25. april 2016

Making a new mirror for Rolleiflex Automat f3.5

Here's a walk-trough on how I made myself a new mirror for my old Rolleiflex Automat f3.5 MX-EVS.

My old Rolleiflex Automat f3.5 MX-EVS
Check out the patina! :D
Found an excellent article about the camera here: http://www.djcphoto.com/index.php/1956-rolleiflex-automat-mx-evs-tessar/

These old cameras tend to age quite well, however, the mirror in them gets pretty bad after so many years, causing the viewfinder to be dimmer and dimmer.

I wanted to collect my experiences in making a new mirror from scratch, as I had to pull information from many different sources before the change was complete.


- Electronic screwdriver-set (or equivalent small screwdriver-set)
- A new mirror
- Glass-cutting knife
- Gloves to break glass with
- Plastic cloves to use with chemicals
- Chemical that can dissolve mirror-backing (acetone or other)
- Cotton-balls
- Cling-film

Procedure, in short

- Find a replacement mirror
- Remove waist level finder.
- Inspect and remove original mirror.
- Cut the new mirror
- If you have a second surface mirror, make it into a first surface one.
- Install
- Adjust focus on your camera, if necessary

Procedure explained

I searched high and low for mirrors and found one at the local "nick-nack" store (Clas Ohlson). Here, they had some of those metal wallets and some of them also had integrated mirrors.
Metal wallet, with mirror.
I removed that mirror using a hair-dryer and a butter-knife. It was fastened with two strips of double-sided tape.

The size and thickness of those mirrors also seemed more or less perfect! Great! Happy days.

Well almost, the new mirror is actually pretty damn close, but a little thicker (0.25mm), so I had to re-adjust the focus a little after installment.

Mirror thickness, original Rolleiflex

Mirror thickness, new mirror.

Thickness problem tackled, for now.

To change out your mirror, you need to take off the waist level finder-top.

This involves removing 4 screws, located beside the viewfinder, on top of the camera:

Stolen example from the web, which shows the screws on a rolleicord, but the procedure is the same for the Automat.

Then you simply pull the whole thing upwards.
The mirror should be visible now.

Just loosen the screws holding the mirror in place, they can be a little fiddly to get back in, since the screws themselves aren't magnetic.

Once you get the mirror out, you can clean the viewing lens from the inside, I am sure there is some dust there, i used canned air and blew away some dust and grime and then cleaned that lens.

My mirror looked like this:

Pretty crappy mirror if you ask me. Looks pretty home-made too. No wonder the camera was hard to focus with!
This is also after cleaning O_o

Time for cutting the new mirror.

Use a regular class-cutting knife (you need to use some oil on the knife when you cut).

Use the original mirror as a template and mark the new mirror with a CD-pen or similar (I found that it was ok to make the markings a little bit larger than the original mirror).

Use gloves to break off the pieces, I placed my mirror on a cutting-board with the edge to break off just outside the edge, it made for a cleaner line.
- Use sand-paper to sand down sharp edges and uneven edges on your finished mirror.

Borrowed image that shows your average mirror cutting.
Now cut!

- You will probably cock this procedure up if you have never cut glass before, so buy 2-3 of those wallets before you start. :)

Cutting complete, I broke two mirrors before I finally made it.
However....right before installment, I found that the new mirror in that wallet was a so called second surface mirror, the Rollei's use first surface mirrors.

Problem! :-(

What this means, is that on normal mirrors, you have a protective layer of glass between you and the "silver", the first surface mirrors do not.

Does it matter?

Yep.... The glass causes ghosting (double-image) and also refraction (loss of sharpness) and also move the actual reflective surface back, compared to a first/front surface mirror.

So what now? Stuck with a wallet I don't need? All that cutting for nothing???

Internet to the rescue!
-Yes, you can get mirrors on eBay, but the shipping to my country is more expensive than the mirror itself.


I found, from a laser-geek community of all places, that it seems that you can actually wash away the protective layer on the back of most mirrors, exposing the "silver" on that side. \o/

All you need are some nasty chemicals and cotton, and gloves, I used acetone.

Washing -very- carefully in acetone.
(Make sure to ventilate well!)
The washing of the mirror, consisted of laying the mirror in a acetone bath for 15 minutes, then I rubbed away the layer with a cotton-ball, very carefully!

The exposed side of the mirror is extremely delicate, so do not use more force than the weight of the soaked cotton-ball itself.  Change the cotton-balls as you go, the left-over paint can actually scratch the surface.

It will take some time, but the paint/protective layer will eventually start to come off.
Make sure you get it all off before rinsing the mirror in water, let it air dry, do not touch.

Here are some comparisons between the old and the new mirrors:

Example shows a buggered mirror i made (note the chipping on the narrow part), but see how much better the definition it has, a real improvement indeed.

Ok, almost finished now, all you have to do, is to install the thing.

First, you now need to protect the new mirror.
I installed my first mirror without anything protecting it, it got finger-marks all over it and I decided to clean it with some paper and some lens cleaning-agent.

That made the nice surface into this:

Cleaning-marks. How fun seeing this, realizing you will have to start over again with a new wallet! \o/

To avoid this, use cling-film.
It is kind of similar to the protection that comes with the commercial mirrors and it will indeed help you avoid marks while fighting to install the mirror in your Rolleiflex.

Place the clean(!) mirror, first-surface-side down on the cling-film, cut it so you have around 0.5 cm extra on all sides, fold the extra around the mirror:

Now, fold around 1 cm of the cling-film back from the narrowest part of your mirror, like so:

Now you are ready to install the new mirror.

Inside the Rolleiflex Automat, there is a spring-mechanism that needs to be held in place as you insert the mirror with the narrow end first.

This is fiddly (I have no photos of that, sorry), but the spring is supposed to put some pressure on the mirror from the back, so that it is possible to install it, but keeps it still after installment.

When you insert the mirror, use a flat knife to hold the spring in place, then "replace the knife" with the mirror. Push the mirror all the way into the notch in the camera and observe that the spring is just visible on each side of the mirror, and that it seems to be straight.

It's not overly complicated, just fiddly, you'll get it when you see it. It helps to keep the camera at an angle, almost on it's "back", that way, the spring will not fall away too easily.

After you have slid the mirror in, lean it back between the screws. Attach the shims and tighten the screws, making sure the shims keep the new mirror in place.

Before you tighten the screws completely, remove the rest of the cling-film with a pair of tweezers and you will be left with a brand spanking new mirror with no marks.

*** New focusing screen ***

I had also bought a new matte-screen from Rick Oleson  it has made focusing both brighter and much easier. His prices were quite reasonable and shipping + handling was very nicely done.

This is how the viewfinder on my old Rolleiflex Automat looks now, with the new mirror and the new screen:

Not bad for a 60 year old camera, finally the 2.8 viewing lens can shine!

This is how focusing looks, click the photo for the original size (this is also after I adjusted the focus to the new mirror).

(click the photo) Out of focus objects have "jaggies" and in-focus stuff have not, very easy to determine focus.
Poor shots done with my phone but gets the point across.

So there you go.

I feel I can mess around with this camera, as I got it for cheap. The mirror installment can be done on most Rolleiflexes with little risk or trouble, but the focusing adjustment requires you to dismantle the front (and remove leatherette). For my F2.8 Rolleiflex, the expensive one, I would probably buy a mirror of the proper thickness to avoid the adjustment issue.

Done, now all this information is located in one place, easily found via google and what have you :)

26. februar 2016

Fujicolor Industrial 100 trials

I ordered 25 rolls of a mystical Fuji film called Fujicolor Industrial 100 and had a trial-run with it, to see how it fared.

The pack of films.
And my Leica M6 with my silver Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

All in all, a nice film, can be shot at indicated speed (ISO 100) or at ISO 50, I could not see any huge differences between the two.

- The film is noticeable physically thinner than Ektar and Portra.
- Neutral type of film, which does not pump the colors like Ektar, it's very similar to Fuji Reala there.
- The film has more noticeable and sharper/coarser grain than Fuji Reala.
- The grain tend to have more "color noise" as well, which, depending on the scene, can create a little unpleasing grain. (can be removed by the color-noise removal in IE Lightroom if one like).
- Still, the film copes well with hard light, exposing for the shadows goes very well, even shot directly against the low sun, the film still keeps a lot of highlight-information.
- Reds, shot in the shadow/overcast tend to remind me about 400H somewhat. (colder reds), I am no scanning-expert though, I usually take what my Nikon-scan software gives me, which is usually quite good scans..

All in all, a good, all-rounder neutral type of film, which cost a little less than half than Kodak Portra.

Below are a few shots I did from one of the rolls I got.
The colors, contrast and temperatures are as-is from my scanner.

Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Difficult scene, still shows details in the shadows.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

I shot two identical shots of this scene, the EI 50 showed less grain, the reds are similar to what I get from Fujipro 400H
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Again, a high-dynamic setting, bright background, darker foreground.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Of the two shots, one at EI 100 and one at EI 50, the EI 50 gave least grain and best tones here.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

This scene was more or less identical at EI 100 and EI 50
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Pretty good detail, even if the film is more grainy than Reala
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Late evening sun ferry
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Back/side-lit setting, no problem with the details
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Not a super-hard sunset, but the sun didn't pose any particular problems
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Just some kind of anchor-point for the boats, sun behind my back.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Getting darker, I think the film captured the light very well, was very yellow.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2
Last sunset view, sun behind and to the right
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Someone didn't bother to throw this in the bin it was standing on.
Shadow shot, dusk
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

Lit bridge, shot in the shadows of the set sun.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2
Late sun-kissed tower, scanner had some issues as this shot was overexposed, it got better after adjusting the scanning-procedure.
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm F2

For $3,90 per roll, I think this film is pretty darn good =)

I wonder if this is a re-branded film of a more well known Fuji-film, does anyone have any ideas? (probably not one of the pro-labels perhaps, but maybe one of the consumer ones?)

There are rumors that Fuji will axe this film, as it has axed all other ISO 100 color films in 35mm, so if you want to shoot it, now is the time to buy it.

Since I made this blog-post, we've been discussing this film, and the 400 ISO version over at rangefinderforum.
The members there were able to share their experience, and also identity which film this mystical film actually is :)

Check it out at http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=154715

17. januar 2016

How to clean and re-grease two Jupiter-8's

Last entry was about how you can fix and adjust the focus (collimation) of your Jupiter-lenses, to work with M-mount cameras (like Leica and Bessa rxm and rxa). http://helino-photo.blogspot.no/2015/12/jupiter-8-vs-jupiter-8-vs-carl-zeiss.html

Here's an attempt to make a tutorial on how to disassemble, clean and re-grease two versions of the Jupiter-8 50mm F2.

Jupiter-8 1963 to the left, 1955 to the right.
Both lenses are adapted to M-mount via attached adapter-rings.

Most often when you buy the old Soviet lenses, you can experience that the focus-ring is stiff or irregular when turning. The reason for this, is old, dried up grease inside the focus-helicoid.
To fix this, you need to disassemble the lens, clean out the focus mechanism and re-grease, before assembling the lens again.


I have two lenses, one from 1963 and one from 1955.
- Well, I actually have yet another one, a black one from the seventies or so, but it's not a part of this tutorial.

There are several variations of the silver Jupiter-8's, and I seem to have one simple and one complex type, regarding the helicoid. You can perhaps locate your variant here: http://www.pentax-manuals.com/repairs/j8service.pdf

This tutorial is basically similar to the above link, in my own words, maybe it can be used as a substitute or addition to the above excellent article.


  • Jewelers screwdriver set since the screws are tiny.
  • A good, silicone or lithium-based grease.
    • Should not be too thick, or your focus will be smooth, but very stiff and probably not usable in the cold, as viscosity tend to change when you get below -7 to -8 degrees in the winter. 
    • You cannot use oil, WD-40 or similar, use grease.
  •  Electronic cleaner spray. 
    • I've found that this is the best to use to loosen old grease, it evaporates and leaves no residue. You can also use purified gasoline or maybe even some kind of spirit-based cleaner.
  • A stationary loupe/magnifying-glass which will enable you to work with both hands.
    • Some of the screws on the lens are so small you'll need a magnifier to get stuff together properly without breaking the screws.
  • A cloth to work on, use a t-shirt with some kind of bright color. It prevents parts and screws to roll and bounce away. It's also easy to spot any screws that fall off when you work and you can wipe your screwdrivers on it, if it (when it) gets all dirty from the old yak-fat :)
  • An old tooth-brush that you can use to clean out the fine threads on the rings.
  • Mobile phone to take photos of the process-steps


  • When making a mark, try to use a screwdriver and not a pen/cd-marker.
    • When you clean and re-grease later and then fiddle to get it back together again, you will rub off the marks. 
    • Make the marks at places, so that they are not visible when the lens is assembled.

Jupiter-8 1963 edition, simple focus helicoid

This version is actually pretty straight forward.
The reason for this, is that my lens at least, have the three screws on each ring placed, so that they do not form a triangle with equal sides.

This makes sure that there is only one correct way to put the lens back together again.

Start by splitting the lens (twist the top part, lens part, counter-clockwise and the helicoid clockwise):

Split the lens, the top part should be screwed counter clockwise, and the bottom part clockwise.
If it's really stuck, use gloves or a cloth for better grip, they should come apart eventually.

When taking the focus-unit apart, I usually start by setting the lens at infinity. On my lenses, there is a real "stop" at infinity, while the close focus are usually not a dead stop, but a sort of a jam.

I usually set the lens to infinity before disassembling.
The reason for this, is that my lenses tend to have the correct marker for infinity
while close-focus is more variable (somewhere below 1 meter).

Not always obvious, but sometimes the screws are not aligned to form an equal sided triangle.

You'll normally find 3 screws for every ring, often they are placed, so that they
make up a triangle with one shorter side and two longer sides.
This helps when assembling the lens, but be aware that this is not always the case.
(take pictures and mark the lens with your screwdriver at certain points if you are unsure)
Work your way down the layers, starting with the focus-ring.
Take photos as you go and make sure those screws don't get lost!
The rear ring is removed, notice the screw, stopping the movements for close focus.
This screw needs to be removed as a last step of disassembly.

Focus ring is already removed, the ring indicated here, holds the aperture/distance relationship markers.
Note that all screws should be able to go all the way in without a hitch, if you experience issues when re-assembling, you have misaligned something.

I found that the most important thing here, is to make sure to note now the silver ring sits when at infinity.
On my lens, it is flush to the lip of the black inner tube as it hits the infinity screw. The ring can be set at at least 2 different positions (possibly more), so make sure you put it in the right way.
The final part of the helicoid, make sure you know how it looks when it is screwed all the way in (infinity)
The silver-ting should be flush to the lip on the back-part of the black tube, as shown.
Remove the ring indicated by 4) and you are ready to start cleaning and re-grease everything.

Now you can start cleaning. Use paper and cleaner to get all the obvious grease off, then use the tooth-brush with cleaning agent to clean out the threads for the rings.
Make sure everything is clean, or you will experience that your lens is still irregular and not smooth as butter.
If you are sloppy here, you may have to do the whole procedure again.
All parts, screws are collected so that they are inside the ring they belong to.
(They can be different in length and size).

Jupiter-8, 1955 edition, complex helicoid.

The 1955 (early to mid 50's) is supposed to be the better Jupiters, or, atleast the ones with less faults and maybe better glass. So I bought this one from eBay before Christmas. I also wanted the notched focus ring, as I find it more practical than a naked ring you twist.

This one is a bit of a challenge to clean and grease though.


There are more rings to take off and you need to mark the parts more, to be able to get everything back together again correctly.

It's not extremely hard, but I think I used like 1,5 hours getting only the three rings back together correctly the first time I tried. (second time, I spent "only" 30 minutes on that part =D ).

It's tricky to get the three rings together correctly.
I refer to them as "the black tube" and the two silver rings, for convenience.

Again, take your time, take photos during the process and make sure to mark (especially the final rings) properly and you will be able to get it back together again.

As always, you start by twisting the lens apart.

I've found that the focus limit screw also act as a focus-break, so if you tighten it too much, your lens will be hard to focus with. You need to tinker with it to set it correctly.

The relationship between the rings can be hard to explain, but I can explain the purpose of the design:
This is a (complex) way to transfer the circular movements of focusing, to a straight (lateral) movement of the focus unit (the black tube).

This is whats preventing the front of your lens to rotate when you focus, but rather move in and out.

Basically it works like this:
The focus ring, with knob, is fastened to ring 2.
As this one turns, it screws itself in and out on the black tube, simple, it's a "screw" after all.
It is threaded inverted though, so you screw the opposite way you would a normal screw, to screw it on or off the black tube.


Ring 1 is the magic part here.
This is a normal ring and is screwed onto ring 2, but it also has a notch or groove on the inside. This notch needs to fit over the stop screw.

When you screw ring 1 onto ring 2, it jams when it gets as far as the stop-screw. So to get it further in, it will need to be in a position where the groove/notch is over the stop screw (mine goes just past the stop-screw before it stops, when correctly inserted and I need to rotate it back 1/6'th of a turn to place the notch directly in line with the stop-screw). Then ring 1 needs the help of ring number 2 to get all the way in. To do this, you switch your hands over, hold both the black tube and ring number 1 stationary, and then turn ring 2.

Ring 2 will then (as screws do) move towards the lip of the black tube, but at the same time it screws ring 1 onto itself, in other words, ring 1 is "pulled" onto the black tube by the turning of ring 2, while being otherwise stationary (not rotating), held in place by the stop-screw in the notch/groove.
- You'll need to jiggle a little to get the stop-screw into the groove. :)

When you get to this step, observe, mark generously (but try to avoid confusing yourself) and then twist ring 2 to see what happens. When you screw it out, it goes out, but "pushes" ring 1 away from itself.

The problem with re-assembly, is that ring 1 can be screwed on 8 different ways (I think), it's fiddly to align it properly with the stop screw and ring 2 can be tough to move (with added grease, even more so).

Ring 2 can be threaded at least 2 different ways as well, so it has a relationship both to ring 1 as well as the black tube and should be marked accordingly.

With ring 2 having minimum 2 different ways to be put on, and ring 1 having 8, you have a minimum of 15 wrong ways and only one right way the rings can go in with this lens. If you get ring 2 on correctly, you have 7 wrongs and one right way, where some of the wrong ways looks fine.
That's why you should mark the rings as you disassemble it, so you can confirm that you found the correct way. ^^

Also, on my lens. When the two silver rings are correct, they have a slight gap to the lip of the black tube, it is easy to believe that they should be all the way in (which is also possible), but in my case, they are not supposed to be all the way in when correctly assembled. (just to add to the confusion).

Hope it helped.

There are videos out there which show how to disassemble Jupiter-8 lenses, but there are, off-course not any videos explaining the complex type in detail. :)

Lens-elements, disassemble and cleaning:

Good luck and have fun ^_^