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10-13-2012, 07:27 PM   #1
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Cleaning a manual Pentax KX viewfinder/lens

My friend recently gifted me an old manual Pentax KX from 1975 that he found sitting around in his garage. Straight away I've noticed several specks of dust/dirt when I look in the viewfinder. I'm not sure if they're on the viewfinder itself, or the lens/sensor, but when I adjust the aperture they're still there. Will these effect my photos? How do I can clean it without ruining the camera?

Please note, I am a Gen Y kid who has little experience with manual cameras (it's embarrassing, I know!), so please try to explain it in terms that a simpleton like me will understand Haha!

Also while I'm here I may as well ask my other question, I can only get the two needles to line up when the blue needle is at an ISO of 1000, but don't have film that is of a 1000 speed, how can I fix this so the black needle can come down so the needles meet at a lower shutter speed?

10-13-2012, 08:21 PM   #2
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The blue needle in the viewfinder represents the current shutter speed, not ISO. The ISO is set using the ASA ring.

The black needle in the viewfinder represents what the light meter thinks the shutter speed should be based on the aperture you have set with the aperture ring. If that needle doesn't move when you change the aperture then the meter isn't active. You activate the meter by moving the film advance lever to the half cocked position. If the meter still isn't active then you need new batteries.

If the dirt is in the viewfinder it won't affect the photos at all. It would take a lot of dirt, or fungus, on the lens to have much affect on the photos. Of more concern is the light seals and the mirror bumper. If the mirror bumper is in poor condition it can crumble and get on the mirror.

Last edited by boriscleto; 10-13-2012 at 08:47 PM.
10-13-2012, 08:30 PM   #3
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Some of the crud in the VF could be on the mirror.

Check the battery (ie put fresh ones in)

I think that the needle might be referring to shutter speed - 1/1000 would be the fastest for the KX if I am guessing right ( I dont own one) you might want to refer to the manual
10-13-2012, 08:40 PM   #4
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I would recommend leaving the dust alone for now. It's very easy to make a big mess of the mirror and focus screen and basically ruin your camera. Do your due diligence and you'll be a film Aficionado in no time. Welcome to the forum.

10-13-2012, 11:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gashog Quote
I would recommend leaving the dust alone for now. It's very easy to make a big mess of the mirror and focus screen and basically ruin your camera. Do your due diligence and you'll be a film Aficionado in no time. Welcome to the forum.
"Ruin" is a strong word. Both the focus screen and mirror are delicate and easily scratched. With a camera of that age, there is a very real risk that the foam mirror bumper will have degraded. The tendency is for the crumbs of the foam to foul both the mirror and the focus screen. While the crumbs look dry, they are usually pretty gummy and can make a real mess of the screen.

To evaluate the foams (both mirror and light seals), touch them with a wooden splint or toothpick. If they are gummy, or lack resilience or maybe even are not there, they will need to be replaced. You can do this yourself or pay to have it done.


Steve
10-13-2012, 11:44 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
To evaluate the foams (both mirror and light seals), touch them with a wooden splint or toothpick. If they are gummy, or lack resilience or maybe even are not there, they will need to be replaced. You can do this yourself or pay to have it done.


Steve
Steve's suggestion is what you should follow first. Google mirrorfoam and you'll know where to find these and what they look like. If it looks in tact and ok, then install new batteries if you haven't yet. The previous posts tell you how to activate the lightmeter. If that works, the camera is ok and you should find someone near you who knows these cameras. Just to understand the basics of this camera.

Photographing analog is very special. If you have a chance to do it, you should take it while it is still easily possible. The Pentax KX is one of the classics: to understand how it works will teach you something(s) invaluable about photography. That in itself makes a service worth it . . .

Last edited by Hilo; 10-14-2012 at 12:10 AM.
10-13-2012, 11:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the useful information everyone

I have already replaced the batteries, I suspect it might be what people have said above (ie: degraded mirror foam). I think I'll just take it to the local photo shop for a service, as it probably needs one regardless, it is a very old and much-loved camera, I don't want to harm it! Does anyone know roughly how much it will cost to have the mirror bumper replaced? Also this may be a really silly question (thanks for not judging me so far! haha!) but if there indeed are specks of foam stuck onto the mirror, will this effect the pictures?

Thanks for the link to the manual too, it will be very useful!
10-14-2012, 06:14 AM   #8
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The temperature and humidity extremes found in the typical garage can damage precision mechanical and optical instruments.

My brother in law's Canon F-1 was serviced after ten years in his home's unheated crawlspace.
The highly-regarded repairer would not warranty repair due to "evidence of humidity".

Good luck with your repair...

Chris


Last edited by ChrisPlatt; 10-14-2012 at 10:46 AM.
10-14-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jinx77 Quote
Thanks for the useful information everyone

I have already replaced the batteries, I suspect it might be what people have said above (ie: degraded mirror foam). I think I'll just take it to the local photo shop for a service, as it probably needs one regardless, it is a very old and much-loved camera, I don't want to harm it! Does anyone know roughly how much it will cost to have the mirror bumper replaced? Also this may be a really silly question (thanks for not judging me so far! haha!) but if there indeed are specks of foam stuck onto the mirror, will this effect the pictures?

Thanks for the link to the manual too, it will be very useful!
Hopefully, your local shop does in house repairs. I once made the mistake of taking my K1000 to someone local and all they did was send it out for shoddy work and marked up the price.
There is a guy recommended here a lot. His name is Eric. The Issue with sending it out in the mail, especially if the foam is disintegrating, is it gets agitated and all over the place. Still, he can clean, lube and recalibrate and you're good for another 30 years and no middle man
Dust on the mirror or focus screen is annoying but that light never hits the film.
10-14-2012, 09:00 AM   #10
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I have found that Eric is quite cost-competitive and he does excellent work and is probably one of the best in the business for servicing vintage Pentax gear. His Web site is:
www.pentaxs.com
The way Eric does business is:
  • You send him the camera
  • He responds with an estimate
  • If the estimate is acceptable, you send him payment. Otherwise, he sends your camera back to you at no additional expense to you.
  • Assuming you let him do the work, the camera comes back to you looking and working as close to "new" as is possible
The last camera I sent him was a SV in fairly nasty condition (moisture and fungal damage). He had to replace the mirror and I don't know what other components to put things right and did so for not much more than what many shops would charge to just replace the seals.

Great guy, that Eric.


Steve

BTW...yes, Eric does have a stock of parts for many (most?) vintage Pentax bodies and lenses and is able to fabricate some parts (shutter curtains and such) if needed.
10-14-2012, 10:34 AM   #11
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Hey everyone.. another question.. with brand new batteries, no matter what adjustments I make , I can't get the light meter to turn on The black needle won't drop below 1000 and I've tried it in all sorts of lighting conditions. It refuses to move even when the battery check button is pushed. I've ensured the wind lever is in the pre-advance angle but when I press the shutter release halfway, nothing happens. I've spent hours reading the manual but can't seem to fix this problem. What am I doing wrong?
10-14-2012, 11:10 AM   #12
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Been there, done that

QuoteOriginally posted by Jinx77 Quote
I can't get the light meter to turn on
AFAIK this model seldom needs a new main board. Check battery chamber contacts.
If they are clean, connected and adjusted properly your camera may have faulty
internal wiring, or dirty contacts on advance lever or shutter release switches.

The worst case would be a defective meter movement.
After 35+ years this part is practically impossible to find now.

Chris

Last edited by ChrisPlatt; 10-14-2012 at 11:24 AM.
10-14-2012, 11:58 AM   #13
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Personally, I'd send it to Eric. It would be a shame to be put off using this gem because it isn't working properly. Get it serviced then enjoy the wonderful world of older, solidly built, beautifully designed and generally lovely film cameras.

K.
10-14-2012, 11:59 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jinx77 Quote
Hey everyone.. another question.. with brand new batteries, no matter what adjustments I make , I can't get the light meter to turn on The black needle won't drop below 1000 and I've tried it in all sorts of lighting conditions. It refuses to move even when the battery check button is pushed. I've ensured the wind lever is in the pre-advance angle but when I press the shutter release halfway, nothing happens. I've spent hours reading the manual but can't seem to fix this problem. What am I doing wrong?
Batteries facing the correct way? "+" facing up (both batteries) in the holder and into the body when in the chamber?

It may be that there is a fault in the wiring as Chris suggested. If so, Eric is still your man. Access to parts is a big thing in the repair business and Eric was able to source the ASA setting lever (unique to that model) for my KX.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 10-14-2012 at 12:05 PM.
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