Sunday, June 14, 2009

I have been looking for a working Konica S 2 on e-bay after doing a little research on 1960's era Japanese rangefinders for a blog entry. I had been looking for awhile for an old Mamiya Sekkor Super Deluxe because it was the first camera I learned how to use in a high school photography class back in 1968. It was a huge improvement over my Mothers Argus C-3. Their kind of rare though and I've only seen 2 on e-bay since I started looking. My second preference was either one of the Canonet QL's , Konica S-2's, or Yashica Lynxs all cameras built in the mid 60's to the early 70's the era before point and shoots. The Canonets are probably the most popular and perhaps the best buy because so many are still around but good ones were selling for 50-100 and sometimes bid over a hundred. The Konicas could be had for about half that and they reminded me of the old Mamiya Sekkor and the Yashica Lynx is a bit older but had a 1.4 lens which I thought was really cool.
I bought this S-2 thinking it was working and when I received it the film advance lever wouldn't work or the shutter release. The camera was sold as is but I e-mailed the seller who told me to send it back and he'd refund me the camera and shipping costs but I'd kinda messed with it a little bit and decided maybe sending it back wouldn't be real honest so I negotiated a refund of half my money and decided to make it my first practice camera since it seemed to be in fairly good shape; clean lens, and the light meter worked.
It's been sitting around for a few weeks now and I'd done a little reading in these pretty great little books on Camera Repair by Thomas Tomasy (great name) who recommends working on a lot of beaters first before you work on anything you care about and I'd also found a pretty good web site on the camera here and another one here. So bored with nothing else to do last night I stayed up till about 2:30 this morning trying to see if I could get the shutter to work. I took the bottom panel off first to access the wind lock mechanism that locks the film advance until the shutter is fired. I was able to manually move the wind lock and advance the lever but the shutter was still frozen. Next I peeled back the leatherette covering the body of the camera. This is actually not such a big deal as long as you are careful not to tear it. On old cameras it's usually coming loose already and it can be easily reglued with a glue stick. Peeling that back exposed the screws to removing a metal panel that held the lens in place but of course I had to remove the top panel to pull that out. The top panels sometimes hide the screws, and involve tricky little ways of attaching the film rewind and film advance levers. I discovered that these cameras can be a bit like Chinease Puzzle Boxes. The front lens panel was connected by electrical wires to the camera body that provided power for the light meter and syc for the strobe. I tried to keep the wires intact while I examined how to access the actual shutter but eventually pulled one apart by accident. Now I have to learn how to solder it back on.
I was never able to expose the shutter but I tried something the camera repair books suggested. Flooding the camera with lighter fluid and setting it on fire. I am kidding about setting the camera on fire but "flooding" with lighter fluid or denatured alcohol is a step to trying to clean mechanisms that you can't access. You allow the solvent to dissolve any grime on the parts and then let it dry out. Of course the solvent can only break up the old grease and leave it in clumps but it did free up the shutter for awhile. Now maybe it's time to try it again and set it on fire but I'm going to continue to work on it as a practice camera to develop my skill set.
One interesting thing I learned was that a number is on the plastic panel put over the light meter mechanism that is a date. The number on mine was 42 11 2. Now I know the camera was made after 1942 but according to the Silver Grain Lab web site 42 met 1967. So the panel was manufactured on November 2, 1967 which makes more sense.
I don't think I am going to make a very good camera repair person but I learned several important lessons from every mistake I made in my first attempt and I actually indulged a favorite past time of my childhood, taking things apart. Of course I still haven't figured out how to put them back together.


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