Enter Contaflex....could mean trouble.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by claude_batmanghelidj, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. Hello all!

    I just received an old Contaflex I through the post ($17 on Fleabay).

    Camera is in very nice shape externally. Internally the mirror is
    covered with all kinds of black junk. Not sure if it is desilvering
    or what. You can see it through the front of the lens. The shutter
    speeds seem long on the slow speeds.

    The viewfinder view is nice, in spite of the mirror, I guess if the
    mirror was ok, it would be really clear.

    My question is, is there anything non surgical I can do to tune up
    this camera, such as excercising the shutter, dropping some alcohol
    into the actions, etc? I am way to scared to open this camera up, but
    will listen to suggestions in that area.

  2. I have a Contaflex III and a IV and both suffer from dodgy slow speeds. I have just accepted this as I do not use the slow speeds anyway. The debris you can see through the viewfinder is more likely to be small pieces of the black matt covering which have become detached from the interior of pentaprism to fall on the viewing screen. While annoying, this has no effect upon the nice quality images these cameras are capable of. As I understand it these cameras are very complex to dismantle and reassemble correctly after cleaning and I have never had the courage to do mine. However $17 isn't too much to lose if you accept that it may be the cost of the learning process.
    Regards Steve
  3. Claude, I wouldn't even think about it. I've fixed a lot of cameras up to this point and the Contaflex is a wickedly complex puzzle. Unfortunately, cleaning the mirror is not easy because you cannot access it in the down position unless you pull the lens and shutter from the front. If you do this, it is not straightforward to reinstall it. There is a type of foam that usually comes loose inside the mirror box and I'll bet that's what you see.

    The thing to check is that your aperture stops down instantaneously at the f/22 setting. Its critical that it stops down without hesitation or you will get overexposed photos.

    Its all correctable, just expect a $150 or more bill to get it done. If the aperture is functioning, my advice is to live with the slow speeds and dirty mirror. You might get lucky and be able to salvage the slow speeds without pulling the shutter on the Contaflex I because it is front cell focusing, and theoretically no more difficult that servicing a folding camera, that is if you have done this before.
  4. Hey, not bad! I dropped some lighter fluid into the aperture, shutter speed and focusing ring areas, and all the speeds corrected themselves! Nice! I dropped some lighter fluid into the shutter button and wind area as well, and it too seems smoother now. The lens seems clear of fungi, etc. but the inside of the eyepiece is fogged, can I get at that part to clean off the fogging?
  5. OK - do as you wish. If the lighter fluid washes oil and grease onto the optics, aperture and shutter blades, you will have bigger problems. It may also stop working when it completely dries.

    Eyepiece unscrews if memory serves.
  6. That camera needs to be serviced. When the slow speeds stutter, any liquid you add to try to free it can only loosen the debris and redeposit it elsewhere.
  7. It's all fine, no cause for alarm. Hey guys, all I did was drop a little alchohol into a 20 dollar camera. It's not a flaming M4 for heavens sake! Anyway, the shutter is doing perfect time on the slow speeds, as for the rest, I guess I'll just have to put a roll of film through this funky little beast!

    Thanks for the heads up anyway. I learned my lesson about tearing cameras apart with a bunch of Olympus RFs, cleaning up the RF was no problem, but the mechanical parts spell trouble for me.
  8. No problem -- I'm just saying that a camera with these kind of problems probably will benefit greatly from a routine CLA. But if you got it to work, that's good.
  9. I tried to take the top plate off last night, so I could clean the fog off the back of the eyepiece, but the the securing brass nut under the rewind knob was too tight to take off, so I gave up. Is it difficult to remove the top plate. Is the winder knob going to spell trouble?
  10. Like you said... " I learned my lesson about tearing cameras apart with a bunch of Olympus RFs..." ;-)
  11. Yeah Sheldon, I'm just another loser. Feel better?

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