Through the Viewfinder: A Tutorial
By Russ Morris - page added April 30, 2007
Cleaning the mirror and lenses in a Duaflex
One of the cool things about Through the Viewfinder photography is that there are a few varieties of cameras used within the medium itself. There are folks who use Holgas, some who use Argus and a few brave souls use large-format boxes for their bottom camera.
Most folks use the trusty old Kodak Duaflex or one of it's relatives, the Kodak Duaflex II, III or IV. Over time the viewfinder chamber of the Duaflex can get quite dusty. This causes the appearance of small hair-like particles on most TtV pictures when the mirror or the bubble lens ends up being point of focus. And there are two definite camps - some folks like all the fuzz, some folks don't.
I personally like clean looking pictures. I've taken apart two Duaflexes, one Starflex and one Duaflex II to make sure my shots are fairly free of dust, hair and other fuzzy bits.
This how-to will list the tools required and the steps involved in disassembling an Original Kodak Duaflex to clean the viewing lenses and the mirror.
It's a bit tricky, but if you take your time and keep track of the screws and parts you'll be fine.
- Small container to hold the screws and paper gaskets
- Small Phillips tip screwdriver or needle-nose pliers to remove the screws
- Glass cleaner
- Cloth for cleaning glass (avoid using paper towels, they leave fuzzy particles!)
Parts, parts, everywhere!
Removing the front plate
Lay the camera on its back. There are four screws holding the plate over the front viewing and taking lenses. Use either the Phillips screwdriver or needle-nose pliers to loosen and remove the four screws.
Once they're removed you can easily lift off the plate, then remove and clean the front viewing lens.
Remove the lens slowly - you'll find there are two distinct sides to the lens and a paper gasket between the lens and the plate. Use the cloth and glass cleaner on both sides of the front viewing lens.
Set the front viewing lens aside and resist touching it! Put the gasket in the container with the screws.
Don't put this back together yet!
Loosening the bubble harness
Stand the camera upright. On top of the camera there are two screws through a harness that hold the top bubble lens in place. Use either the Phillips screwdriver or needle-nose pliers to loosen and remove them.
Once you've removed them you'll be able to carefully (!) lift and move the bubble harness upward to allow the bubble lens and the paper gasket to fall out by tilting back the Duaflex.
Again, use a cloth and glass cleaner to wipe the grunge from both sides of the lens.
Set the bubble aside, too. Put the gasket in the container with the screws.
Getting to the mirror
Now that both viewing lenses are out of the camera, you're left with access to the mirror via the two remaining holes. Spraying compressed air into the viewing chamber works great to loosen and evacuate dust. If you don't have compressed air, you can just blow hard into the chamber.
Next, wrap the cloth around your index finger and spray a little glass cleaner on it. Hold the camera with your free hand. Stick your finger with the cloth through the hole on the top of the camera. It's a bigger opening and you'll have an easier time wiping the mirror clean through the top instead of through the front.
Take a dry part of the cloth and do the same thing, wrap it around your index finger and stick it through the top of the camera and dry the mirror.
If you decide to blow into the chamber, you'll probably have to clean the mirror again.
That's basically all there is to it.
Putting it back together
The bubble lens
Start with the bubble. Put the paper gasket on the bottom side the glass bubble and holding it by the edges slide it into its seat as you carefully lift the harness. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter which side of the bubble is up. Watch out for fingerprints!
Next, hold the harness down while you insert one of the screws. Tighten it, but not all the way. Put the other screw in and tighten it almost all the way down, as well - leave it loose enough to adjust the position of the bubble in the seat.
When you're happy with the position, tighten both screws all the way down.
The front viewing lens
Putting the front lens back together is as easy as it was taking it apart.
Place the lens in the seat smooth side up - the other side has a lip that fits perfectly into the seat, holding it steady. Put the gasket over the edge of the lens.
Place the plate over everything and put one screw through the plate into the camera body and tighten it, but not all the way. Put a screw in the opposite corner and tighten it, but not all the way.
Put screws in the remaining corners and twist them snug, making sure the lens and gasket are aligned so that all you see is the lens - not the gasket. Tighten all four screws.
Check all the glass for fingerprints.
You're done - get shooting!