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Something wrong with Rolleiflex 2.8F lens?
Old 10-09-2019   #1
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Something wrong with Rolleiflex 2.8F lens?

Hello everybody, I just got myself a second hand Rolleiflex 2.8F. It was promised to be in a used but fully working condition. After a closer check, however, I found the following two issues:

1. There is a mirror in the view finder that can be used to focus when setting up the sports finder - i.e. by using the magnifying glass at the back of the finder. However, I realised that I can flip over the door to enable the sports finder view - but the mirror seems to be stuck and does not move out of its compartment. This would be needed to bring the mirror in the right position to allow focussing on the ground glass.

2. Looking into the lenses from the front of the camera, everything seems to be fine. However, when I look into the taking lens from the back, there seems be some dirt inside -see picture below. What do you think?

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Old 10-09-2019   #2
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That's not dirt, it is fungus. It needs to be cleaned or it will get worse and can spread to other lenses you own, destroying them.

If the fungus has been there a long time, it can actually etch the surface of the glass permanently. In that case, the lens is ruined. The lens will need to be disassembled to clean it; fungus usually grows inside lenses, not on the outside.
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Old 10-09-2019   #3
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Can you return this camera to the seller?
- Raid

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Old 10-09-2019   #4
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That is not working condition, that is a fungal time bomb—especially in a warm humid climate. The inaccessibility to the ground glass because the hood mechanics are screwed up is an entirely separate justification for return/refund.

I practiced cleaning fungus from Nikon and Kowa lenses that a Zen priest, once a serious photographer, wanted to sell to raise funds for the monastery. (Yes, it’s a droll story.) They’d been stored in a non-air conditioned room in crammed boxes in the humid U.S. South. Some lenses were salvageable, others not—the latter went into the trash where they couldn’t infect more lenses.

Overhauling a Rolleiflex is expensive. Maybe another knowledgeable member, or a Rolleiflex repair guru (e.g. Harry Fleenor in the U.S.) can judge from the photo whether your lens can be cleaned. As Chris says, an-fungus etched lens is a ruin. If you can return it, that’s the least expensive option. Good luck.
Robert Hill Long
Southern Pines, North Carolina USA

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Old 10-09-2019   #5
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Being an F series the finder is easily removed. I would expect that articulating the sports finder with the finder off the camera, ought to make the reason for the failure of the mirror to resume the proper location, apparent.

Does the camera have the Planar or Xenotar? Personally I'd be interested to find out how well the lens cleaned up. But that is something I would do myself and might best be a problem for the seller to confront. I'd see the Planar as a slightly riskier proposition. Unlike the Xenotar the front lens is a cemented doublet and I'm wondering if any of that damage has got into the joint. Yes, the 80mm Xenotar, indeed features some composite glass also, but these are rarely prone to split unlike the 80mm Planar front. I don't think there's any separation happening with this one but there's too much haze and fungus to be certain, and some of that is in a ring around the circumference so to me it is an amber light, at least. The cement may not be separating, but that doesn't necessarily mean some of that fungus hasn't got into the joint (if it is a Planar, that is), and that's a much bigger problem to fix, than simply disassembling and cleaning the internal glass surfaces.
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Old 10-10-2019   #6
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Thank you all for your feedback. I assumed this to be fungus, too, but was not sure because it looks a bit different when compared to other cases I encountered before. The lens is indeed the Planar one, by the way. Interestingly, the fungus can be only seen when looking from the back into the camera, but not the front.

The camera was sold by a professional seller, thus I will opt for a return of the Rolleiflex.
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Old 10-10-2019   #7
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Very nice case of fungus. Being located at the center of the elements and not looking like growing filaments starting from the edge of the glass unit, I would suspect it to be anaerobic fungus, the most prone to etch the glass, the most difficult to clean up. IMO that lens is ruined already. Surprisingly, the photographic results may not be affected and this Planar may still produce beautiful photographs. But, at the price of a 2.8F nowadays, it must be sent back to the seller immediatly, of course. Finding a 2.8F with a perfect taking lens hasn't become impossible yet.

About fungus in one lens "infecting" other lenses : fungus appears when spores trapped inside the lens when it was built (remember, there are spores everywhere) can grow into fungus under appropriate circumstances (not ventilated area, very strong humidity, darkness, camera always stored in its original leather case etc). This can take time but this can happen very quickly too (many series of Canon EF lenses built in a certain factory have developed terrible fungus quite a short time after they got marketed in the 1990s).

A lens in which fungus has grown up will not "infect" other lenses in which it has not. If several lenses stored together have developed fungus, this is because of their common background, not because of any "infection" transmitted from one lens to another.

Fungus ain't malaria.

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