Warning: Camera modifications or disassembly requires some level of mechanical skill to avoid damage or injury. Attempt them at your own risk.My Sputnik had several problems when I bought it. One was "fatal" and the others less serious.
- The fatal problem was that the gear teeth on the lenses are worn and the right lens gear (when viewed from the rear) would sometimes slip relative to the other two. There was no point in using the camera when one image would be out of focus.
To fix it I had to loosen the nut on the back of the right lens and then move the lens upward and towards the viewfinder lens. I played with it until the teeth meshed nicely over the entire range of focus. Then I tightened the right lens in place.
The left and right images don't come out at the same height on the film now, but this can be corrected in mounting.
- Due to the gear slippage I had to calibrate the focus (ground glass on film plane vs viewfinder). To do this you need to remove the gears from each lens by loosening the tiny screws.
While I had it apart I cleaned out the old hardened grease from the focusing threads and replaced it with Lubriplate grease. It focuses very smoothly now.
- Also while it was disassembled, I removed the front lens elements (by removing the snap ring) and blackened the edges with a permanent felt marker (a.k.a. Jiffy Marker). If you do this, make sure to put the lens elements back in the original orientation, since they aren't symmetrical.
I also blackened the edges of the front viewfinder lens, square VF lens and inside of VF len barrel with permanent marker. This helps make the poor viewfinder somewhat better.
- The second biggest problem was light leaks along the edges and hinges of the two wrap-around doors, which allowed light fogging into the image area. Black tape works but is inconvenient and messy if electrical tape is used.
My solution was to cyanoacrilate (a.k.a. Crazy Glue) black yarn into the V-grooves on the doors. This reduced the light leaks by 75% or so. It is now safe outdoors with 100 speed film. I still get some fogging but not into the image area. It is occurring at the top/back corners of the camera (I think).
- The next most significant problem is poor contrast due to light reflecting off the semi-gloss black bakelight walls of the camera and reflecting onto the film.
Lens shades work for light sources outside the image area, but the reflections off the walls can occur from light sources (or bright areas) within the scene. Better cameras usually have stepped walls to prevent this problem.
Covering the walls with black flocked paper from Edmund Scientific is a fairly simple solution and should be quite effective.
I went one step further and also make a single baffle that is placed about halfway between film and lens. It rests against the spool well bulge and is made from sheet tin (from a hobby shop) and covered with the black flocked paper. The size of hole was chosen for no vignetting at f6.7 or smaller apertures. A larger hole will allow use at wider apertures, but be less effective due to it casting a smaller shadow (on the walls). A smaller hole will be more effective but will vignette at large and medium apertures. I chose f6.7 as a compromise, since I could forsee shooting at f8 once in a while, but never at f5.6.
I also glued black flocked paper on the spool well bulges since there is significant glare off them and on the flat walls between baffle and film plane.
- My last modification was to enlarge the film gates horizontally by about 1/2 mm each. I used a file on the two outer edges (near the corner rollers) and filed at an angle by aiming the file towards the lens. This moves the in-camera window in somewhat and thus gives you more freedom when mounting a slide of close subjects.
- I added a bubble level (tube type) to my camera ( photo). I bought some stick-on levels, made for campers and motor homes. The bubble tube itself is about an inch long but the plastic base was about 1.5" x 0.75". So I used a hacksaw and cut away all the extra plastic until it was only about 1" x 0.25". Then I glued it on the center of the body (just behind the viewfinder where the doors meet). It should prevent any tilted horizon photos in the future :)
Or you could just take the bubble tube out of a small carpenter's level and glue it directly to the camera.
Note: The baffle photo below was taken before the bubble level was added.
Click here for a 3D photo of the baffle (cross-eyed view).
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