Fujica 35-ML rangefinder adjustment

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by laurent_thomas, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. Hi!
    I'm looking for hints on how to adjust the rangefinder on a beautiful Fujica 35-ML.
    I usually would not have bothered, but the one I got has the f/2 Fujinon lens I would like to try.
    I've found the following pages (in japanese), but nothing specific about adjustment.
    Thanks in advance and have a nice day!
  2. First check that the lens is collimated. Does a very distant object focus properly on the film plane when the lens is set to infinity.
    If that's accurate, you're looking for some way to adjust the horizontal rotational position of the moving mirror. Most typical is a set-screw accessed through a hole on the front or back of the camera. But there might instead be an adjustment on the arm resting on the back of the moving part of the lens, inside the film chamber. You want to adjust that to get coincidence of the rangefinder images when the lens is set at infinity and you're looking at a very distant object.
    (Very distant is usually defined as a quarter mile away or further.)
  3. Thank you John for your answer.
    What is sure is that the rangefinder images do not coincide on near-infinite objects. I'll also check the infinity focus directly on the film plane like you adviced.
    I have not discovered any hidden access yet, no snappy plate on the hot shoe like on the Canonets nor any visible screw cap.
    I still have to look for anything inside the film chamber.
    I'll get back with any result once this is done.
    Have a nice day.
  4. SCL


    Laurent - I can't speak directly to your camera, but my experiences with various Ricoh models might give you some ideas. From the pictures of your camera (not the ones you showed - they were too small) I've seen, there is a screw on the front of the camera about 45 degrees down from the front body name and about 45 degrees from the rangefinder spot image window. Often screws in that location cover an opening for a fine screwdriver to adjust either the horizontal or vertical aspect of the rf. Although there are no similar top screws for adjusting the other axis, sometimes there as an adjustment hole located under the accessory/flash shoe once the screws holding it in place are removed. Alternatively, if you are comfortable removing the top cover of the camera, you can often find the location of RF adjustment screws fairly easily. If you have access to the Tomosy repair books, you might check the table of contents to see if he comments on your camera - that's where I found the instructions for one of my arcane Japanese camera bodies.
  5. Is the misalignment vertical, or is the rangefinder not adjusting to closer focussing?
  6. Documentation on the Fujica 35-ML is really sparse, and it seems only japanese websites have links to some repair documentation. The following web page has a lot of resource that can be of use: http://fukucame.fan.coocan.jp/restorelink.htm One of them has a low quality picture of the camera with the top cover off (see attached). The adjustment mechanism may be visible but it is not clear to me. Since I've found more ressource on the topic, I'm more comfortable with getting the top off the camera for deeper inspection.
    The lens seems properly collimated. I have been able to check this by measuring the distance from focal plane to a an object and then read the text on this object using a magnifier. I'll test focus to infinity the same way when I'm home with daylight.
    The misalignment is only horizontal. Focusing at an object ~4m, the distance scale reads ~10m. At infinity, alignment cannot be reached. Vertical alignment is perfect.
  7. The bottom right hand photograph at the Japanese site you linked to, shows the bottom of the rangefinder, with the levers which transfer lens movement to the rangefinder moving mirror. These levers could be binding due to hardened lubricant. You will need to remove the camera top cover to find out.
  8. Before going under the top cover of the Fujica 35-ML, I looked below the accessory shoe as suggested by Stephen. There is no flash contact here so no risk to ruin any electrical wiring. And finally here they are! Two holes that give access to screws inside the viewfinder. I decided to take the cover off anyway since I had no clue about which screw set the horizontal alignment.
    So the good news is: one screw is attached to the range finder mirror, this is probably the horizontal alignment setting. This is the big silver X screw on the attached picture. The other screw goes further below the viewfinder block. I suspect this one is for setting the parallax correction - I'll leave it alone for now.
    Bad news is there is a mirror that is loose due to the aging glue. I'll have to fix this. But more concerning is that I sense friction when I turn the focus knob, and that didn't happen befire I removed the cover. I'll look into this in the same time.
  9. Here is a view of the holes below the accessory shoe.
  10. There seems to be a brass wheel just to the right of the mirror in the above image, with two lock screws and curved adjustment slots. I reckon that might be a good place to start. Operate the lens focus with the cover removed. Note the change in position of the internal components of the RF. Deducing the adjustment procedure of most fixed lens Japanese rangefinders is usually a straightforward process after that.

    John is absolutely correct in that the lens focus must first be checked and verified accurate. Why do you want to adjust the RF? Of course, it's so that your lens focus is accurate. The RF must always be dialled in to match the lens, not vice-versa. Hence, if you don't know what the lens accuracy is like, changing the RF calibration can be utterly pointless, because you don't know what you're adjusting it to. It's not just a matter of what you see with the RF with the lens set to infinity being correct, but that it actually matches the lens, because it is the film image you are trying to focus. The RF patch is merely the means to that end. Right? Being driven by the lens (the schematics of this vary widely from camera to camera, but this is invariably the case) you must think of the lens focus as being the master adjustment, the RF the secondary. You can't adjust the RF first, and the lens second, because changing the lens infinity will be default throw off the RF. Lens first, RF, second. OK?

    You should make a point of cross checking any adjustments near minimum focus distance by setting the camera on a tripod and focusing the RF on a subject on the same vertical and horizontal planes as the camera. With the camera carefully positioned and the RF precisely focussed (I use some bright fridge magnets on the front of my refrigerator) set the shutter to Bulb with a lockable cable and, with the lens wide open, critically examine the focus on a ground glass through the lens using a loupe. It should match the RF patch point of focus perfectly. If not, your infinity setting is likely a little off and should be re-checked until both distant and close focus of RF and lens agree precisely. Naturally, the above assumes that system components are in good condition, freely moving, and without major faults.
  11. Further, this is a thumbwheel focus Fuji? I have worked on some of those (35-EE, 35-SE). The lens focus will be adjusted (if necessary) by relaxing the lock screw within the wheel, and moving the inner relative to the outer or to the stop. (These images were being posted as I typed my previous post).
  12. Thanks Brett for the useful advice. I've already checked lens focus at 1.5m using tripod, textbook and a magnifying glass. As I said, I'll check lens focus to infinity, but this season the days get shorter and I'll only be able to do this while I'm home with daylight.
    Note the circled silver cross-head screw, it is located below the accessory shoe and rests on the rangefinder mirror mechanism. My first guess is that the adjustment involves this one screw, the brass plate would be second choice for now.
  13. Could be. Note also some systems have multiple adjustments, sometimes on basis of fine/coarse. Depending on the camera, using either type may work well or may indeed throw the calibratiion so far out of range you'll have to backstep to get one into the ballpark to use the other to make it correct, or, even a combination of the two depending on why it's gone out of adjustment and what caused it. Hence, before beginning any adjustments note the starting point carefully. These adjusters are often so sensitive that even marking the position of components precisely will not restore the original setting perfectly. But it will at least get you into the ballpark making it easier to remedy. As you've stated the mirror is loose, I'd attend to that in the first instance. In itself, it may well be sufficient to get the calibration fairly close to what it needs to be. Don't use any permanent adhesives until you've verified you have enough adjustment range to get the patch aligned into infinity. Depending on the camera it may be quite tolerant of some deviation from its original position (at least, as far as the horizontal adjustment is concerned, if not perhaps the vertical). Or the mirrors exact seat on its perch could be absolutely critical to achieving anything like correct calibration. And avoid cyanoacrylates (super glue and the like), as outgassing will potentially cause some serious problems.
  14. I was able to identify the horizontal and vertical alignment setting screws, which are as illustrated on the attached picture. In my case, the horizontal setting did not require much rectification.
    In addition, the rangefinder of the Fujica 35-ML is particularly bright, which is helpful for this kind of work.
    I still have to check infinity in the coming days.
  15. And here is the corresponding view with the top cover on.

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