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.

If you'd like to keep up-to-date with what I'm up to please do join my mailing list to receive my newsletter.

 


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