Jump to content
Ruben Arce

What kind of oil and grease should I use on a camera?

Recommended Posts

I know some people on this forum feel like nobody should touch a camera if he or she is not a technician and at some extent I agree. I have a couple of nice cameras that I love and those cameras have been properly maintained by technicians and I know how expensive it can be and I paid to get it done, but some times there is no technician whiling to work on your camera (Nikon R10) and some insensible people in GA are happy to say send the camera we can fix it, I sent its they said Nikon doesn't sell parts any more... Are you kidding me? You didn't know that? I opened the camera and fixed it myself and I did a clean job not like that guy.

 

In a different case I just got an extremely dirty gray Scoopic, after hours cleaning it it was like new, but no image on the viewfinder. I noticed a rattling noise in the light meter area, I checked for light on the gate and there's none, so that's the prism out of place. I paid $130 for the camera, and just sending it to the east coast is going to cost me that much, not mentioning the $400 + that it's going to cost to get it fixed, but my main point is I have a Scoopic MS and I bought this camera to do some experimentation, I never intended to use it, so my options are selling the camera for parts or trying to fix it myself.

 

I got the service manual, it was kind of scary the amount of things you have to remove to get acmes to the main part, but I did it and when I was there it was so dirty, the light seal foam solidify (very common issue) and there was a messed inside all over the place mixed with dust and there was the prism just out of place. I started cleaning all the mess and I can see how the camera appreciate what I'm doing. Every time I clean something it feels like the camera is going to be better, even if I don't add lubrication I'm eliminating that dust and the friction that it causes, I'm feeling confident that I can put it back and the camera will work again as a U16 camera.

 

Again I know some people think is not a good idea, but I'm very detailed oriented, I know how to use tools, I understand how cameras work, I have time and patience, I can solder, I have made repairs on still photo cameras and I want to do it, because I want to learn. I have searched for schools and I couldn't find one and there are a copule of mediocre camera shops here where I live, so no way to ask someone to tach me.

 

I know it's a long post but I needed to make a point. Now what kind of lubricant shouldI use on gears, plastic, metal, joints? Grease or oil and what kind? Even more important, what are the guidelines to use either one? I know oil must be applied in very small quantities, if you can comment on that I would really appreciate it too and again even better what are the rules, guidelines or principles?

 

Thank You so much in advance and sorry about the long post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

You bought the camera I was almost tempted to buy, but I figured I have enough camera projects on the boil.

From what I understand, using lithium grease is the way to go, unless your service manual states specific lubricants. For instance I think arriflex use a specific arriflex lube.

 

Take lots of photos, and wait for someone to jump on the chat who knows more...

 

Gareth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This question comes up pretty regularly, so there are previous threads about lubrication to check out.

 

Greases and oils all work basically the same, they reduce friction between moving parts, there are just certain applications or materials where a particular one works best. I have about 30 different greases and oils that manufacturers have recommended for their cameras or lenses, sometimes 6 or more different lubricants are recommended for one product, and often they don't even have a name beyond a number that means nothing to anyone else. Old manuals sometimes recommend a grease or oil that is now discontinued. So it's hard to give exact recommendations for this sort of query.

 

However there is a difference between choosing a lubricant for an industrial machine that runs at 2000rpm for 24hrs a day in extreme heat, and say a bicycle. One requires exactly the right lubricants to avoid potentially catastrophic failure, the other you could probably use just about anything. Cameras are somewhere in between, with fairly slow speeds in normal temperatures using standard materials. When movie cameras were being used professionally and shooting millions of feet a year, the right lubricants were important to prevent early wear or breakdown during costly shoots. Winterising them with special low temp lubricants was important for shooting in very cold climates. For an amateur camera though, that might shoot a few thousand feet a year, it's far less critical.

 

The general approach would be oil in simple bearings where an axle spins in a hole or a roller spins on a shaft, and grease where surfaces slide against each other. Ball bearing are usually greased, with the viscosity depending on how fast they spin. Plastic gears can sometimes be left unlubricated, or use a grease which doesn't react with plastic.Threads are greased, again with viscosity varying the drag.

 

You could probably use any general application grease, as long as the viscosity felt right, and clock oil or even sewing machine oil would be fine where oil is needed.

 

Avoid WD-40 and spray-on silicon, which can migrate onto optics. Certain things need a level of friction, including the pressure plate and take-up clutch, so you don't want them super slippery. The Bolex claw needs friction in its pivot to keep it pressed against the gate for example.

 

I'm not familiar enough with Scoopics to give you any more detailed advice, but I doubt you'll do any damage following basic guidelines like these. Getting the shutter timing right or the flange depth exact or the viewfinder focus and framing spot on after disassembly will be much more open to misadventure!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

You bought the camera I was almost tempted to buy, but I figured I have enough camera projects on the boil.

From what I understand, using lithium grease is the way to go, unless your service manual states specific lubricants. For instance I think arriflex use a specific arriflex lube.

 

Take lots of photos, and wait for someone to jump on the chat who knows more...

 

Gareth

 

If the camera you are talking about looked like it came straight out of a chicken coop... This is the one, but you should look at it now, man it was like a new camera. Paint, glass and everything else (but the prism) is in great condition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

You could probably use any general application grease, as long as the viscosity felt right, and clock oil or even sewing machine oil would be fine where oil is needed.

 

 

Dom, do you normally use synthetic rather than mineral oil based lubricants if there are plastic gears or bearing surfaces, like a plain plastic roller.

 

Also, do synthetics often have an advantage with longevity, retaining their properties over time..? Synthetics are pretty easy to find in other industrial applications now, like bicycle maintenance...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dom Jaeger,

 

I really appreciate your input. I know it has been discussed here before, but people seem to avoid mentioning brands or specifics and that was what I wanted, but you are totally right, I know you are knowledgeable about the topic and it just makes sense. You pointed me in the right direction talking about bearings and gears or points of contact or friction. I noticed on some of the gears there is something that looks like graphite, but then again it is old and doesn't look like it's doing it's job.

 

I have learned a lot with this camera, but it really made me think what would've happened if I have sent the camera to a technician. The camera was in extremely bad condition inside and out, of course I cleaned the outside and now I have spend at least 5 hours cleaning the inside and I still have to redo the light seals, keep cleaning and put it back. My point is if a technician charges $400 to CLA a camera would they spend 10 hours cleaning and restoring those things? It doesn't make sense, so probably they would oil it, make sure it runs and sent it back to the costumer, so now I'm thinking I can clean it up, I can carefully re-do the light seals, clean everything else and send it to my technician (If he agrees) to properly lubricate it, collimate the lens, adjust the shutter and the optics and send it back. I know some people don't like continuing the work of someone else, but I already did the labor, and I mean I did it consciously, so now he could do the precision work that the camera needs to perform well and if that's not the case I can lubricate it, put it back and hope for the best.

 

Dom, this camera it's like a K3, it's a "main board" and a shell. So when I disassembled it Didn't really messed with the shutter mechanism, it is still together and connected, so I hope I can make it work later. I did messed with the lens because I had to, as I mentioned on my original post the prism was out of place, so I had to do it, but in theory if I you don't remove the lens out of this "Main board" collimation should be intact since the gate and the lens are attached to this hole thing.

 

It's an interesting camera. Any thoughts on the graphite grease and if any modern good quality grease can replace it would be appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the different cameras I’ve taken apart one thing has become clear to me, only very few were designed with a useful lubrication concept. All amateur cameras just got something smeared on, to put it plainly. Graphite grease widens the lubricating action temperature-wise, that’s all about it. The makers actually wouldn’t want to have to do any further with the cameras, the goal was to sell.

 

Unless a camera allows you to bring in oil, it needs a service at intervals. After forty or fifty years it is best to completely disassemble, clean everything thoroughly, and build the mechanism up afresh. Hardly a camera owner turned the machine in every five years.

 

What you can’t do is compensate for wear or imperfect manufacture with lubricants. Pressure is already concentrated on a point, no lubricant will change that. The question must be whether a mechanism has been used much without sufficient lubrication. Then bushes and shafts may be out of round. If I can explain by a comparison with cinema projectors, these were made to stand up continuous duty. Steel shafts in large plain bearings with oil grooves plus forced oil circulation.

 

I must say it, the Canon Scoopic cannot be counted among professional cameras. It’s not made to be serviced regularly. When you look at a Mitchell or a Bell & Howell you’ll learn about the difference. Bell & Howell, that must be said as well, went so far as to exchange the whole mechanism, if something was wrong. They had them in stock wrapped in wax paper. They did a lot to prevent home repair, even wrote in manuals that the Filmo 70 and Eyemo 71 main spring must not be touched, that it has very sharp edges. No strip spring has sharp edges, they’re all nicely ground round as a functional prerequisite.

 

You can lubricate a camera with salad oil. The point is to understand a mechanism and lubricate accordingly. Dom mentions the friction claw of younger Paillard-Bolex H cameras. The joints of the Scoopic claw drive should be oiled like other fast moving parts. You have a great variety of mechanical tasks that want to be addressed correctly. A spool spindle friction suberic disc wants a little talcum. The spindle wants a heavy oil that doesn’t run off or grease. The ocular tube, often anodized aluminium, can do with a whiff of grease. Gears run lightly when oiled but with less noise under grease. Here the technician does have profounder knowledge, she or he knows the geometry and tolerances of tooth systems.

 

I believe the holy grail of the film motion-picture camera is how the film is exposed. How is the film guided and located, how much pressure is exerted sideways and from the back? What does the interplay of transport and shutter look like? Those are the fastest moving elements near the film and they want to be lubricated. It’s not so simple as one might think. You don’t want any oil on the film.

 

With a Scoopic you want to inspect the electric motor. It has bearings, too. The poor little motor has to move everything. Dry bearings are its arthrosis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dom, do you normally use synthetic rather than mineral oil based lubricants if there are plastic gears or bearing surfaces, like a plain plastic roller.

 

Also, do synthetics often have an advantage with longevity, retaining their properties over time..? Synthetics are pretty easy to find in other industrial applications now, like bicycle maintenance...

 

I generally just use what the manufacturer recommends- synthetic oils like Chronosynth 1/8 or PDP-38 and mineral/ester/lithium greases like LDS-18 in Arri cameras for example. Moly grease for certain parts that have higher loads or need to remain dry. Panavision used a mineral based oil for the movement and silicone oil for a very specific application (the pads lubricating the registration pins). Other lubricants that companies like Angenieux recommend are just numbers so I couldn't even tell you what they were. I sometimes try out a different grease, based on texture or viscosity or similar materials of the application, note it in a service history and see how it goes. With vintage gear that has no recommendation I'll try a grease or oil that was recommended for a similar application. Sometimes it doesn't feel or sound right and you have to remove the lubricant and try another.

 

I don't deal with plastic gears much, occasionally phenolics, although followers are often a type of acetal, which I usually lubricate with Cooke S4 or Varotal grease (couldn't tell you exactly what they are either). There are plenty of lubrication websites that go into great detail about the compatibility of lubricants with their applications, it's a whole science and I'm far from being an expert.

 

I noticed on some of the gears there is something that looks like graphite, but then again it is old and doesn't look like it's doing it's job.

.. Any thoughts on the graphite grease and if any modern good quality grease can replace it would be appreciated.

Graphite is often used where you want a dry lubricant that won't attract dust or clog a mechanism or squeeze out over time. I use Molybdenum paste (G-N paste) for similar applications, on things like lock-off threads or exposed sliding latches. I use it to lubricate the governors of wind-up cameras, and sometimes on gears, very lightly applied, like a smear. It's also handy to blacken and lubricate worn iris blades.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Simon and Dom, thanks a lot for all that useful information. Thanks for the details and for using technical terms, it really helped me to understand the concepts. I know the Scoopic is not a professional camera but still it's a decent one to practice and learn and this specific camera looks like new. I don't see any marks on the pressure plate or the gate and in general looks like someone bought it filmed a few rolls and film and never touched it again.

 

I really appreciate the info.

 

 

There are so few qualified technicians left for these cameras, I always encourage people to support them whenever possible.

 

 

So do I Will, last year only I spend over $3,500 on service, modification and conversion of a couple of cameras that don't generate a penny right now. I try to support technicians and Kodak, so we can continua to use the medium for some time.

 

Unfortunately we all are going to retire or die, companies don't like sharing their service manuals and instructions and no company is putting film cameras out anymore. As I mentioned on my original post I do like doing this kind of stuff, but there are no schools where I can go. I would happily work for free for a year as an apprentice if a good technician wanted to tutor me. As a child I disassembled most of my toys so it's part of my nature and even when I would not mess with the transmission, I like changing the oil of my car.

 

I've been working on a series of modifications for the Scoopic M or MS, those modifications make the camera much more versatile and easy to use in several ways and I'm doing that with modern easy to find and inexpensive items, so I wanted this camera to try to expand those accessories and modifications to the gray Scoopic, I never intended to use it, unfortunately it didn't work and I have to do something about it.

 

I cannot talk about those modifications yet since I'm still working on them, but my technician saw them and he was impressed and happy about what I was doing with the Scoopic and with my NPR, I told him get ready because when people see this they are going to ask you to do it for them, so at the end this can bring more work to those technicians and I may work with him or them to make it happen. As I mentioned before I'm not sure a camera technician would spend 5 hours cleaning a camera or painting it, but I could do that, they can do the magic and people who don't care about this stuff can grab a like new camera and shoot film with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Tai Audio



    Visual Products



    Metropolis Post



    Ritter Battery



    FJS International



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    Serious Gear



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Wooden Camera



    Abel Cine



    G-Force Grips



    Glidecam



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    CineLab



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    Just Cinema Gear



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Paralinx LLC


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...