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Strange light leak - Rolleiflex
Old 05-03-2008   #1
J J Kapsberger
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Strange light leak - Rolleiflex

My Rolleiflex Model E 75/3.5 has what seems to be a very strange light leak. It only shows up in the last three frames of the roll, with frame 11 being the worst. Previously it had only shown up as a flair within the frame, but shooting a test roll yesterday in full sunlight I manged to end up with a flair extending right to the edge of the negative (i.e., on the rebate as well). And again only on frames 10, 11, and 12, with frame 11 the worst.

What's common to the last three shots of yesterday's roll is the fact that I'd set focus to minimum or close to minimum. Today I'll shoot two test rolls, one with the focus at infinity and one with the focus at minimum. If the flare shows up on both rolls, then perhaps I can eliminate the effect of the camera front position.

I shot the roll under direct sunlight facing in two directions, north and south. The flair shows up in the same part of the negative regardless of my shooting direction--along the right-hand side of the frame (which means that light must be getting in on the left hand side, as I'm now looking at the frame in reverse relative to its position in the camera). And except for size, the shape of each flair is similar.

Has anyone ever had such a light leak, one that only shows up on the same three frames of every roll?
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Old 05-03-2008   #2
VictorM.
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My 3.5E had the same light leak. It came from the spool release knobs. There's a black paper shim under each one. I cut an exact copy of the shim out of black masking tape and installed that under each knob. That stopped the leak.
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Old 05-03-2008   #3
J J Kapsberger
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Thanks for the reply, Victor. I'm encouraged now.

Do you refer to the spring-loaded knob you pull out to allow the spool to be removed? If so, I can't see a shim inside or outside the camera. I guess it's under the flange located outside the camera and through which the three mounting screws go. Do I take that part off and place the shim between that part and the body?
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Old 05-03-2008   #4
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Another thing to investigate is the cloth "bellows" around the taking lens - especially if the problem is most noticeable at minimum focus. You should be able to assess the condition by opening up the back and looking around the perimeter of the lens while you rack out the focus to minimum distance. I've had two Rolleis where this light trap has deteriorated: a 3.5E which had a small hole and a 2.8C where the cloth had almost completely disintegrated. They can also pop out of place and cause a leak even if they don't have a hole.

Here's an example from my 3.5E that had a small hole in the cloth:



It's not a common problem, but another thing to consider. Also, you say that the leak extends to the edge of the film, which makes it more likely that the leak is coming from the back.

Last edited by Wayno : 05-03-2008 at 16:16.
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Old 05-03-2008   #5
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Thanks, Wayno. No, my light leak looks totally different that that. It's a thinner smudge always in the three o'clock position.
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Old 05-03-2008   #6
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Here's my MX with one knob removed (3.5E has film in it). The black paper seal is visible around the hole. The seals on the MX are still good; the seals on the 3.5E had rips in them. I used a piece of toothpick to hold the knob up against the spring to make accessing the screws easier.
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Old 05-03-2008   #7
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VictorM, WoW, that is so great, I won't ask you how you discovered where the leak originated. But I have a T and will try to remember this. This is why I like this forum.
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Old 05-04-2008   #8
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Thanks, Victor. I'll certainly explore this.
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Old 05-05-2008   #9
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I have had a similar leak. In my case the source was at the leading edge of the camera back where it mates to the bottom of the camera body when closed.

On some Rolleiflex models you will find black yarn in the channel/groove at the bottom edge of the camera back; others not. If yours does not have such a light baffle, I suggest you try installing one. Use either black yarn or a thin strip of black "foamie" material.

Here is what happens and how it matches the phenomena you describe. A tiny leak enters at the bottom/leading edge of the back. Through most of the roll it is not an apparent problem. That is because the leak is blocked by the paper backing on the film. It cannot take any path to the unprotected emulsion, and so is not detected.

But as you wind through more exposures the circumference on the supply spool diminishes. Starting on about frame 9 or 10, the supply film circumference no longer blocks the light entering at the base of the camera. The path of light may then take a good bounce off the bright shiny film spool pressure/guide which is no longer in contact with the film. The bounced light then strikes the emulsion in the area around the rollers ahead of the film gate. This is a pre-exposure. The next time you wind the film, the exposed area is within the film gate. Thus you will see the leak in about the same position and shape on each of the remaining frames, and usually getting a little more pronounced with each frame.

It took me a fair amount of time to figure this out, because the problem seemed intermittent. Here is an example frame 11 from a 3.5E before I fixed it:



In this case the flare is almost fortuitous, as it appears to be related to the high voltage transformers. But most of the time it is ruinous.

Fortunately the fix is easy. I took the "foamie" route, the stuff with peel and stick adhesive. Purists will prefer the black cotton yarn and a dab of glue.

Hope this helps!

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Old 05-05-2008   #10
J J Kapsberger
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Yikes! That's very similar to what I get--same shape and position. I did a brilliant job of installing electrical tape ala VictorM and snapped a test roll, which I'll develop later tonight. I was sure I'd celebrate tonight, but no longer!
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Old 05-05-2008   #11
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Vitaly's leak does seem eerily similar to what you describe. At least it's an easy fix if yours turns out to have the same cause. Good luck.

I didn't really take in the part about the leak only occuring on the last couple of frames when I made my earlier reply...
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Old 05-06-2008   #12
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Vitaly's leak isn't the same as mine was. I probably caused mine myself because I changed the spool holders for an earlier type (the earlier ones lock in the out position). This made finding the leak much easier. Someone has, however, installed yarn in the leading edge of the back of my later 3.5E-maybe a factory job?
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Old 05-06-2008   #13
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My MX Type 1 has never had a light leak and it does not have any seal material at the leading edge of the back. However, the chrome pressure clip is much smaller and duller (scratched, worn to brass in a small spot) than the 3.5E.
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