Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Replacing the light seals on old cameras

Light seals are foam material installed along the door and hinges. These prevent stray light from entering the camera so the film would not be improperly exposed. If you look at my photos from the Yashica GSN with Fuji Superia 400, you might have noticed a light streak in the left half of the photos. That's light leak.

The Yashica GSN is a 30 year old camera. The original foam has returned to its primal state - sticky goo. This is very common with old cameras, as seen also in my Canonet QL17 GIII here. The goo is sticky, does not block light anymore and could get everywhere inside the camera. Luckily, it's not too difficult to replace them.

From recommendations on rangefinderforum, I got the light seal kit from Jon Goodman. His eBay id is interslice. He offers a smaller kit and a bigger one. I got the smaller one. The kit came quickly. It contains a few pieces of foam in different thickness, instructions and a wooden tool to help clean the old seals. Jon also sent me a link to his instructions for specific cameras. Some people would recommend getting cheaper foam from a local craft store, but I'm lazy and wanted assurance that I'm using good material that would not damage my camera and also last a long time. Depending of the type of camera, even the small kit can easily fix 4 to 5 cameras.

I used 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol from Longs. It does a nice job of melting the old light seals. Then I used tissue paper to remove the goo. It takes patience but it's quite fun. There is no need to do a perfect job here, really. After that, I started installing the new seals. I found the 2mm long strips in the kit especially useful; they fit perfectly into the door rails of both my Yashica GSN and Canonet QL17 GIII.

After the easy part, I had to cut the foam from the rest of the material in the kit. Using a sharp knife makes the job much easier. I also find cutting from the paper backing side instead of the foam side reduces curling and the foam sticking to itself. Again, be patient and it WILL be done. Here's a picture of the completed film door.

1 comment:

Shawna said...

Thank you for the post. I have been looking for a good do it yourself kit to fix the light leaks on my Canon AT-1. I will let you know how my repair goes when I receive my foam kit.