Seeing Stars

Canon IV-S rangefinder camera, Jupiter-11 135mm f/4 lens, Fuji NPZ 800 film

Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?

The good news?  Alright, that is easy: I loaded my Canon IV-S with film today, shot the entire roll, and had it developed across the street.

I have no idea what I was doing wrong before when I had trouble loading the Canon.  I think I did everything the same this time around as I did last time.

In fact I did it three times right today, loading it twice with a test roll of junk film and a third time with a good roll.  All three times it advanced just fine, without a hitch.

The bad news?  Do you really want to know?  OK, if I have to…

It is still showing many, many light leaks despite my attempted repair through its cloth shutter.  (You probably guessed that from the above shot…)

My Dear Sweet Wife thinks that the light leaks create an attractive ethereal effect.  But she has been known for picking her preferred Holga based on its leaks, so I am not sure she is a neutral party here.

So if I credit myself for the loading, but give the Canon a nod for the unresolved leaks, I guess that makes the score to date:

Canon: 2 – Me: 1

Canon: 1 – Me: 0

Nikon FA, Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5, deep red filter, Ilford HP5 Plus via dr5 process

Q: What is more difficult than trying to get a stand of flamingos to pose for a photograph?

A: Loading film into an early rangefinder.

I tried loading some film into my Canon IV-S last night.  I used to think loading my Nikomat FTN was tough, but I have been humbled by this recent experience.

If you recall I tried repairing some holes in the Canon’s cloth shutter a month back.  I still need to take some pictures with it and see if I sealed the light leaks or not.

This camera has a very old-school design with a solid back and removable base plate.  In order to load the film you actually have to pull it slightly out of the 35mm cartridge, slip it under a clip on the camera’s removable take-up spool, and then slot both of them with film strung in between into the upside-down body.

(Don’t forget to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time too!)

The real trick is that it has to have some slack to pass over the sprocket mechanism, but then once it is in place you tighten it up over the sprockets to make for a solid film advance.  I thought I was doing this right after reading some tips, but multiple attempts later I still could not get the film advance knob to actually move the film.

Ugh… I mauled the start of a nice fresh roll of Ilford B&W film in the process.  I think for my next attempt I will work with an old roll of some junk film so that I can play around without fear.

Rangefinder Repair


Nikon D300, Micro Nikkor AF-D 105mm F.2.8

I had two fixer-upper projects sitting on the back-burner for a while that I’m happy to say I made progress on this weekend.

My Dad gave me a 1952 Canon IV-S rangefinder a while back which was in decent operating state except for having a hole burned into its shutter curtain.  This is a common affliction in Leicas and other classic rangefinders with cloth shutters, as the lens can easily act as a magnifying glass when sunlight shines directly into it.

Feeling a bit intimidated by the very old-school IV-S, I had purchased a 1963 Petri 7S off eBay at a bargain price (under $20) in order to ease my way into rangefinder shooting.  But despite the description reading “camera operates fine” I discovered the film advance lever was stuck.

rr-bI tackled the Petri first, having found a clue online to check the springs underneath the bottom plate.  However, the screws holding the plate on were stuck and wouldn’t budge at all.

I purchased a can of Kano Kroil “The Oil That Creeps” which is supposed to be better than the average penetrating oil, and it did the trick nicely.  After leaving a drop sitting on the upside-down screws for a minute I wiped them off and the screws came right out.

rr-cWhen I first received the 7S the shutter fired for me once, but then when I tried the lever it barely moved. It was somehow obstructed and I couldn’t advance or cock the shutter again.

With the bottom plate removed the problem was obvious:  the gear on the bottom of the advance “axle” had a peg which was hitting a small plate in the corner preventing it from rotating clockwise.

rr-dFor a minute or so I puzzled through why the plate was stuck in the wrong place.  But then I literally hit on the right solution when I pushed the long arm located to its right towards the plate.

It was a temporary “stuckness” and the arm and plate moved a few millimeters to the left, freeing the advance gear and lever to… well, advance!  Perhaps I will need to grease some parts later, but I have cycled the shutter and advance many times since.

rr-eEmboldened by this feat of skill (er… ok, good luck) I proceeded to the Canon.  Looking in through the lens mount into its shutter crate it seemed pretty obvious to me where the light leak was coming from.

The left shutter (in place after an exposure) looked practically brand new.  But the right shutter (in place when cocked) had an obvious hole in addition to a previous patch attempt with black fabric paint by my Dad.

rr-fHe had encouraged me to try patching it again when he gave me the camera, but I read on the above referenced Leica forum that Star Brite Liquid Electrical Tape was the way to go.

I gave the can a good shaking, opened it up, and then applied some over the hole and a few other places for good measure using a fine artist paint brush.  The shutter sat exposed on my desk overnight to ensure it was fully dried, and when I tried it just now it seemed to be working smoothly.

Well, I guess I have two more rangefinders to play with and test out.  I will report back on that later.