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06-29-2011, 04:38 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Decayed Foam Mirror Pad on Pentax Spotmatic - What Problems Does This Cause?

I believe I've just learned a lesson: ask every question you can think of before buying a vintage camera off ebay. I just won a Spotmatic body for admittedly a very cheap, even throwaway price, and it was described as being in excellent working condition. Of course, I open the box, and the first two things I do are fire it at 1000 and a few speeds slower to see if it seems to fire accurately, which it does, and then check the inside. The first thing I noticed is that the foam lining that the mirror bounces off of is completely decayed and gone.

My question is, what issues does this cause if I don't fix it? Also, it seems like everybody wants $70 and up to CLA or do anything to a film camera these days, which is not worth it for a Spotmatic (if I have to spend $70+ on the body alone, I'd buy a better body than a Spotmatic). How difficult would this be to repair myself? Is it worthwhile? I paid $17 shipped for this body. Thanks for any advice.

06-29-2011, 04:56 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Replacing mirror damper is part of the maintenance. You also need to replace the light seals.

You can do it yourself with this kit.

There are useful articles on this site.

If you have more than one camera bodies to replace the light seals, contact Jon (the seller in previous eBay link). I replaced the light seals of about 20 film cameras with materials bought from him.
06-29-2011, 05:12 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Unfortunately, most used cameras, regardless of stated condition will require replacement of the light seals and mirror foam. They last about 10 years or less depending on variables such as temperature, ozone concentrations, and such. Most of the cameras I have purchased used in the last decade have had rotten seals and foam. The only exceptions have been those purchased from a reputable dealers who do a basic CLA before putting the items up for sale.

It is a good practice to evaluate the mirror foam before even cycling the shutter. The reason is that the foam often degenerates into a gummy mess that gets slung onto the focus screen. While foam replacement is easily done by anybody with a steady hand and a pair of tweezers, cleaning the focus screen without damaging it is a different matter entirely.

As noted above, Jon Goodman's (Interslice on eBay) kits are top knotch and well-worth the $10 he charges.


Steve
06-29-2011, 05:47 PM   #4
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great, I'll order a kit. thank you both for the advice!

06-30-2011, 10:14 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxk1000denver Quote
Also, it seems like everybody wants $70 and up to CLA or do anything to a film camera these days, which is not worth it for a Spotmatic (if I have to spend $70+ on the body alone, I'd buy a better body than a Spotmatic). How difficult would this be to repair myself? Is it worthwhile? I paid $17 shipped for this body. Thanks for any advice.
It all depends how do you look at it. Yes, the Spotmatic and many other vintage cameras can be had very cheap these days, but the price reflect the state in which the camera is. The shutter fires, the meter moves the needle somehow and you can see thru the finder. But after professionally done CLA you will basically receive camera in similar state as it was back then when it was new. Yes, the age shows, but the internals have been cleaned, bearings re-lubed, shutter curtains tensions checked and adjusted per factory specs and the same goes for meter. If necessary, worn out mechanical parts have been replaced and you are good to go for another 10-15 years with camera which functions and meters correctly.
Honestly, 70 USD for second hand camera + another 70 for professional CLA is still only 140 USD for perfectly working photographic tool of the best quality which *may* still last you longer than todays top DSLR. Lets see if you remember about the today's K5 after 30+ years!
07-01-2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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The goal really of buying a vintage camera is to buy it real cheap so that you can get it CLA-d. $17 + $70 CLA is like getting a brand new or refurbished camera for just almost $90.
The first thing to check is to see if the speeds are right or almost right by comparing it with your DSLR or another SLR that you know works.
It is best to compare side by side with the slow shutter speeds since it would be easier to gauge or hear if they both trip the shutter or close the shutter at the same time.
You can also compare the metering to your DSLR or working SLR. If it meters right, then I would suggest that it might not really need that much of a CLA and it just needs the light seals and mirror bumper changed.
The light seals and mirror bumper is a requirement since those materials really deteriorate or crumble in time, it also becomes sticky.
There is no way around this since it depends on the age of the camera and this is a given when you buy an old camera.
Interslice is a good product and I used it to replace the seals on my Pentax MX.
It is provided by a step by step guide on how to replace the seals and what to do to clean the camera and remove all the gunk.
I also recommend this kit and Jon Goodman is really very helpful and always there if you have any questions or concerns about using his kit.
07-02-2011, 09:35 AM   #7
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you're right folks, I'm just being cheap. thank you for the advice, I've still got so much to learn, haha. I will pay to have my K1000 CLA'd because it is absolutely worth it, you are right. plus, that camera has some sentimental value.

that's a great tip to compare the shutter speeds of the spotmatic to the dslr. I will do that. I was going to ask the way to figure out if the shutter was slow without running film through it or taking it in, so that's perfect. I will also check the meter the same way.

I did purchase a spotmatic kit from Jon Goodman and I'm excited to try this out.

thanks again for all of the suggestions. I love that people here are helpful without being condescending. it's very encouraging for somebody trying to learn this on their own.
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