Yashica MAT-124G - fungus or oil inside the lens?!

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by zoltan_kovacs, May 11, 2005.

  1. Dear All,

    I received (from ebay) a Yashica MAT-124G yesterday, and I'm very
    happy with it - WITH THE EXCEPTION the taking lens.
    It seems, that there is fungus and/or oil drops inside the lens. For
    me it seems, that just those lenses are dirty, which are next to the
    aperture (close to the film).
    What do you think, is it reparable/cleanable???
    The worst case is, that the glue between two lens element is too
    old... I'm not sure...


  2. It could be oil, I believe that was a common problem with Yashica Mats.

    The lens can be taken apart and cleaned if you're willint to give it a try. It has been years since I messed with one, but as I recall you can remove the rear element without too much difficulty and then hold the shutter open on B to clean the element in front. Sorry I can't remember the specifics of how to get in there, I just recall that the first ring (chrome?) is held on by its felt lining and should slip right off. The whole rear group unscrews as a unit.
  3. It's almost certainly oil. This comes from the shutter blades over the course of 40-some years of use. Nearly every Yashica Mat or Mat 124 or Mat 124G that I've owned had this problem when I got it. Assuming that it IS oil, it's certainly cleanable, which leads you to a dilemma: You can have it cleaned professionally, which likely will cost you more than the camera is worth, or you can try to clean it yourself, which, if you are not careful, can destroy the lens or shutter or aperture. Personally, I am mechanically inclined, and I've cleaned 4 of them myself over the years. The first time I did it, I scratched up the front ring of the lens (fortunately, the damage was purely cosmetic) while I removed the front element pair of the lens (a necessary step in cleaning the glass), but since then, I have done them each uneventfully. The following is presented with a caveat: I take no responsibility if you try it and botch the camera in the process - try it at your own risk.

    To even begin the process, you'd need some type of spanner wrench or makeshift tool to serve as a spanner in order to remove and later re-tighten the front lens group. There are a couple of slots in the front ring of the lens that are used to anchor the spanner wrench as you unscrew the front lens group. This will be the toughest part of the process, as it might be extremely tight over some 40-50 years without having been done. The other things you need to do are to set the aperture to wide open, and set the shutter to bulb, and hold it open with a locking cable release. Once the front lens group is removed, the exposed inner lens surfaces (one behind the shutter and aperture blades, on on the front group) can be cleaned with Q-tips and alcohol or lens cleaning fluid. Then, before replacing the front group, fire the shutter several times, making sure that the blades are firing freely - they might stick if you get alcohol on them during the cleaning process - but they will eventually work themselves clean with repeated firing. Then, after the front group's inner surface has also been cleaned (this is trivial, as there are no mechanisms to damage - but just avoid getting your fingerprints on it) replace the front group, and tighten it with the spanner wrench.
  4. Thank you for the answers.
    Finally, I showed the camera for a specialist, and he found another problems (the infinity is not correct, the light meter is dead), but he said, that it is really oil, and it is a common problem with these cameras.
    I will pay for CLA (~32GBP) nearly like for the camera (51 GBP), but what can I do? I would like to use it...:)

  5. 32 GPB is a quite fair price for a full CLA on this camera, if it includes cleaning out the oil from the lens, checking the shutter, the winding mechanism, and adjusting the infinity focus. If it also included repairing the meter, it would be a GREAT deal. Many of these cameras have broken meters, and I recommend using an inexpensive hand-held meter with them in most cases anyways.

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