Yashica FR I light leaks. Is it the shutter?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by christos_theofilogiannakos, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. [​IMG]Hi everyone!
    I recently purchased a used Yashica FR I with a ML 1.7/50 attached from a local fleamarket, mostly intending to run a couple of rolls through it and then sell it, as I have decided to stick with mechanical cameras in the long run (Yashica Electros excluded).
    Using the camera has been fun, as it really feels like a well-made precision tool, very solid with good ergonomics and very smooth feeling overall. So the notion of maybe keeping it for a while started forming in my mind, until I received the results from the three rolls I shot during my holidays, most of the pictures having been ruined by severe light leaks. Before starting using the camera I went through my usual routine of replacing the light seals and mirror bumper which has proven very effective for all my used cameras so far with no problem whatsoever. I normally use black cotton string on the body to seal the film door, so I added a second layer of string and shot a fourth roll, but the problem remained:
    Checking the negatives, the leak extends over the lower sprocket holes (which corresponds to the upper part of the door as the image is reversed, right?) but not over the upper sprockets. However, the constant location and vertical edge of the leaks on the negative plus the fact that some of the pictures turned out OK, made me think that there could be some problem with the shutter curtains at certain speeds. If this is the case, why do the leaks extend over the lower sprocket holes? Doesn't that point to a door leak, or not necessarily? I reinforced the light seals by adding foamy material along the door edges (where the original seals were) and reloaded the camera, but I would like some advice regarding the source of the problem before ruining one more film roll and what could be done to determine the source of the leaks without specialist equipment (if possible).
  2. Do you have a lockable cable release? Does the camera offer mirror lockup? <-would be even better since you are blaming / suspecting the shutter.
    OK now the hard part: get hold of a some thin cable, black paint, glue , black bodycap, drill, soldering iron and a battery powered lamp with preferably 3 LEDs. Figure the wiring of the lamp out. take the LEDs out solder them on cable put camera on "B" and lock the shutter open, place one LED in film cartridge compartment another close to the takeup spool the third in the mirror area. run cable through hole in bodycap get hole tightenedconect the entire thing to your lamp housing with batteries and wait for the night....
    Good luck!
    I haven't tried the lamp test in any 35mm camera. with LF bellows it used to be revealing :(
  3. Hi Christos,
    Looks like a sticking shutter curtain to me. As you say, the position and vertical edge as well as the fact some pictures come out ok, means it cannot be a door leak. The leaking over the sprocket area could be the film is not pushed firmly against the film guides, so check the pressure plate on the door, it may need the springs bending a little to give more tension. Also check that the door closes squarely and easily, as too thicker light seal can upset the correct seating of the door.
    Check the curtain movement several times at each speed to see if the gap between them is inconsistent, or if the second curtain hangs back sometimes. If it is the second curtain sticking, you need a service as the lubrication in its roller will have dried and hardened. You could take off the bottom plate and put a couple of drops of lighter fuel around the roller tension adjustment screw, which may help the roller move more freely. You could also check the condition of the tapes sitting in the curtain guides, as they could be frayed, or bits of film debris could be stuck in the lower slot.
  4. Looking at the flickr link photos its the second curtain hanging intermittently at the top of the film plane in the camera. Using lighter fluid aka naphtha, and similar solvents in such a camera may cause more damage than problems it cures.
    CRC QD Electronic contact cleaner, available at hardware and auto parts stores, is safe on plastics and leaves no residue.
    I use lacquer thinner to strip the rubberized coating from the shutter curtain in old large format SLR's. Naphtha should have a similar effect on the shutter curtains.
  5. Thanks for the input everybody!
    Jochen Schrey: I had already thought about something similar, but it would be hard to keep the shutter open as the FR I has an electronic cable release and I don't have it. The hole in the body cap is a good idea (I have a C/Y body cap), I couldn't figure out how to get the lamp into the camera. However, as the extra sealing made no difference whatsoever, it is most likely that the shutter curtains are the culprits.
    Chris Garner, Charles Monday: I checked the curtain movement, it seems OK in lower speeds. What I noticed is that at higher speeds (1/125 and over, which is where the problem mainly appears) there is no discernible difference to the naked eye. I know it is hard to judge high shutter speeds without specialized equipment, but I can definitely tell the difference between 1/125 and 1/1000 in my Spotmatic and I definitely cannot do so in the FR I. The curtain hypothesis seems to be further supported by the fact that the leaks are stronger in those photos that I deliberately overexposed by choosing too high an aperture in Auto mode (i.e. the needle pointed at the red zone above 1/1000 in the viewfinder) allowing more light to get through.
    I had shutter capping issues with a mint Canon FTb last month and I am gradually becoming a disciple of the vertical metal shutter. It is noisier, it tends to vibrate more, my Spotmatics (favorite cameras) don't have it, but I have never come across a faulty one so far, which is something I cannot say about horizontal cloth shutters. I will have a talk with the local repair shop and if the cost is reasonable (I got the camera very cheap) I'll get it fixed because it is otherwise a really nice camera and the lens is great. If not, I'll just sell them separately, the body as "for parts or repair" on eBay.
  6. Hmm, the fact that it doesn't appear in every frame does not necessarily mean it's not a light leak. These also depend on how long you took between shots, and the angle and intensity of ambient light. Also a leak from the front or a shutter fault generally appears as white on the film. The red colour on yours suggests to me it is coming from the back, through the film base.
    I would tape over the film door with black tape, especially over the ends by the hinge and latch. and try it again.
  7. I'd second John's take on it... I suspect the seal at the hinge end. The fog occurs when the film is parked on the take-up spool with the base exposed to a leak, and would vary according to the amount of light the camera body is getting, beaches being particularly virulent.
  8. John Seaman, Rick Drawbridge: OK, this makes sense too... I reinforced the hinge seals and I am going to try it once more. I will also add the black tape as you suggested, but only after I've made a few shots to test adequacy of the extra sealing and I'll be back with the results.
  9. I wrongly assumed it had a horizontal cloth shutter when you mentioned the 'vertical edge', but as is a metal vertical shutter, I must agree with John and Rick. The take up spool side being the most obvious. I remember years ago that some cameras would be fine if left in their leather ERC [ever ready case], but if removed from them, would have a mysterious light leak.
  10. I am not sure about all Yashicas, but I know some have more light sealing than anything else I've seen, including a very necessary seal between the film takeup spool and the shutter area. ON the FX-3, that's a big, broad pad. I'd look again at all the seals.
  11. Christos- maybe read John Goodman's instructions on the FR-II. Might be a little bit different, but should offer some guidance. http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/seal/Yashica_FRII.pdf
  12. Chris: It's a cloth shutter alright. God know why they insisted on those.
    Matthew: There was no extra padding between the shutter window and the take-up spool originally, but it would be a useful extra precaution...
    The original seals were in the body grooves AND the film door edges and after removing them, I only added a double layer of cotton string in the grooves and the usual felt pad at the door hinge, an arrangement which has proven very efficient so far. Now I have added a band of 2mm-thick foamy all around the door's edge, incl. the hinge area. I'll take some shots with this arrangement, then some more with black tape placed around the hinge, then around the latch end and finally all around the door. If it's the seals, it will show!
  13. OK, for what it's worth, I'm back with the results of the added light sealing of the film door and it seems like the leaks were really coming from the back, as there is nothing to be seen in this new set of pics. The pics I took before adding the black tape added at various locations are leak-free, so I guess everything is alright and there was really no need for the detective work!. What did the job i think, was the added material at the hinge area which was most likely causing the problem. Thanks everyone for their feedback, I hope this discussion will prove helpful for other fellow photogs!
  14. Hi,
    i would like to thank all of you fine gentlemen for taking the time to write these posts and for clarifying this issue. The FR1 is my favorite SLR (first one i actually picked up and used - it was love @ the first roll) but i had the same problem as Christos extensively displayed in the above posts. After bashing my brains in identifying the source, i went @ my local camera fixer - he foam-patched the hinge, back, almost everything (guess it was the regular). All i got was the perpetual 2 red stripes on 1/3 of each roll. Then i changed the body, but i still get those leaks every now and then. What i have failed to realize were the solutions that you guys were talking about - the black tape & the black cotton string, which apparently work :) SO, THANK YOU! Again, you guys are wonderful! And now, to fix this beauty :)

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