Did I ruin my mirror!?
I am relatively new to photography and made the stupid mistake a few months ago of cleaning my mirror on a Nikon FE2 and a few lenses with my t-shirt while out taking photos one day. I didn't realize this could have done damage until I read a few threads on here which were stating how fragile the mirror is and that if it needs cleaned you should send it to a professional.
So do you think I've have ruined the mirror? How about the lenses? With the naked eye, everything appears ok, but I don't know.
Any feedback would be great.
If everything seems OK, it is.
I clean mine with soft cloths and pec pads. All is well.
lintless cotton is a good cleaner, although don't rub. Front surface mirrors like in an slr should be handled gently but if yours looks ok, it is ok, even if it were scratched it would still work just fine. The mirror surface doesn't effect image quality and a cupla scratches won't degrade what you see in the finder.
you should see the mirrors on some of my old exaktas....wow.
It's not the surface of the mirror you need to be worried about the most, but the position of the mirror with regard to the ground glass - it needs to replicate what is going to film exactly (within a spec that is) - what good is an image that looks ok to the eye if it isn't the same image that is going to film ?
A good quality mirror has a coating on it that protects the suface silver. You more than likey did no damage to it at all.. use a delicate hand when cleaning, a hot breath, a cloth not paper to clean lenses n mirrors, you'll be fine..
get a can of air to blow it out after cleaning instead of trying to blow it out by mouth.. dry air.
Even if one would see a scratch on the mirror, what matters is if one would see it at the focus plane, that is the groundglass. Keep in mind that the mirror in a SLR is acting at the unfocused part of the imaging beam, so next to any distorted rays will be enough plain rays. Furthermore a scratch will likely only affect the reflectivity of the (that tiny part) of the mirror.
A fibre blown to underside of the groundglass/fresnel-lens assembly would in any case be more visible.
Older mirrors do damage very easily and it's surprising how quickly they deteriorate. I'm in the middle of restoring some pre-WWII SLRs and they will all have new mirrors by the time they are finished (two have already). (These are large SLR's 6x9 and Quarter Plate with big mirrors compared to modern cameras).
All SLR/TLR mirrors are front surface and originally used silver, this tarnishes and deteriorates badly cleaning accerlerates this. Modern mirrors use aluminium and this is coated, cleaning removes the silicon coating.
New mirrors are remarkably cheap £16 for my Quarter Plate reflexes and the same company can recoat any SLR mirror but you need a technician to remove it. I will get my Exacta mirrors recoated as they do cut the viewfinder brightness considerably.
One thing to keep in mind is that mirror position affects how you will be able to focus on the subject. Somewhat surprisingly any SLR type cameras have a rather fragile mirror support at both top and bottom. If you apply pressure to the mirror in order to clean it, it can affect where the mirror rests. What that would do is, it will change what your view finder will show that the image is in focus. It will then not match when the image will actually focus on film. That will, in turn, make it so that if you focus on the image on your view finder, the image is no longer focused on your film = blurry out of focus image.
Try this.... put on a lens with a widest aperture and the longest focal length. Open the lens wide open, say f/1.8. Put your camera on a tripod. Focus on a subject near by very carefully. Snap a photograph. When you develop your film, take a magnifying glass and examine the negative. Is it in focus? If so, you are fine. If not, you need to send it into an adjustment.
Little scratch here and there on mirror will not affect anything except your pride....
A long, long time ago I gave the mirror of my Olympus OM4 a scrub and was horrified to find millions of tiny scratches on the surface (I used a piece of tissue!!). This crazing (circular swirls and scratches) was sufficient to befuddle the meter of that particular camera and the mirror was subsequently replaced for $460 (1984 price) with $180 labour. The repair job came with the advice "never, ever touch or put anything on the mirror" and said those mirrors are front-silvered, so extremely easy to scratch even with the finest microfibre cloths. I have not touched any mirror since that early lesson in DIY.