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marknorton

Adjusting the Shutter Release Feel

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A criticism of the M8 since the very beginning has been the gritty shutter release feel. I've mentioned before that I have adjusted the feel of one of my cameras and prefer the result to my unadjusted cameras. A number of people have now asked how to do this, so this thread is to help those who want to try it for themselves.

 

First, the usual warnings:

 

- You will void your warranty if you do this; don't expect Leica to provide a shoulder to cry on if you mess up.

 

- You need the right tools to do the job. There's no point doing this if you mash the screw heads in the process.

 

- You need a static, dust free environment. Don't do this in a warm dry environment wearing artificial fabrics. Ground yourself to something like a water pipe to discharge any static, better yet, wear a conductive wrist-band connected to a ground. Find yourself somewhere dust free to place the camera while the top is off.

 

- You need to protect the camera from the oils and salts in your skin. Work with latex gloves to avoid contaminating the camera and the inside of the rangefinder and viewfinder windows. 5 years down the road, things will be corroding.

 

The tools you need are:

 

- A Phillips screwdriver with a fresh head, P000, 35mm

- A Phillips screwdriver, P00, 75mm

- A small, flat head screwdriver

- A pair of tweezers

- A rocket blower

 

This is what you are going to do:

 

- Remove the base-plate (5 screws)

- Remove the top cover (2 screws)

- Disconnect one flex print

- Remove the Shutter Release switch (3 screws)

- Adjust the Shutter Release (2 screws)

- Reassemble

 

Keep in mind that the correct way to remove a cross head screw is to press hard into the screw to prevent the screwdriver riding up and wrecking the screw head. Then apply anti-clockwise torque to release the screw; when it is free, reduce the pressure on the screw making sure that the screwdriver remains fully seated in the screw at all times.

 

Step 1

 

Remove the carrying strap, base, battery, SD card, lens; put a body cap on.

 

There are 5 screws in the base. Use the P000 screwdriver to remove them. The black plastic base will then lift out.

 

Step 2

 

Look in the battery compartment for three screws at the bottom. Use the P00 75mm screwdriver to remove ONLY the screw nearest the end of the camera. This screw will come out; when it comes time to replace the screw, use a pair of tweezers to replace it or "blu-tak" or equivalent to hold the screw on to the end of screwdriver.

 

Step 3

 

At the other end of the camera, look for a hole through the base of the shutter motor assembly. Insert the P00 75mm screwdriver and feel for a screw head. Undo this screw. It is a captive screw and will not fall out.

 

Step 4

 

Ease the top off the camera, allowing it to lift no more than 1 cm from the top of the camera. Tilt the top back to see the single flex print connected to the top circuit board. Look closely at how the flex print is inserted into the connector by comparing it with the others. A common mistake is not to insert the flex print far enough into the connector.

 

Using a small screwdriver or tweezers, lift the brown latch at one side from the flex print side, alternately left and right if it is stiff, up through 90 degress. You can then remove the flex print from the connector. Take care not to damage the gold "fingers". Gently does it!

 

With the top removed, put the camera away in a dust free area.

 

Step 5

 

Take a look at the top; you can see the shutter release switch attached using 3 screws. The flex print which connects to it is quite flexible but you must be careful not to crease it or bend it close to the 4 soldered connections on the bottom of the switch. It's easy to fracture the copper tracks which requires a fiddly repair. I did and it was! Remove the 3 screws.

 

Look immediately for the area on the reverse side where the shutter release knob presses into the switch. You'll see a tiny clear plastic disc which sits between the two and serves to cushion the touch. It should stay in place but if it falls out, as mine did, be careful to put it back on re-assembly.

 

Step 6

 

Now look around the rim of the switch; there are 4 tiny screws securing the contacts to the side of the switch. Do NOT remove these. Instead, look for the two other screws which adjust the pressure of the switch detents. The screw heads will probably be more or less flush with the surface and you can undo them by no more than 2 turns. Try to memorise or sketch the current position of the screws, maybe making a mark on them so that you can go back to the original setting if you need to.

 

I'd suggest slackening them by 1/2 turn, holding the switch back onto the top and trying the shutter release, then repeat.

 

Step 7

 

Finally, once you've decided on the best setting (or that this exercise has been a complete waste of time), reattach the switch, use the blower to remove any dust from the top cover and re-assemble. With the flex print attached and the top cover back in position, put the battery in and check the camera before you replace the screws.

 

Let us know how you get on...

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Bravo Mark - But I'm not even remotely tempted, no matter how much I hate the anachronistically crunchy release. It's comforting and exasperating to know that there is a sweetly operating mechanism operating under those crunches, but I don't have the confidence to get at it. Thank you for putting on record the procedure though.

 

................Chris

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Wow, thank you for posting such a detailed instruction to do the adjustment. But the warnings, scare the heck out of me to try that though

and rightfully so. I guess I just have to live with the original setting...

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Its nice to know some people have more nerve than I do.... happily I like my shutter switch. Maybe these directions will serve Leica service outlets well?

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Splendid Mark - thank you so much for posting this . . . . . Like some other cowards around here, suddenly my shutter action feels silky smooth!

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Brilliant, Mark, thanks a lot. It sounds daunting to me, but not impossible. I will get the tools required and think about it

 

Btw, do you know how to undo the ring around the shutter release? I presume that if you do this on a film M, you can replace the film winding arm. Will an M3-style arm fit on an M6?

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Brilliant, Mark, thanks a lot. It sounds daunting to me, but not impossible. I will get the tools required and think about it.

 

Well Carsten, if you chicken out, I don't expect anyone else to do it! Compared to the hassle I've had this afternoon fixing my Jura coffee machine - half ground beans everywhere, the M8 is childs play!

 

Btw, do you know how to undo the ring around the shutter release? I presume that if you do this on a film M, you can replace the film winding arm. Will an M3-style arm fit on an M6?

 

Carsten, to undo the ring, you need a spring clamp from Micro-Tools (same size as for an M6) but of course that is not required to adjust the feel of the shutter release.

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Superb instructions, Mark! I can't wait to get my M8 and am hoping for the shutter release to be gritty....

 

Carsten, Mark will probably be more qualified to reply on the M8's shutter release collar as he's taken one of those apart. The collar on the film M's can be taken off using a tool called Flexiclamp - available from Micro Tools.. I have also had success by firmly pressing a rubber block or a piece of an old inner tire tube onto the ring from the top and unscrewing it.

 

And yes, an M3 style crank will fit the M6, my M6 is thus equipped. As a matter of fact - M1, M2, M3, M4 (and variations) and M6 cranks are fully interchangable. Only M5 and M7 are different in the way they attach to the winding shaft of the camera.

 

Best,

 

Jan

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Mark, I expect I will end up doing it at some point, because I also find the shutter a bit gritty, and would like it smoother. I wish, in fact, that the "camera on" and "remember exposure" detents were a single detent.

 

I don't intend to remove the shutter collar from my M8, but, tadaa, from my M6, to replace the winder arm with an M3-style arm, surprise

I am not a big fan of the foldy-arm on the M6.

 

Does anyone know where I can get an M3-style chrome arm in near-perfect condition?

 

Moderator, when I edit a message, the save button sometimes say "Vote Now". Right now it says, comfortingly, "Delete this Message". I still have to press it to save...

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I don't intend to remove the shutter collar from my M8, but, tadaa, from my M6, to replace the winder arm with an M3-style arm, surprise

I am not a big fan of the foldy-arm on the M6.

 

Does anyone know where I can get an M3-style chrome arm in near-perfect condition?

 

 

Carsten,

 

The cranks sometimes appear on eBay, that is where I got mine. There used to be a fellow in Macao IIRC, who was selling them - I believe the parts were a identical to ones supplied by Leica but somehow found their way out of the factory in the Orient......

 

Simplest solution - contact Leica themselves and order the MP lever.

 

Best,

 

Jan

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Is the MP lever the same as the M3 and M6 levers? I would expect it to be like the M7 lever, given the mix-n-match which is possible with Leica-à-la-carte.

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Does anyone know where I can get an M3-style chrome arm in near-perfect condition?

Carsten,

 

DAG is showing a black M3 frame advance lever for $50 so it may be worth your while enquiring about a chrome one.

 

Leica M

 

Pete.

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Well, after a little coercion from you, Mark, in Howard's "Contemplating Forgiveness" thread, I finally did this.

 

Unfortunately, I think my screwdriver could be a bit better, and I did manage to slightly mar a couple of the screws holding the inside bottom plastic plate, but the rest went perfectly. No re-soldering needed here

Advice for a top-notch tools vendor would be appreciated so that it won't happen again.

 

All went well, except that I stalled for a while at disconnecting the flexprint, but eventually I managed to lift one of the dark brown arms on each side of it, and then all went as described. Initially I couldn't see the little transparent disc, and I thought I didn't have it, but when I experimentally tightened the shutter a little too much, and it stuck in the in-position, and I then backed off the screw, out popped the shutter, and off popped the disc, so I did have it after all.

 

I played a bit with both plungers, even removing them both, one at a time. When I removed the first one, I looked at the end and thought to myself: "Wow, is that rough! I will polish it a little. Maybe that will help". Of course, once I had started to polish it a little, I realised that it was the little dot which held the spring centered (in your picture, the top end), not the end which contacts the shutter mechanism. Then I turned it around and polished it lightly with plain paper, and then I added a little Silicone-based lubricant by dripping some on paper towel, letting most of it soak away, and then lightly touching the end of the plunger, before re-inserting it and inserting the spring and screw again.

 

I ended up backing off the one screw almost completely, resulting in a shutter feel where the first stop (the "on" position) cannot be felt any more. The second position, the "lock exposure" position, also turns on the camera, so I have no idea why Leica felt the need for the two separate positions. I don't need them. I also backed off the second position detent so that the push from exposure-lock to make-photo goes smoothly and without any jerky feeling.

 

In spite of the lubrication and the lighter detents, there is still a very slightly gritty feel to the shutter. I hope that for the M9, Leica makes the tolerances a little tighter (my shutter button can wobble a little sideways, which definitely does not help), as well as pay a little more attention to the movement of the plungers in their channels, and the touching surfaces, as well as lubrication. Finally, they should get rid of the separate on-position, which serves no useful purpose.

 

Here are some crappy cellphone pictures (Zeiss lens, what can you say? I hope for a cellphone with a Leica ASPH lens one of these days

):

 

 

 

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I agree with you about the first position, it would be enough to have a single "partially depressed" position which serves to wake the camera up/switch on the meter amd lock the exposure.

 

Interesting you tried the lubricant, I did not do that.

 

It will be interesting to hear how you get on with it. You can always reset it if you need to.

 

As regards tools, I recommend tools made by the French company Facom, Bienvenue sur le site de FACOM, a great range of precision tools. The cross-head screwdriver required for the smallest screws on the M8 is the AEP.000x35.

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Guest tummydoc

 

- You need a static, dust free environment. Don't do this in a warm dry environment wearing artificial fabrics. Ground yourself to something like a water pipe to discharge any static, better yet, wear a conductive wrist-band connected to a ground. Find yourself somewhere dust free to place the camera while the top is off.

 

- You need to protect the camera from the oils and salts in your skin. Work with latex gloves to avoid contaminating the camera and the inside of the rangefinder and viewfinder windows. 5 years down the road, things will be corroding.

 

 

That's interesting, because I've witnessed Leica's workers removing the top-plate of M8s to sort frameline issues and they do none of the above.

 

That said, I'm certainly happy that the shutter release on my M8 is perfectly smooth (as has been every other one I've ever tried, such a lucky bloke am I:rolleyes: ) and I won't be needing to tear-apart a nearly-$6000 in-warranty camera to effect an adjustment that, were it needed, I would most surely admonish Leica to do at my behest.

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I have the AEP.000X35 and AEFP.00X75 in my basket now. Which other screwdrivers (and sizes), like the small flathead you mention (1.5X35?), do you recommend for general work on the M8, or which several, if different sizes are used? By the way, there are no prices anywhere. When do I find out what I will be charged?

 

How did you find a company like Facom? I have never heard of them before, but would have expected you to buy such tools from some British manufacturer.

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