right (relative to the image above) of the gear box, which is attached to the arm that is pushed by the slow speed dial mechanism.

Now you can check out the shutter. Use a flashlight to check for pin holes and make sure to check both shutter curtain (this is best done in a dark area). I use liquid electrical tape to seal up the tiny holes … use a toothpick (or shave down the end of a q-tip) to apply very small amounts. Check for holes again. Make sure to let it dry before winding up the shutter so not to get it attached to the curtains when rolled up.

To put this all back together … put the springs and pressure plate on first. Press it down with your thumb while you slide the innards into the body, then press the rangefinder coupling lever down to clear the lens mount hole.

Then you can put the one body screw that is located under slow shutter speed dial. Secure the body with the ten screws.

Assemble most of the slow shutter speed dial … leave the knob off. If your slow shutter speeds are off then you can now adjust them. Take out the inner screw. You can then turn the inner slotted nut … clockwise to speed it up (and you can figure out how to slow it down). Put the inner screw back on then check the speed again, when you are satisfied put the knob back on.