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Arri SR w/ Dirty Viewfinder


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#1 Matt Meyer

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 01:46 PM

I teach at a small film school in Oregon, and as I was preparing gear for the upcoming school year I realized that the viewfinder in our SRII was filthy inside. I fear it's fungus -- orange blotches on the image, much dimmer than our SRI. I've successfully removed the viewfinder from the body and it seems to be within the viewfinder itself -- not the mirror or on-board optics.

I'm pretty intrepid, and have actually cleaned fungus from a (very cheap) zoom lens. However, I'm not sure if I should attempt to clean this puppy. Has anyone had experience with this? or can they recommend a shop that would do this kind of work inexpensively?

Thanks,
Matt
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#2 Tim Carroll

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 02:21 PM

Matt,

Are you saying the fungus appears to be in the eyepiece? In other words, you unscrewed the eyepiece from the camera and the orange "fungusy" looking stuff is in the eyepiece itself? If you put the eyepiece from the SR1 onto the SRII everything looks fine?

If that is the case, and if the eyepiece from the SRII is the type with the internal automatic iris, the one where you press your eye against the eyepiece and it opens and when you remove your eye it closes, then I would pitch that eyepiece and buy another one off of eBay or from Axel Broda or from George at Optical Electro (I could have that name slightly wrong, you can look him up in LA). From everything I have heard, those internal automatic iris eyepieces are an absolute nightmare to service.

If you put the eyepiece from the SR1 onto the SRII and the "fungusy" stuff is still there, use a Hirschman's forceps and remove the fibre optics viewing screen and clean that. If that still doesn't fix the problem, then it is in the j-bar and I would not recommend taking that apart. Then it's time to send the camera to ARRI.

Best,
-Tim
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#3 Matt Meyer

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 06:56 PM

Thanks for your comments. The eyepiece itself is fine. The orange goo seems to be on the prisms of the J-bar, or possibly on the fiber-optic screen. I think I can access the outside surfaces of the prisms, but don't want to do anything stupid... yet.

Two questions:
1) What the heck are Hirschman's forceps? Would I go to the local photography store, or to a surgical supplier?2) The Arri manual also speaks airily of removing the fiber-optic screen, but doesn't really go into any detail on how it's done. Any suggestions, or would it be readily apparent when I get there?

Thanks,
Matt
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#4 Tim Carroll

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:10 PM

1) What the heck are Hirschman's forceps? Would I go to the local photography store, or to a surgical supplier?2) The Arri manual also speaks airily of removing the fiber-optic screen, but doesn't really go into any detail on how it's done. Any suggestions, or would it be readily apparent when I get there?


You can probably buy the Hirschman Forceps from ARRI, or Film Tools sells there version of them here:
ARRI Ground Glass Puller

Get a copy of Jon Fauer's Arriflex 16SR Book, it covers removing the fibre optics screen. You should definitely have a copy if you are teaching a film class using those cameras.

Best,
-Tim
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#5 Matt Meyer

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:44 PM

I received my copy of Fauer's book Monday, as luck would have it. I took a chance and used a bent paper clip to remove the fiber screen. It's fine.

I also took apart the viewfinder as far as I could. I can't reach the gunk, which is growing on prisms in the horizontal J-bar. I called Arri in LA, who suggested shipping the whole camera down, and that they'd probably have to replace the prisms (at least).

Since I'm on a tight film school budget, I opted to take it to a local camera repair shop. They think they should be able to clean or replace the elements for $150 total, which is probably what I'd pay just to ship the thing to LA. So here's hoping.

Tim -- are you still located in Portland?
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#6 Tim Carroll

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:33 PM

Yeah, I'm still in Portland for a few more days. Heading back to Chicago the first of next week.

Not sure what local camera repair shop you brought it to, but if they have to replace the prisms in the J-bar, they are going to need to purchase the prisms from someone, either used(and I am not sure where they would find them used) or from ARRI. If they need to purchase them from ARRI, it is going to cost ALOT more than $150.

You got to do what you got to do with the budget your school has, but I would recommend having ARRI fix it for you. Fungus and mold in camera optics is a troublesome thing. It can eat through the coatings of glass elements and even if the coatings are still okay, if the fungus/mold is not removed properly, it will come back.

Don't know if you are in Portland, but if you are anywhere in the western part of Oregon, you know how damp it can be here for about nine months out of the year(which is probably where the fungus/mold came from in the first place). I would have ARRI fix the issue so you know it is fixed properly, and then I'd make sure you have a good dehumidifier in the room where the camera equipment is stored, and had those silica gel packs in all the equipment cases.

Best of luck with it,
-Tim
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