Yashica TLR Light Seal Repair

I bought a Yashica 124G a couple of years ago off of Ebay.  It was an amazing deal as the seller spelt Yashica incorrectly, so I was the sole bidder (he also listed it in the “film” section, not the “film camera” section).  The camera arrived in absolute mint condition except for a small scratch on the back and a non-working light meter.  On a Yashica TLR, the light meter turns on when you open the top.  Upon taking the top apart, it was discovered that the switch was simply sticky from having sat closed for many years.  It’s always nice when it’s a simple repair!

I’ve taken many rolls of film with the Yashica, both 120 and 220.  Something I could never figure out was that I often got strange red stripes across my pictures.  This only ever happened on colour film.  I initially suspected the film as I had some rolls of 220 that were recently expired but always cold stored, as well as some rolls I got off ebay that were incredibly cheap.  I asked around and a few mentioned xray damage, but nothing conclusive.  Finally I posted the question on the I Shoot Film group on Flickr.  For those of you who have never used the groups on flickr, I find they are an amazing resource as you get answers to your questions from across the globe.  As you can see, 8 replies later and the problem was solved!

Turns out the colour film I was using was all 220, meaning there is no paper backing for the majority of the film.  The red streak was actually because of a light leak, likely on the top hinge.

I compared the light seal in my Yashica (what was left of it) to my Seagull (used in the Pan-o-gull experiment).  The Seagull actually uses black yarn as a light seal, leading me to believe that I didn’t need to buy a special Yashica light seal kit.  A search of the net brought me to this site which suggested that you could replace the seals with some sticky back felt which I just happened to have left over from the Pin-Cube.

Using a cutting mat and straight edge, I cut strips of black felt.  I then set about cleaning out the old left over light seal off of the camera. What was left of the seal was bits of sticky black foam.  There wasn’t much left but it still made a mess.  The professional light seal kits come with a “special tool”.  It’s basically a slim piece of wood to help push the seal into the grove. I simply took a bbq skewer and with a chisel shaved the end flat so that it would fit in the grove.  To remove the stickiness I used mineral spirits. Not sure if this is the best thing to use, but I had it lying around and it seemed to work ok.

It was a bit tricky getting the new felt into the thin groves around the camera, but with a bit of patience, I was able to get it all in in under 15 minutes.  Once finished, I realized how bad the old seals were and I’m sure the new felt can only be a huge improvement.  Looking back at some old 120 BW negs from this camera it was obvious that it was actually leaking along both sides as well, not enough to affect the pictures, but it was only going to get worse.

As far as DIY camera repair goes, this was a pretty simple job, highly recommend anyone with this issue to try the repair themselves.

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Failure and Redemption – DIY film processing trials and tribulations

I very much enjoy processing my own BW flim, especially when it is my ultimate favourite, Fuji Neopan.  Although when I first started I was developing 1-2 rolls/week, however lately I’ve dropped to closer to 1 roll/month.  This gets dangerous as you get out of practice and start making little mistakes.  I’ve been very fortunate to have never had a major screw-up, all my rolls have always worked out, even the first one.  This has always worried me as I was sure this streak could not last.

Then about a month ago I went to a friends wedding.  I was NOT told that they needed a photographer, and so for fun I thought I would try something new (and this is where it all started to go wrong). I bought some Ilford Delta 3200, put it in my Bessa R, and headed off to the wedding.  Got there and it seemed like everyone had a camera and was snapping away.  I took a few shots, not really sure if the meter was reading accurately in the very dark restaurant.  I got home and decided to process the film.  I really didn’t have enough time to do it properly, and so I rushed.  Took me 3 tries to get it on the reels, didn’t quite seal the door correctly, etc. etc.  When I checked the film, most of the shots were underexposed and the light leakage from the door had wrecked about half the film.  I wasn’t too choked until the bride called me up in a panic because all of the other pictures people had taken were terrible, and no one had got a good one of her and her husband, THE WHOLE NIGHT! After much work scanning and in photoshop, I managed to save one photo, it was the shot of them cutting the cake.  I didn’t think it was all that great as it had tons of grain, but they were thrilled.

Fast forward a month and I am developing a roll of 120 Neopan 400. Things were going smoothly but I couldn’t help but notice the developer was awfully dark. Then each time the chemicals came out of the tank, the colours seemed off.  When I pulled the film out at the end of the developing, I was staring at a completely blank film. My developer had expired.

Two in a row was a bit much for me to handle, and I had a roll from a recent trip to Norway which I absolutely could not screw up!  Bought some new developer (Ilford Microphen DD-X), and set to work.  Was I ever relieved when it worked out perfectly, well except that I used enough chemicals for 120 when it was a roll of 35mm, but I am definitely back on the horse….  The lesson to be learned here is take your time, and take A LOT MORE PICTURES!!!!!