Procedure: Dealing with light leaks

Thanks to: various contributors

Disclaimer: This data is provided for informational purposes only. You must assess your ability to perform the operations described. Neither the individual contributor nor Rocky Mountain Memories assumes any responsibility for damage you may inflict on your camera by following these directions.

Symptoms: Occasional light leaks in the right-hand image. Not often, but enough to be annoying -- sometimes as many as one per roll of film, but not at any predictable place in the roll.

Solution 1: (contributor unknown)

Simply use some black tape to cover the back of the camera near the hinge.

Solution 2: (contributor unknown)

The source of the leak is right where the camera back closes next to the focus wheel. The standard fix is to peel some of that nice black light trapping material from the lip of an old 35mm film canister and glue a neatly trimmed sliver along the inside edge from top to bottom on the end where the focus wheel is. Makes a nice gasket for light-tapping.

Solution 3: (Martin Simon)

The light leak problem is common on the Realist. The latch on the right hand side (from the back) on the bottom has to be adjusted to hold the back on tighter.

Solution 4: (Joe Bakan)

There is an easy fix for this. With the camera closed, check for play between the back and the body at the right side (the side with the focus knob). To adjust the latch and eliminate the play (and the light leak), remove the back, and note the small metal tongue at the right side of the back that engages the latch and holds the back shut. With pliers, carefully bend the tongue SLIGHTLY in toward the center of the camera. Replace the back on the body, lock the latch and check again for play. Re-adjust as needed. When it fits snugly, no more light leak!

Solution 5: (Ed Comer)

I don't think that the suggestion of "bending tongue slightly towards the center" is the best way to tighten the seal. Instead, I'd suggest attempting to shorten the tongue by increasing, or moving, the tongue's end curl down shaft towards the body. It is the "hook" of the curl that catches the locking shaft, and how close the "curl hook" is relative to the body, appears to determine how tight the back's seal will be. Bending the tongue inwards won't really shorten the worn curl, although it would create a spring tension effect that would mitigate, but not eliminate the looseness. .

Ken Luker adds:

I made the adjustment described above because the latch was so loose the back fell completely off my camera, ruining three or four exposures. But I never experienced noticeable light leaks until AFTER I'd made the adjustment. Now I notice that the metal tab on the other end of the camera seems to be allowing too much play in the hinge end. I'm going to adjust that with pliers. I fear wiggling with it too much may loosen the rivet grips and then I'm sunk.

Rocky Mountain
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