Mamiya C330 lens repair

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by jim_gardner|4, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. Having decided it was time to start using my Mamiya C330f again I thought I would run through the shutter speeds etc on the 3 lenses I use. All were ok except the 80mm blue dot which now has a really rough noisy movement to the aperture ring.
    Can anyone recommend somewhere in the UK that they have used to repair/service this lens? I have looked on the web but, as usual, it seems everyone and his brother services every make of camera/lens ever made. Unfortunately as we all know, what the advert says and what some people can actually do, are often not the same.
    I would appreciate any advice/recommendation from someone who has had work done on a Mamiya tlr lens. I would much prefer getting this one repaired than buying another, to avoid the possibility of being in the same situation soon after buying a s/h lens.
    mag_miksch likes this.
  2. As a resident of USA, I can't recommend anyone in UK, but I should think any of the big-name shops in London that deal in medium format film gear (Parks, etc) would be able to refer you. The Mamiya TLR lenses are dead simple to repair: not complicated at all. Any competent camera repair tech with leaf shutter experience should be able to sort the "grinding" feel of your aperture ring. That symptom will be caused by one of two things: some grit or dirt randomly caught or dislodged under the ring, or a strained gummy aperture controller. The former responds to a partial disassemble/clean, the latter will be more involved but far less difficult than an SLR lens like RB67 or Haselblad.

    In my experience, any Mamiya TLR lens can develop a problem at any random time. They are very reliable, until they just aren't. Most commonly the shutter gets stuck, seeming to fire at 1/500th no matter what speed is chosen. Next most common is a gummy or jammed aperture. And they develop glass issues at a rate far exceeding any other brand I've owned (usually a white hazing with telltale lined patterning). Mechanical problems generally respond well to repair and don't recur, but the glass hazing re-appears every year or so on all twelve of my lens sets. I eventually taught myself how to disassemble the lens cells, as the haze tends to form on elements inside the front or rear screw-out barrels. Many repair techs refuse to disassemble cells to clean haze, so DIY is often the only option. Fortunately the Mamiya TLR optics construction is very basic and simple, aside from the 55mm wide angle.
  3. orsetto, that's very helpful, thank you. I will make some calls and get prices. As another option, I may buy a lens on eBay and have a go at taking it to bits myself with a view to doing my rough one next. Thanks again.
  4. This thread reminded me a quarterly inspection of my backup Mamiya TLR kit was about due (backup Mamiya and Hasselblad lenses need to be regularly checked for fungus/haze and mechanical issues). My Mamiya backup kit is a C220F body and all six lenses from 55mm - 180mm (never liked the huge slow 250mm). As it happens this set includes both versions of the "Blue Dot" 80mm lens: standard-issue and final peculiar "S" revision. Since I had everything laid out in front of me, I thought I might as well document a partial disassembly of the 80mm for jim_gardner with cell phone pics. This will probably take several posts for all the pics.

    Mamiya C220F Kit 2.jpg

    To begin, here are the two 80mm lenses. The 80mm "S" is on the right, the more common standard version is on the left. Note the newest "S" version has no lettering around the glass, and the upper viewing lens of the "S" is a fixed simplified optic which is not identical to or interchangeable with the lower taking lens (as is possible with all other Mamiya TLR lens pairs). The non-removable, non-identical viewing lens of the "S" is a big drawback: if it develops internal fungus or haze, it is impossible to open for cleaning, and if you develop a significant scratch or optical issue in the taking lens, you cannot swap it with the viewing lens as a temporary or long-term fix. The newer coating on the 80mm "S" (and 180mm "Super" above) combats glare better, but is much harder to clean. So the earlier lenses do have some practical advantages.
    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 01.jpg
  5. Begin disassembly of either 80mm version by setting aperture to wide open, then unscrew the front barrel of the taking lens (counterclockwise) and removing it. This may require a latex glove for stronger grip: some of these lenses are screwed in rather tight.

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 02.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  6. Next, use a very thin flat-blade jewelers screwdriver to remove the screw underneath the aperture handle. Loosen but do not remove the screw on the right hand side of the aperture handle: it only needs to come out about halfway (see top arrow). You can remove it completely if you prefer, but its less re-assembly work to simply loosen it. The screw on the left side of the aperture handle does not need to be loosened or removed: leave it be.

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 03.jpg
  7. You should now be able to pull up and remove the inner friction ring. There are multiple slots and tabs in the ring, which maintain smooth friction damping as you set the aperture: any dings or bends would cause a gritty, grungy, or uneven operating feel. IMPORTANT: note which slot hooks over the inner right-hand screw of the aperture handle- it is the largest slot, and the only one that is a rounded arch shape (see horizontal arrow point).

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 04.jpg

    The friction ring, fully removed:
    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 05.jpg
  8. Next, remove the two screws above the shutter opening (see arrow points). Be careful not to lose the tiny washers beneath: these are what actually hold the external aperture setting and internal friction rings in place. You don't need to remove the third (raised head) screw below the shutter opening.

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 06.jpg
  9. You should now be able to completely lift off the aperture setting ring (with attached handle). The complete inner surface that the aperture ring rides on will be exposed. This will reveal any unusual dirt or grit or solidified lube that may have been causing uneven or grungy feel when setting apertures. Carefully clean this exposed rim surface with a cotton bud or clean soft cloth moistened with naptha (lighter fluid). DO NOT let any cleaning fluid drip onto the shutter blades. It should not be necessary to re-lube this exposed rim surface: it just needs to be free of dirt or old dried grease bumps. Also clean the inside surface of the aperture setting ring you removed.

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 07.jpg
  10. Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 08.jpg Re-assemble everything in reverse order. Put the aperture ring back in place, lining up the bottom screw hole of the handle with the silver tab (now would be a good time to replace the tiny screw that holds them together). Replace the two screws above the shutter opening (washers go on first, then the screws). Replace the inner friction ring by hooking its largest arch-shaped slot over the inner screw tip of the aperture ring handle, then press down around the rest of the ring. You might need to fuss with it a little bit: don't use force, just finesse it into place and make sure it lies flat all around. Screw down the the right-hand aperture handle screw until it is flush (like the left hand screw). Replace the front element barrel by screwing it in clockwise (hand tight only: don't overdo it).

    Set the shutter to B, cock the shutter, and fire it with the silver lever (hold the lever down to keep the shutter open). Turn the aperture ring with the handle: it should feel smooth and the minimum/maximum openings should come at hard stops. You're done!

    Mamiya 80mm Disassembly 01.jpg
  11. FWIW, this is the streaky white haze many of my Mamiya TLR lenses develop every so often. Today it was the lower rear lens of the 135mm. Luckily, the haze comes right off with a soft cloth and a tiny drop of peroxide, but it can be a chore to get to when it strikes the more inaccessible elements in some of the lenses. This type of haze is more common to the 105mm, 135mm and 180mm (shorter focal lengths tend toward a more misty haze). Mechanically, I've had the least trouble with the teles and the most trouble with the 65mm wide angle (I've gone thru five of those in the past decade: until recently it was cheaper to replace the entire 65mm lens than pay for a shutter overhaul).

    Mam Haze.jpg
  12. I forgot an important diagnostic step in the disassembly notes above. After you've removed the aperture setting ring with its handle, cock the shutter and hold it open at the B setting. With your free hand, adjust the aperture by sliding the little metal tab (that the aperture ring handle was attached to) back and forth. You should see the aperture blades open and close, and the movement of the tab should be smooth. If movement is smooth, then any perceived rough feel was probably localized to the rings you just removed and cleaned (operation should be noticeably smoother after re-assembly: move the metal tab back to fully open aperture before re-assembly).

    Its alright if the movement feels firm, but it shouldn't be so firm that you need to push really hard on the metal tab to get it to move. Its also not good if movement is very loose. Either unusual feel indicates a need for deeper disassembly, digging into the shutter mechanism to access and stabilize the aperture control cam. Such a repair is best left to a professional experienced in leaf shutters: it isn't terribly difficult for someone familiar with these shutters, but not a job for the novice DIY-er.
  13. Dear Mr. Orsetto,
    Sorry for tagging onto an old thread, but I have a question about the patterned white haze on the Mamiya TLR lenses. I just looked at a nice C220 for sale. The 80mm 2.8 lens it comes with looked very clear at first, but when I angled it offset from a light source, I could see a faint, fuzzy, white pattern on the convex surface of an internal element. It wasn’t straight lines, like your sample photo. It was not a fingerprint, but reminded me of a fingerprint in that most of the pattern was concentric with gaps between concentric lines. All very subtle, but enough to concern me. Could this be the type of haze you describe? Or perhaps something worse?
    It’s a nice camera at a good price. The other problem the lens has is that at the slow shutter speeds ( I tried half-second) the shutter opened, but didn’t close. Perhaps that can be fixed following the steps you so kindly and beautifully illustrated for us.
  14. Great post with pics! Thanks. Keep that haze off. It's fungus and will eat right into the coating and glass. I check once a year and clean as needed. I've got a couple I'm going to use to learn repolishing with a pitch lap and cerium oxide. The early chrome lenses are, IMO, pretty bad optically, and develop the haze like crazy. It's usually only one surface and I think Mamiya used some kind of glass that's candy to fungus. The other elements are more resistant, but can still have a problem. Worse than any other lenses I own. The later black shutter lenses are much better optically, but will still develop the haze. IMO again, most C-series lenses for sale are unsalvageable due to fungus, but every now and then you get lucky and they clean up.
  15. tom_dicorcia | 1, it would be hard for any of us to diagnose the lens issue of that C220 without a photo posted of what it looks like (even then, opinions could be wrong or inconclusive). But as a general experience: concentric ring patterns are not typically fungus: this will be either haze or separation. Haze can be cleaned (usually), separation is a hopeless issue that is expensive or impossible to repair (it would be cheaper to buy another lens without the problem). The haze is caused by outgassing of the shutter lube or lens barrel adhesives, combined with atmospheric moisture that easily enters the lens. If you can reach the affected element by unscrewing the various barrel parts and lens cells, Mamiya TLR haze almost always wipes right off with a microfiber lens cloth or soft cloth moistened with hydrogen peroxide.

    Separation is more serious: it involves the optical cement that binds two glass elements together (to function as one) decaying, so the two elements separate. The changed distance and sudden visibility of the deteriorated cement causes significant sharpness loss. A separated lens can be repaired by professional cleaning and application of new cement, but Mamiya TLR lenses are not valuable enough to warrant the repair cost (easily as much or more than simply buying a replacement lens set).

    Slow shutter issues can be tricky to repair in Mamiya TLR lenses. The Seiko shutters inside DO NOT respond well to the typical DIY naptha (lighter fluid) cleaning trick: this tends to totally freeze the shutter, so instead of too-slow speeds you get no speeds at all. The Seiko TLR shutters are extremely sensitive mechanically, more so than the RB67 shutters, so need to be serviced by someone with experience. If you don't have any such repair person local to you, this lens could become very problematic later on.

    A Mamiya C220 (standard silver-edged version with "M" embossed leatherette covering), in excellent condition with a good 80mm lens and waist level finder, currently sells in USA for approx $180-$300 (US $), usually around $240. If this camera you are looking at is in the lower end of this price range, it might be worth it even if you then pay additional to repair the lens. It depends on where yo live and the availability of repairs or replacement lens sets. If you are not located in North America or Western Europe, it may be best if you wait for a different C220 with better lens condition.

    conrad_hoffman, I find the Mamiya TLR lenses (at least in NYC climate) more prone to haze than fungus. The haze develops twice a year in some, fungus rarely. The fungus I did experienced with two of them was the slower growing, less destructive "rainbow spot" species, which wipes right off with peroxide leaving only minimal, near-invisible after effect on coating in that area. Luckily I haven't had any occurrence of the super-destructive "spider web" fungus in any of my Mamiya TLR glass over the past decade.

    Re the silver vs black lenses: both can be excellent or terrible, depending how well the specific lens was made and how well it was cared for before it gets to us. Mamiya did not pull their act together with consistent optical quality control until just a few years before the entire TLR system was discontinued (perhaps post-1988). Any lens made before then, silver or black, blue dot or no dot, is a total dice roll. Could be very sharp, could be soft. Could have very reliable shutter, could have a shutter that resists repair like a wildcat. I've owned several mint black 105mm DS blue dot pairs that were optically bad, haze magnets with balky shutters, while an ancient silver 105mm still renders gorgeous pics, never hazed over, and has never given a hint of shutter issues. Trying to find a truly good 65mm lens set that hasn't been tampered with, and has immaculate image quality, is like trying to win the lottery with imaginary tickets: if you get one, cherish it (silver or black).

    Mamiya TLR was a unique, versatile 6x6 system. But finding (and maintaining) truly good lens sets can be difficult. The saving grace today is nearly all the lenses are incredibly affordable/cheap by medium format standards: aside from the 55mm wide angle and final 105mm DS variation, most can be had for $100 in good working order. The underrated 135mm often goes for below that, as does the very nice 105mm silver barrel "Tessar" clone. The 180mm Super ranks among the best 6x6 tele lens available, comparable to the Zeiss 180mmSonnar for Hasselblad, yet often sells for under $100. For those who like or need the interchangeable-lens TLR concept, the Mamiya system is worth the effort of locating good lens sets (and perhaps paying to have them overhauled). Compared to a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad outfit, the total cost of ownership is much lower.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
    mag_miksch likes this.
  16. My first Mamiya TLR was a disappointment due to the soft lenses. A portrait photographer probably would have loved it. I sold it fairly quickly. Eventually I got another and have the black shutter 55, 65 and 80. They're all optically excellent, though the 65 isn't in great shape. I've got a few chrome lenses and all have optical damage to one degree or another. Oddly, all my shutters are good. I've seen haze with linear patterns and, I think, circular. Because the optical damage matches the pattern in the haze, I think fungus, but maybe there are other possibilities.

    Separation is a pita, but it's actually not that hard to clean and re-cement a lens. Today people use UV cure adhesives or very clear epoxies made for the purpose. The main trick is setting up fixtures or v-blocks to keep the centering perfect.

Share This Page