Protocol for switching lenses outdoors on our old RFs

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by farkle-mpls, Sep 23, 2009.

  1. Folks,
    An old, old topic I know but please indulge me as I put my own spin on the topic.
    I just got my Canon IID1 and IVSB2 back from a very reputable repair facility where they were both CLA'd and shutter curtains were replaced (with Leica curtains, nonetheless!). Being anxious to shoot them for real, I thought it prudent to test them so I stuck them on tripods and burned through a roll of film in each. All I had lying around for consumer-grade film was 36 exp, 400 ISO, color print film.
    Since I had 36 exposure rolls, I figured I'd switch around lens for my test shoots. With my more modern film cameras (Canon FD/EOS, Leica M7), I always am sensitive to making sure I never remove the lens in direct sunlight. In this case, the cameras remained on the tripod, in the outdoor light but never FACING the sun, while the lenses were swapped. I took notes on lighting conditions -- metering ambient light at the subject was F16 @ 1/250s (ISO 400). Since the cameras were stationary, I had the lenses nearby and walked over to get them when performing the swap. There was no lens on the camera for probably 30 seconds between swaps.
    When the film was processed, I noticed light leaks on the frames following every lens change on both cameras. Sometime the leak/streak would be present in smaller form on the NEXT frame as well. No other light leaks elsewhere though.
    I talked to the person servicing my camera and he gently reminded me that these RF's -- Leica (thread mount) as well as Canon -- had very little light baffling around any of the interior mechanisms and that, although he was willing to check the cameras out for me, it was probably something I should expect just due to the design of cameras of the time (early 1950s). I do trust his advise and I'll test again in more subdued light but I thought I'd float the topic by this group and see what your thoughts were. Gut feel (prior to my phone call to the service person) was that I expected them to be sensitive to light leaks and never to face them toward the sun, but I did believe you could change lenses outdoors.
    Now something I failed to consider prior to my test was the fact that I was using ISO 400 film. I'm not sure I ever shot that fast of film in these cameras before. One camera was my Dad's and although I remember him changing lenses outdoors long ago, he was probably shooting K25 or K64 -- far more forgiving for light leaks.
    I just wanted to toss the topic out and get the group's thoughts on this. Are your old RFs as vulnerable to light leaks as mine are, based on my short story?
    Thank you!
  2. I have two Canon Ps. Both leak light as you describe, but I can work around it. I don't change lenses much.
  3. My procedure with all my Leicas is to find some shade and keep the camera pointing towards the ground or my body whilst the lens is off. It's just like changing film. I haven't had any problems since I learned the hard away with my first Leica III.
  4. I was advised (circa 1960s) that when changing lenses trip the shutter with the lens cap on or hand over lens. Remove lens and replace new lens and then advance the film twice. You would loose three frames: One prior, one during lens change and one after. This was to be done in the shade. Now the disclaimer: I never tried this with older rangefinders and it was unnecessary with newer models and slrs.
  5. I never bothered to do anything special. If I lost a frame or two from a light leak, what the heck? Better than wasting a ton of film trying to work around the problem, or worrying overmuch about it. Just be prudent about whether you're in the shade and where the open body is pointing. That's all you need to do, and be aware you might (or might not) lose a frame with some leakage.
    I shot with IIc and IIf for 16 years (1969 to 1986ish). Can't say as I ever noticed much film ruined by light leakage, although I did replace curtains on the IIc once. I lost far more frames from poor exposure or trying to take a photo of something without thinking...
  6. Never change lenses in the bright sun. Always look for shade. I never had a problem that way even with the Leica B I had years ago, or with my M3ds..
  7. Do these same precautions apply when using a CV RF or VF camera which has a vertically running shutter and where the shutter blades are not made of cloth?
  8. CV cameras have double shutter blades to prevent light leaks when changing lenses (funny enough, they copied this idea from the 1950s Voigtländer Prominent, which had double shutter blades on its Compur shutter), so there is no danger with modern CV cameras.
  9. 30 seconds is a long time to leave a camera without a lens. In general a lens swap will only take about 2 seconds. That will expose the camera to about 4 stops less light than a 30 second swap. Try it with a quicker swap.
  10. In 60 years I've never lost a frame due to light leaks while changing a lens. Thinking back on it, I never advance the film until ready to take a shot, so the shutter has always been closed when I changed the lens (always careful to do it in shadow or subdued light).

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