View Full Version : Retina IIIS Frame Counter

02-28-2014, 07:37
I just received yesterday a nice user IIIS from a very reputable guy, formerly on RFF and known to many of you. He has done me some very fine work in the past, for hardly any money, so it seemed a bit churlish of me to point out to him that the frame counter wasn't working.

The frame counter is hardly crucial to the operation of a camera, but it's one of my pet peeves if it's not working -- how to know how many frames you have left? But from what I knew about the Retinas, I figured this was something I could attempt myself without doing harm.

Getting the top off the IIIS is about as easy as it gets with any camera. Remove the rewind knob (unscrews counterclockwise; pin the film fork to keep it from turning). Two screws to remove under the rewind knob, one on the opposite end above the strap lug, and lift the cover off. No flash synch wire to complicate things because the flash attaches lower on the body. Just avoid misplacing the button atop the meter cover, and the spring right below it, which aren't secured once the top is removed.

The frame counter mechanism is all attached to the underside of the top cover. If you are familiar with the Retinas, you know one of their hallmarks/idiosyncrasies is the odd frame counter design -- it counts down to 0 and locks up the wind lever when it gets there. You clear it by holding down a button on the top and pushing a slider on the back of the top cover, which moves the counter past the point where it locks.

The problem with my IIIS's frame counter was that it didn't advance at all. I spent a fair amount of time fiddling with the various buttons and posts under the top cover to see if swiveling them and moving their relative positions a little made any difference -- no.

After a while, I tried one last thing before I was going to put the camera back together for the night, and it did the trick. The cocking rack on the IIIS (another unique feature of the Retinas, and their Achilles heel) has a sort of curved "tail" that sticks up from the lower camera body. I figured that this had to connect with the frame counter mechanism in some way as it moves to the right. Part of the frame counter mechanism, hanging parallel to the back of the top cover, is a cylindrical piece with a screw sticking out on the end that is closer to the tail of the cocking rack. It is this piece that contacts the cocking rack tail. I backed out that screw, which thus causes the cylindrical piece to engage the cocking rack tail earlier inthe tail's travel. By trial and error I was able to adjust the screw to a point where its contact with the cocking rack advanced the frame counter one frame at a time. Success!

Sorry that I am not posting pictures, but I am pretty illiterate in how to do that. I hope my description made sense; please contact me if you have any questions.

02-28-2014, 08:41
That's a good description of the fault, and the way you fixed it.


02-28-2014, 09:52
Thanks! I have a IIIc that counts down three frames with each wind of film; I think I'll open it up and see if can fix it the exact reverse way. (I assume its mechanism is the same.)

03-05-2014, 10:23
Update -- I opened up the IIIc and fixed it as described above by tightening the screw. Same mechanism as on the IIIS.

Unlike the IIIS, though, you do have to remove the meter dial in order to take off the top cover. (Chris Sherlock's Retina site led me to believe this was unnecessary. No big deal, though -- you just need a pin spanner, and need to make sure when reinstalling the meter dial that the two holes in the bottom of the dial mate with two studs underneath -- this is what synchronizes the dial with the meter pointer.)

This camera had recently had the cocking rack replaced, so having the counter not working right was particularly irksome. The guy who did the work on the cocking rack is named Ken Bangerter, in upstate NY. He's a Retina specialist, and I recommend him. He had to source the rack from Europe, as I recall, since Micro-Tools was out of them at the time.