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HOW TO - Adjust your RF on a FED or Zorki
Old 05-03-2009   #1
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HOW TO - Adjust your RF on a FED or Zorki

This post is intended to allow a DIY-er to adjust the RF on a FED or Zorki. The information can be found elsewhere on the net but I thought it might be useful here, where it's a common question.

First of all, be sure the RF is out, rather than a lens-fault being the cause. It's normal for small horizontal-alignment differences to exist between lenses, partly due to QC issues and partly due to wear in a lens' cam or helicals.

There are two steps to adjusting the RF, vertical alignment and horizontal alignment. Usually, vertical doesn't need correcting but if it does, always do that first since it *does* throw the horizontal off. If you adjust the vertical, you *will* need to do the horizontal afterwards!

Vertical adjustment:

All models have a circular prism in front of the RF window. On most models, there's a bezel around this, which is removed for access. On all the Zorki 3 and 4 models there is no bezel and the top plate must be removed for access. On FED 4 and 5 models the nameplate slides off, against a flat spring - careful not to lose it! Once you have access to the prism, look closely and you'll see either 2 flats or 2 notches (the innermost ones) just around the window. These are used to rotate the prism until alignment is correct, using tweezers or thin-nosed pliers. If the prism won't turn, put a drop of methylated spirit on the prism face, so it soaks the periphery - shellac is used to lock the prism and this will soften it (note: lighter fluid will not disolve shellac!). If the prism is loose, lock it after adjustment, with something non-permanent.

Horizontal adjustment:

There are two means of adjustment, infinity is by a tiny screw hidden near the VF window and close-up is by altering the RF sensor tip. First gain access to the screw. Most models have one short, fat screw next to the VF window on the top cover and the adjustment screw is behind this. On Zorki 5 and 6 models it is actually one of the nameplate screws that hides the adjuster. On FED 4 and 5 models it is behind the nameplate, removed as above.

Once you have access to the screw, a very small screwdriver is needed. Put the standard lens on and turn it to infinity. Adjust the screw until the images coincide: use a target that is *at least* a couple of hundred metres away (tip: the moon or a star at night is the ultimate "infinity" target). The screw turns left-for right, meaning that turning the screw left (anticlockwise) moves the RF image right and vice-versa (I have a vague recollection that this may be reversed on the long-base models, Zorki 5 and 6 and FED 2, so move it slightly and check).

Now check close focus, using a target placed exactly 1m from the film plane (a few mm in front of the camera back). If close-focus is wrong, take off the lens and use a pair of snipe-nose pliers to alter the position of the RF tip. Bear in mind this WILL upset the infinity setting so don't go for perfection yet. Turning the sensor tip so that it is flatter-on will move the RF image to the right for a given lens-distance setting. This is the same direction as focussing the lens closer, meaning that the RF image was too far left on the 1m target with the lens set to the 1m mark. The reverse logic is true (unsurprisingly).

Now comes the fun part! Adjusting the sensor tip will have upset the infinity alignment. Adjusting the infinity upsets the close-focus. You need to repeat the adjustments, a little at a time, so as to fine-tune to the point where both ends of the scale are correct. Make a note of your adjustments, to be sure you're not going the wrong way and making things worse!

When you're done, don't forget to replace any bezels, screws and covers.
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Old 05-03-2009   #2
Ron (Netherlands)
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Thanks for the info!
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Old 05-28-2009   #3
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Nice work! Adds nicely to the FSU sticky collection.
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Old 10-21-2009   #4
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as usual -exellent, thank you
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Old 10-27-2009   #5
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nice post you have managed
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Old 05-12-2010   #6
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I've just bought a Zorki 6 and 3 Jupiter lenses (50mm, 85mm and 135mm). I measured out a 5m target and all three showed "4m" on the barrel when I focussed on them suggesting the rangefinder was set too short, but at 1m the RF focus agreed with the barrel reading, whilst at 10m the barrel was reading 11m. Am I going slightly barmy, or is there an obvious set of adjustments that I need to start making?
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Old 05-13-2010   #7
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Scrub that - I'd written the figures down wrong. When I retried it (on all 3 lenses) the barrel distance was always LESS than the measured distance. I'm going to try the calibration outlined above and see how it all goes.
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Old 09-15-2010   #8
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I like to make a comment about vertical alignment. I think there is a big mistake in thinking. If you carry out this alignment you should watch horizontal alignment. The horizontal alignment changes when adjusting the vertical alignment. So setting vertical good makes horizontal change. I was thinking about how this alignment works. The range-finder lens is a prism. If the prism is turned it will have influence on both adjustments! If you want short distance aligned you should take this in account and measure if horizontal alignment is good. If my thinking is correct you can fine tune close distance alignment. This is far more important then the vertical alignment. The complexity of these range-finders is, i think, the reason for the first Leica's to not combine View finder with distance measuring.

I like to hear about my thinking. I also try to find on what distance I should make short distance alignment.

I find it very annoying when the images of the view and range-finder are not aligned. It makes the viewfinder unsharp. The solution is very simple. Hold your finger in front of the range-finder lens when composing!

Last edited by ejfrolich : 09-15-2010 at 00:16.
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Old 09-23-2010   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejfrolich View Post
I like to make a comment about vertical alignment. I think there is a big mistake in thinking. If you carry out this alignment you should watch horizontal alignment. The horizontal alignment changes when adjusting the vertical alignment. So setting vertical good makes horizontal change.
I don't see the mistake, that's exactly what my original post says.
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FED: NKVD, 1g, 2e, 3a, 3b, 4L (x2), 5B, 5C
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Old 12-09-2010   #10
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The screw behind the VF window jumps after a while...
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Old 12-12-2010   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomade View Post
The screw behind the VF window jumps after a while...
When turned in (clockwise) or out? If you turn it far enough out it'll come out of its thread - the adjustment is finite! The screw isn't behind the VF window, it's beside it - what camera are you adjusting and which screw are you turning?
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Old 12-17-2010   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
When turned in (clockwise) or out? If you turn it far enough out it'll come out of its thread - the adjustment is finite! The screw isn't behind the VF window, it's beside it - what camera are you adjusting and which screw are you turning?
Both sides, yes the screw is besides it. The camera is a Fed 3.
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Old 12-17-2010   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomade View Post
Both sides, yes the screw is besides it. The camera is a Fed 3.
If the screw will not adjust the RF far enough, then I would check that it's incorrect across the whole focus range because this suggests that the RF sensor arm is not set correctly. The sensor is what you can see with the lens removed, at the top of the lens-mount. Try moving that whilst looking through the VF - can the images ever be lined up?
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FED: NKVD, 1g, 2e, 3a, 3b, 4L (x2), 5B, 5C
Kiev 4, 4A
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Old 12-25-2010   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
If the screw will not adjust the RF far enough, then I would check that it's incorrect across the whole focus range because this suggests that the RF sensor arm is not set correctly. The sensor is what you can see with the lens removed, at the top of the lens-mount. Try moving that whilst looking through the VF - can the images ever be lined up?
Vertically it's aligned, however I removed the top cover and now adjusting the screw, it's working somewhat, there is hope afterall...I just need a meter to adjust it more precisely.
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Last edited by nomade : 12-25-2010 at 05:40.
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Old 03-29-2012   #15
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These is one thing I want to ask: The screw for infinity if it only can loose and tight, and image do not appear any movement, does this adjustment for screw went wrong?
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Old 04-27-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphonse2501 View Post
These is one thing I want to ask: The screw for infinity if it only can loose and tight, and image do not appear any movement, does this adjustment for screw went wrong?
A little late but I've just noticed this has not been answered. If you are saying that turning the adjusting screw makes no difference, yes there is a problem. First, are you sure you are really turning it? It's very tiny and quite recessed, easy to miss the slot. Second, what camera is it and are you sure the sensor tip is following the lens cam?
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Old 04-14-2013   #17
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How to remove the name plate on a FED-4

Hi and thanks for the how-to!
Removing the name plate wasn't exactly clear to me and it took me a couple of minutes to figure it out, so I thought I'd snap a few photos of the process to help fellow members here.


Insert a screwdriver or a wooden chopstick (so you don't scratch anything) into the rangefinder hole and push to the right - in the direction of the viewfinder.




When the plate moves, lift it up (towards yourself, away from the camera body) and it will come off easily:



Hope this helps!
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Old 04-15-2013   #18
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Useful addition, thanks. Don't forget to retrieve the spring or else it's guaranteed to fall out and get lost!
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Zorki: 1e (x2), 2C, 3M, 4, 4K, 5, 6
FED: NKVD, 1g, 2e, 3a, 3b, 4L (x2), 5B, 5C
Kiev 4, 4A
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Yashica Minister III
Zenith C, Zenit C, Zenit E
Minolta XG-M, XD-5, Z1
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