View Full Version : Cleaning an Elmar 90/4
Some time ago I picked up a very inexpensive Elmar 90mm f/4 lens that was described as 'somewhat cloudy'. I figured I might see if it could be cleaned up.
Question for you DIYers: is taking apart a lens like this relatively easy to do? The cloudy part (not fungus) is on an internal surface of a lens element, not one I can get to from outside. I suspect it could be cleaned right up if I could get at it, but I've never taken a lens apart before.
I paid $40 for the lens, so I'm not afraid to give it a try.
I've actually used the lens, as is, and I really like the 'glow' it gives. Images taken with it, due to the slight haze on the element, have very low contrast and when I bring up the contrast in Photoshop, the grain comes up with it and it becomes intensely grainy. But beautiful.
Any advice appreciated.
The Elmar is (I believe) very much like the Hektor in that it was designed to be used on a Visoflex unit as well as directly on a screw-mount thread (or M-mount for the later ones). This means that it should be capable of being unscrewed up near the head of the unit, leaving the longer tube behind.
Someone correct me if this is way wrong for the Elmar, since I don't have one, but it looks like the Hektor, which I do have.
Once you get that tube off, it is much easier to get at the outside of the rear element, anyway. That's not much, but it is something!
The inside is more difficult - and that's probably where the fungus is, eh?
Well, I found this online:
"Leica Camera Repair Handbook: Repairing & Resotring Collectible Leica Cameras, Lenses & Accessories"
by Thomas Tomosy
I am told that it is only a fair book, not a great one, but it details how to take apart and reassemble the Hektor - same info should apply to the Elmar, I think. I must stress I haven't tried this - only read the recommendation. I don't have the book or I'd look it up for ya.
There is quite a link on the er, OTHER board about this:
It seems to warn strongly against it - the aperture blades can fall out and then you have a real mess on your hands.
As I recall, I took the front element out of my Hektor and cleaned it, and that gave me access down the tube to the inside of the middle element with the aperture wide open. I cleaned it with those long wooden stick q-tips and lens-cleaning solution, then I put the front element back on. But I don't recall how I got the front element off - I think it just had a retaining ring that I unscrewed with a pointy thing. Sorry, don't have the lens with me right now or I'd look.
I have an older, uncoated black paint elmar, probably from the '30s or early '40s. The front lens retaining ring does not have slots or pinholes. Mine is fine, and I have not had to disassemble it for cleaning, but I have done so on other lenses using this construction. You use a hollow rubber "cork" to grab the ring and turn. I use one to get off non-slotted retaining rings, like the one around the Canonet advance, a Nikkorex 35-2, and a Fuji 35mm RF as of late.
Guys, thanks as always for your feedback. From the sounds of it, it's not an effort to be undertaken by an amateur like me.
I'll be taking my Rollei in for a CLA soon -- last time was about 25 yrs ago and the slow shutter speeds (1/8 and down) are currently running about twice their nominal speed. I'll bring the Elmar along for a cleaning estimate. If it's not bad, I'll have it cleaned professionally. If it costs more than I think the lens is worth, I'll keep it as a special purpose lens when I want that 'glow & grain' combo :cool:
The rubber stoppers that I use were from the plumbing department. They are very easy to use; the worst that could happen is that the retaining ring will be stuck after its 60yrs or so. A CLA will probably run $60 or so, I will be interested in knowing. Essex typically runs $70~$80 for the hard ones that I want done professionally. But the Elmar 9cm looks pretty easy, at least the front element.
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