Tag Archives: old

Q & A: How to clean shutter?

Yes, I know the rule is never to lubricate shutter blades, and I haven’t. I acquired an old Zeiss Ikonta which had that common ailment, sticky slow shutter speeds on a Prontor-SV shutter. So I tipped in a small amount of lighter fuel, which normally does the trick, exercising the shutter a few dozen times, and it seemed to free up, with 1s sounding like 1 second, and so on. It seemed perfect. But after an hour or so, the shutter just stuck completely, and a few more drops of lighter fuel freed it up. Then the cycle repeats. I’m wondering if the lighter fuel is reaching the blades and acting as a lubricant, and when it dries out, the blades are causing the shutter to stick, rather than any gunge in the shutter assembly itself. I’m not sure.

I know there’s a tip elsewhere on this forum that if it’s absolutely necessary, shutter blades can be gently lubricated by a finger smeared lightly in fine graphite pencil, but I’m hesitant about this in case I’m on the wrong lines entirely.

I’d be grateful for any pointers. This little Ikonta 521 is otherwise a perfect little peach and I’m getting restless now about putting a roll of film through it.




What you’re experiencing is very common. Most of us have come across it an one time or another. What has happened is that the original sticky slow speeds were caused by dirt/dried oil in the slow speed escapement train. When you used the lighter fuel you freed this, but the old oil on it has washed down and distributed itself on the shutter blades. When you add more lighter fuel you dilute this oil enough to break down its surface tension but it reforms as soon as the lighter fuel dries out. It’s got to be washed out completely – adding graphite or anything else will only form a sticky paste.

You don’t say how far you disassembled the shutter, but it’s best if you take it off the camera (usually a screwed ring round the shutter housing inside the camera), remove both the front and rear lens elements and take off the speed control plate so that you can see all the mechanism.

Then there are two ways of getting it clean, the long way, which purists will tell you is the ‘proper’ way, and the short way which, for me, works about 90% of the time. Try the short way first.

Lay the shutter in a shallow plastic tray, something like a ‘chinese take-away’ box, keep flooding it with lighter fuel and working it while it’s wet to try to wash all the old oil out. Keep doing this until the shutter works when it’s dried out.

Lighter fuel in small cans is quite expensive but it’s only refined naptha. If you can buy ‘commercial grade’ naptha it’s cheap enough to cover the shutter with it and swirl thigs around. On really sticky shutters, as an alternative to naptha or lighter fuel, I have used an aerosol of carburettor/injector cleaner from my local auto store. It’s a very powerful degreaser, two floodings are usually enough to get the shutter really clean, but be careful how you use it. ALWAYS use it in the open or in a ventilated outhouse because the fumes are nasty things to breathe. Second, don’t use it if there are any plastic bits attached to the shutter because some of these injector cleaners will dissolve many plastics.

With regard to operating the shutter while it’s still wet with cleaner, the shutter should work in ‘B’ mode with the speed plate off, or you can put the plate back on and just hold it in position while you work the other speeds. A tip for replacing the speed plate – put it on in approximately the correct position then give it a gentle turn anticlockwise till you hear a click as the pins drop into their respective slots.

If this is the first time you’ve been inside a leaf shutter have a look at Daniel Mitchel’s site
and scroll down the index on the left till you come to ‘shutters’ and have a look at ‘Prontor SVS’, which is an updated version of your Prontor SV.

Daniel gives a detailed, illustrated, blow-by-blow account of stripping a Prontor completely to pieces for cleaning (the ‘long way’).


Vintage/ Antique camera repair/ restoration tools

Kyphoto.com is one of the most reliable and resourceful sites for camera repair information. They provide a list of useful camera repair tools, which are asked by many people.

Are you a DIY guy trying to fix or rescue your own precious cameras? If yes, there are the tools that you need.

Niwa brand drivers are our favorites because they have big handles and the replaceable tips are very strong (but it doesn’t mean they are unbreakable!). The T-handle is a nice addition. A Sears set of six (4 slot and 2 phillips in a blue plastic case) is handy to keep around when a special size blade needs to be ground. This set is cheap and made of good, hardened steel.
Don’t think one can ever have too many different pliers. Sears has a set of 4 mini pliers that is a good start. A tool should be comfortable… A set (round and pointed nose) of 4″ Visegrips are excellent for holding parts during filing or precise bending. A set of cheap fixed tip snap ring pliers with the tips filed to fit pin face screws. Only use this if the screw is so tight the friction screwdriver won’t remove it. The plier set you see in this picture was bought at Sears for $9.99.
Plastic surgical tweezers are the best for general parts handling. They are big and stout. But a set of metal, straight and curved, are sometimes required.

Lens spanner
Depends from person to person and job to job if spanners are necessary. Especially on really tight lens rings they are invaluable. The replaceable tip ones are best. Also S. K. Grimes makes an excellent looking spanner.
Needle Files
A cheapie set of 10 different cross-sections has worked fine.
Set of Batteries
If I had a nickel for every time a friend has shown me this “broken” camera and all I did was put in a fresh battery… well, I’d have at least a dollar! Seriously, keep a set of various batteries around. I have a short length of wooden 2×4 with holes drilled in it to organize my batteries.

Filter Ring Remover
Most camera shops carry cheapie filter ring removers. The big plier-like ones seem best. I don’t have a set of these big, nice…expensive…ones, but they are on my Christmas List.
Head Loupe
Next to my Tee-handle Niwa driver I use this the most. Could be my aging eyes?? I use it in diagnosing parts or checking lens element cleanliness, as a face shield while making parts with the rotary tool, any time I solder… gosh, all the time.
Rotary tool
Sears offers a nice 5 speed model. When you advance into making/modifying parts this tool will be your closest friend. I’m amazed that of my numerous bits I only use about four 99% of the time. Cutoff wheel, pointed grinding stone, rasp (looks like an end-mill) and a small ball tipped cutter. The first three are 1/8″ shank and the last is 3/32″ shank.
Soldering Iron
I use a 45 watt Radio Shack pencil type plugged into a variable temperture control unit. My favorite tip is a spade type I bent to about 45 degrees.
Friction screwdriver
Make from a short length of round wooden dowel (or broom handle). Just glue a piece of flat rubber on the end. A couple different diameters is handy. These are used mostly for removing the ring around wind levers. I use it even if the ring has grooves.
Crochet hooks
Makes excellent spring hooks and probes. I use a set consisting of US10, 12 and 14. And I have an extra bent US10. The 10 is especially useful for spinning off lens rings after initial loosening.
Artist style paintbrushes
For internal cleaning… Flat ones are better than the pointed.
Exterior cleaning.
Rubber pads
For loosening anything you don’t want to scratch…like everything. Start collecting various soft rubber pads. Anything can be used: furniture foot pads, sink stoppers, door stops…anything. A few sheets of soft rubberized cloth (dental dam) works well.
Tool holder
Don’t know about you but my desk gets cluttered with tools when I’m tinkering. The best thing I have found to organize the tools currently being used is a 78 cent plastic drill bit holder. It is made to hold 26 bits from ½” to 1/16″. Holds everything from pliers to screwdrivers to…well, everything I normally use. Alternately a piece of 2×4 with custom drilled holes would be perfect…but for 78 cents, I can be lazy.
Parts tray
A very necessary tool of organization! You can spend money on a store bought tray or… got a buddy that plays golf? or play yourself? The plastic egg crate-like containers that some brands of golf balls come in are near perfect. See thru is better…
Big, strong magnet
To find and pick up small parts you WILL drop.
Machinist’s dividers
Best for pin faced screws like shutter speed dial screws, self timer screws, etc.
Wooden chopstick
To insert in between the fork of the rewinding shaft to unscrew the rewinding knob. Does not scar paint as opposed to the normal screwdriver handle.
Toothpick or inkpen
Once the retaining ring is loosened, unscrew the remainder with one or both of these two items. Inkpen (no ink, of course), if extra strength is needed. Toothpick, for smaller notches and good for depositing small drops of lubricant or glue.
Film can
Need to store a bunch of little parts? If you shoot Fuji film like I do, you can write the camera name on the side of the white container. I have three or four from off brand film that are clear. They are the best.
Film cans
If one is good, then two is better and seven is perfect. Six empty film cans fit perfectly around a center can. Rubberband these all together and you have a great place to set those opened tubes of glue, thread lock, teflon oil, epoxy, etc. Also great for thicker tools like the friction screwdrivers and small butane torch shown. A ton of mini pliers will fit in them too.
Excellent for cleaning lenses but I use it for cleaning everything on the camera exterior.
For regluing leatherette mostly but works fine holding curtains and curtain straps to their shafts. When gluing curtains and straps clamp tight for best bond. The nice thing about Pliobond is that is doesn’t dry stiff.
Good for dissolving old grease and flushing out dirty mechanisms. Caution: Ronsonol is very flammable…duh, it is lighter fluid. Coleman campstove fuel works fine also but stinks to high heaven.
Teflon Lube
Use sparringly on pivot shafts. Apply with the tip of your smallest slot screwdriver. Radio Shack carries a couple different types in handy tubes.
Moly grease
Thick molybdenum disulfide grease. Good for high surface stress areas or use as focus helix damping grease. Also very useful for holding aluminum/brass screws of old Kodaks to your screwdriver. Just apply a small ball of moly on the driver tip and stick on the screw. It’ll stay stuck there until you start the screw.
This is gun oil. I use it as penetrating oil. It can be a mess to use but it frees shafts and pivots well. On older cameras I usually flush with Ronsonol after the parts free up then blow everything dry and apply Teflon lube to the pivots. On newer cameras made of harder steel parts I skip the Teflon lube and run dry.
(in some types of fingernail polish remover) Use to unstick stuck screws.
Get the finest grain size you can find. I use graphite as a manually applied plating. I massage it on contact surfaces until the color slightly darkens then blow out all stray graphite. Very good for aperture/shutter blades.
J/B Weld
Can repair most broken parts that don’t see high stress.
To clean lens elements. My favorite technique is to fold the Kleenex in small squares and hold with round tipped locking tweezers. Do not touch glass with tweezers nor apply pressure. Wipe in circles, do not scrub. And change the Kleenex if ANY dirt particles can be seen on it. These particles WILL scratch the glass!
Paper towels
Exterior cleaning and as a placemat for the camera to protect both camera and desk from scratches during assembly/disassembly.
I prefer an old washcloth in lieu of the paper towel as a placemat.
Micro-Tools sells several paints and coatings that sometimes even match the camera color!
Can of compressed air
An essential cleaning tool. An air compressor set at about 40 psi with a pencil tip is best and by far cheapest but my wife won’t let me bring the garage compressor in the house.
Dial vernier caliper
To measure things… What else can I say? Generally only needed when making/modifying parts.
Circuit testing. And if you have a digital, one check out the shutter speed tester you can make using it. A description can be found in test equipment section.
Dial Indicater
Like the dial vernier, not used very often.

Vintage Camera Shopping in Japan

Great used camera shop in Omori, Tokyo | Japanorama.co.uk.


Many great TLRs are made in Japan. the famous yashica family, autocord family and so on. so you must be wondering where to find some second-hand camera store in Japan?

here you go. Just compiled some info about where to find these precious vintage babies in Hot Japan!.


Tokyo is not exactly short of good used camera stores but Cross Point in Omori, Shinagawa-ku, has some amazing bargains especially on film and especially medium-format cameras. We take a look to see what is on offer at this suburban alladin’s cave of cameras.Omori might not be the trendiest or glitziest of Tokyo’s suburbs or even the most well-known. But it’s easy to get to [just ten minutes from Shinagawa Station on the Keihin-Tohoku or Keiky Lines] and it has one of the best used camera shops in town.

Cross Point Cameras is about five minutes walk from Omori Station and about ten minutes from our office, which is pretty dangerous it must be said; the impulse-purchase dial reads ‘maximum’ at all times, and for good reason.

Japan and especially Tokyo has some superb used camera stores, feeding off the national obsession for the camera and – more particularly – the national obsession for all things new and shiny or, more specifically, the desire to turn in the old in preference for the new.

Some Japanese camera-buffs are utterly obsessive about having either the newest gear or having gear that is immaculate. The tiniest blemish on a piece of equipment can often tempt cameraphiles to trade in old for new as much as their desire to have the latest lens, body or accessory. This means that the place is literally awash with good quality used equipment. Great for those who relish quality over trends and for those seeking a more retro approach to their photography; i.e. film cameras rather than digital.

It’s in the film and particularly the medium-format film end of the film department that Cross Point offers its most stunning bargains. Currently in the window [see the photogallery below] is, for example, a Mamiya RZ67 that doesn’t look too long out of its box, complete with 120 film-back, 110mm lens and AE metering head. All this for just 37,000Yen. Alongside it are a bunch of RB67 cameras, all ready to shoot, ranging from just 10,000Yen.

Cross Point is not for the Hasselblad fan as, like other very sought-after items, Blads tend to get bought from the owner of the shop by many of the other used camera stores in Tokyo. But you can find them here occasionally and it is worth leaving the owner of the shop your details so he can keep an eye out for you and let you know if he finds what you are looking for.

This lack of Swedish camera gear is a minor shortcoming though and I would dare any serious camera fan to not find something at Cross Point to tempt their wallet out to play. Taking our visit there just last Saturday as an example – and bearing in mind that the owner is about to do one of his buying runs around Japan, picking up new stock – Cross Point had a good selection of mediumn format cameras, including the following:

  • Mamiya RB67 – priced from 10,000Yen to 40,000Yen
  • Mamiya RZ67 – priced from 28,000Yen to 60,000Yen
  • Pentax 67
  • Pentax 645
  • Bronica EC
  • Bronica GS1
  • Bronica ETRS and ETRSi
  • Fuji 6×9
  • Graphlex 6×7
  • Mamiya 645
  • Fuji GSX680

On the 35mm side of life Cross Point also stocks an excellent selection of gear, from classic Nikon and Canon rangefinders, some excellent quality and reasonably priced Leica M3, M4, and M5 rangefinders. To more recent Canon AE and F1, Nikon F Series, Olympus OM series and various other SLR cameras.

The lens selection is not comprehensive but there are always plenty of Nikon Ai, AiS, AF D and both newer and older lenses. In the Canon section Cross Point carries a good range of older FD and the newer EF-mount lenses.

Like any good used camera shop there are also a number of eccentric oddities in stock at any one time. Current highlights would have to include….

  • 1200mm lens with Bronica medium format mount [you can’t miss it, it’s the lens near the counter that looks like it could be a pillar supporting the shop’s roof]
  • Nikkor 600mm af ED
  • Sinar P2 monorail camera
  • Horsemann 6×9 and Polaroid rotating back
  • Nikonos flash gear, wide angle lenses
  • …and a few more besides.

Chief amongst reasons to visit Cross Point is the friendly owner, who speaks a little English and who can be very generous on the discounts and items he throws-in for free.

This weekend a friend of mine [a genuine vintage camera-holic] came down to the shop for the first time and left with a mint-condition Mamiya RZ67, complete with a  110mm lens that looked like it had just come out of the box, its 120 film-back, a Polaroid back, camera bag, fresh battery, authentic Mamiya RZ strap and a roll of film to test the whole lot out….. all for 22,000Yen.

I defy anyone to find a better bargain in Tokyo than that!

Photo gallery: a few shots of Cross Point Cameras in Omori


Access details:

  • Five-minutes walk from Omori Station [Keihin Tohoku Line]
  • Ten minutes walk from Omori-kaigan Station [Keikyu Line]
  • Co-ordinates, to put into Google Maps or similar: 35.59148,139.731315. Click this link to see these co-ordinates in Google Maps. StreetView is available and shows the shop quite clearly.

One last thing to remember; print this article out, take it into the shop and at least the guy will know you found about his place through Alfie and Japanorama. It can’t hurt and it might help you get an even better deal than the price tags already suggest.

Happy shopping and happy shooting!



Tokyo Used Camera Stores (Source: http://tonymcnicol.com/2009/05/24/secon-hand-camera-shops/):

5 shops, in no particular order . . .

1) Fujiya Camera, Nakano

Nakano was Tokyo geek central before Akihabara, and it has some of the best hobby shops in Tokyo, including cameras. There are several Fujiya shops in a small area. The biggest one has used cameras on the second floor. Check out Mandarake while you are in Nakano. No cameras, but everything else you could imagine!

2) Sanpo Camera, Meguro

Sanpo is the most inconviently situated of this list, but I suspect that is the point. They are VERY cheap. I’m not so sure about their used cameras, but they kitted me out with a new DLSR kit not so long ago for much less than anywhere else I could find. A favourite of pros.

3) Map Camera, Shinjuku

Right round the corner from Yodobashi camera Shinjuku West exit. There are about 5 or 6 used camera shops within a stone’s through of this one but Map is the biggest and best. I just sold them a lens the other day and they were super-efficient. I’ve always had good advice from the staff too.

4) Sakuraya, Akihabara, Shinjuku etc

There are Sakura camera shops dotted all around Tokyo and Japan, actually a chain of used camera shops, and how that is economically feasible, I have no idea. In any case, they have lots of extremely cheap classic cameras. I bought a Yashica Samurai for 1000 yen in one the other day.  It came with a free battery worth 800 yen!

5) Lemonsha, Ginza

By no means the cheapest of the above, but my favourite. Lots of Leica, a fair selection of Nikon and Canon, medium format etc. They stock other collectables like fountain pens and watches too. (I’m writing a story on Seiko right now). They have a little coffee machine and seating area, so its perfect for a break during an afternoon of ginbura.

10 thins to look for when shopping a vintage camera (Source: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/08/the-10-most-important-things-you-should-be-looking-for-when-buying-a-classic-camera-or-how-not-to-get-ripped-off/):

Click to read more

Pictured above: Canon 7 Black w/50mm f1.2 screw mount. Shot by Bellamy Hunt

Eric’s Note: For this blog post I am excited to present this article written by Bellamy Hunt (aka Japancamerahunter). Not only is he a skilled street photographer, but he is a professional camera hunter. If you are looking for a vintage or classic camera, he is your man. Knowing nothing about classic cameras myself, I asked him some tips that you may need to know when looking to buy one. Read what he has to say below!

So, you have decided to take the plunge and buy a classic camera, well hold on to your horses, this is something that you shouldn’t run headlong into with wild abandon.
Obviously if you are buying a $20 camera most of this will be completely irrelevant to you, but if you are thinking of getting something a bit nicer, then there are a few things you should consider.

First up, and perhaps most importantly, know what you are looking for. Don’t have a vague idea that you want a film camera and just buy the first one you see; you will just be disappointed.

Here is a little list of things that you should be looking for when you are buying a classic camera.

1. What sort of camera do you want? A rangefinder? An SLR? A large format aerial camera?

Give this some thought. The internet is your friend, go and do some research and find out what you think you would like. Perhaps you have a friend who has a camera you like, if so, blag it off them and try it out.

2. How much money do you want to spend?

Be realistic about this, these things can get expensive. Just because it is old does not mean it is worth less than the new gear. Research prices online, set yourself a budget and you will find something. Don’t be cheap though, you are not going to get that Leica for $400. Not. Ever.

3. Research. Research. Research.

I cannot stress this enough, I am super serial. No really, the amount of people that have bought a $2000 camera from me and then asked me how it works simply staggers me. Download a manual, read forums, stalk photographers, whatever it takes.

4. Don’t be fooled.

If you are looking to buy a classic camera and you find one for an amazing bargain, there is always a reason why….always. Be skeptical of cheap prices or super wonderful deals. Is there a problem with the camera? Or worse, is it stolen? Be careful.

5. Check the functions.

Ok, so you have found the camera, the price is right, it looks pretty enough, but does it work? Check the shutter speeds, all of them. How does 1 second sound? Like 3 seconds? Skip it. Check the power, the film door, the meter (if it has one), check everything.

6. Mold is your worst enemy.

Check the inside of the camera, is there any mold anywhere? If there is, just walk away. Unless, of course, you like throwing your money away. Same goes for lenses.

7. What battery does it use?

This may sound silly, but some cameras (Leica M5 being a shining example) only use mercury cells, which are now outlawed in many places. Make sure you can get the batteries for your new toy. Some cameras now take adapters, so you can bypass this, but not all of them do.

8. What sort of condition is it in?

This may sound obvious, but if it says mint, then it really should be mint. How was it stored? One careful lady owner? Lovely, I shall take it. In a bucket full of spiders? No thanks.

9. Where is it?

Again, may sound silly, but it you are having it sent to you, you have to factor in the postage and if is from abroad, the import taxes. Trust me, most people forget this, but it can be a fair chunk of your budget.

10. Where are you going to keep it?

Really, where? On the shelf next to your mother’s heirlooms, gathering dust? Be sensible, if you are buying something expensive make sure you have somewhere to store it. A humidity cabinet is best, but expensive. Get a plastic storage box with a whole load of silica gel packets and you would do yourself a favor.

So, that should cover it. Obviously if you are buying from the internet then you cannot physically check over the camera yourself, which is where the trust thing comes into play. Check your sellers, see if they have a good reputation, see what people are saying about them and you should be grand.

Most of all, good luck, with the right amount of research you should end up with something really cool.