Cameras The Contax IIa Voigtlander Bessa-R Retina Cameras

Cleaning the Camera Glass

Dirty rangefinder glassOnce you've removed all of the major parts, you can start the dirty work -- that is, cleaning everything. 

Go into the kitchen for this part. Make sure you block the drain to prevent any parts from going down the drain. 

Take any metal knobs and wheels that you can remove and with a toothbrush and dishwashing soap, clean them thoroughly. Dishwashing soap is great, because it's made to cut through grease. This might take a while, because the grease and grime you're dealing with sometimes has been building up for decades. 

For really stubborn buildup, squirt a little lighter fluid on a paper towel. When you're finished, blot the parts dry with a paper towel and put them aside. Or you can use a hair dryer. Whatever works.

Next, you'll want to clean all of the glass surfaces ... or at least as many as possible. First, remove the loose glass covers for the viewfinder and rangefinder. Hold the camera upside down over a table -- watch for any loose screws -- and use short, quick blasts for compressed air to blow out any debris.

To clean the glass, you can use a facial tissue and optical cleaner. If it's really dirty, run it under tap water and use some of the dishwashing soap and a rag. Be careful not to cut your fingers on the edges.

Rangefinder prism removedNext, remove the rangefinder prism assembly -- not the main prism that runs the width of the body, but the prism assembly that slides laterally. There are two screws under the rangefinder window. Remove the screws, mark them and put them off to the side. The rangefinder prism slides up and to toward the near end of the camera. Use either cotton or a tissue soaked in optical cleaner to wipe the surfaces of the main prism assembly that is still in the camera. The outer prism is glued. Don't break the glue bond.

Next, clean the exposed sides of the rangefinder prism first. Then push the movable prism as far to the left as possible and clean the prism. If you want, you can disassemble this by removing the screw on the bottom. There is a tiny spring that you might have to rehook, so think twice before removing the screw.

You can also remove the eyepiece by removing the two screws on the retaining bracket. Once the eyepiece assembly is removed, carefully bend two of the retaining pins up to remove the glass. Clean that and both sides of the eyepiece and then reassemble. Don't forget to clean the back side of the prism, while it's accessible.

When reinserting this back into the body, make sure the arm is under the rotating disc. You can tell if it is, because if you rotate the milled wheel inside the lens mount (see picture above), the prism will slide to the left or right. It might take several tries to get it seated correctly.

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