My fungus lens, is it fixed? ...and a day with Youxin Ye

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by chris_bilodeau, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. I posted this in another forum as well. Some might be interested.
    This is about a Rigid 1957 Summicron 50mm lens I purchased cheap. I got this lens with an M3 from the same person and it was an awesome deal. Too good to be true. Why? The lens was loaded with haze, I mean bad. It had fungus on the front element. Shots were very hazy. It looked trashed, but outside the barrel looked factory new. The inside was horrid as it sat un-used in a basement for like 20 years.
    I called a different repair shop first and he blew me off. He wanted to charge more money and after sending photos of the lens, he said it could not really be repaired. This was a place in RI and I will refrain from making him look bad here. He was really not a warm and inviting person. Sad, because he lost any future business and referrals.
    So, I contacted Youxin Ye and he was very nice. He was honest in that it "might" be beyond repair. But, he told me I could visit him. Thankfully, he is only 50min away from my home.
    I wrote an article about the visit on my blog. Take a look if you like.
    In the end, he brought the lens back to 95% original condition and told me I got a fantastic deal. I paid less than 1/3 market price today.
    He also spent hours educating me about the M3 and lenses as he disassembled and repaired it all in front of me.
    It was awesome.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  2. Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.
    What are the images that you have got with your CLA'd camera like?
  3. Well done! Just shared that story on Facebook.
  4. Thanks! I have not developed the roll I shot with the M3 yet.
  5. I can testify to the outstanding work of Mr. Ye. My 1932 Leica II had a torn shutter curtain and an impossibly stiff film advance. It came back to me from Mr. Ye working as new.
  6. SCL


    I've used him as well and found his work excellent, and his communications excellent and timely as well. Also, his prices are quite reasonable as is his turnaround time.
  7. Interesting story! I have a lens in need of repair and I found him on ebay offering to fix cameras. He responded
    right away, so I will ship him out the lens. I now have complete trust in him.
  8. What a delightful story! Glad a classic could be brought back to life. Can you imagine someone finding an M240 tucked away 55 years from now? It would be an interesting paper weight and that's about it. Youxin brought my M4-2 up to spec, as others have commented, a wonderful person to deal with.
  9. "A day with a Leica Master" Chris B.
    Let me first state that in my very busy repair shop, with shelves full and long customer delays, my website regularly has the need to post a basic "Send No More Equipment" banner.

    That said, my following rant may offend and sorry for that (I certainly don't wish to rain on anybody's parade). But a non-technician like Chris (& others in the past) calling Mr. Ye a "Leica Master", as in his provided blog link, is simply too outrageous for me to stay silent & ignore.
    Don Goldberg, Sherry Krauter, the fine Leica factory personnel, and maybe yours truly would be considered true Leica master techs.

    Believe me, this isn't being too picky. In any of my three repair shops where I've trained many photographic technicians, if any of my employee technicians didn't correct the habits exhibited/revealed in the images shot by Mr. Bilobeau during his visit to Youxen Ye's set-up, he'd soon be an unemployed "Leica Master"...
    i.e. Wow:
    1. His bench is a mess and very cluttered. See the two M-camera baffle shields in close proximity. (In Chris' same 1st picture; should be one camera & one baffle shield in that confined workspace)
    2. He has parts exposed to to jeopardy and unprotected. (A top-plate & delicate rangefinder unit sitting unprotected, cock-eyed & stacked, in this same 1st picture)
    3. Working on a lens at the same time with a torn-down camera laid out in close proximity. (In this same 1st picture)
    4. To quicken & shorten his tear-down steps, he doesn't extract the Self-timer lever parts or the Preview lever parts from the body shell, which means he's (not only "scraping" while pulling out the shell) not individually cleaning & re-lubbing them properly. (1st & 2nd pictures)
    5. The lens he's working on (in this same 1st picture) is so close to the edge of his work area, he leaves no room for a human error mishap. Plus among other things, why isn't the lens on a sanitary surface?
    6. In the third image, similar "cluttered" and "jeopardy" critiques. Plus, one hand is doing two things while holding a valuable Summicron element. (Non-cotton gloved, with chance for finger print acid spreading from edges)
    Sorry again YY fans, challenge or bash me if you wish.
    But as a trainer, owner and technician for many years, the truth sometimes hurts when it is what it is.
    Heck, contact Don or Sherry, maybe they'll opine on my observations.

    My opinions aren't just from Chris' or *Ebay ad photographic evidence, I've seen Mr. Ye's past work cross my bench.
    In fact, I've gained the opinion that he may not own a shutter speed tester that indicates "Curtain Travel Times", or if he does, he doesn't know how to use it, or maybe he doesn't know how to properly adjust the cameras for sustained accuracy.
    In these "redo" cameras that he had recently serviced in which I had the need to test, he had the CTT's way too high! (Curtains set so tight they're not only out of tolerance, but most certainly shortens their life span)

    Finally, I certainly understand that folks may need a "cheaper & quicker" alternative, or maybe like Chris, they're not qualified to know what makes for an exceptional high quality "Rolls Royce" type Leica technician. But let me remind the these readers, that with Mr. Ye's service, you do get what you pay for.
    Who knows, maybe Mr. Ye will read this and modify some of his bad/poor habits and become a better technician; I for the sake of those cameras & lenses & uneducated customers, sincerely hope so...

    *See his "C L A'ed" offerings on Ebay as the seller "wye7". He should at least scrub up the surface & embedded grunge before taking the description pictures.
    haiqing_xu likes this.
  10. SCL


    Gus - I wouldn't dispute your constructive criticisms, but when the named "masters" are tied up for weeks or months with turnaround times well in excess of a month, and/or not accepting new orders for some time, it is sometimes useful to at least explore the alternatives - and then make an informed decision. In the past I've used Leica Service, Sherry and Don as well as Youxin, several times I checked your site, you weren't accepting new orders. So it can be a dilemma for somebody who may need a "quick fix" which they aren't capable or confident or competent to do themselves, or perhaps they have non-Leica LTM gear which may rank low on the totem pole and not be a priority with the "masters". Personally, I'd love to have every repair and cleaning/adjustment done by the most qualified person...but sometimes the cost of the work exceeds the value of the gear and one can "satisfactorily get by" with a less than complete overhaul. Having said that...there is nothing to compare with a master's touch....same as in music; lots is nice to listen to, but a master creates heavenly sounds.
  11. I have a question. This is something that has weighed on my mind. (Although I'm not sure why, I'm already an old guy myself.)
    It seems that all the qualified camera techs for older mechanical cameras (like the M3) are getting up in years. They cannot go on forever. Who will take over? Are there any 20 or 30 somethings in training now? Is there even interest in that field? It certainly seems that current top notch Leica repair techs as named by Gus are booked solid so one would think there is still a viable business there. I do suppose parts could become a problem. When I bought an M2 that turned out to have de-silvering on the rangefinder Sherry advised me to return the camera to the seller if possible. Fortunately the seller was very cordial and agreed to take back the camera without complaint.
    Just wondering what your thoughts on this are Gus.
  12. Gus, you did not offend me, but you likely offended Mr. Ye. To be honest, your post sounds sort of like a jealous person ranting about the talents of someone else. I would be a little embarrassed if I was you. I guess because Ken Rockwell puts you in his referral list you feel you are obligated to bash the work of others. I find that childish. I would bet many here do as well.
    I would just move on because to many all over the world, Mr. Ye is considered one of the best. His work, reputation, back-log, and overall customer service speaks for itself. I have not heard really anything bad about him on 3 large Leica forums. (well, coincidently, except for you)

    To me, he is a master. for a variety of reasons. His reputation proceeds him and he took the time to invite me in, offer me food & drink, let me watch for 4 hours, and educated me every time he did something. He was very generous with his time and wisdom and had no reason to do so other than he seems to be a very talented person with a good heart.
    As you say, I guess I am just not "qualified" to know what makes someone good.
    I don't judge talent by the cluttered nature of someone's desk. I judge it by the fact that he provided exceptional service to "me." My M3 is perfect and the lens was brought back to life when another shop told me I was basically delusional to think it can be fixed. Another shop saw the photo as well and told me to send it to them for a $350+ polish and re-coating. Again, this 2nd shop advised me to stay away from anyone else that told me they could repair the lens without a a lot of work. I went with my gut and Mr. Ye did not let me down.
    I don't want to get into some ridiculous online battle. I can appreciate your post if this is your livelihood. That said, don't insult me and my blog with your emotional observations. I especially liked the one about him not having a shutter speed tester. He does, and I watched him use it and get accurate times throughout.

    I will leave you with this. Just because you don't like his workspace, and think he is not doing things properly by having a cluttered environment, means little to me or anyone else that has had work done for them by Mr. Ye. Maybe he likes to work that way. Who are you to make this grand proclamation about someone you have never broke bread with? Maybe you are "better." That is great. Good for you.

    In the end, Mr. Ye is a Leica master "to me." If you dislike my opinion, so be it.
  13. There seems to be an unusual amount of antipathy
    and back biting in the Leicaverse that I don't
    see anywhere else. It's been that way for as long
    as I can remember.

    And it's one of the main factors in my decision
    to stick with Nikon rather than switching to
    Leica 35mm rangefinders years ago. Even now I'm
    reluctant to buy a good used M series because of
    the frequent melodrama that afflicts the
    Leicaverse. There's much less drama in the
    pedestrian Nikon world.

    And for what it's worth, I've heard snotty
    remarks and rumors of shoddy workmanship about
    every well known Leica repair tech. I pay little
    or no attention to those stories. The worst was
    from a bore at a camera show who couldn't seem to
    say enough bad things about one of the techs Gus
    mentioned. It seemed self serving and
    unprofessional. It didn't encourage me to buy a
    Leica from that fellow, even tho he had a nice M2
    and M3 that were within my budget at that time.
    Mostly it left me with a negative impression of
    the entire Leicaverse.
  14. Mr. Ye has done excellent work for me. Both cameras work very well to this day. As Chris says, the only thing that really matters is that the work was done satisfactorily. What else matters? The cameras work great. The turnaround time was super. I'm satisfied. Love to meet Mr. Ye in person some day and have him take apart a camera in front of me--even at his cluttered desk. Good for you, Chris!
  15. "I guess because Ken Rockwell puts you in his referral list you feel you are obligated to bash the work of others."​

    The implication here is that Ken Rockwell is a respected authority. Most people recognize that he provides entertainment and stats, but isn't much of an authority on anything in the Leica world. The notion that Rockwell's referral has gone to Gus' head is laughable!
    Gus contributes valuable information to this forum at no cost. I for one am indebted to him for the wisdom he has shared here. Gus made some observations on the state of a repairman's bench that are unassailable. A sloppy work area and mishandled glass are serious concerns that certainly lead me to think the appellation of "master" is overstated.
  16. Typical internet.
    Jim and Gus.
    I am a semi-pro 'tog that was excited about a wonderful experience and Gus jumps all over me because I clearly hit a nerve. Jim takes once sentence and spins it. (rolling eyes)
    Seriously. Just ignore the thread. Ridiculous.
  17. Lex - unfortunately, some turf battles do occur in Canon and Nikon land too. Though they are much milder.
    Lately I had a Canon FX and an FL 50mm f/3.5 macro lens serviced by Ken Oikawa whom I know is a true master of manual focus Canons. They had been to another shop where I was told that they couldn't be put back in better shape than they were ( which is to say loose and jamming). They came back from Ken smooth as silk, and without any play.
    I've also heard from other repairers that a great midwestern Nikon service outfit that I routinely use drops shipping boxes on purpose to damage mail order repairs!
    As for Leicaland, I think the emotions are much higher because these cameras and lenses can be up to 10X what other 35mm film gear will cost. My Canon FTb in basically mint shape cost me all of $77 with shipping. I can't even get a user M3 for 10X that cost. In my experience, I've dealt with Leica USA, DAG, Gus Lazzari, and Youxin Ye. I've never dealt with Krauter.
    My view is that Leica USA is expensive, but reasonably fast. They do have great service and communication. The gear comes back meticulously clean.
    DAG is great, if you can get a hold of him. I have to phone at weird hours to get in contact. Once you get to him, he is personable, and he can customize almost anything. I've had him mill out the mount of my Nikkor 50mm f/2 HC in LTM so that the RF coupling extends down to 0.7m. He's also modifying an M3 (along with overhauling it), to track focus down to 0.7m. His wait times can be considerable. He's had some of my gear up to 2 years, sitting on the back burner while other pushier folks kept putting their needs ahead of mine. That was in the beginning, until I learned to call him periodically so that he doesn't forget that my gear exists in his shop. He is also willing to work with non-Leica gear (e.g. LTM RF Canon, Nikon), but he drew the line at Russian cameras (he won't touch them).
    Gus has done some great work for me. Rockwell is correct in describing his meticulousness. You can call him easily, and discuss your needs. The lenses (e.g Summicron 35 f/3.5) and my MR-4 meter came back spotless, and fully on spec. His turnaround time is reasonably fast, comparable to Leica USA.
    BTW - in case you're reading this Gus, the seller of the M3 is in British Columbia, and he had dealt with DAG before. So, he was willing to send the camera to DAG directly for service, instead of to you as I wished initially. That was in September of this year. Don says he'll get to the camera "soon".
    Mr. Ye has been friendly and fast. However, sometimes I get the feeling that he's a little too fast.
    I have a IIF that he serviced that I later had to send to DAG. DAG replaced the beamsplitter (RF contrast was too low for my liking), replaced the eyepiece frame, and adjusted shutter speeds for me.
    I also have a IIIF that he overhauled for the seller, that I subsequently sent to DAG to fine tune.
    I'm sure that he can do great work, but I do think that he is not inclined towards the meticulous stripdown that is required of some of these very old cameras. I'm not trying to bash him in any way, but Gus does have some valid points.
  18. Chris, to be honest I was going to
    make the very same remarks that Gus
    has done, much earlier; but I
    didn't have the guts since I am not
    a professional Leica repair person.

    I have successfully repaired many
    photo gear for my personal use
    before (including several fungus
    infested Leica M lenses). Believe
    me, it is not rocket science to
    take things apart and put together.
    Some hand skills, common sense, and
    maybe printed guidance seems
    enough. But I was never under the
    impression that I could achieve
    perfect and sustainable results within manufacturers' specifications.

    Now, from my experience I can
    easily tell one that the workbench
    photos you provided do not give
    much confidence.

    Just my two cents.

  19. True, Robert, although most Nikon forum drama is
    of the "What has Nikon done for me lately?"
    variety. The melodrama is usually over rumors
    about equipment that most of the argue cats don't
    need and won't buy, the mere existence of which
    (such as a hypothetical D400) will ensure their
    future happiness. For a few minutes.
  20. I just don't know why someone that has a reputation for doing solid work cannot be considered a "master" as a friendly descriptive term born out of some mild excitement in bringing a lens back to life when other people just wanted to take my money or acted like arrogant jerks in email or on the phone.
    Let me re-do the blog and instead call him a sloppy-desked Leica service person that according to Gus cannot accurately time a shutter. Maybe that would be better?
    (yes, that was way heavy on the sarcasm in case you could not tell)
  21. "I just don't know why someone that has a reputation for doing solid work cannot be considered a "master" as a friendly descriptive term..."​
    You see, there's the problem. The term may be friendly but it is an inaccurate description. It takes more than a generally favorable reputation and a cleaned lens to be considered a master. Some even question that his work is solid. By way of analogy...
    I went to my GP a couple weeks back for the flu. A very nice woman named Barbara met with me, took my vitals, and gave me a script for Tamiflu. The Tamiflu really seemed to help and (apart from the intense cramping) I was grateful. She seemed to know her stuff but it was obvious that she was not a doctor. She was a nurse. Specifically, she was a Physician's Assistant.
    Had I gone to Yelp! and reviewed Barbara the doctor (not PA) I am sure that my doctor would have been annoyed, and possibly annoyed enough to correct my assumption. My doctor might even have pointed out that Barbara the Physician's Assistant made a mistake in prescribing Tamiflu to me because of a contraindicated condition. Not only does the doctor have more education than the PA, the doctor has more knowledge of the patient, medical science related to the case, and the appropriate treatment.
    I have no ax to grind with Mr. Ye. He's certainly better at fixing cameras than I am! However, there are accomplished repair people like Gus, Don, and Sherry who can rightly be called masters. Some of these folks worked at the Leica factories or service centers. Mr. Ye did not. Like how the PA is not a doctor, Youxin Ye is not a Leica repair master. It takes more than a generally favorable reputation.
    Where Youxin Ye impresses me is in his desire to learn a dying trade that we all value. We need more folks who are enthusiastic about learning camera repair and willing to apprentice with masters.
  22. Jim. You really need to be re-educated.
    A doctor is not a master. LOL
    I am a Nurse Practitioner (similar to a PA). I am licensed to practice medicine in the same capacity as a physician within the scope of internal medicine. Any MD that tells you otherwise is either very traditional, unaware, or simply arrogant with their title. Good doctors know we provide care equally in most cases. Even the New England Journal of Medicine released a study that praised the medical practice of NPs, a first in a very old school MD-biased journal. (although some traditional docs got upset about this because it rocketed us to the top as a cost-effective alternative to a physician because our care in this study was equal or better. Not my words, this was from the New England Journal's text)
    I have 12 years of practice under my belt and I have personally trained doctors during their residency. We are highly educated. Today, NPs must get their doctorate. There are exceptions in any field. Barbara may or may not be. I don't know enough about the case.
    This Barbara you speak of. This case you describe is odd. I would need more info, but a true PA would unlikely just hand you Tamiiflu without a solid H&P, perhaps even an actual swab for influenza. There are a lot of variables involved in the decision to prescribe anything and in the vast majority of these cases, it comes down to experience. An NP of 12 years has more "knowledge" than a physician that has practiced for 5 years. Didactic education means very little when you are deciding how to treat Euvolemic hyponatremia, Hypovolemic hypnatremia, or Hypervolemic hyponatremia. The books teach you some things, but until you have many years of experience deciding when to use Lasix or fluid restrict, you are generally learning regardless if you have an NP or MD after your name.
    So, am I a "master?" No. But, I am really good. I have excelled in my field and "physicians" often come to me for advice on a case because I am 41 and work with many doctors that are 32-38. I have a few more years under my belt. We all work together. I often go to my superiors that have 15+ more years of experience than me.
    You are correct, like Mr. Ye, I am not a "Doctor." I am better in many ways, equal in others, and less experienced in some ways.
    How can you call Gus, et. al. masters, but not Mr. Ye? I mean, I have provided you with an obvious example above. To me, Mr. Ye has proven himself as a master with 20+ years of fixing Leica cameras and his reputation for excellence is all over the globe. Maybe in your mind, someone must follow some traditional path before he/she can be good at something. That is simply not true.
    Is Eric Johnson not "master" at the guitar? One could argue that without a formal Berkley education he is just a guy that plays guitar. However, he has broken ground and changed the way people view the instrument. His skill is breathtaking. John Mayer left Berkley because didactic education means very little in art. The practice of medicine is a blend of art and science. Mr. Ye has excelled at an art.
    I was done with this thread until I needed to come back and re-educate you (and possibly others) about the education and practice of NPs/PAs.
    Mr. Ye is a master. I will go to him with all of my work. You can certainly feel free to use someone else. After all, it is just a camera!
  23. Thanks for elaborating on the role of a Physician's Assistant as it relates to a doctor. I can see that it was a poor analogy, since a PA is nothing like an enthusiastic repair person nor are they anything like a master of Leica repair. ;-)
    I hope more people take up the mantle of these repair persons so we have great gear for decades to come.
  24. No problem. I was just a little upset at the analogy this morning since, well, it's my career. That, and our role is sometimes misunderstood.
    Happy shooting. -cb
  25. Speaking as someone who has owned 2 or 3 dozen Leicas, still has around 2 and worked every day with a Leica IIIf doing press work for 2 years in the early 70s, I would say this:
    Leica cameras were made of high-quality materials and most of the cameras were used lightly and with care by enthusiasts. Insofar therefore as one can generalise, the service needs of a classic Leica today are likely to be:
    1) Dried-up grease
    2) Sticky shutters, resulting in slow times and delayed uncapping action, leading to "tapering" - this will require new shutter curtains in a minority of cases
    3) Dull rangefinder prisms, making a camera a "pig" to focus, and necessitating re-silvering or replacement
    Leica lenses are a different case - coatings were relatively soft, internal lubricant had a tendency to gas and form haze and even mold, which beyond a certain point calls for glass surfaces to be re-polished and coated.
    Furthermore, from the user's point of view, there is a need for repairs to be completed within a reasonable time frame. Older collectors who have several Leicas may not mind letting one go for as long as 2 years if they get a perfect job, any younger actual or potential user who wants to try a classic manual film camera is very unlikely to accept this.
    I would therefore say that for classic Leicas to survive as user cameras, repair people need to be able to carry out all of the above work - as soon as a repairperson, for example, admits defeat with rangefinder prisms, as a previous poster noted, the whole idea of using classic Leicas ceases to be viable.
    For me it already has. I am sure there are 50s and 60s Leica lenses around in great condition, but they are not for sale - conversely the one that are for sale need costly work. I want to do a project with a 35mm outfit with single-coated lenses and have decided on reflection to do this with a Kodak Retina IIIS and Retina Reflex III - arguably not built to Leica standards, and with a potentially fragile "string-driven" internal meter linkage, but my repairman at Newton Ellis & Co. in Liverpool is right on top of this (he uses these cameras himself), and the cameras and particularly the lenses are available in great condition for ridiculously little money, with clean glass. Of course the cameras have quirky features like long close-focusing distances and a non-instant-return mirror in the case of the Reflex, but I can live with this.
    The state of the art with regard to Leica repairs seems parlous - waiting times of up to 2 years threaten to kill interest in Leicas among young potential users, and the numbers of competent repairpeople is bound to fall further with the passage of time. Enthusiasts depend on the availability of good second-hand lenses, both for esthetic reasons (the look of single-coated optics) and because new Leica M lenses are so shatteringly expensive. Training new repairpeople may be problematic - almost all modern equipment repair depends on faultfinding down to module level and then removal and replacement of the module in question, whereas classic Leicas AFAIK need quite a bit of expert fettling. I believe that the next few years will see a sharp drop in the use of these cameras.
  26. Nice that this thread settled down. Poor Gus. It's enough that he has DAG and Golden Touch extolled so often at his
    exclusion. 'Master' rightly hit a nerve. I wouldn't work on a Leica shutter when I know that some finesse is required just to
    perfectly adjust the gears on my bicycle. The only good work done on a film Leica of mine was by a Wetzlar born and
    trained technician with years of experience. Happy shooting everyone.
  27. I have used several of the mentioned individuals for Leica repair work. Fortunately I've been able to discuss what the cameras (and lenses) needed prior to contracting for repairs. The discussions have helped identify the problems and resulted in fine work being done. The services involved cameras and lenses that were 40-60 years old and none were in collector condition. Sherry K. has a reputation of being not only a skilled repair person, but an expert with the Leica CL series. I was willing to pay extra for her internal upgrade parts and services. Before Leica stopped LTM repairs, I sent a IIIf in for CLA with the understanding it was to be used for winter, very cold usage. At that time Leica would prepare a camera for extreme cold usage and it has worked well for that purpose. John van Stelten at Focal Point did good work to clean condensation out of a nice Elmar 50 2.8 and restored a scratched 50 1.5 Summarit to usable condition. I am happy to say all repairs were done at agreed upon cost, in the time promised and have held up over the years since. Now I have a IIIg that is one of the first 100 made and a user heirloom with an interesting motor sports history well known to Leica. I've known of the camera since new. The camera and it's Leicavit have seen over 2000 rolls of film in professional usage and it shows in the patina and wear. Once I've set aside the $$ to have both CLA'd, I'll be talking to one of the mentioned individuals about the process for the internal restoration to Leica factory specifications.
    The above is to illustrate that the skills necessary to bring old Leica equipment back to Leica specifications require the same type of skills and work enviornments that high grade watch repair people have acquired through schools, apprenticeships and experience. Top camera and lens repair technicians have very specialized training and knowledge and have acquired the necessary diagnostic equipment, lubricants and tools to properly do your repairs. I applaud their willingness to continue applying their skilled professions on our behalf as I'll need their help in 2015.
  28. Without making any comment on the abilities of the mentioned repair persons, it seems to me that more people who can do simpler work for lower prices is a good idea.
    I have some cameras that I might find $50 to pay someone to do some work on. They could even be worth $100, but probably not more. They might just need a little lubrication, maybe no cleaning, and I could even live with the shutter speeds a little off. It is unlikely that any Leica master will do what I want for what I could afford to pay.
    I have bought quality SLRs for less than $20 that seem to work fine. (Canon FTb for $11, Nikomat FTN for $16, both with lens.) With good cameras available in that price range, how much would I want to pay for a CLA?
    The early Leica's are relatively simple to work on, compared to modern SLRs. It might be that someone less than a master could do what needs to be done.
  29. Glenn - whether a film camera is $10 or $1000, it is still exposed to dust, dirt, corrosion, hardened grease and oil (e.g. Agfa's notorious green grease that hardens up like Lock-Tite). A mere relubrication may get it working temporarily, but you are only making an abrasive oily solution that will accelerate the wear. To do it properly, you need to strip it down, clean it off, then reassemble. Only then should you lubricate (sparingly). Too much oil and you create a new dust magnet.
    For the record, when I sent my IIIF to DAG (to change to a new wind knob, as the old one was worn and brassed), the winding gears were found to be swimming in oil. DAG rectified the situation for me.
    You may never get the shutter timings right if there is still dirt in the mechanism. Quick and dirty techs merely increase the shutter curtains' spring tension, increasing the wear even further. The old silk shutter curtains may then rip from the strain. You certainly won't have reliable, precise shutter timing. A lot of good techs have replaced mainsprings from Compur leaf shutters for me. The old ones couldn't provide the correct speeds any more, even after stripdown and cleaning. You'll never get there by just flushing with lighter fluid and shooting some oil in.
    There is no way to get around a proper overhaul on these old cameras. These days, film and developing is not so cheap that you want to risk getting unreliable exposures with any camera.
    haiqing_xu likes this.
  30. I agree Robert, MANY good points there! But there are folks who look at their equipment as "transitory" and "expendable" and thus have no interest in the care and maintenance aspects. For me, I have a large collection of 35mm Canon FD, Nikon and of course my fantastic Leica M3's and lens' items. I use each and every piece of my equipment and consider its care and maintenance of paramount importance. Another point is that I intend to pass these on to another generation in the best condition possible for long term reliability and photographic "consistency". To that end I will only use the services of factory trained professional personnel. Besides the training, costs of education and time these folks have put into their craft, there are also other advantages of note. They put major costs into opening their businesses / shops. They learn finances, how to properly handle and inventory product and parts, how to PROPERLY deal with customers, and the finer points of setting up and maintaining a quality work environment. They are also heavily insured, which protects them, their businesses and the customer from loss, theft, and "accidental damages". When I utilize a professionally trained technician I know that my items will not be handled or serviced in a precarious or improper manner, and that the service person knows the product inside and out, how to clean and lubricate it properly, how to reset adjustments back to factory specs, how to ensure the item is 100% before it leaves his or her care. The training and other related costs of their business (including ongoing training to stay current as changes dictate) are of course passed on to the customer. The folks who are uninterested in what can be high costs of maintaining equipment will always seek the faster cheaper alternative. Nothing wrong with that, everyone has a choice and a reason, and that is perfectly OK. As to what you alluded to at the end, I find that having properly working equipment negates the constant experimenting and "adjustment" necessary to obtain quality images. This has to make the hobby much more pleasant. That is simply one opinion. Then again, perhaps the need to fiddle with equipment in order to obtain results is a form of fun challenge for some. Everyone has a choice and I have my reasons for mine. As long as is possible, we hobbyists (and some actual film pro's too) really need to support all of the "Trained Professionals" so that they will be around as long as possible, and continue to promote the "film" aspect pf photography so that it NEVER dies off.
    This posting subject has really turned into quite an interesting read with all the different views, opinions and observations.
  31. … factory trained professional personnel … faster cheaper alternative.
    What Keith says is true, but sadly there is no guarantee that an expensive slow job will be good. The worst Leica servicing by far that I ever had was from Leica UK, who took an insanely "perfectionist" approach to the quantity of new parts required for my M3, including IMHO totally unnecessary new shutter curtains, and to the amount of time required and the associated cost (over £400 some 20 years ago), but still failed to deal with the dim rangefinder prisms and sent to the camera back in a state where it jammed after one exposure.
    I returned it, it came back just as bad, same again after a second return, and in the end I had to send it to an independent repair service to get it fixed properly. This reliability record destroyed my faith in classic Leicas and for over 10 years I did not own any examples - it was only when I saw what Newton Ellis & Co. of Liverpool could do that I was persuaded that it was viable in any way to use classic cameras (they've done over 40 successful repairs, including many cameras such as Retina Reflex and Contax, which many repair services will not touch, and in only 2 cases was it necessary to return items for fine tuning, after which they were perfect).
    I would say an exchange of anecdotal experience such as is going on in this thread is vital in selecting a repair service to use. Repairpeople can behave in very odd ways - there was a well-regarded optical service in Croydon UK which was one of the few places that would repolish and recoat lenses but … they would accept work, dismantle and repolish the lenses and place the elements in a sputter chamber for coating but ONLY run the coating process when this chamber was full, no matter how long it took or how urgently customers needed their lenses back. It's pretty useful to know about things like this before you send work to the service in question!
  32. Well David, the factory repair shops do have to train new hires somehow :)
    When I still used a Nikon F3 as my main camera, after about 20 years of continuous use it required some service. Sad to say, the local shop I used in Syracuse, NY didn't do a very good job. Nikon USA in New York was rather imperious and impersonal, and I thought that they did an acceptable, though uninspiring repair for the cost.
    I called Nikon USA in California, and I tried to order parts through a Spanish - speaking man with minimal English skills. Not surprisingly, I was sent the wrong parts.
    Similar to your situation with Leica UK, I probably would have given up on Nikon had I not moved to the midwestern USA. The repair facility here - Authorized Photo Service are simply fantastic. They used to be the midwestern USA Nikon factory repair facility before they became independent. They are still tightly affiliated with Nikon.
    When a "new" plain prism for the Nikon F came with decemented rear elements on the finder (apparently a common risk, similar to balsam separation for Leica M3 prisms), Authorized Photo actually had new old stock replacement items for the F prism still in their inventory. They have overhauled my F, F2 and F3, and all of these cameras function as good as new. They also leave the cameras, finders, and lenses exquisitely clean after their service. I had them service a large number of my older AI/AIS lenses a few years ago, when they were getting dried up or otherwise old.
    Anyway, the Authorized folks are the ones that other Nikon repairers bash for "deliberately" throwing mail return parcels on the floor to damage them prior to shipping the repaired items to their owners.
    PS: For you in the UK (and elsewhere), I highly recommend Sover Wong for Nikon F and F2 repairs.
  33. Well, it is no surprise to me that one man's master is another man's schlepper, especially in the highly charged domain of Leica camera repair. But to each his own. I guess that's why Al Gore invented discussion forums (just kidding). Be that as it may, I plan to have Mr. Ye spiff up a hazy LTM 9cm Elmar lens I just purchased. I do not care if potential hazards await me such as peripheral acid migration from handling a lens element sans gloves. Perhaps I should, but I don't, because by the time said acid migrates, I will be breathing fixer fumes in the Great Darkroom in the Sky. The only master technician I have ever encountered (back in the 1970s) was E.C. Walter Mantz of Philadelphia, who I am sure has passed on or is retired by now. He sure seemed to know what he and his team were doing, as far as I could tell.
  34. just want to share my experience with Mr Ye , he did a superb job on leica lenses.. i will not hesitate to place him on my top list repairer along with Don DAG . When Ye need parts for my lenses he would suggest me to Don DAG without any competition feeling. Don also very helpful even its not his service job. so i would recomend this 2 guys .
    Cheers Fella
    mh likes this.
  35. I just want to add my experiences to this thread, particularly in response to the criticism of Youxin Ye. I purchased a Leica M2 on eBay that was listed as having the slower shutter speeds off. I used it for a year, snapping some great photos. Then it developed some aberrations in the shots that I thought initially were refections from using a UV filter in strong light with both 28mm and 50mm Zeiss lenses. I removed the filters from each lens and obtained the same result. At this point I was at a loss, thought maybe it could be the shutter curtains, but was not sure. I contacted Sherry Krauter with some questions about this, she confirmed that the camera was "dry", needed servicing, and said she would look at what was causing the aberrations. In the end she did a very good job with lubrication and the CLA; however, even with the photos I had sent her regarding the issue I was seeing, she stated there was nothing wrong with the shutter curtains. Initially I didn't question her assessment, as they did not seem to appear in every shot, but in fact they did, but were just not as evident in some due to being hidden in the more exposed (lighter) areas of the shots. The main reason that I did not send it back to Sherry for rework under some sort of warranty was she took much much longer to get my M2 back to me that she initially stated, and after she had my camera I received zero communication from her even after emailing and calling. Furthermore, I had sent her photos of the issue that clearly showed the symptom of the problem. Either she just didn't care whether she resolved it, or she was so busy that she just "forgot". This is not acceptable and I was not going to make the same mistake again.
    Then I contacted Youxin Ye and he emailed me back within 30 mins, assessed the issue as most likely being tiny pinholes in the curtains. I committed to sending it to him and he stated to indicate on the package that it was a rush job (since I wanted it back for a family get together). The turn around time was five days, and the camera works as new now. I am very happy with his work, communication, and price. I also sent the same camera to Don Goldberg to have the larger M4 style rear viewfinder installed, and he also made a quick turn around and does excellent work. So my assessment is that all three Leica "Masters" do great work, but my least recommended would be Sherry for her failing to resolve the light leak issue and poor communication.
    In thinking about the criticism of Youxin's work area practices, I find myself reflecting on my own habits and those of my maintenance repairman at work. We are both very messy and unorganized, yet I have to compliment that my maintenance repairman does brilliant work, showing a talent that perhaps comes naturally and not from formal training. What I mean by that is, just because someone has not attended the Leica Academy and been employed by Leica as a repair person for a long tenure does't mean that they cannot master the craft of repairing a Leica camera. Some people have learned the skills diligently through training, and consider their work their job. Others learn their skills through a yearning passion and studying, and they consider their work their lifelong love of the craft.
    Just my 2 cents.

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