Contax Sticky Mirror

Contax ST

A while back, I broke out my old Contax ST from a long hiatus from shooting film, dusted it off, changed out the batteries and prepped it to run a roll of film through it. I clicked my trusty 50mm f1.7 Zeiss lens on and turned it on to tested the shutter.

I got a half click with no film advance sound. I went to take the lens off to investigate and got the shutter close and film advance. I tried changing the lens and got the same result. After a little research I concluded that the camera was suffering from the dreaded mirror slip. Apparently, this camera suffers from a condition as it ages where the adhesive that was  used to attach the mirror to the mirror flap door gets gummy or old and the mirror slips down a little which causes it to get jammed on the back of the lens when it flaps open to expose the shutter. I did a little research and found that there were some people that had some success pulling the mirror off, scraping off all of the adhesive and then reattaching the mirror with a new piece of double sided tape. I wasn’t even going to attempt this because people were warning that if you didn’t use a tape with the same thickness that your shots would be out of focus.

I took the camera into a local repair shop and was quoted $150 to repair it, which isn’t so bad considering the number of lenses that I have for this camera is worth more than $150 to me, but I couldn’t justify the spend since you can pick them up used in good condition on ebay for less than that. I decided to give the fix a try because it wouldn’t cost me anything and if I messed it up, I could always take it back to the repair shop to fix or pick up another one if I messed it up that bad.

The Repair

I decided to do a slight modification to the repair so I wouldn’t have to spend the time trying to pry the mirror off of the flap without breaking it. I used a hair dryer pointing at the mirror to heat the adhesive enough so it became more pliable. This took about 6 or 7 minutes fanning the hot air at the mirror. I then gently lifted the mirror flap up so I could put equal pressure on both corners of the edge of the mirror to push it back towards the hinge. After applying about about a minute of firm pressure while blowing on the mirror to cool the adhesive back down, I tested the shutter and it worked. The fraction of a millimeter that the mirror moved was enough to clear the back of the lens. I did a couple of test fires and it seemed to work well. I changed the lens and everything seemed good. I then went to load a roll of film into the camera and as the camera was trying to advance to the first frame it jammed again. This was solved with a little bit of crazy glue. I followed the same procedure that I used the first time around, but this time, after the mirror had been adjusted, I put a tiny drop of crazy glue on a toothpick and brushed it along the edge of the mirror, where the mirror meets the mirror flap. I then let the glue dry overnight. I am happy to report that I have been using the camera for about 3 months without an issue.

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