Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Exakta RTL1000 - The Last Exakta

This camera is funny.  It's not a True Exakta, as it is actually built by Pentacon.  But it is an Exakta mount, and has the Interchangeable viewfinders.
For all intents and purposes, this is a Praktica in Exakta clothing.

That said, of course, the RTL1000 is also a some sought after camera, in some ways, and not in others. For one, it is a typical SLR construction, and has a dual-release.   One for left handed operation, and one for right handed operation.  Both releases are located on the front of the camera.  The left handed release is in the typical Exakta location, right beside the upper corner lens mount. The second release, or the right-handed release, is in the typical Praktica location, which is beside the lens mount around the center of the mount, and right above the self-timer.
You can use either release to trip the shutter curtain.

As you can see, the particular model I got is in rather rough shape.  And believe me, when I got it, the camera looked much nicer than this.  The body still had its skin on, and it had a Carl Zeiss Flektagon 35mm ƒ/2.8 lens attached.  That really made the camera stand out.
But, sadly, the Flektagon lens was a write-off, as was the other 50mm ƒ/2.8 lens that came with it.  The Zeiss was mangled.  Someone had attempted to repair the lens, screwed up the retaining rings on the back of it, and left a HUGE glued thumb print on the second last element.  What a disaster!  I could not open the lens to clean and repair it.. so sadly,. the lens went into the trash...
Talk about upsetting.

The other lens, the aperture dial wouldn't adjust the aperture..  It wasn't a highly sought after lens, and I have two Exakta's already, and both have Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar lenses on them.  So needless to say, this lens has gone into storage until I feel I have time to repair it.  At least, I think it went into storage.

So aside from those minor let downs with this camera, it had a major flaw.  The shutter wouldn't fire at any speed, and the winder was jammed.  I told you, I bought the camera for the lenses!
I paid, or around $20.00 + shipping for it all..
Well, I decided to get my monies worth out of it, and decided to have a go at fixing the camera.
Sure enough, I got the camera apart, and checked out why the advance lever wasn't working.  Well, one of the gears was stuck, so a little bit of gentle coaxing, and it released.
I was very gentle, because if it didn't release I would have to look deeper into it.
Sure enough the lever started advancing the film winder no problem, which I thought was problem #1 solved, and back to having a working camera.
I was wrong...  The shutter fired at all speeds, but those speeds were all the same.  1/1000s.
Wow, I was pretty upset at that..
Enter the screwdriver set.  I have my fine-tipped jeweller screwdrivers as well as a camera screwdriver set.  Unfortunately my kids have run off with a bunch of them, and so I'm stuck with two that aren't the best suited for the job, but they are functional.

I got the top plate off on both sides, then removed the back.
After that happened, I had to pull the skins off, and remove the lens mount so I could get to the shutter mechanisms.
Oh that was fun!  The four screws to the lens mount were removed, and the mount was released from the camera.
I had to gently coax it off as the glue from the skin was still in place.  Once it was off, I had access to the shutter release mechanisms.

This really left me with a feeling of trepidation, confusion, bewilderment, and especially anxiety.
I blinked probably a few dozen times trying to make heads or tails of what I was looking at, and just couldn't figure it out.
So into a box along with all the parts for storage.
And there it sat for a good year!
Well, that year ended when I got the news that I was going to be delayed going to work.  So, since I couldn't go to work, I decided to hunt around in my basement for lost treasures.  Sure enough, I came upon my RTL1000 that I had completely all but forgot about.  Funny, I was thinking of this camera recently.

I opened up the storage box, and got that same feeling of anxiety, and bewilderment again, but gritted my teeth and thought to myself.. "It's now or never!"

So I pulled out the body, minus the lens mount, and cocked the shutter.
I found the inner release lever, and fired..
Yup.. same thing, still 1/1000s.

What came next, I don't know..  I started to check out what happens when I trip the shutter and cock the shutter.
Well, I noticed that there was a free floating lever, or pin, or something that seemed unattached.
So, I did what came naturally to me.  I sat and figured out where it went.
I was shocked when I found a spot for it, and it fit.
No clue what this thing did, but maybe it had something to do with adjusting the tensioner for the shutter.  Not really sure, but after I did that I cocked the shutter, and pressed on the shutter release catch.
Sure enough, at 1/30s it was... slower..
So I tried 1s...
Click...zzzzzzz.... clank...

The shutter was working!

So... What abut Bulb?

Click clunk... Nope, no bulb mode.
I shoot my head.  I tried to get BULB to work.  I found the locking mechanism for the shutter to keep it open when the button was depressed, but couldn't get it to hold the shutter open like it should. 
No matter what I tried, so I just finally gave up.

I checked out the mirror box/lens mount and moved a couple levers to male sure the mirror would flip out of the way.
Sure enough the mirror flipped up easily, and the aperture pin fired just fine.
Good!  Everyone is looking good now..

Now to close it all up...

What a chore that was!
Lens mount/mirror box was re-attached, and I had to make sure that the shutter release levers were in the right spot.
I pressed it into place, cocked the shutter, and released it..
Sure enough it fired beautifully, the mirror moved out of the way, and it looked like it was in business.. definitely in business!

Next, got the top plates back on, and the camera reassembled and screwed together.
That's when I noticed... No bottom plate!


Ah frig!  Where the hell did it go?

So far, no avail to finding it..
I know it was there, because I still have the screws for it!  But, since I can't find it, I'll just have to get another parts camera and shift some parts around.  That's fine, of course, as there is a spring missing from the lens mount to hold the lens on at the release.
So once assembled, I took out my big flash gun.  Now to test out the shutter and X-Sync at the same time.

The nice thing about using a Flash gun is that you can test out the shutter timings with how it looks by shining the flash through the lens mount without a lens attached.
Starting at 1s I released the shutter.
Yup, bright flash, full mount..
And so it went up to 1/125s.  The flash filled the film plane nicely..
Well, 1/250s and I could see part of the shutter curtain in the way of the flash...
1/500s, and half the shutter was in the way of the flash..
1/1000s and the last 1/3 of the shutter closing was all you'd see when the shutter was tripped and the flash gun fired.
That was a great sign!  The shutter WAS firing at different speeds, and seemed fairly accurate.
Plus the X-sync was functional.

Now I need to load up some film, and get shooting with it!
Sure, it's a little ugly right now, but it definitely has its charms!

Exakta RTL1000
35mm SLR w/Interchangeable lenses on an Exakta/Topcon mount
24mm x 36mm frame size on 35mm Perforated (135) film
Metal Vertical Travel focal plane shutter 1s to 1/1000s +B X-Sync @ 1/125s M-Sync 1/30s
Dual Shutter release (Left/Right hand operation)
10s self-timer
Threaded shutter release
Chrome and Black colour pattern/body

Until next time fellow bloggers, keep those shutters firing!

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