Iskra with very stiff focus
Like the title says, I've got an Iskra with incredibly stiff focus. Everything else about it is quite good. I'd like to try to resurrect it myself rather than paying way more than it's worth to have Jurgen do it. Any hints?
You probably have a simple case of gunked up grease on the focusing element. Over time, it gets hard and dirty. Some builders are more inclined to harden than others. The question is how comfortable you are removing the focusing element.
The Iskra copy isn't the same as Agfa or Zeiss.camera it imitated, but for this purpose you can follow the same general approach. You need to remove the front focusing element. Keep careful notes on what goes where and how.
There's an infinity stop or can unscrew the front element/assembly. You'll probably want to scribe some marks to indicate the matches before removal. (On the first element reassembly, you may have to remove and replace the front element a couple of times to get it to line up right.)
The grease inside is probably caked. Clear it out and from the threads . Don't get it on the shutter. Don't spray grease or solvents. . Don't hit the diaphragm or shutter by mistake.
Cleaning should be simple. You could wipe the threads with a bit of solvent on a QTip or similar. Once you've cleaned it, you should put a No. 2 or medium damping grease on it. Screw it in and you're rebooted. The serves as both lubricant and "dampening" agent. Don't overdo it or you're have stuff in places it should be.
Another strong suggestion would be to send the entire thing to .flutotscamerarepair.com They quote a reasonable price. Send them an Email and ask if they'll give it a try. The reason for me is that hardened grease n the focus ring suggests that the whole camera needs a CLA. If the shutter's not sticking now, it probably will be. Assuming your advance works well, you'll want to be sure it's properly lubed for the next 20 years.
I have 3 of these beasties, all working. One came in good working. The other two went to russia for repair. They came back worse than before. I sent them back for a second try and they're in good shape and working. There is something really nice about them.
It doesn't have front element focusing, it has unit focus - the whole lens moves, not just the front element. You can see the helical focus through the back of the camera. It is a pretty close copy of the Agfa Super Isolette.
Check to see if the helical is clean - if not, you may be able to clean it with a suitable cleaner (or lube), and work the focus back and forth. Now, this is a pure guess, because neither of my two Iskras have needed any repair!
Well worth fixing, as they are really nice cameras - certainly my favourite folder.
This thread has some useful info, as does this one.
That will teach me to find the camera first. You're right of course. I haven't used any of the Iskra or the Agfa in a while. I'm in mid-interruptus on a another folder with front element movement. But I think the principle is the same. remove old grease from helical/screw and place new grease. He'll need tools etc. but it's not too difficult a job for an experienced tinker. I think any of the Agfa material fits other than minor differences. Don't know what the shutter looks like. Mine are all in spec. On the Agfa, the person who CLA'd it used a heavier grease than I'd like.
I do think that a full CLA would do well by the box. Flutot's quotes $60 for the camera, but might be a bit higher. Their prices are good and they've had a good reputation. There might be one closer to home. I'd like to know the shutter is clean and the advance mech is done right.
I sent the two broken ones to Oleg. I'm not sure what happened, but he offered to refund the money. I gave him a second try and they're in good shape, along with FEDS, Zorkis, pieces of Zeiss folder. I assume it needed parts which are next to impossible here.
I think the Agfa is the best of this breed, but it probably goes for twice the price of the Iskra, which is close on its heels. The lens quality is right up there.