View Full Version : Retina IIc - bellows light leak?

01-14-2010, 00:39
The last film I ran through my Retina IIc shows a fault on about 50% of frames which I'm afraid might have been caused by leaky bellows.


As you can see there is flare or fogging at the lower corners (i.e. the upper corners in the camera). I tried to check the bellows by attaching a 6 volt 0.3 amp bulb (fairly bright) to a piece of 35mm film and putting it in the gate. I took out the rewind spindle and ran the wires out through the hole (light sealed). After about 10 minutes in a dark cupboard to accustom my eyes to the dark I connected a battery and looked for light leaks but could see nothing. The bulb was well forward of the gate, so possibly light would not have escaped around the shroud.

Is this what faulty bellows would look like? I don't remember if I was using a hood on either shot but from the shadows in the first picture the light is from the left, so I wouldn't expect flare. The second picture is admittedly taken into the light, but the fault also shows on other frames which definitely weren't into the light. The lens is clean and unmarked.


Roger Hicks
01-14-2010, 01:12
Look for shiny areas inside the camera? A long shot, but worth trying.

The bellows on a Retina are well protected, and this doesn't look like bellows fogging to me, but who knows? Sorry I can't be more help.



Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 01:16
I would also check for any play in the camera back. I found some on my Retina IIC and bent the latch slightly, which reduced the play.

Are you using the camera in a fitted case? Does the leak extend into the areas in between the frames? Bellows leaks should not, but back-leaks will.

01-14-2010, 01:54
Thanks for your very quick replies, Roger and Brian. I cant see anything wrong inside the camera, and the back seems a very good fit. I've just tried scanning the area between frames, and there is definitely no fogging there. I would most likely have been using the ERC on both occasions.


Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 01:58
It sure sounds like a light leak on the lens side of the mechanism. I would check the corners of where the bellows meet the body. Send me a Private Messaage (PM) so that I remember to look at the inside of one of my Retina's when I get home tonight.

01-14-2010, 04:00
Have had another look around and can't see anything obviously wrong. As you imply, Brian, I think any leak would have to be at the back of the bellows. As far as I can see the bellows are firmly attached here (I read they are glued on?). They did have a patch of what I took to be mildew/mould a few years back which I brushed and vacuumed off.

Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 04:02
Just in case- check the lens as well. If it is hazed over part of the glass, it could cause problems. Set the shutter to "B" and shine a light through the lens, look at off-angles for signs of haze.

01-14-2010, 05:36
Under most conditions the lens looks very good, just slightly dusty. Under a REALLY bright light (500W floodlight) there appears to be a fairly generous sprinkling of fine dust on the rear element, but nothing I would expect to affect pictures noticeably.

I should probably be thinking about giving the camera a CLA. There are some minor shutter issues (I thought I'd try out the self-timer this morning, and I've only just got the shutter working reliably again!). There is oil from the helical grease on the diaphragm, and there was oil on the shutter-blades before I last used it, though I managed to get enough off working from the front for the shutter to operate properly. With the camera stripped I would at least be able to give the bellows a decent check. I don't fancy trying to make my own bellows, though. That 'fifth side' in the top right-hand corner looks tricky, to say the least! Is anyone making new bellows for Retinas commercially, or selling New Old Stock?


Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 06:25
I do not know. But there are plenty of Retina's with bad cocking racks and good bellows. I probably have a few in that category.

If the bellows is bad, check back in with me. I have a box of parts Retina's, including a IIc and a IIIc. I've used them to get several up and running. Never had to replace a bellows.

01-14-2010, 07:44
Thanks, Brian, that's good to know. I'll probably try some more film through before I start anything I might regret. I can't say I've seen much in my searches regarding faulty bellows on Retinas. How light-proof is the metal shroud? The balloon shot was the first of 5. I never cock the shutter until just before I take a shot, and would have wound on immediately to get the next one, so I wouldn't have thought the frame was in the gate long enough to fog unless the leak was pretty bad, particularly in the evening light.

One test I might try is to attach a couple of phototransistors to a bit of film so they sit in the corners of the gate and then point the camera at my 500W lamp or the sun and see if they respond. I'm not sure phototransistors are sensitive enough to detect the small amount of light likely to get through though.


Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 08:13
I'm thinking it might be easier to get an LED into the bellows and look for a leak that way. Lithium battery in film compartment, LED extended out on a wire- no more complex that the Photocell. Use a bright white LED, or just look at in in a totally dark room? I have some orange LED's at work that would be easy to see.

01-14-2010, 08:24
I think Steve pretty much tried that already. He doesn't say what speed film that was, but my feeling is, if that's from a leak, it should be visible in total darkness with eyes adapted.

Try moving the light around as you're checking. It may not be evident with a static light inside the camera. Shine the light from the outside in. Tape a few thicknesses of garbage bags around the camera so that only the rear sticks out, with your flashlight in the bag, and head for that dark cupboard again.

01-14-2010, 11:44
If I could hold of one of those bright LEDs they seem to be using for car lights now (are they LEDs?) it might help, Brian, but they seem rather expensive and the 6v bulb I used was pretty bright. The only problem was that the filament was well forward of the film-plane, so if a light leak was at the back of the bellows the light would, have to go backwards and bounce forwards to show outside the camera. Maybe a reflective surface glued to the front of the 35mm film I used to mount the bulb might be an idea.

The film was Kodak Gold 100ASA, batterytypehah!. The garbage-bag test might be worth a try if I can make it light-tight and find a bright light that doesn't melt the bags. I don't have one of your excellent US Maglites.


Brian Sweeney
01-14-2010, 11:47
This is annoying! How about just loading the camera, advance the film a few frames, leave in bright light, but not expose it. That rules out all but bellows. Then rewind the film and use most of it in another camera. Remember the same button on top of the camera used to set the film counter also allows you to advance film without firing the shutter.

01-15-2010, 00:25
I think that's the way to go, Brian. I've got an ancient roll of FP4 sitting in a Retina 1 at present, waiting for some decent weather just to try it out. I'll put it in the IIc and do as you suggest (and shoot a few frames as well), and then finish it off in the '1' (winding it in the dark in case the bellows in the 1 are leaky!). Probably 2 or 3 weeks before I get a result, but I'll report back.


01-23-2010, 05:20
Well the mystery remains! I made 3 test frames this morning: 1) 15 minutes with the camera sitting on a window sill facing the sun (first time it's been seen in over a week); 2) opening and closing the lens door several times, while making sure the sunlight went well in to the back of the 'shroud'; 3) 5 more minutes on the window sill. These all came out completely black, and four more frames I shot normally came out perfectly, with no trace of fogging or flare.

I would almost be inclined to think I could have had the back of the camera unlatched on the faulty pictures, except that this would have fogged the 'rack-bars' between the frames, plus I'm pretty sure I would have noticed, at least when I came to rewind.

Anyway it's a great relief to know I don't have to be looking for bellows, and I have also learned that my "ancient" FP4 is FAR too ancient to be any use for any photographic purpose, but that the 30 metre roll of Pan-F (tin marked 1988) that I bought at a car-boot-sale last summer, along with a Watson bulk-loader, is perfect, so all in all a good day! Many thanks for all the help.


Brian Sweeney
01-23-2010, 05:33
Glad it worked out. Shoot the Pan-F, report the results back.

This is a strange case!

01-30-2010, 12:28
it is on bottom - so leak is from upper part, also leak is white so it is from front - so it is probably some internal reflection...