Has my light meter just gone out on me?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by TheGreatGasMaskMan, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. TheGreatGasMaskMan

    TheGreatGasMaskMan Member
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    For a few months now, I've noticed my Nikkormat light meter was a bit jumpy (it would shoot up or down, but I could get my reading by holding the shutter lever slightly), and it was suggested I may have a short somewhere in my camera.

    Well today, I set my meter to 1600, and noticed it was giving me f22 at 1/1000 on a cloudy morning, so I put it away for the day. And just recently, I noticed when I got my shutter speed to 1/30 and below, my meter would drift back down to the underexposed half, and wouldn't always move when I pointed it at an illuminated light.

    so can anyone out there tell me:
    am I having a meter/ camera battery issue,
    and can I/ is it even worth have this fixed if I really am having an issue?
     
  2. jim10219

    jim10219 Member
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    Always check the battery and battery compartment first when having electrical issues. If the battery leaked and the battery compartment is covered in battery acid, clean it with vinegar and an old toothbrush. Like dissolves like, and the best way to clean acid is with an acid, and vinegar is a cheap and easy to get acid. Make sure to clean up and dry out the vinegar before reinstalling the battery. Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs work well for this.

    After checking that out, then it may be time to consider your other options. For me, I’d open it up and try to fix it myself. Something like that shouldn’t be crazy difficult to DIY, and shouldn’t require special tools (if you already own a soldering iron, DMM, and jeweler’s screwdrivers) or hard to find replacement parts. But, if you’re not so handy, you might prefer to send it off to a professional. And if that’s too costly, it might be best to sell it off, with the proper disclosures, of course.
     
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    TheGreatGasMaskMan

    TheGreatGasMaskMan Member
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    Well, the good news is the battery is not leaking (I was more concerned about it dying on me). And I cannot do my own repairs- and given the overall inexpensiveness of 35mm bodies and gear in general, I don't know if a professional repair is worth it- though I may look into it.
     
  4. Theo Sulphate

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    Have you tried a new battery? Which Nikkormat do you have? The FT2 will take S76 or LR44 - not ideal, but I have an LR44 in mine and it matches my Sekonic meter exactly every time I've checked.


    Also, you could choose to use a separate handheld meter, phone app, or no meter at all. My first 15+ years of photography I never used a meter and rarely really botched the exposure.
     
  5. glbeas

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    It sounds more like the contacts inside the camera are bad. I would find another camera and keep the old one for backup or parts.
     
  6. guangong

    guangong Subscriber
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    Nikkormats in good working order are so cheap that when the meter behaved the same way with mine I just bought a working Nikkormat. Very good Nikkormats can be bought for about the cost of a couple beers. The meters on early Nikon Fs and Nikkormats are frequently not repairable because the same no-longer-made part tends to be the part that dies on all Nikon meters. I personally preferred the look and feel of Fs sans meter.
     
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    TheGreatGasMaskMan

    TheGreatGasMaskMan Member
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    I'd like to try a new battery- the problem is I'm out on vacation and the closes camera shop looks like it might take an hour or to to get to- I'm going to try tomorrow, but at least I brought an external meter and some extra cameras.
    Also, my camera just says Nikkormat on the front.
     
  8. twelvetone12

    twelvetone12 Member
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    AFAIK the jumpy meter is the first symptom of a failing Nikkormat meter. It seems there is a particular piece that acts as variable resistor that wares off.
     
  9. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member
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    The model is designated on the top left of the camera as a prefix to the serial number. If it is an FTN there will be a large "N" above the meter window.
    First thing to check is the cell, second is the switch which is underneath the advance lever. Third is the variable resistor located onderneath the lensmount.
    Both of my Nikkormats have smooth accurate meters, a very clean FT that is over 50 years of age and an FTN which saw nearly two decades of professional use, including photographing the 1980 winter Olympics under all weather conditions, this one needed the resistor cleaned. These resistors are far more durable than the internet rubbish might lead one to believe, but when they do wear out, you have a meterless camera.
     
  10. bsdunek

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    twelvetone12 may be on the right track. I've not disassembled a Nikormat, but I have repaired several FTN meters. The drum resistor is often the problem, resulting in the listed actions. I have had good luck just cleaning the resistor and wiper. I use contact cleaner - used to get it from Radio Shack - but is available at electronic supplies. Use a Q-Tip to wipe out the drum resistor and try it. Has always worked for me.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member
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    "DeOxit" is the cleaner, available in spray cans.
     
  12. jim10219

    jim10219 Member
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    That's a good next step. Usually, unless there was an event that caused physical damage such as a drop, liquid entering the camera, or a battery leaking, the most likely cause of an electrical problem will be either dried out electrolytic capacitors (if it has any) or worn out or corroded switches or potentiometers. Some Deoxit and scrubbing will usually take care of the latter.
     
  13. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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  14. twelvetone12

    twelvetone12 Member
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    @bsdunek do you have a manual on how to disassemble the lens mount for cleaning the resistors? I have two nikkormats but I could never figure out how to access it for cleaning
     
  15. mark

    mark Subscriber
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    I've had much better luck neutralizing in the cleaning process. Baking Soda and a q-tip for contacts, then fine sanding paper to clear the copper.

    Never had an issue with a meter so never had to take one apart.
     
  16. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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  17. shutterfinger

    shutterfinger Subscriber

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    Burnishing tools for contacts are about 3000 grit to 6000 grit sandpaper and should only be used when there is pitting on the contact. Metal polish works better in cameras for cleaning tarnished contacts. http://www.mothers.com/02_products/05100-05101.html#&slider1=20 works very well. Metal polishing scotch brite pads ( red/burgundy) took the place of crocus cloth which is also good for polishing badly burned contacts.
     
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