Notes on equipment: Fixing the light leak in my Mamiya RB67

May 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

This is a very dull post about fixing a camera - I'm sharing it in case it helps someone else with a similar problem, but feel free to skip this if you're not into such things!  JayneLloyd_MamiyaRB67_01JayneLloyd_MamiyaRB67_01


When I was at uni I borrowed a Mamiya RB67 for a project I was working on and I loved it. Having to spend a bit longer thinking about things because everything is mirrored, loading the roll film, the bellows, just how everything seemed to look somehow more beautiful through it, really! After I left uni and those wonderful days of free access to kit were no more, I saved up and found a second hand one at a good price. Film and processing however is expensive, so I've dabbled occasionally in taking shots for the odd project but never consistently used it. I should have tested it properly when I first got it, it was from a proper camera shop not eBay so they probably would have helped me, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Over time I became aware that there was a light leak somewhere but it was never a priority to fix it.


Eucalyptus in a jarEucalyptus in a jar
Last year I set myself a project of fashioning an instant back for the Mamiya, which you can read about here, and I tried to shoot with it a bit more. Of course, the light leak reappeared when I was using roll film and I mentioned it in a tweet sharing one of the images. I'm not totally against light leaks, but I have a Holga for that. Someone kindly replied to my tweet with a link to this YouTube video, and I finally got round to investigating and fixing the problem!

It was obvious once I actually took the time to look! The foam seal had worn down. I did some Googling and found Milly's Cameras and ordered a sheet of 1.5mm Camera Light Seal Foam (if in doubt go for the middle size, I always think) and a Professional Cutting Set because I thought my ancient craft knife might not be up to the job. They arrived within a few days and I had a good activity for a Sunday afternoon.

I basically just:

  • scraped the old foam off
  • cleaned up the camera a bit
  • measured the area I needed to cover
  • cut the foam slightly wrong
  • did it again a second time, at the correct size
  • peeled the backing paper off and stuck it on!

There were a few other bits that looked a bit ropey so I replaced them too.


jayne_210508_2438jayne_210508_2438 FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender jayne_210508_2441jayne_210508_2441 jayne_210508_2439jayne_210508_2439 FullSizeRender 2FullSizeRender 2


It certainly felt a lot more snug when I closed the back, but all I could do was test it. I shot a few frames, then left the camera on the tripod in a sunny room for a week to really soak in any light bouncing about, shot a few more frames and sent it of to Ag Photo Lab to see what happened.

jayne_210508_2435jayne_210508_2435 It was a success! Well, as far as I can tell, there were no streaks on any of the frames. I think my test would have let light in if it was going to, but I'll let you know if there's anything further to report. 



Hi, I'm Jayne Lloyd, a professional photographer based in Essex, UK. If you would like to speak to me about working together please don't hesitate to get in touch. I work with many museums and galleries as I have experience and understanding of their unique requirements and offer a full range from reportage to installation photography. I'm keen to help organisations and makers who are looking to enhance their online presence with their own library of professional photographs.

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