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Cloudy lens on Zeiss folding camera

Chris Tobar , May 21, 2008; 07:02 p.m.

When I wanted to try out 120 film, I went a little crazy on eBay and I ended up buying 3 cameras. I got a Yashica A (which I've posted about, and I've had pretty good luck with it so far), and I also got a Graflex 22, and a Zeiss Ikon Nettar. I haven't tried the Graflex yet. And unfortunately, the lens on the Zeiss is cloudy. I managed to clean up the front lens, but would it be possible to take the other lens off to clean it? I have no idea how to get to it. I looks like I would have to take the shutter assembly apart, and the idea of that scares the heck out of me.

It's really a shame too, because otherwise the camera seems in great condition. The bellows seem to be in good condition, I didn't find any light leaks. I really want to try this camera out, but I know there is no way I could take pictures the way the lens is right now. It's so clouded that I can barely see through it. I always thought folding cameras look so cool and I really want to try using it. So would it be possible to clean the lens...is that something I could do myself?


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Cliff Manley , May 21, 2008; 08:07 p.m.


Bueh B. , May 21, 2008; 08:48 p.m.

The rear element should be pretty easy to remove. Just open the camera's back with the lens folded and try to unscrew the lens. I just use wet tissues for glass-cleaning to wipe off fungus and the like.

But even with a cloudy lens these cameras can take surprisingly good pictures. Check out this page for interesting examples.

Chris Tobar , May 21, 2008; 10:01 p.m.

WOW! Awesome pictures! I never in a million years would have thought THAT camera could take pictures like that! I would have expected to see a really soft image with spots all over the place. By the way, I like the conductor's lantern in you pictures! I have one like it. Do you know what railroad it came from? If I could ever find one from Pacific Electric, it would make my day.

I do know that scratches aren't a big deal. I always used to get really worried if I saw scratches on a lens, but it seems that minor scratches have no effect on pictures. All my cameras have very minor scratches, and I can't tell at all in the pictures I've taken.

I'm not at home right now, but I'll look at the camera again when I get home later tonight. But the last time I looked at it, I couldn't see how to unscrew the back lens. Have you ever taken one of these cameras apart?

and Cliff...sorry about posting another thread on the same subject. I didn't know what kind of lens this was.

David F. Stein , May 21, 2008; 10:13 p.m.

Vintage lenses and modern, inherently contrasty and vivid films make for a good combination. Good responses.

Jack Welsh , May 21, 2008; 10:38 p.m.

Chris, I have a Zeiss Ikon 7.7 Nettar camera. Thw lens inside is also dirty, etc.

Russ Rosener , May 22, 2008; 12:09 a.m.

Hi Chris, the first Zeiss Nettar I got has a pretty cloudy lens. I cleaned the outer surfaces of both front and back lenses and got good results: http://flickr.com/photos/arcanefuture/sets/72157604237901767/

Yours may be in worse shape. To remove the front element is easy;bend back the small metal tab which keeps the front element from rotating 360 degrees. Be careful not to break it off. Now clean the inner surface of the lens. Be sure to double check infinity focus when re-installing the lens. The rear element is harder to remove without the proper tool. If your Nettar is like mine, there are two slots opposite each other on the lens retaining ring. The cheapest way to remove this without a specialized tool is to use the blade from a utility knife. BE CAREFUL! An old dull blade works just as well. Be sure to test fit it to so the metal edge stays above the surface of the rear lens element. If I didn't have film in my Nettar I'd open her up and take a photo for you. The utility blade makes a perfect spanner to get at that rear element. Just thin enough to fit the slots and strong enough to give you some good torque. Naptha (lighter fluid) can help remove stubborn grease from inside the lens. Then take out your new beauty and show us some pics!

Chris Tobar , May 22, 2008; 08:09 p.m.

Russ, I did manage to take off the retaining ring, and then the whole lens and shutter assembly came off as one piece. Unfortunately, the INNER side of the rear element is dirty and I have no idea how to take the rear lens off. Cleaning the outside had no effect, it still looks cloudy. Sadly, I think this is just beyond my limited abilities now. I feel like I'm getting in way over my head. It's so disappointing too, because I REALLY like this camera and I wanted to try getting pictures with it.

In fact, if anyone would be willing for me to send the camera to them to fix it, let me know. I don't have much money, but I'd be open to a fair price. I don't know if I would have much luck getting another camera on eBay that had a working shutter and good bellows. They're going for insane prices in camera shops, and all the folding cameras I've seen in antique shops and thrift stores were in horrible shape.

Chris Tobar , May 22, 2008; 08:14 p.m.

...or if anyone (in the US) does have a Zeiss folding camera with good bellows and a CLEAR lens that they would be willing to sell, please contact me off list.

Cliff Manley , May 22, 2008; 09:39 p.m.

I'll fix it for you Chris. Send me an email and I'll give you my address. It won't cost you a thing. other than the postage.

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