COLD weather help/ideas?

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Hatchetman

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I had my Spotmatic CLA'd by the Pentax guru last year. I thought it would hold up in the cold weather. WRONG. Mirror got stuck after about 20 minutes in 15 degrees.

Is this normal? What temperatures were 1970s cameras supposed to work in? What did pros do? What can I do? I'm looking for a 35mm or medium format I can use in 0-20 degree weather.
 
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Many cameras in this era were used by many pros in frigid temperatures. Could simply be the camera/age. Your camera anyhow. Don't know of any high brand cameras having a bad reputation 40-50 years ago. That could be the key, though. Perhaps there is something the CLA dudes could do differently if they know ahead of work time that you wish to use this camera in extremes.
 
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Hatchetman

Hatchetman

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I'm wondering if the mirror mechanism has some kind of lube on it that is normally not cleaned/changed in your normal CLA? In my bit of research, the damn thing should have worked fine in 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
 

bdial

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15 degrees F shouldn't be a big problem for the camera, it least it likely would not have been during the time the camera was young.
As for the camera now, it could be wear that wasn't detected in the CLA, or a lubrication issue. Keeping the camera under your coat may help, or perhaps a hand warmer in the bag if you use one.
This is assuming the camera returns to normal operation once it's warmed.
 

Tom1956

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The ES had a cold weather problem. And I know exactly where the problem was inside the bottom cover. I can't recall the last time I worked on a Spotmatic, but I believe the design was the same--prone to cold weather like that.
 
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Hatchetman

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It appears to be working normally inside now. Keeping it inside my coat is certainly an option, though not exactly what I had in mind. I picked this thing up a year or so ago it is pretty much mint condition appearance-wise. I only mention that as it was never "used and abused." Mirror bumper was changed with the CLA. I took the lens off and the mirror would not come down with minimal force applied. Maybe I'll send a note to Eric Hendrickson, the guy who did the CLA.
 

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My SV will start acting up in the cold, but usually at temperatures quite a bit colder that 15F. Usually when it drops into the sub-zero F temps then it will start sticking. If I keep it under my coat while not using it sometimes it will last a bit longer, but usually not much longer. On the other hand my K1000 has never died on me, even at 40 below in Northern Minnesota, so I doubt it is something inherent in the design.

Now for the bad news. Your normal, everyday CLA may not change this behavior, in fact it probably won't. You will have to pay to have it completely taken apart, have all the old lubes cleaned off, polished and then re-assembled with new lubricants. In other words you will need to have a full overhaul. This all takes time and will almost surely cost more than the typical CLA. But, if you intend to keep this camera for a long time, and perhaps pass it along to your children, then it may be worth it.
 
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Now for the bad news. Your normal, everyday CLA may not change this behavior, in fact it probably won't. You will have to pay to have it completely taken apart, have all the old lubes cleaned off, polished and then re-assembled with new lubricants. In other words you will need to have a full overhaul. This all takes time and will almost surely cost more than the typical CLA. But, if you intend to keep this camera for a long time, and perhaps pass it along to your children, then it may be worth it.

Not necessarily bad news if it were sure to work. I'll contact Eric and see what was done exactly and what it might potentially cost to "fix."
 

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I have had several of my cameras worked on by Eric and I am sure he can bring it back to life. One of these days I will have to send him my SV and have him totally tear it down and clean it up.
 

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I've shot with various 35mm, medium format and large format cameras in temps as cold as -30 to -40 C including a Pentax K1000. The biggest problem I find is that as things get really cold the focus will become stiff as the lubricants seize up. Never had any problems with shutters or mirrors.

If you just got it worked on there could be extra lube in there but 15 F doesn't seem cold enough for it to seize up.
 

Tom1956

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It appears to be working normally inside now. Keeping it inside my coat is certainly an option, though not exactly what I had in mind. I picked this thing up a year or so ago it is pretty much mint condition appearance-wise. I only mention that as it was never "used and abused." Mirror bumper was changed with the CLA. I took the lens off and the mirror would not come down with minimal force applied. Maybe I'll send a note to Eric Hendrickson, the guy who did the CLA.
It's not his fault. He could not have known. This is an adjustment situation inside the bottom cover. You can adjust the mechanism to give it more of a "hair-trigger" with the mirror release catch. Even then will not be a sure guarantee it won't happen again. Nature of design.
 

walbergb

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In addition to keeping your camera warm by using your body heat, I recommend placing the camera (and any other gear) in a ziplock bag before going inside. A camera bag works to. The idea is to avoid the pending condensation.
 

Mainecoonmaniac

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My experience is very limited since I live in Northern California. My shutter got stuck with my Super Ikonta IV in the cold. Just processed my film from my winter trip from Yosemite and my Rollei Automat IV. All the shots are slightly over exposed from a slow shutter. My Canon F1N is by far the most robust in cold weather. It's the only camera of the 3 that has an electronic shutter. Are mechanical shutters prone to cold weather issues and electronic shutters are better in the freezing cold? I'm just curious.
 

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Something I didn't see mentioned, but I kind of scanned so maybe somebody did, but did you check the battery? In cold temperatures battery power lowers, sometimes this could be to the point where your camera started off fine, but then would stop functioning simply because the battery wasn't activating the mirror properly, just figured I'd mention that. It's happened to me before, I was doing a 20 minute exposure in about 10° weather, and about 12 to 15 minutes into the exposure, the aperture end up closing because the electronic mechanism that was supposed to hold it open died of power.
 

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My fully mechanical Nikon FM has never had any problems in extreme cold.
 

Tom1956

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Repeat: The Pentax mirror catch can be seen in action by removing the bottom cover and observation. Evidence will point out the problem. Inherent in the design. Though I stop short of calling it a "flaw" I have too much respect for the Pentax brand to do that. No amount of "CLA'ing" will spot the adjustment. Nobody does CLA's in 40 degree rooms. The problem usually rears its head at temperatures at 40 and below.
 

jochen

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Hello,
I think I've read somewhere that there are certain points below the bottom cover that may not be lubricated at all. May be this could be the reason. In mflenses.com under "Jammed Spotmatic" you can find a good picture of the inner mechanism of a spottie under the bottom cover.
 

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Dear Hatchetman,

I don't think this will be of very much help, but I had a similar problem once with an old Yashica FX-2. The evening started very damp and then the temperature plummeted to the teens. The problem never recurred under normal cold conditions. You will have a chance to see if the problem reoccurs on Monday.<g>

Neal Wydra
 

benjiboy

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I had my Spotmatic CLA'd by the Pentax guru last year. I thought it would hold up in the cold weather. WRONG. Mirror got stuck after about 20 minutes in 15 degrees.

Is this normal? What temperatures were 1970s cameras supposed to work in? What did pros do? What can I do? I'm looking for a 35mm or medium format I can use in 0-20 degree weather.
What pros do is have their cameras they have use in extreme cold is have them winterised by a camera repaired having all the lubricants removed and replaced with one's more suitable for the extreme cold conditions.
 
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Hatchetman

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Appreciate the comments from all. Stone - no battery, but good idea. I have an EOS 3 too. Not sure what temperatures that is supposed to work in.

I'll let you know what Eric has to say.
 
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Hatchetman

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Just heard back from Eric. This is what he said:

What your camera may need is a pair of new mirror box springs. Or maybe just the curtain travel times have loosened up a bit. At any rate I can check it again to see where the problem might be.
 

E. von Hoegh

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I had my Spotmatic CLA'd by the Pentax guru last year. I thought it would hold up in the cold weather. WRONG. Mirror got stuck after about 20 minutes in 15 degrees.

Is this normal? What temperatures were 1970s cameras supposed to work in? What did pros do? What can I do? I'm looking for a 35mm or medium format I can use in 0-20 degree weather.

It isn't normal. Chronometers were used, and functioned properly, in arctic conditions, in the 1840s. With animal based lubricants that were specially refined for those conditions.
You'd be surprised what some folks think a CLA comprises, looks like yours got the Ronsonol version. Find a technician who will do it properly with the correct lubricants. I was using my Nikon F made in 1968 the other day, the thermometer read -16F.
 

E. von Hoegh

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What pros do is have their cameras they have use in extreme cold is have them winterised by a camera repaired having all the lubricants removed and replaced with one's more suitable for the extreme cold conditions.

15 degrees - I'm assuming Fahrenheit - is hardly extreme cold.
 

E. von Hoegh

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Just heard back from Eric. This is what he said:

What your camera may need is a pair of new mirror box springs. Or maybe just the curtain travel times have loosened up a bit. At any rate I can check it again to see where the problem might be.

Springs don't get weaker in cold, they get stiffer.
 
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Hatchetman

Hatchetman

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Eric is THE MAN in the Pentax community. He's done some good work for me before. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
 
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