Wanna watch? Bessa L repair?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Paul Goutiere, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I have a Bessa L that I bought used a year ago. The take up clutch needs tensioning. Already I have removed the bottom. To remove the top one must pull off the plastic covers from the front of the camera and remove two screw that hold the top on, and I've done this.

    I am amazed at the extremely poor quality of this camera and since I'm definitely not gonna send a piece of junk like this to be repaired by someone else for $$ I'll try it myself.

    If a few of you want to see my progress and wish to offer suggestions (other than dump the crap in the garbage) I'll be glad to take pics and post it. If not I'll just proceed and if I fix it great.. if not....garbage can.
     
  2. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    I'd love to see the progress. Not sure what suggestions I'll be able to offer though...
     
  3. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'm surprised at your summary of the camera's quality. I've never been inside a Bessa, but in using them I haven't had a "piece of junk" feeling about the workings---can you elaborate a little on what you're finding that's so bad?

    Thanks

    -NT
     
  4. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    This is a Bessa L
    So far:
    -Plastic gears in shutter timer.
    -thin plastic base plate.
    -plastic top cover.
    -to remove top one must remove plastic covers from front of camera on each side of lens. Two screws then remove plastic top cover. Plastic covers held on with double backed tape.
    -film advance lever cheap tinny thing with ( guess what?) a plastic cover.
    -Camera Back cover, plastic.

    Did I mention the camera has a lot of plastic? Think of a LOMO.
    Pictures to come.
     
  5. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Bessa L innards, so far:

    Remove plastic front covers by gingerly lifting away from double sided tape.

    Bessa L side.jpg
    Bessa L side r.jpg
     
  6. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Is it just this Bessa that is of this low quality?
     
  7. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Screws on top both sides remove.

    Bessa top L.jpg

    Remove screws on front bezel
    Bessa L side r.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2010
  8. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Innards for meter and flash. Lotsa plastic and tin.

    Bessa L guts.jpg

    Plastic top and really wretched flash connections.
    Bessa top flash.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2010
  9. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    From the top the winder looks great.
    bessa L winder 1.jpg

    To remove winder remove two screws underneath to reveal a rather tinny cheap mechanism.
    Bessa L winder 3.jpg
     
  10. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Bottom protective plate.

    Bessa L bottom.jpg

    Plastic gears in shutter mechanism.
    Bessa L  escapement.jpg
     
  11. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Metal pressure plate attached to plastic back.
    Bessa L back plastic.jpg
     
  12. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I'm not going to compare this camera to a Leica or a Nikon. Used it was not too expensive, but I think it could have been made a little better.

    The main housing is made of cast metal and seems somewhat robust but when I see all the other shortcuts, plastic and tin in the construction of this thing I can't help but place the whole camera under suspicion.
     
  13. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I have no idea, I've heard nothing. It ain't a Leica that's for sure!
     
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  15. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Camera is in garbage along with potato peels. Not worth the effort.

    Have ordered a 60 year old Leica iiif, in reasonable nick to replace it.
     
  16. goodfood

    goodfood Member

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    I bought one band new with 12mm lens and finder five to six years ago. I never use the body . Just use the lens with adapter on Leica M.
     
  17. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Ever since they figured out how to pump out mass plastic in the 80s and really took off with injection molding in the 80s-90s, everything has gone to shit. I'm not even an old curmudgeon and I notice the distinct shift. Modern consumer-level manufacturing for the most part, sucks!
     
  18. goodfood

    goodfood Member

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    I think they are the the same stuff for the camera body with a 'BLUE' label print 'ZIESS'.
     
  19. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Member

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    Yeah, if it says "ZIESS" you may be right, "ZEISS" might be another story...
     
  20. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Thanks for the tear down photos. I love to take cameras apart. Take apart a modern Canon (like an Elan) and you'll see that the Bessa construction isn't all that different. Speaking as an engineer, there is nothing mechanically wrong with stampings and injection molded plastic. In fact, plastic gears, properly designed, can last longer than metal gears and a polycarbonate housing will take a lot of abuse. The problem with a lot of the low end products is that they are not designed properly and every last dime is designed out of it. That said, I use all older, mechanical cameras because they just 'feel' nicer and look better with age. Plastic will never feel better than metal and will never gain a patina of age!
     
  21. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Interesting thread. I now have a new appreciation of my [working] all-metal Zorki.
     
  22. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I've taken on the challenge of working on a number of different cameras over the years. I actually enjoy it, for the most part. I did not enjoy the Bessa. I do not believe it was built to be repaired but to be replaced. (which I did)

    I agree that modern materials, like plastics are excellent, but in this case I see that these materials were used as a facade to hide quite inferior construction. If you examine the film advance lever pics and the wiring to the flash you should see what I mean. I'm a little appalled by this thing. Is this what we've come down to?

    When I put the innards of the Bessa L against the innards of a basic camera like the Olympus 35RC, Canonet QL17, etc.(yes, from another era) it seems that we have not come very far.

    I have not had the pleasure of working on a Zorki, but I have worked on two Kievs 4as and a five Moskvas. The FSU stuff can certainly be crude, by modern standards, but they work and they are tough...very tough. The Bessa L, I worked on, was not up to the standard of these older cameras.

    I think we must look at the Pentax Spotmatics, Nikon F2s, F3s, FMs, FEs, et al, The Leica Ms and early Rs (and all the stuff from this era) to really appreciate what a well made camera really is.
     
  23. Chris Nielsen

    Chris Nielsen Member

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    One of my other (recent) interests, besides film cameras, is typewriters. I was given a 1980's Casio electronic model and it's just so flimsy and terribly cheap feeling I'm afraid it will break just using it. Makes all sorts of disturbing noises too. My 1951 Remington Portable on the other hand is solid, metal, is still going strong now and probably will in 50 years. Not quite as easy to carry as the Casio but infinitely better constructed. If I want a portable I've got a nice 1960's Olivetti that is pretty light and also well constructed. Oh, did I mention the Casio only prints 30 pages on a (now unobtainable) ribbon and uses 4 x D batteries whereas the other machines just need (cheap and readily available) ribbons and paper. Sort of reminds me of APS in a way, the 'advanced' modern solution is just about unobtainable but the old machines keep chugging along and consumables are easy to find, typewriters and cameras alike
     
  24. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Agreed brother, but today's manufacturers do NOT want you owning a product that will last. It's absolutely sad and what's even more sad is that consumers put up with it.
     
  25. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I like typewriters.

    In my closet is a fine Corona portable typewriter easily 65 years old. In the basement, sitting on a desk, just in case; is a Underwood #5 which should be close to 100 years old. The platens, now, are as hard as glass and the old Underwood is missing a foot but they both work. I don't use them often, but it is nice to know they still work..and that they are still there.

    In the sixties I worked as a typewriter repairman for Olivetti Underwood in Kitchener Ontario for two years. After that I worked on the AM Varityper
    composing machines patterned after the Hammond typewriter.

    The skill sets I acquired during that time has allowed me to work on some cameras to a certain level. The knowledge I've gained by working on the few cameras I have worked on is by no way conclusive and I have a great respect for the people who do professional camera repair.

    To the extent I have been inside cameras I've been impressed mostly by the Nikon F2 and the Leica M2. The Nikon F2 even more than the M2.

    Look at the eyelets for the neck strap on a F2. There is a hard metal insert to prevent wear from the strap rings. If you should wear out or damage the eyelets they can be replaced by undoing a screw and simply installing a new eyelet. It is a camera built to be repaired even though neither of my F2s have needed extensive repair. The eyelets on the Leica M2 are riveted in and will have to be drilled out to be replaced!!

    The Pentax Spotmatic, can be bought now for as little as $25.00 in pretty good shape is made just as well. I think most cameras from this era were made to last for a long time. The stuff we get now.......??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2010
  26. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    Indeed.
    I'm not sure about this, but I guess that an early-mid Olympus trip 35 has more metal than the bessa. Never opened up one of these, though. The trip also evolved from metal to plastic innards.
    Well. Modern compacts, be it 35mm or digi are much nastier than the earlier 70's type. Lots more of plastic that feels cheap.

    I'm happy with my OM-1. Very little plastic.