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Searching an external view finder for use with Distagon 4/18

mkuhlma

Member
Hello to all :),

after having been a contaxinfo member many years ago and after a long photography break I return to analogue photography and to camerainfo.

You might be know pretty well the mirror slip problem of Contax SLR's (which is a shame). It was this issue that caused a serious damage to my oldest RTS II body when I wanted to take a photo with a Distagon 4/18 and the mirror smashed against the back of the lens. It was a pity - for that RTS II was non-repairable and it had been in nearly perfect condition :(.

I have stayed with RTS II bodies til today and would love to work again with that really wonderful wide angle lens (I sold mine years ago, but now think of re-bying one). But I am too anxious to use it on my SLR in the normal mode. I fear that the mirror slip problem might return in any moment and you might know the form of the Distagon 18mm which gets extremely close to the mirror :oops:.

So I think of using mirror up constantly (which is possible with RTS II as you might know) and use an external view finder for wide angle 18 mm. :cool:

May anyone of you have a recommendation for such a view finder?
I've actually found
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- but I'd like to take a less expensive one.

Thanks a lot in advance :).

Michael
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
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Hello Michael,

Sorry to hear about your mirror problems with your RTSII. A number of Contax cameras develop this problem, especially in warmer climates, although fixing it is not too difficult. I think you may have a big problem finding a 18mm viewfinder - only Zeiss and Leica produce bright-line finders for 18mm. I looked at a number of the old turret viewfinders from my era (1950/60s) but the widest setting is 24mm - no one was making 18mm lenses for cameras of that period.

You may simply have to do what I did with a 14mm lens and go 'old school'; produce your own finder. What I did was to mount an old sports-finder on the hot shoe and then look through the camera's viewfinder, note the 4 corners of the image, then look through the sports finder and mark those same points on the front screen. I repeated the process on a couple of different views until I was satisfied that the approximation to an 18mm fov was close enough and taped over the glass that was outside the lines that joined the 4 corner points together. So, you end up with a solid mask around the front of the finder and anything visible inside it will be within the 18mm view. It was crude but effective; the trickiest bit was finding a sports-finder with a hot shoe attachment as most are for mounting on medium format viewing screens. Today, I'd probably mark it up on card - record all the dimensions including a cold shoe - and then send it to a 3D printer. If you get the rear eyepiece and front frame to be able to fold down, you have a portable 18mm viewfinder... That would be fun to make and cost less than either the Leica or Zeiss glass, bright-line finders. And you might even sell a few...
 

mkuhlma

Member
This seems to me a very good idea :z04_bier01: - thank you!
I imagined something like that but I couldn't form concrete ideas. It's a kind of solution that reminds me of the finders of cameras 80 or 90 years ago - simple but effective :cool:. The 3D printer solution may be easier but I fear it's not easy to formulate the exact dimensions...
And yes, you are right: The only extreme wide angle of the 60s that I know was the Jena Flektogon 21 mm...

The mirror slide is a pity. This afternoon I've just noticed the same problem on my Yashica FX-D, even with a Planar 1,4/50 mm. Fortunately the mirror mechanism has not suffered. Maybe I can set it up again.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Wow! You're not having much luck with your C/Y cameras... Are they being stored near a heat source? Fortunately, there are a quite few references to resolving the mirror problem online; I'm sure I can recall seeing something on YouTube too. Good luck with creating your viewfinder and sorting out that pesky mirror on your FX-D; it's a really nice camera.
 

mkuhlma

Member
Thank you :).
Yes I remember having seen a video about the mirror problem.

There is no heat source near where I store my cameras. Fortunately, my second RTS II has never had that mirror slip. And few days ago I have just found a third one, after many years ;).
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Always great to hear from another Contax fan... As you might guess from the attached piccie from my study, I have a minor penchant for Contax and Yashica kit and Zeiss glassware. They all get used at least once a year and the lenses get used constantly on both film and digital cameras. The only worry is, when carrying lenses like my Zeiss 500 f4.5 Mirotar (hernia inducing for a mirror lens) or a Contax RTS Fundus, what happens if you drop them - not easy to replace!
 

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mkuhlma

Member
Saturday morning, so time to look at my two beloved ones ;) . The result was pretty worrying...

This seems to be the way it should look like:
RTS II mit Spiegel im Soll.jpg

And on my second camera (which I have been using for almost 30 years) it looks like this:
RTS II mit verrutschtem Spiegel.jpg
Glad that I found it - it seems to me that otherwise another catastrophe might have happened pretty soon. o_O

So it was time to come into action. I have practiced first on my damaged RTS II and then on my Yashica FX-D. I used a heat gun with its lowest temperature, 50°C.
After some minutes the mirror carrier had got pretty warm (but not hot). The mirror could be moved carefully into its correct position.
I will watch what happens during the following days/weeks.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Fingers crossed....

Once you have been able to push the mirror back into its correct position, with the RTS it is easy to leave the mirror in the horizontal position. Of course, with the FX-D, you will need to angle the camera such that the mirror is on a horizontal plane. I'm sure you've already done this. Over time, you will probably experience mirror-slip again but at least now you'll be looking for it. You'll probably need to use epoxy resin instead of the tape to hold the mirror in situ for the longer term; the fix you've undertaken should last a while though. Please keep us apprised of your progress. It's certainly worth the effort... Good luck!
 

mkuhlma

Member
Thank you. Yes I will keep you apprised.

Yes I have moved all the mirrors up at once ;). And I will find a solution for storing my FX-D - and my recently bought Contax 139 which is a nice little thing.

So epoxy resin works as an adhesive? This is an interesting idea. Because I learned that otherwise it might have been tricky to find an adhesive tape of appropriate dimensions.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
My understanding is that using a small dab of epoxy resin will do the trick but you leave the tape in situ to ensure that focusing remains accurate. I've not tried it myself but I do have a Contax 139 with a slipped mirror along with a RTSII - I'd be inclined to try it on the least valuable camera first....
 
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