leaf shutter basics (I'd guess) for an Olympus 35-S

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by peter_evans|4, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Thanks to the help (and despite my own stupidity) on display in this older thread, I've just got back a film that cheerfully went through my newly acquired, almost-fifty-year-old Olympus 35-S (45/1.9). There's quite a bit of flare and focusing is perhaps not exactly right -- but I do like the results.
    Or anyway I like the results on 3/4 or so of the film, which include the only times I tried 1/500 (which has decided in the last couple of days that it wants to work after all) and 1/250. As for the remaining 1/4 or so of the film (a consecutive set of frames in the middle), they're grotesquely overexposed. I'm grateful for the camera-shake: it proves that the problem was the shutter not that the iris failed to close. (Actually the iris "feels" and looks immaculate.)
    I have very limited knowledge of old cameras (as I suppose is painfully obvious) and virtually all of my limited experience is with focal-plane shutters. I thus wonder if I could be ignorantly mistreating this old shutter in some way.
    • With most old FP shutters, one should change the speed only after winding on: is it the same (or the opposite) with elderly leaf shutters?
    • While the camera was gobbling up the film, and perhaps before and after the set of grossly overexposed frames, I may have fiddled with a little lever at the bottom of the lens that selects among F, M, and X. These are to select the appropriate flash synchronization, I presume. Is there any easily imaginable ailment of old shutters by which the synchro setting might affect the shutter speed? Or, when one's not using flash of any kind, are there safer or unsafe synchro settings?
    Interestingly -- or entirely normally? -- there are no click-stops for the shutter-speed dial. FWIW I've tried to set the speed at one or other marked speed, rather than between.
    Go ahead, laugh at my ignorance above: I'm thick-skinned. However, I'd be most grateful for any tips or general enlightenment.
  2. 1. On most leaf shutters you can change speeds at any time and state. There will be some pressure of the cam followers on the speed cams but usually this causes no significant wear. On Compur shutters you should set the highest speed when uncocked only.
    2. Flash sync setting does not affect the shutter speed. On most shutters I have seen the delay mechanism for M sync works also in X mode, they just switch over the contacts.

    However, in your case I think you will have to clean the shutter throroughly. I have seen more than one shutter which worked for a while and then got partially stuck.
  3. BTW you never should set the shutter speed dial between markings. There are some shutters with stepless cams but most have steps, so you never know which speed the camera will actually set when setting the dial between markings. You NEVER should set the shutter between markings in the 1/10 (1/15) to 1/25 (or 1/30) range.
  4. Many thanks, Winfried. Of course that wasn't what I wanted to read, but at least I know where I stand, or rather where the shutter stands.
  5. The iris on a leaf shutter rangefinder should simply close as you change the setting. There is no instantaneous stopdown like on an SLR. Metering technique aside, the culprit is most likely the shutter.

    Overexposure indicates a sluggish shutter. No big surprise there. Look for signs of oil on the shutter blades. Also check the slow speeds by ear. If the slow speeds are off, it doesn't necessarily impact the high speeds but its a general sign that the shutter needs servicing. The flare may be related to the oil contamination issues, this time on the lens elements. How do things look in the lens when you hold the shutter open on bulb, aperture wide open, and looking through the open back?

    All of the Japanese leaf shutter rangefinders I have worked on are fairly simple. Its not generally difficult to work to free the shutter from the optics for cleaning and adjustment.
  6. I cannot comment on the mechanics of the shutter itself - I dare not go into those innards - too many tiny bits for me. However, I have taught myself to clean and unjam leaf shutters that suffer from overexposure caused by the shutter opening/closing too slowly for the marked shutter speed, and it sounds as if you might have that problem as well. I also have the Olympus 35-S (mine is the "II" Tower version with 3 windows) and it had a sticky shutter.

    I used the commonly-known Ronsonol method - perhaps you are already well-aquainted with this technique. I first unscrewed the front elements of the lens - I used gaffer's tape on the front cell to get a grip on it without marring the glass or metal, and then I unscrewed in a standard counter-clockwise motion until the front cell came out. This gave me access to the shutter leaves.

    I used q-tips dipped in Ronsonol (liquid lighter fluid, also known as 'Naptha' in the USA and sold as Zippo lighter fluid, etc). Obviously, one needs to do this in a well-ventilated area and not smoke or be around any sparks or flame - lighter fluid will perform its intended function in a spectacular fashion, given a chance.

    I very lightly allowed the Ronsonol to seep under the shutter blades, and then I used the q-tip to 'massage' the blades until I could feel them begin to open (I had previously wound and tripped the shutter, but it failed to open, so it was 'ready' to open). I kept the q-tip at a distance so it did not get caught in the mechanism as the shutter finally wheezed to life.

    I then spent about ten minutes alternately applying Ronsonol and wiping it up again, activating the shutter and releasing it. I noticed that the shutter got 'snappier' with each cleaning pass, and I kept wiping away the excess. Eventually, the shutter leaves were clean and dry even after being cycled, and the speeds sounded like something resembling their correct shutter speeds.

    I also took the opportunity to do the same thing on the aperture leaves - had to set a cable release and lock it open at 'B' to get to the aperture leaves. You want to avoid dripping Ronsonol into the inside of the rear lens element, it is a pain to clean out again.

    When I felt I had it all clean and dry, I reassembled the lens, taking the opportunity to clean the inside and outside of the lens elements. Then I went and shot a roll of film - the results were quite nice - I really like the F. Zuiko lenses.

    I noticed that about two weeks later, after no activity, the shutter was sluggish again. I gave it the same treatment, and now it has been over a year on the shelf and the shutter is still just fine. So sometimes a second pass is required, or maybe I just didn't do a good enough job the first time.

    I have applied this technique to a number of cameras - so many that I have a dedicated box of q-tips as part of my 'kit' that I keep handy, and always a squeeze bottle of Ronsonol somewhere nearby. I have successfully reconditioned cameras that were sold on eBoy as 'stuck shutter' - some of the time. It does not always work - sometimes a stuck shutter is due to a mechanical problem, not dirt, grit, and sticky lubrication. But 'dragging shutters' on leaf shutters seem to respond well to this treatment in my experience.

    Hope you find this helpful.


  7. Thank you both. I've heard of the lighter-fluid treatment. This is the kind of thing at which I am spectacularly bad, so I'll probably need to do some serious procrastination thinking before proceeding.
    Actually the camera was for a friend looking for an RF camera with a bit of character that's usable without batteries. Inspired by an earlier thread here, this evening I bought a good-looking Konica Auto S2 for about €35 and I think that might fit the bill rather more reliably than the old Olympus. I'll run a film through it tomorrow and see for myself. If my guess is right, I'll have more time to devote to the Olympus . . . but on the other hand I'll probably want another Auto S2 for myself. (At least they are plentiful and cheap hereabouts.) Ah, complications.
    Ah well, it's reassuring to know that I didn't make any particularly stupid mistake with the Oly. ("What, you even thought of adjusting film speed before/after winding on?!", etc.) Again, my thanks.
  8. "The iris on a leaf shutter rangefinder should simply close as you change the setting. There is no instantaneous stopdown like on an SLR."

    Not quite true - at least not true for many AE rangefinder cameras with shutter priority. On these the aperture is adjusted to the value given by the metering system when pressing the shutter release button. It opens (or closes, it depends) completely when the shutter is cocked and sets to the given value when shooting.

    The same applies when those AE rangefinders are operated in manual mode. The aperture blades do not follow directly the setting on the aperture dial but are set to the given values when pressing the button only.

    In some cases aperture blades on rangefinders may be gummed, too, but this is much easier to evaluate than gummed shutter blades.
  9. One other caution regards to before/after cocking on leaf shutters -- not really apropos of your Olympus, but NEVER change the shutter speed (especially not between high range and low) on a Seagull 4-B (possibly applicable to other Seagull models that use the same shutter design). You can and likely will bend the speed range cam follower, because the cam has a sharp step instead of a ramp. I've repaired one of these; it was easy to do by simply bending the part back into position, but getting into it is a significant pain, requiring removal of the entire lens surround (which requires removal of the leatherette on that panel).

    I've never seen another shutter (in working with Compur, Prontor, and Kodak Flash 300) that had this problem; all the others have enough angular travel between speeds to allow use of a ramped cam to switch from high to low range.
  10. NEVER change the shutter speed (especially not between high range and low) on a Seagull 4-B
    Um, I hate to sound schoolmarmish, but isn't there something missing here? "When, while, before, after, unless, except blah blah blah?" I tried inferring this from context, but I'm still baffled. And I'm interested, because one of these months I must attend to a long-neglected but once excellent TLR of my father's.

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