Repair Widelux : FV / F5

This page covers the Widelux Model FV, while another repair page has been derived from the Widelux F7.

General Layout

Mechanics in the Widelux are divided between two basic parts, the top and bottom halves.

  • The trigger, frame counter, power spring, and speed regulator are all contained in the top half.
  • The advance ratchet, shutter control, and rewind release are all in the bottom half. When the lens is removed, it is done through the bottom.

Quieting the Advance Ratchet

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Ordinarily, the Widelux can be quite loud when you wind it. This noise can be nearly eliminated by working on the advance ratchet, located in a corner just above the bottom plate. Use a small amount of heavy grease around the shoulder screw that holds the ratchet. This will immediately quiet the action of the ratchet and tiny spring, giving it a smooth silky sound.

Shutter Control

The shutter is controlled by a pressure slip disc surrounding the bottom bearing. After removing the bottom plate, you can then remove the circular plate that holds the bearing. This will reveal the shutter slip disc, as well as the arm that radiates out to the shutter at the back of the turret.

This slip disc causes the shutter to always lag behind the motion of the turret. When the film is advanced, the turret drags the shutter along behind it, forcing it to stay closed. Then at the time of exposure, the turret drags the shutter in the opposite direction, this time forcing it to stay open. This disc must have enough spring tension to keep the shutter dragging at all times, or the shutter will fall into the wrong position.

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Removing the Lens

The lens is removed by dropping it through the bottom. After removing the lower bearing and the shutter slip disc, you can then remove the bottom of the turret. The lens is mounted on a board in the center of the turret, and will come out with some pulling. There is some tension on this lens board to keep it tight, so you may have to pull hard.

The lens can be re-focused by loosening the threaded collar and rotating the whole lens assembly in place. Remember that to focus closer, you would move the lens further out from the film. Also remember that the f-stop is set by a gear at the top of the turret, which won’t be able to engage if the lens is moved too far forward.

When re-installing the lens, make sure that the f-stop ring is matched to the gear at the correct point.

Focus Adjustment

I adjusted mine to focus at close distance, figuring that further subjects would be outdoors under better light, and smaller aperture settings anyway.

The easiest way to focus is to load a peice of processed film, using the transparent leader as a focusing screen. Make sure it’s tight against the film rails, and then slide the lens back up into the turret. You’ll have to put the lower bearing back too. Take a look at the film while pointing the camera at a bare light bulb. You have to adjust things around until you can see the image of the bulb on the film only, and not through the lens directly.

A better way to focus would be to set up a flat ground glass and forget about the in-camera method. The lens would be mounted in front of the ground glass, providing a much better way to view the results. The problem with this method is that it requires a precise distance reconstruction between the lens and focusing screen – a side task that would take much longer than simply re-focusing in the camera.

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Removing the Top Plates

Before removing the top plates, all control knobs must be taken off. The trickiest one is the f-stop dial. This one is released by a set screw buried against the shaft, pointing down toward the turret. You must remove this screw completely, then the f-stop ring will unscrew.

Be careful with the body screws that join the two stacked top plates to each other. These are fixed with some kind of brazing method that seems to break easily. The earlier cameras are very much “hand made” and this is one area of weakness.


Frame Counter and Trigger

The trigger assembly keeps the turret held in position. There is an intricate relationship between the trigger gears, the turret gear, and the advance ratchet. After playing with these components for a long time, I’ve determined there’s no single method to dismantling and re-assembling this stuff.

The trigger itself is a union of two fat gears, with pegs between them keeping them locked to each other. When you press the trigger, the lower gear breaks free and the turret spins. At the end of the turret travel, the trigger gear pair is supposed to be re-aligned so they can lock together again.

In re-assembly, the biggest problem is usually in getting these trigger gears to re-align at turret rest position. When re-assembling this part of the camera, be sure to check the following points:

  • Trigger re-locks at end of turret motion.
  • Frame Counter advances while winding turret.
  • Film Advance gears on bottom are in sync with turret and trigger.

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Speed Regulator Assembly

Turret speed is determined by two basic factors: main spring tension and speed regulator assembly. The speed is regulated by friction cups on the top plate of the speed regulator assembly. These cups must not be lubricated in any way.

On the FV, there are 3 speeds. I don’t see how they ever had the “50″ claimed on the control knob. I’ve studied this for a long time and have concluded the gears and tension ratios just don’t both support 1/50 and 1/200 at the same time.

I found that the speed ratios are not quite what they should be, relative to each other. I ended up removing mass from one pair of the friction weights to bring all speeds into the right relationships with each other. Finally, my speeds are adjusted to 1/4, 1/100, and 1/200. This gives a nice set for color negative, where you want to over-expose anyway. Plus the turret speed is held to a safe (reliable) limit.

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Shutter Speed Adjustment

The primary contributor to shutter speed is the main spring tension. The spring is under the top main gear. It is a clock spring, wound around the turret shaft. You don’t have to worry about releasing too much tension on this spring – it’s wound perhaps only 1 or 2 extra turns, so there’s not much tension to begin with.

You should be careful when removing the main gear, for it must later be re-aligned with the trigger assembly.

To adjust the shutter speed, loosen the main gear from the turret and rotate the turret and main gear independantly to higher or lower tension settings. You might find that the speed is not uniform from start to finish. This could be from a main spring that doesn’t have a good geometry. Mine was fully expanded out against the outer posts and had very little active length in the middle to pull the turret with. I removed the spring and re-curled it to produce a better spiral, which evenly distributed the tension through the whole range of motion.

Checking the Shutter Speed

Even if you don’t attempt to change your shutter speed, you can still check it using this method.

The Widelux can’t be checked with a typical shutter calibrator. I’ve found that the panning lens throws everything off. The best way to check the speed is to use a calculator and a known speed reference.

Insert a section of film and mark the limits of the image. Remove the film and measure the total length of the image. Measure the width of the slit (apx 2 mm) and divide this into the image length. You’ll get a number something like 30. Next, use a known speed reference, such as another camera, to judge the total travel time of the turret. Divide the travel time by the fractional width of the slit (above), yielding the actual shutter time.

Other Adjustments

Corner Focus

On this FV, I noticed some de-focusing at end of the image, and found this to be from curving of the film at the lead-in to the film rails. (On more recent cameras such as the F7, this had already been corrected.)

The rollers which guide the film on and off the film rails are there to begin the natural curve of the film. They must begin this curve as early as possible, so that the film is in position and close to the shutter as it passes. I found that these two rollers were not close enough to the film rails, and the film wasn’t snug against the rails all the way to the end.

I used black heat-shrink tubing around the rollers to increase their diamter, which corrected the problem and brought all parts of the image into perfect focus. Unfortunately, the rollers can only be removed if you have access to both the top and bottom parts of the camera frame, which means you must remove the top gear assemblies. This looses sync between the turret and trigger, which you’ll then have to restore (instructions, above).


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