Hooray for me, I did my first successful CLA on a camera and didn’t have any parts left over. In fact, it went back together very nicely. Why are you messing with old, fragile cameras, you may ask. Well, I want to use this camera more, but it had some issues with a moldy viewfinder that had to be addressed, and I needed an excuse to buy a spanner tool.

I cannot see out of this grungy thing!

The viewfinder was horribly dirty; it wasn’t even useful in bright sunlight. The pink fog inside annoyed me, and I really wanted this camera to be pristine. I tried cleaning it without disassembly, but the grime was actually behind two layers of glass and mirrors. My only option was taking it apart. Luckily, there is a great article on cleaning this very camera!

Innards of a 1959 Agfa Optima

I was fascinated by the complexity of the light metering mechanics (top right of the camera) so I took a minute to admire it’s 60 year old tech. I momentarily considered applying some clock oil to it, but I wanted to limit any damage I might have caused during the cleaning. Simply knowing how to take the camera apart safely, and doing it, is a milestone for me.

Full frontal nudity

The viewfinder is an angular box held in place with 3 screws. Once I got the box unmounted, it was easy to get all the glass and mirrors out. I cleaned them one at a time, making sure to put them back in the same direction they came out. A couple were concave, so it was important to remember their orientation to avoid having my subjects upside down when looking through the viewer.

Crystal clear

After a thorough cleaning, the glass is so clear one can see the mirror through the front of the viewfinder. The image is bright and sharp, and there are no more mold spots. I’m extremely happy with the results. The takeaway from this is really to take your time and have all the right tools. As of this writing the spanner tool is $10 all day long on eBay. It’s essential, and I wouldn’t work on a camera again without it.

All dressed up and ready for the dance

Now that I’ve got the camera back to useful operation, I am going to carry it around with me for a while. I really think this will be one of my prime cameras for the Frugal Film project!