March 29, 2014

Bonus Nikon L35AF door swap mod, actually it's for the L35AF 2 aka Nikon One•Touch

The cool part of finally biting the bullet and cannibalizing a broken Nikon L35AF is it offers an opportunity to improve all my other Pikaichi's.

My first L35AF was actually the One Touch, the scan above.

Though both versions of the L35AF have plastic shells, the Nikon One•Touch also sported a plastic film door. Unfortunately, mine started to bow outwards. I worried about light leaks and I pretty much mothballed the camera.

But last night, after fixing an on/off switch on one of my L35AF's, I decided to switch the plastic Nikon One•Touch for a nice, straight METAL film door from a donor version one Pikaichi.

It may not seem like a big deal but I'm surprised how much the film door acts as a spine for the whole camera.

The body feels more rigid. When closed. There is a hitch. The hinges between the two models are different. The door, when opened, kind slide on the hinge pin. But once it's closed, it snaps tight and firm. Far better than taping down old plastic door, which is what I used to do.

As for the donor camera, this is what it looks like now.

The lens on the donor is still a peach. It's a tiny thing and I'm going to find a way to mount it on another body.

Nikon L35AF shutter release and on/off switch repairs

If you visit Flickr's Nikon L35AF group, you will find lots of discussion about the camera malfunction.

One of the most common malfunctions is a stuck shutter release or a loose on/off switch.

Here's how I fixed these problems in one of my cameras. You do have to open the camera up. But don't try to remove any of the shells until all the screws are out. Follow all three steps before attempting to pull it apart.

BEFORE beginning, I recommend you setting the ASA/ISO dial to the highest setting. It will be either 400 on earlier models and 1000 on later ones. This will make putting things back together easier.

1.BACK/SIDE SHELL FIRST.  I started with the back panel. It is held with by four screws. They are different lengths. I recommend you lay them in an orderly way on a cleared table so you can get the right ones in the right place.

2. FRONT/BOTTOM SHELL. You will find three obvious screws on the bottom. They too are of different lengths. Take note.

3. BUT WAIT. There are also four MORE screws inside the film chamber. And ONE under the front's flash-side rubber grip. See the next three images below. They too must be removed.

There are two screws on the cannister side.

There are two more deep inside the film take-up side. They are hard to get to and you will need a long thin Phillips screwdriver.
There is only one screw to loosen on the front (yellow circle). On some cameras a lower screw may be visible. Do not attempt unscrew it. It is an adjustment screw and does not fasten the front panel.

4. Phew. The back panel is easy to remove. The front panel holds the troublesome shutter release. Take care in taking it off as a stuck shutter may mean it is fouled with mechanical components. Gentle.

5. If your problem is a stuck shutter, find the shutter release shaft (yellow arrow) which moves up and down through the centre of the on/off cam (ie the part that turns). Often, a stuck shutter is caused by a fatigued, less-springy return spring. But I haven't attempted to replace the spring. Instead I added the smallest amount of lubricant to the shaft. That worked for me. See below.

6. LOOSE ON/OFF SWITCH. If that's your problem, you will have to take another step. See the pink arrow pointing to the silvery C washer? Remove it by prying it. I used an Exacto to lift it and then a tweezer to pull it. Don't bend it or break. You'll need it. Once off you'll be able to take out the on/off cam. We're nearly there.

7. LOCKING SPRINGS. They are made with very thing strips of metal (see above). If you are lucky, they won't be overly fatigued and you can reshape them so they have a bit more bite into the cam. Not too much or you will have difficulty turning it off and on. Mine simply crumbled when I took it out to bend it. I had salvage parts to swap in. You may have to fashion a spring.

If I had to do that, I would use the soft silvery metal from a spent Fuji Instant Film case. I would cut the strip with box cutter to the appropriate width. Then snip the right length with scissors and then shape a new spring with the edge of a ruler or even pliers.

And that's it. Good luck.

March 19, 2014

Big find! Olympus Pen FT

Nearly too good to be true.

I had come to the point that I needed a half-frame camera.

I mean NEED. I had a vision of producing images not created by individual frames but continuous images unrolling from a single piece of film.

I had decided the images needed to be produced with the portrait orientation of the half-frame camera. The vertical proportions spoke to me of humanism (the same way that Classical or Renaissance columns do) and even the 3X3 grid found in comic books (especially The Watchmen and lots of Kirby).

I had this idea of vertical figures unspooling from a continuous sheet along a gallery wall...a parade of people. One frame but not one frame like a Chinese figurative scroll painting.

I needed a half-frame. Or so I told myself.

And today, I found it!