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Leica CL

Picture shows , Leica CL 'tuning-fork' assembly and RF penta-prism with deteriorated silvering. This is the main cause of rangefinder problems with the CL . Leica CL


Leica CL
Points worth checking before purchase
The CL compact rangefinder camera from Leitz is different from every other camera in many respects and has nothing in common with the Minolta CLE apart from the M bayonet flange. It was designed in Wetzlar , Germany and produced in Japan from 1973 to 1976. Most bear the legend Leitz Wetzlar on the top-plate , a small number have Leitz-Minolta CL engraved on the camera. The coupled rangefinder has masks for (bright-line)  40 , 50 & 90mm lenses. Serial numbers start from 1300001 to 1440000 . There are a number of points worth checking before purchasing a used camera . Firstly , external condition obviously gives a clue to the previous owners treatment of the camera , one that has dents in the top-plate and 'white' metal showing , where the anodising has worn away has had a bit of use but may be perfectly OK mechanically. The metering utilizes a pivoted meter movement that rotates when the speed dial or ASA/DIN is altered , a camera that has had a knock may have the operating rods distorted , or the meter assembly , adrift from the pivots . This can be checked by fitting a lens and battery to the camera , winding on ( to restore the semaphore arm with meter CDS cell) and setting the film speed to 100ASA and 1/30 second . Press the battery check button and watch the meter needle deflect downwards to about 8 o'clock . Release the battery check and move the wind-lever to it's stand-off position (to switch meter on) , rotate the speed dial back to  1/2 second and point the camera toward a low-level light source that just moves the needle from it's rest position . Then check that , each time the shutter speed is incremented , the meter needle moves in a downward fashion with each turn of the dial ( it will be necessary to increase the amount of light falling on the lens (CDS cell)  either by utilizing the lens aperture or pointing the camera to a brighter source as the higher shutter speeds  are reached . This check only tests if the mechanical meter linkages are working correctly and does not indicate that the meter is accurate . In some instances  the meter may not work at all , and the problem may be , simply , that the galvanometer coil is sticking , or more seriously , that the coil is open circuit ( quite rare ) . Other meter problems can be associated with the photocell or the ceramic circuit board . These latter faults , can normally be repaired quite inexpensively (see price guide) . The shutter can be checked by removing the lens and winding-on ; press the release button( with back-plate removed) while observing the film plane aperture whilst holding toward a bright light . The shutter moves from 'top to bottom' and at 1/1000 second the whole image area should be ' scanned ' without any 'cut-off' . If only half or a portion of the exposure is light then a service is necessary. Some cameras have been know to sieze-up   completely through lack of lubrication , making it impossible to obtain an exposure at any shutter speed  , due to both shutter curtains crossing  the image plane together , without a delay between the first and second blind . This can happen at any time , and a camera that has not been serviced  can work correctly until you get it home , then the main shutter gears sieze  , leaving you with a non-working camera .Another point to check is the take-up spool . Early cameras did not have the brass bush which is fitted to later spools , and these earlier spools tend to break. The white bottom part splits from the main black body and then the tangs break off. Nearly all early CL's will need a new spool if it hasn't already been fitted. The Viewfinder is held in by epoxy resin , so check that this is not loose . It will fall out and get lost if the epoxy has cracked
Checking the rangefinder( see picture at top of page )
One of the main problems with the rangefinder is that the second image , on some cameras , may be very 'dim' or totally non-existant . This is due to the vapour deposited aluminum layer which the prism is coated with , deteriorating , to such an extent that the relfective properties are no longer there . Normally a Leitz/Leica agency would have to fit a complete , new rangefinder assembly , but we can remove and 're-silver ' the prism at a fraction of the cost and restore the image brightness to it's original condition . To check the rangefinder prism , hold the camera towards you , with the words LEICA CL visible and point the eyepiece lens towards a bright light while observing the small ( 3mm x 5mm) window , just to the right of ' CL'   ( you may have to look slightly to the left of centre ) the back of the prism can be seen . Light entering the eyepiece should be reflected through the prism and it's condition checked . A patch of light with black dots , or a largish black area indicate that the silvering has 'gone' . The apex of the prism can be seen , clearly as a very fine line , running left/right across the centre of one in good order. Obviously check the vertical and horizontal accuracy of the secondary image , minor deviations can be corrected quite easily , a seriously defective rangefinder may have been interferred with to such an extent that repairs may be more involved and costly .
Normal methods to check the meter can be used , the main problems are as in the first paragraph but as the meter uses a single , Cadmium-Sulphide photocell and the camera could be 20 - 25 years old , there is a good chance that this CDS  cell is in need of replacement . After about 12 years the chemical composition of the cell deteriorates and it's sensitivity decreases. A certain amount can be compensated for by adjustment of trimmer resistors but to restore the meter sensitvity a new cell should be fitted ( SEE Price guide ).
Brief specification
Vertical running cloth-blind shutter 1/2 to 1/1000 and 'B' . Coupled rangefinder . Film speed range 25 ASA to 1600 ASA. Weight , under 400g ( body only) . One piece removeable back/base-plate .M type bayonet mount . Three bright-line frames 40 , 50 , 90 mm . Shutter speed indicated in viewfinder . Battery test button . CDS meter cell on swing arm , powered by PX625 battery. Meter switched on by wind-lever . Hot-shoe flash connection (only) .Two lugs at LHD side of body for carry strap . Black-anodized aluminium top-plate and die-cast alloy shell . Will accept most M lenses apart from 21mm Super Angulon and 28mm lenses below serial 2314920.

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