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Question on a dark viewfinder

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#1 Geoff Robertson

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 10:52 PM

Hi. I just joined this forum and am hopeful someone can solve a problem I have. I recently pulled out my old Sankyo XL-620 Super 8 camera that I had packed away to show one of my adult children. They had never seen it, we videoed those family memories. It had been stored in a sealed container for over twenty five years. When I put the batteries in the camera fired right up although the zoom is a bit stiff. Everything seems to work except the viewfinder. It's dark unless I point it at a bright light source and then all that can be seen is a dull blur. Opening the film compartment, shining a flashlight in the lens and running the camera I see lots of light coming through the film gate. In the viewfinder I can see the green indicator light flashing when the camera is running and when pointed at a very bright light source, make out the spit focus circle and the aperture scale but there is no image. It's like it has a cataract.  I've often thought of getting back into Super 8 and was surprised there is still film available, but my old camera may be telling me to do something else. Any ideas what is causing this would be appreciated. Thanks.


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#2 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 30 April 2016 - 07:37 AM

Not familiar with that model, but most Super 8 viewfinders work on the same principle, a beam-splitting prism in front of the iris that diverts light through a series of prisms and lens elements to eventually reach your eye. Usually you get problems over time with dust and dirt infiltrating the optics, or the cement between two glass elements yellowing, or tendrils and snowflakes of fungus growing somewhere. A completely dim viewfinder probably means something has come loose, perhaps a prism has dislodged.

Edited by Dom Jaeger, 30 April 2016 - 07:38 AM.

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#3 Geoff Robertson

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 12:16 PM

Thanks Dom

 I tend to think it's the former going on rather than the prism coming loose. I can see light just no image. Now the tricky part. Is this something I could easily fix myself or should I turn this over to a professional?

Thanks 


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#4 Heikki Repo

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 02:41 PM

Geoff,

 

my experience with many cameras has been that while it's easy to take something apart, putting it back together is ... well, let's just say that the quantity of cameras I have put back together doesn't come close to the quantity of those I have taken apart... :)

 

My gut feeling is that it might be cheaper to buy another higher end super-8 camera than to have it repaired. I'd go for a Canon, they seem to be quite reliable and work well with current films (i.e. the exposure meter works with modern film speeds).


Edited by Heikki Repo, 01 May 2016 - 02:41 PM.

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#5 Nick Collingwood

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 10:46 AM

Is there anything banging around inside?

 

I recently picked up a cheap Super 8 camera off eBay I was assured was working but when I got it, heard ratting inside and the viewfinder was (mostly) dark. Well given that it was a mere ~$15, I decided to pop open the camera carefully and I found that the small mirror that reflects the prism into the viewfinder had detached due to dried, old glue. So I superglued it back into place, reassembled slowly and BAM! Working viewfinder. Still waiting on my test roll to get back to me but it did totally fix the viewfinder issue I had, other problems notwithstanding.

 

So if you're feeling brave enough, have a go at it, otherwise, plenty of cheap but working S8 cameras to be had on eBay, but S8 is otherwise not very cheap if you're planning on getting back into it. But it is fun!


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