Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 – Balance and Clarity

Yay! New post! I’m still here. I’ve been spending a lot of time over on Instagram. I’m still accepting cameras to restore and I still am selling cameras through the blog. In fact, 2015 was the most profitable year yet for 2nd Shot and still going strong. I haven’t posted since July which is embarrassing but I do have a really good excuse… honest. My excuse has a little to do with my personal life so pardon the “all about me” gush crap. This first part is more of a reminder to myself. You can always scroll down for some killer info regarding SX-70 fresnel mirrors. Mind blowing stuff man.

So excuse/reason. I have a pretty demanding full-time day job as a designer and my kids live in Michigan (long story) so I travel back and forth on a regular basis which takes up weekends. The day job is ok. It pays bills… it’s a lot like ‘Office Space’. I have 4 bosses and a cube. It’s a pretty tight, modern-day large corporate atmosphere with little room to grow and chock full of TPS reports. So essentially I wait eagerly from 8-5 before mild mannered Matt Q. Employee can duck into a phone booth and emerge as Captain 2nd Shot, bags under eyes and all. This leaves me about, on average, 4-5 hours an evening to work on cameras, answer 2nd Shot emails, update Instagram, take some studio shots of cameras, clean and organize parts, etc. for a total of 20-25 hours a week. 2nd Shot is my passion. I love doing it, I love meeting people, I love the history behind the products, I love the challenges, I love having control of what I do… but man am I tired. It’s a one-man show. At one time it was a 2 person gig but my marketing manager left to make cookies. ;)

So like the titles says, I want to find balance in 2016 but I’m not sure how to find it. It would be awesome if I could just say screw it and quit the day job and run with the camera thing but unfortunately it’s not that easy at this point in my life. Too many financial and social obligations. So I really have no choice but to find a better balance. One of those ways is to ease off certain areas of social media, like my blog for instance. I may not be posting here as often as I thought I would but I still will be on occasion. I definitely think it’s important to keep in contact with everyone and share some info and cool stuff related to instant photography. Another thing that I may have to modify is answering emails. I would really like to answer emails immediately as missing an opportunity for a sale or repair is bad for business. So if you’ve sent an email, direct message, instant message, letter, I’ll get back to you within 48 hours. Your business is very important to me and I value each and every transaction. Of course, if there’s anyone who wants to do some free admin work answering emails for me I could answer a lot faster. Just throwing that out there. No resume needed.

Finally, for 2016, 2nd Shot needs to be more about getting back to my love of instant photography. I look back on all the photos I have from 2011-2014 and they’re more about photography instead of “test shots”. I want to buy film with the intent of using it like I would a few years back when I wasn’t fully worried about a clear bandpass filter, lightleaks, motor strength, faulty flash fire assemblies, or other things that would distract me from what I was actually seeing through the viewfinder. All too many times I’m too focused on the function of the camera rather than the shot I’m about to take… time to step back and get back to why I got into this in the first place.

So there you have it. Not really resolutions but goals for the year. I will still take my time and work on each and every camera I get into the shop like it was my own. I’ll continue to provide the best service I can and keep close with customers. I’m excited to see where this year will take me.

***The Part that Actually Talks About Cameras***

OK, the optics on an SX-70 consists of 4 mirrors (parabolic, viewing, taking, Fresnel), and 6 lenses (viewfinder, wafer, inner shutter, dual outer shutter, focal) . Performance and viewfinder clarity relies on perfect alignment of these mirrors and lenses. If the geometry of the camera is modified all kinds of viewing problems arise, most apparent in the viewfinder. The prominent image you see in the viewfinder is a reflection from the viewing mirror, to the Fresnel mirror, to the parabolic. Most people reading this are familiar with this image showing light bouncing from one point to another within the SX-70.

What we never see is what happens to the light when the optics are not aligned properly. I’m not going to attempt to draw it nor explain it in detail (because I really don’t know how to without sounding like an idiot) but I can pass along some words of wisdom from my ID days at Cleve Art Institute that if at first glance something looks wrong, it probably is and you need to fix it. The best examples I can think of are shown below and these are the most common problems I’ve encountered when looking into a viewfinder plus what might be causing the problem. These are specifically related to the Fresnel screen and carrier. Focal issues within the viewfinder are a different issue. I’ll write about those later. How to resolve these problems is a bit more complex and I recommend sending your camera in for repair/adjustment.

Dark concentric rings (shadowing) – This is commonly found on Sonar models like Time-Zero and SLR680-690. Shadowing is primarily caused by the weight of the shutter and sonar housing causing the shutter mounting board hinges to slightly bend over time. It can also be due to the erecting arm (ha ha) out of adjustment. If you look through the viewfinder and push the top of the sonar housing toward your face a bit you should be able to see the image brighten and even the image frame become clearer. Worst case scenario is a warped Fresnel mirror.

Split-viewfinder shadows – This is caused by lateral misalignment of the Fresnel mirror, poor camera geometry, or in some cases, a loose viewing mirror. Often times a shim placed at the hinge of the Fresnel carrier, adjusting the erecting arm, or regluing the viewing mirror will solve this problem. Again, a warped Fresnel carrier may be the cause.

Dark spots – Dark spots are not always scratches but can also be fungus, dust that has settled into grooves, or even areas that have been worn down by opening and closing. Most often, heavy dust and even fungus can be removed or at least visibility can be improved with gentle (like really really gentle) cleaning.

Overall dark appearance – This is where you can barely see an image… caused by either the Fresnel carrier not seating properly due to a jammed light baffle, broken carrier hinge, foreign object, etc. This could also be caused by the shutter blades not opening entirely.

Lines – Diagonal lines like shown are caused by the bellows resting on the Fresnel screen actually pressing down the grooves. These are commonly mistaken for cracks.

Cracks, fractures, chunks missing – This is caused by a broken viewing mirror. If your camera rattles/jingles, the viewing mirror is broken. It’s best to keep the camera open as closing will cause the broken pieces to scratch and damage the Fresnel surface.

No image at all – the Fresnel carrier may be in taking position or not fully seated, the shutter blades may be closed, or the viewing mirror may be completely detached.

Ok… long winded and not in as much detail as I would like but a good discussion nonetheless. Thanks for all those who have supported 2nd Shot and instant film!... Here’s to a great 2016. Shop’s open!


  1. Wishing you the very best for 2016; your knowledge and kindness are very appreciated! Your work is truly amazing and I hope for yourself that you'll find time for anything that you would care about.


  2. Thinking 2016 might be the year to get my SX-70 refurbished...
    LOVE your blog content and your IG feed!

  3. Thinking 2016 might be the year to get my SX-70 refurbished...
    LOVE your blog content and your IG feed!

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  6. "Lines – Diagonal lines like shown are caused by the bellows resting on the Fresnel screen actually pressing down the grooves. These are commonly mistaken for cracks."

    Is getting rid of the diagonal lines possible?

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  8. i have the same question.
    "Lines – Diagonal lines like shown are caused by the bellows resting on the Fresnel screen actually pressing down the grooves. These are commonly mistaken for cracks."

    Is getting rid of the diagonal lines possible?