28. august 2016

How to fix a squeaky Voigtländer Nokton 40mm f1.4 (S.C) classic


I wonder what kind of grease Voigtländer managed to put into this lens!

Image borrowed from

My Voigtländer Nokton 40mm f1.4 (S.C) classic has always been tough to focus with, not really a creamy, buttery joy at all, lately it has also begun making squeaking sounds when focusing.
Therefore, I sort of used it less and less and it has been sitting idle for quite a while now.

This is quite a common issue with this lens, from what I gather, but the write-ups online has been rather inadequate for my particular lens, so I made one while fixing mine.

I mean, it's a nice little lens, and sharp too, quite a speed-demon (f1.4) and renders very nicely.

Dog in Prague
Fuji Reala 100
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Church, Oslo
Kodak Ektar 100.
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Film-crew during the Oslo-marathon.
Kodak Ektar 100.
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Wooden bicycle bell(?).
This is as close as you can get at 0.7m.
Kodak Ektar 100.
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Man on subway, Tokyo.
Fuji Neopan 1600 in HC-110.
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Outside Tsjuki fish-market, Tokyo.
Fuji Neopan 1600 in HC-110.
Leica CL, Nokton classic 40 f1.4 S.C

Anyway, the squeaky issue....yes.....!

This stems from the fact that Voigtländer seem to have been using a lube in the focus-mechanism that dries out, plain and simple.

Not cool!

But, at least it's fixable with a minimum of tools! \o/

- The good old t-shirt, brightly colored, to use as a work-surface, it prevents parts from falling and then jump away from you. (usually down to the floor and under something, gone forever, until the vacuum-cleaner eats it on a dreary Tuesday without you even noticing.)

A spanner-wrench:

- Normal to "Small" Screwdriver-set (electronic type will suffice).
- Electronic cleaner, or cleaning alcohol, to remove old and dry grease.
- New lube, I use lithium-grease. Do not use too thick grease, or focus will be too stiff.

All right, here we go.

First, mark the lens-mount, so you will know if you have been able to get the lens back together again correctly. (you will know if your lens is upside-down when you mount it too, but it's cooler to get it back together again correctly before you try mounting it to your camera).

Then you simply remove the 4 screws holding the lens-mount in the lens, screw the lens mount off and then pull the focus-scale off. (wrongly worded on the photo, but you get the idea).

Take a moment to observe what you got now.
Below, the lens mount and the focus-scale has been removed.

What you now see, is the stopping notch for the focusing-helicoid, it's aligned with the center-mark on the outer-barrel, good to know.

Yes, you can focus and see how it moves, no danger (yet).

Next, we want to take out the helicoid, since this is the part that makes the squeaky noises.
Now you need the spanner-wrench.
Remove the OUTER retaining ring with the pointy end of the wrench. The inner-ring is to actually open the rear lens-group and we are not doing that now. (mine is clean anyway).

My trick to use the wrench, is to adjust it, place it in the notches, place the lens on the table and twist the lens, not the wrench. It's more secure, but place your hand so that if the wrench slips, it doesn't jump around everywhere -for example around, on-top or over your lens!

Now you can lift off both the focusing handle and the helical.
Please note the following as you do that:
- There is a guide-screw on the rear lens-group. This screw goes into the notch, on the helical shown on the photo below. Take note on how the helical sits in the focusing mechanism.
- The retaining-ring lies inside the helical, after you have lifted the helical out, just twist it upside-down the ring should drop down to the t-shirt.

In my case, I was not able to remove the 4 black screws shown in the below photo.
Annoying as that was (since I was not able to then clean it properly), there are gaps that allow you to clean it somewhat, as well as re-grease).

The screws were simply too tight to budge, so I was screwed in disassembling it. :P

What I did was:
- First rinse and work the lens by using pressurized  electronic-cleaner. This stuff is awesome to remove grease and it dries out without leaving residue. I rinsed, then worked the helical back and fourth and rinsed again etc 2-4 times.
- Then I used pressurized air while working the lens, to make sure the electronic-cleaner was all gone, also while working the helical.
- Finally, I sprayed lithium grease inside the helical, while working the lens 2-3 times.

A final outer cleaning and the helical was smooth and done.

It's not optimal, but I am fairly confident I got out most of the old crap and was able to lubricate the unit properly.


Putting the lens back together again is very simple (this whole procedure really is, compared to my former Jupiter-exercises :P ).

However, the final lens-mount is a huge hassle to get mounted on the helical. I don't think I've ever experienced such an annoying issue. (at one point I thought I had messed up the threads and ruined the lens).

The reason for this, is that the threads are made to such an accuracy that you need to get the lens 100% aligned before it enters and that is ¤%¤#¤%&¤ hard.

After 3 hours, I finally found a technique that worked like a charm, this will save you a LOT of time:
See below photo.
NOTE: Do NOT use force, when it enters correctly, it slides in effortlessly!

When trying to mount the lens-mount onto the helical, hold it in your palms.
Then you search for the threads, but screwing the lens anti-clockwise, usually until you hear a click, then you try (carefully) to twist the mount clockwise, to see if it goes in. This is what you normally do when you hold the parts with your fingers, the difference is that you now do it, by holding the parts with your palms.

If it doesn't enter here, continue to twist anti-clockwise further and try again at the next click.

Holding the lens this way, seems to give it much more stability than holding the lens and trying to twist with your fingers.

I could have saved myself 3 hours of agony if I had known this "hold-it-in-your-palms" trick before I started, so you are very welcome :P


25. april 2016

Making a new mirror for Rolleiflex Automat f3.5

Here's a walk-trough on how I made myself a new mirror for my old Rolleiflex Automat f3.5 MX-EVS.

My old Rolleiflex Automat f3.5 MX-EVS
Check out the patina! :D
Found an excellent article about the camera here: http://www.djcphoto.com/index.php/1956-rolleiflex-automat-mx-evs-tessar/

These old cameras tend to age quite well, however, the mirror in them gets pretty bad after so many years, causing the viewfinder to be dimmer and dimmer.

I wanted to collect my experiences in making a new mirror from scratch, as I had to pull information from many different sources before the change was complete.


- Electronic screwdriver-set (or equivalent small screwdriver-set)
- A new mirror
- Glass-cutting knife
- Gloves to break glass with
- Plastic cloves to use with chemicals
- Chemical that can dissolve mirror-backing (acetone or other)
- Cotton-balls
- Cling-film

Procedure, in short

- Find a replacement mirror
- Remove waist level finder.
- Inspect and remove original mirror.
- Cut the new mirror
- If you have a second surface mirror, make it into a first surface one.
- Install
- Adjust focus on your camera, if necessary

Procedure explained

I searched high and low for mirrors and found one at the local "nick-nack" store (Clas Ohlson). Here, they had some of those metal wallets and some of them also had integrated mirrors.
Metal wallet, with mirror.
I removed that mirror using a hair-dryer and a butter-knife. It was fastened with two strips of double-sided tape.

The size and thickness of those mirrors also seemed more or less perfect! Great! Happy days.

Well almost, the new mirror is actually pretty damn close, but a little thicker (0.25mm), so I had to re-adjust the focus a little after installment.

Mirror thickness, original Rolleiflex

Mirror thickness, new mirror.

Thickness problem tackled, for now.

To change out your mirror, you need to take off the waist level finder-top.

This involves removing 4 screws, located beside the viewfinder, on top of the camera:

Stolen example from the web, which shows the screws on a rolleicord, but the procedure is the same for the Automat.

Then you simply pull the whole thing upwards.
The mirror should be visible now.

Just loosen the screws holding the mirror in place, they can be a little fiddly to get back in, since the screws themselves aren't magnetic.

Once you get the mirror out, you can clean the viewing lens from the inside, I am sure there is some dust there, i used canned air and blew away some dust and grime and then cleaned that lens.

My mirror looked like this:

Pretty crappy mirror if you ask me. Looks pretty home-made too. No wonder the camera was hard to focus with!
This is also after cleaning O_o

Time for cutting the new mirror.

Use a regular class-cutting knife (you need to use some oil on the knife when you cut).

Use the original mirror as a template and mark the new mirror with a CD-pen or similar (I found that it was ok to make the markings a little bit larger than the original mirror).

Use gloves to break off the pieces, I placed my mirror on a cutting-board with the edge to break off just outside the edge, it made for a cleaner line.
- Use sand-paper to sand down sharp edges and uneven edges on your finished mirror.

Borrowed image that shows your average mirror cutting.
Now cut!

- You will probably cock this procedure up if you have never cut glass before, so buy 2-3 of those wallets before you start. :)

Cutting complete, I broke two mirrors before I finally made it.
However....right before installment, I found that the new mirror in that wallet was a so called second surface mirror, the Rollei's use first surface mirrors.

Problem! :-(

What this means, is that on normal mirrors, you have a protective layer of glass between you and the "silver", the first surface mirrors do not.

Does it matter?

Yep.... The glass causes ghosting (double-image) and also refraction (loss of sharpness) and also move the actual reflective surface back, compared to a first/front surface mirror.

So what now? Stuck with a wallet I don't need? All that cutting for nothing???

Internet to the rescue!
-Yes, you can get mirrors on eBay, but the shipping to my country is more expensive than the mirror itself.


I found, from a laser-geek community of all places, that it seems that you can actually wash away the protective layer on the back of most mirrors, exposing the "silver" on that side. \o/

All you need are some nasty chemicals and cotton, and gloves, I used acetone.

Washing -very- carefully in acetone.
(Make sure to ventilate well!)
The washing of the mirror, consisted of laying the mirror in a acetone bath for 15 minutes, then I rubbed away the layer with a cotton-ball, very carefully!

The exposed side of the mirror is extremely delicate, so do not use more force than the weight of the soaked cotton-ball itself.  Change the cotton-balls as you go, the left-over paint can actually scratch the surface.

It will take some time, but the paint/protective layer will eventually start to come off.
Make sure you get it all off before rinsing the mirror in water, let it air dry, do not touch.

Here are some comparisons between the old and the new mirrors:

Example shows a buggered mirror i made (note the chipping on the narrow part), but see how much better the definition it has, a real improvement indeed.

Ok, almost finished now, all you have to do, is to install the thing.

First, you now need to protect the new mirror.
I installed my first mirror without anything protecting it, it got finger-marks all over it and I decided to clean it with some paper and some lens cleaning-agent.

That made the nice surface into this:

Cleaning-marks. How fun seeing this, realizing you will have to start over again with a new wallet! \o/

To avoid this, use cling-film.
It is kind of similar to the protection that comes with the commercial mirrors and it will indeed help you avoid marks while fighting to install the mirror in your Rolleiflex.

Place the clean(!) mirror, first-surface-side down on the cling-film, cut it so you have around 0.5 cm extra on all sides, fold the extra around the mirror:

Now, fold around 1 cm of the cling-film back from the narrowest part of your mirror, like so:

Now you are ready to install the new mirror.

Inside the Rolleiflex Automat, there is a spring-mechanism that needs to be held in place as you insert the mirror with the narrow end first.

This is fiddly (I have no photos of that, sorry), but the spring is supposed to put some pressure on the mirror from the back, so that it is possible to install it, but keeps it still after installment.

When you insert the mirror, use a flat knife to hold the spring in place, then "replace the knife" with the mirror. Push the mirror all the way into the notch in the camera and observe that the spring is just visible on each side of the mirror, and that it seems to be straight.

It's not overly complicated, just fiddly, you'll get it when you see it. It helps to keep the camera at an angle, almost on it's "back", that way, the spring will not fall away too easily.

After you have slid the mirror in, lean it back between the screws. Attach the shims and tighten the screws, making sure the shims keep the new mirror in place.

Before you tighten the screws completely, remove the rest of the cling-film with a pair of tweezers and you will be left with a brand spanking new mirror with no marks.

*** New focusing screen ***

I had also bought a new matte-screen from Rick Oleson  it has made focusing both brighter and much easier. His prices were quite reasonable and shipping + handling was very nicely done.

This is how the viewfinder on my old Rolleiflex Automat looks now, with the new mirror and the new screen:

Not bad for a 60 year old camera, finally the 2.8 viewing lens can shine!

This is how focusing looks, click the photo for the original size (this is also after I adjusted the focus to the new mirror).

(click the photo) Out of focus objects have "jaggies" and in-focus stuff have not, very easy to determine focus.
Poor shots done with my phone but gets the point across.

So there you go.

I feel I can mess around with this camera, as I got it for cheap. The mirror installment can be done on most Rolleiflexes with little risk or trouble, but the focusing adjustment requires you to dismantle the front (and remove leatherette). For my F2.8 Rolleiflex, the expensive one, I would probably buy a mirror of the proper thickness to avoid the adjustment issue.

Done, now all this information is located in one place, easily found via google and what have you :)

26. februar 2016

Fujicolor Industrial 100 trials

I ordered 25 rolls of a mystical Fuji film called Fujicolor Industrial 100 and had a trial-run with it, to see how it fared.

The pack of films.
And my Leica M6 with my silver Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

All in all, a nice film, can be shot at indicated speed (ISO 100) or at ISO 50, I could not see any huge differences between the two.

- The film is noticeable physically thinner than Ektar and Portra.
- Neutral type of film, which does not pump the colors like Ektar, it's very similar to Fuji Reala there.
- The film has more noticeable and sharper/coarser grain than Fuji Reala.
- The grain tend to have more "color noise" as well, which, depending on the scene, can create a little unpleasing grain. (can be removed by the color-noise removal in IE Lightroom if one like).
- Still, the film copes well with hard light, exposing for the shadows goes very well, even shot directly against the low sun, the film still keeps a lot of highlight-information.
- Reds, shot in the shadow/overcast tend to remind me about 400H somewhat. (colder reds), I am no scanning-expert though, I usually take what my Nikon-scan software gives me, which is usually quite good scans..

All in all, a good, all-rounder neutral type of film, which cost a little less than half than Kodak Portra.

Below are a few shots I did from one of the rolls I got.
The colors, contrast and temperatures are as-is from my scanner.

Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Difficult scene, still shows details in the shadows.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

I shot two identical shots of this scene, the EI 50 showed less grain, the reds are similar to what I get from Fujipro 400H
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Again, a high-dynamic setting, bright background, darker foreground.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Of the two shots, one at EI 100 and one at EI 50, the EI 50 gave least grain and best tones here.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

This scene was more or less identical at EI 100 and EI 50
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Pretty good detail, even if the film is more grainy than Reala
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Late evening sun ferry
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Back/side-lit setting, no problem with the details
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Not a super-hard sunset, but the sun didn't pose any particular problems
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Just some kind of anchor-point for the boats, sun behind my back.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Getting darker, I think the film captured the light very well, was very yellow.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2
Last sunset view, sun behind and to the right
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Someone didn't bother to throw this in the bin it was standing on.
Shadow shot, dusk
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Lit bridge, shot in the shadows of the set sun.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2
Late sun-kissed tower, scanner had some issues as this shot was overexposed, it got better after adjusting the scanning-procedure.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

For $3,90 per roll, I think this film is pretty darn good =)

I wonder if this is a re-branded film of a more well known Fuji-film, does anyone have any ideas? (probably not one of the pro-labels perhaps, but maybe one of the consumer ones?)

There are rumors that Fuji will axe this film, as it has axed all other ISO 100 color films in 35mm, so if you want to shoot it, now is the time to buy it.

Since I made this blog-post, we've been discussing this film, and the 400 ISO version over at rangefinderforum.
The members there were able to share their experience, and also identity which film this mystical film actually is :)

Check it out at http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154715