Question About Cleaning Mirror on Nikon F3P

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    My F3P's mirror was getting a tad dirty, and so I cleaned it using my mini-vac and its attachment hose. I have done this before with other cameras. This time, though, the mirror flipped forward from the suction of the vacuum. I quickly removed the vacuum attachment, and the mirror went back to its normal position. The mirror looked fine, and, in a couple of tests shots, I did not notice any odd noises or operational issues. Should I be concerned, or should all be okay?
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Sounds like this week's prize-winning OCD cautionary tale.
     
  3. dehk

    dehk Member

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    "mirror flipped forward", From the top? Meaning it's lose? Glue it, good luck.
    If it just went up, you're fine.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Why is the mirror getting dirty? Are you leaving it around with the lens or body cap off? I've had some cameras for 20 or so years without having to clean the mirror. Cleaning the mirror usually does more harm than good.
     
  5. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    The mirror was not really "dirty." I noticed it had a small hair stuck to it. I do not know how it got in there, as I am careful with my camera bodies. I gather that every time one removes the lens (and I do so often) things can get in there.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The mirrors in SLR's are first surface mirrors. Such mirrors are incredably delicate. They cannot be touched let alone cleaned with anything besides air. Since they are not in the light path when you are taking a photo why worry.
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Blow it out with a hand blower. Vacuum? Good Lord.
     
  8. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I just performed a MLU, and the mirror seemed go upward and lock in the normal manner.
     
  9. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Indeed, the Lord is good. I have used a hand blower for this before, and all it does is swirl around dust inside the camera.
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Here's the skinny. A first surface mirror is delicate, as has been pointed out. Since the mirror is not in the path of picture-forming light, it doesn't matter if it has a speck or three. As I pointed out, it is possible to go years without the mirror getting dirty, if you excersise any care at all. An old Leica brochure points out that "it is better to keep your lens clean, than to keep cleaning your lens" - that goes 100-fold for the mirror. Cleaning the mirror with enough suction to actually move the mirror is abusing the camera.
     
  11. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Indeed, there was too much suction this time, as I usually use multiple attachments, the last of which being a very small, flexible hose made for "micro" cleaning. This time, since the hair was caught in there, I did not use this final attachment. Normally, there is not much suction, and, for years, I have had excellent results removing particles and such in this manner.

    I gather the positive MLU test means all is well? I tried it again, and cannot notice anything amiss.
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Member

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    I'd make this your last cleaning spree. There's a chance you can permanently screw up your F3's metering by misaligning the mirror. It's semi-transparent and works with another smaller mirror to route light to the SPD cell deep at the bottom of the mirror box. As mentioned above, dust on the mirror is totally unimportant. Jeesh, what do you do when you spy dust deep in a lens???
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The MLU test means the mirror locks up. Nothing else.
     
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  15. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I tested the camera's meter, and it is spot-on with my Sekonic hand-held.

    I certainly would not attempt to clean the mirror in the manner I have today. I have found, though, that the low suction "micro" attachment I have works great in small spaces and situations requiring very low pressure.

    I have seen dust in some lenses, and, if bad enough, I have sent a few out for cleaning. If minor, I just let it go. I do not see any reason for the "Jeesh" remark and the tone in some other replies here.
     
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  16. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Because your OCD approach is a recipe for disaster, especially when it's applied, in this case, to a complex camera that's no longer supported by Nikon service. But don't listen to us, OK?
     
  17. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I did not say I would ignore the commentary here.

    What ever happened to civility and offering a simple, non-offensive answer to a straightforward question? The "Good Lord," "OCD," and "Jeesh" are entirely unwarranted here.
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Member

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    So is "I took a vacuum to my F3's mirror and guess what happened?" Just don't use Brillo next time on those stubborn spots. I rest my case.
     
  19. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Rest what case? The only case you have made well is the case that demonstrates your rudeness.
     
  20. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I think your F3 is fine. The mirror can be lifted without harm. If you had used the brush attachment, I don't think it would have had a good enough seal to generate enough suction to lift the mirror.

    I have used a vacuum to pull a stubborn hair off a mirror and focusing screen. I used a bulb blower with a short length of hose attached. When releasing the bulb after squeezing, a vacuum is produced which is sufficient to remove individual hairs and dust specks from inside a camera, and the soft tubing won't harm the mirror or screen. To be extra careful, you can cut the end of the hose so it is a bit rounded instead of straight, so the entire tubing end cannot be in contact with a surface at any time.

    Cleaning mirrors is definitely a source of controversy. Specks mean nothing-they will not degrade the viewfinder image, unless they are more like a coating of dust. From shooting in desert places where the wind is almost constant, all my cameras have at times gotten a fair amount of dust on their insides. Anything painted I swab with a moistened Q-Tip or rolled-up moistened Kimwipe, rather than just blow it around. For mirrors, I hold the camera body with the lens mount down and blow with a bulb blower, angling to avoid blowing it onto the focusing screen. The F3 is easy, because the mirror can be approached through the top of the camera by removing the prism and focusing screen. Stubborn dust usually comes off with careful use of the bulb blower as described above to create a vacuum.

    For actual cleaning of a mirror, which I have done after years of use, and once after a friend's kid touched a mirror while I was showing his dad how to change lenses on pre-Ai Nikons- it's best to let a technician do it, unless you are the type who is careful enough and patient enough to do it properly.
    I have cleaned my own without any problems, but I wouldn't advise just anyone to do it.. I use a Q-tip, fairly damp with lens cleaner, to float off any hard particles. The fibers will catch and pull off stuck particles. After two passes, I follow with a lightly moistened rolled up lens tissue with the end torn off to create a soft edge.

    A couple things to remember: just as some specks on a mirror will not cause a problem, a scratch will not mean it is unusable. So a scratch from improper cleaning is not a disaster. But just as with lenses, better a layer of dust than a web of fine scratches.

    Something I've wondered about:
    I acquired a Pentax MX a while back which had a cheap crappy zoom on it with a loose aperture lever- so loose it had come out the back of the lens and was in contact with the mirror. I managed to get the lever to come out of contact with the mirror by taking the lens apart, after the failure of judicious use of Newtonian physics (i.e., tilt the camera toward the floor so the lever could be dislodged by gravity and gentle shaking fore and aft on the lens axis, followed by gentle smacks on the back when that didn't work).
    When I got the lever out and the lens off, I looked at the mirror. It did not have any scratches or marks whatsoever, even though the lever had been jammed against it and had tilted and run along the surface for a centimeter or so.
    I'm wondering if Pentax had put a hard coating, like lens coating, on the mirror. If the mirror were silvered, as opposed to aluminized, such a coating would be necessary to prevent oxidation.
     
  21. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    lxdude: these are interesting and informative comments. I, too, have worked on a number of mirrors, mostly in terms of dusting and cleaning. In most cases, I use a similar approach to yours--a swab with some lens solution and a microfiber lens cloth. Today was the first time I have ever had even a hint of an issue, and I am glad the F3's internals seem to have held up well.

    I find it interesting that you say that the "mirror can be lifted without harm." I did see it lift today, but it did not seem to lift too much. I had thought that it would be very unlikely to see this, as the mirror is hinged solidly on a single axis, toward the top. Such is why I have felt safe using a small amount of suction with the vacuum attachment. Today, there was too much suction. In any case, I welcome any other comments you may have in regard to my reasoning concerning the single axis of the mirror.

    I have owned a number of Pentax bodies, and have found their mirrors quite durable. I do not think I have ever scratched one in dusting or cleaning. In fact, I do not think I have ever scratched any of my mirrors. My findings have led me to the same type of question you are pondering: what, exactly, is on some of these mirrors? The ones I have worked on seem much more durable than some would perhaps imagine. I agree, though, that one must always exercise caution.
     
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  22. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Maybe I misunderstood. I thought that the mirror just lifted along its normal arc, as with mirror lockup. It can be lifted manually from its forward edge. If it came forward toward the lens mount, I think something's not right. I just checked mine, and it is hinged at the back. It can only move through its arc.
     
  23. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    It happened very quickly, and thus it is hard for me to say how it lifted. I gather it did lift on its normal arc, as when I do a mirror lockup test on it seems to operate correctly, using its normal arc. I see nothing wrong when I do the test, and if the linkage had been damaged or dislodged, I imagine the MLU would not work correctly.
     
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  24. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Just the way he is.
    You're also going to notice he wants to have the last word in a conversation. :tongue:
     
  25. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Care and feeding of mirrors is delicate(you know that).
    One approach is to use something like a flight feather from a duck or goose. Once you have the feather(they don't give them up easily. Especially geese) clean it in alcohol and use it only for brushing foreign crap from the mirror.
    BTW, once it's clean, don't touch it with fingers or it will pick up oil from them & put it on the mirror.
    If the feather doesn't get it free, a Q-tip and a breath on the mirror works too. No pressure is put on the Q-tip, you're relying on the immense weight of the cotton bud to remove the crap. BTW the Q-tips shed like crazy but the few pieces of cotton can usually be blown out with an air bulb.
     
  26. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Thanks, John...