- Many camera
maintenance steps are pretty obvious and within the abilities of any
careful person. For more about maintenance skills and materials and
for those sections marked Advanced, for other than simple cameras,
the reader may want to refer to the section:
- Dust is
the great enemy of the photographer. It accumulates in film paths and
may find its way onto film surfaces, blocking the light and causing
specks on images. It accumulates on lens surfaces diffusing and reducing
the light that the lens can pass. It accumulates in shutters and reduces
their smooth and accurate operation. It accumulates on camera surfaces,
mixes with skin oil, perspiration and airborne chemicals, making your
camera look dull and grungy. You can't help what your camera did in
its sordid early life, but you can clean it up now and force it into
the habit of clean living.
body work, in part depends on the materials used to make the body. You
can clean much of the dust and dirt with Q-tips dipped in water. Wipe
and dry a small area, then move on the another. Dirt that won't surrender
to water may be attacked with the same technique, using naphtha (lighter
fluid). Naphtha is very volatile and leaves no residue. If you have
not completely removed dirt, you will see that you have only rearranged
it. Keep cleaning until all dirt is removed. While there are exceptions,
it is a good general rule to avoid anything other than water and naphtha
as cleaning solutions and use those sparingly. Do not let either seep
(Advanced for enclosed viewfinders)
- Simple popup
and direct vision viewfinders should first be cleaned to remove accumulated
dust from non-optical surfaces. Optical surfaces should then be cleaned
with lens cleaner and tissue. Older and simpler cameras may have shrouds
enclosing the viewfinder that can be safely removed to allow access
to inner optical surfaces. Often this involves removing some film advance
components like winding knobs. 35mm cameras have advance systems that
depend on geared mechanisms that control the frame display mechanism.
These are more complicated than early rollfilm cameras where film advance
was monitored through a ruby window and the beginner can quickly get
into trouble trying to reassemble film index systems.
are delicate optical systems that use mirrors and prisms to create slightly
differing images that help determine distance. Rangefinder systems include
adjustable components that should not be changed either by overenergetic
cleaning or consciously, unless you understand the adjustment principles.
Generally, the mirror placed in the path of the viewing window is a
two way mirror, while the mirror that it reflects to is a one way mirror.
You should clean two way mirrors on both sides. Clean the external and
internal surfaces of the rangefinder windows on the housing. Follow
the procedure given for cleaning lenses.
- Proper cleaning
of the shutter requires disassembly, ultrasonic cleaning of parts, reassembly
and careful lubrication--obviously a job for someone with training.
While there is considerable and vocal disagreement about flood-cleaning
shutters, this can be considered a reasonable substitute for disassembly,
which may be cost-prohibitive for collectors.
- Use standard
gentle cleaning methods to first brush off dust and grit, then clean
the exposed surfaces of lenses with optical cleaner and lens tissue.
To clean internal lens surfaces see the section
on lens maintenance.
- It is likely
that your old camera will have a considerable amount of dust, sometimes
mixed with lubricant, around the winding mechanism. Old roll film cameras
have simple knob winding. The winding know will be attached with a slotted
screw. You can remove this, then pull off the winding knob to clean
under it with naphtha. 35mm winding mechanisms are more complex, involving
geared components enclosed by the top shroud. Unless you have experience
with camera mechanics, cleaning this mechanism is better left to a professional.
quality in Kodak cases seemed to become increasingly 'artificial' as
years progressed. Most postwar cases are principally of composite leather.
This material wears well, though the stitching often comes loose. If
you restitch, use a strong thread, preferably linen, of the same size
and color of the original. The leather in older cases is more likely
to be cowhide, which can be restored using a high-quality leather dressing.