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Pentacon SixTL Care

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Pentacon Six TL Curtain Shutter Burn

Having been the proud owner of a Pentacon Six TL for some time it is a camera I really enjoy shooting but it is not without it’s common problems and one recently I discovered that could be costly to repair!

I was making a Vlog for the channel. You can see the video here.

I stopped and place my camera bag down, opened it and got my Pentacon SIX TL out of the bag intending to pick it up and show on camera. I placed the Pentacon on top of my bag with the lens pointing up toward the sky, not intentionally and for no reason other than I was going to pick it up a few moments later to show the camera on video. This was before I had taken a single photograph.

The fact that I was making a vlog at the same time contributed to this error but in a similar situation anyone may possibly put the camera down like this for a number of reasons during a shoot.

As the camera was staring up at the sun the lens acted like a magnifying glass and burned a pinhole into the cloth shutter behind the Lens.

I only discovered this after the shoot when I developed the film. I noticed I had a light leak.

It took me a while to investigate how this happened and it was only after I returned to the video footage I could see the curtain was fine when I loaded the camera with film. So something happened after that and that is when I noticed I had left the camera pointing up toward the sun!

This is typical for Leica cameras and Fed cameras because there is no mirror inside the camera to protect the cloth curtain. And you may think because the Pentacon Six is an SLR camera (With a mirror) the mirror sits between the lens and the curtain and protects the curtain from this apparent disaster. But with the Pentacon Six the mirror only comes down between the lens and the curtain when it is advanced. If the camera is not advanced the mirror stays UP and if the camera is pointing toward bright sun at the right angle (and no doubt aperture also plays it’s part, I was at f8) the sun will magnify through the lens and burn a hole in the curtain.

How to fix it.

The best way really is to have the curtain replaced by a professional camera engineer. But that can be costly. Luckily I have a sheet of Silk shutter cloth so I cut a small square piece and using fabric glue just placed it over the pinhole making sure it was perfectly flat and sealed in all corners to prevent it lifting.

It looks messy I know! But I didn’t want to damage the cloth any further by trying to pick away at the excess glue. And after testing the leaks have now gone. The patch clears the shutter flow as it is advanced and fired and also doesn’t scratch the film. So I will leave the camera like this and observe the repair each time I shoot the camera.

Another way you can temporarily repair such damage is by using Liquid Rubber and dabbing it to seal the hole.

Or if you want to try my way with a patch and don’t have a sheet of curtain (Why would you!) you can always look for a damaged camera online that is cheap and has a cloth curtain and cut a patch from that curtain.

The best way to avoid all this is not to leave the camera pointing toward the sun without a lens cap on! Or get into the habit of advancing the camera after each exposure. That way the mirror will advance between the lens and curtain protecting it. (WARNING: Check your cameras manual about changing shutter speeds after advancing. The TL Manual says you can change speeds before or after advancing)

It appears to happen when the camera is staring at the sun for a longer period of time as apposed to generally walking around looking for compositions so don’t let it put you off your normal workflow. Just be mindful not to let the camera stare at the sun too long when it’s placed down out of use with the mirror up!

Advance Lever

Another issue I came across was the advance lever working itself loose! Mine actually came off the camera as I was talking into camera and fell onto the floor! Luckily I found the three parts and simply screwed the lever back onto the camera.

The only other things I can mention bout this camera is to treat it like a baby! No rough handling. For example when you advance the camera don’t let the advance lever snap back. Gently feed it back with your thumb. Rough handling here can cause the internal components of the camera to fail.

So there you go. A bit of hands on experience with the camera that I hope will help others.

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