| gear, photography, tutorial, vintage | 25 comments

I cleaned and fixed the lens on this camera. It was scary but educational. Hopefully you find this guide useful.

I picked up a Mamiya C220 recently along with an 80mm f2.8 lens, both in great shape. The lens had some issues though—shutter speeds were off, and the shutter blades stuck 50% of the time resulting in blank photos. I read that these lenses are relatively easy to take apart, so I decided to give it a try. Keep in mind that I am an amateur at best.

Taking this lens apart was actually extremely simple and with a little patience, you can easily clean and even repair some common issues. The Mamiya chrome TLR lenses are a bit older than the more modern black ones, and seem to have more problems.

The first thing you gotta do is go out and buy some Ronsonol lighter fluid, some 99% isopropyl alcohol, some q-tips, and whatever lens cleaning cloth you want. I have no idea if other lighter fluids can be substituted, but every camera repair person in the world seems to specifically recommend Ronsonol, so just buy it. The only special tool you need is a size 1.0 slotted micro screwdriver. Don't try anything larger than 1.0 or you'll have a bad time.

You start by simply unscrewing the front lens element by hand. Mine was extremely tight, but if you wear latex gloves, you can grip a lot easier. Once removed it will reveal the shutter blades which can be immediately cleaned.

To clean the shutter blades, you can simply pour lighter fluid directly onto them and trigger the shutter a few times to get everything worked in. Don't worry about getting the rear lens element dirty because you can clean it later. The lighter fluid will completely evaporate on its own, and you can repeat the process a few times to thoroughly clean everything. If the lighter fluid left any weird streaks on the blades as it evaporated, you can dip a q-tip in isopropyl and gently wipe away the streaks. Just make sure not to leave any cotton fibers in there.

The aperture blades are below the shutter blades and do not require cleaning because they are controlled manually with the dial on the left of the lens, rather than opening and closing automatically like on a SLR. It doesn't matter if they are sticky. But since you're here, you can clean them for the fun of it. Simply set the lens to the Bulb mode and close the aperture to the smallest setting. Cock and fire the shutter while keeping it held down. The shutter blades should open and reveal the aperture blades underneath. Repeat the above process with the lighter fluid to clean the aperture blades. 

With the blades clean, you can reveal the rear lens element by opening the aperture to the largest setting and holding the shutter down in Bulb mode. Simply clean with isoproplyl and wipe with a lens cloth.

Now that everything is clean, you can stop here. But if your lens has any issues like slow/fast shutter speeds or if the shutter doesn't stay cocked, you can go deeper. It goes without saying I take no responsibility for any damages you make to your lens from here on out.

Start by removing the tiny screw at approximately the 2 o'clock position on the inside rim of the lens opening. It's an extremely small screw, so don't lose it.

With the screw removed, you can unscrew black the notched ring that the screw was holding in place. Then carefully wiggle out the shutter and aperture setting rings. You should have three loose rings, set them aside.

Now you are in the guts of the lens, and you'll see some tiny cogs and springs under yet another thin metal ring. This is getting intense.

This ring falls off easily, so I am going to assume that you've removed it by now, hopefully instilling a bit of panic as you worry that you'll never be able to put this thing back together. Don't worry, it's not that difficult.

To clean the shutter mechanism, I simply applied a small amount of lighter fluid in and around the little gears with the hope that it would free up any dust or gunk that would have been slowing things down. I highly recommend against using any kind of oil because you risk it seeping onto the shutter and aperture blades that you just cleaned. They need to be bone dry.

A couple things can go wrong here. The shutter cocking lever is attached to a ring, and the whole thing can slip out of place easily. Putting it back isn't hard, but can be frustrating when you don't know how—I figured it out after trial and error. I've made a few notes below that should help. Please forgive me, I do not know the technical terms for many of these parts.

#1 - The edge of the shutter ring should be level with the small lever directly above it at this spot. This lever is responsible for locking the shutter in place when it's cocked. When replacing the shutter ring, the lever will want to sit underneath. Simply nudge it back out.
#2 - Under the shutter ring at this spot is a small peg that sticks down and makes contact with a stopping block under the ring. When inserting the ring after it has been removed, you need to rotate the ring clockwise a bit, and place this peg to the right of the stopping block. If the peg sits on the left, you won't be able to cock the shutter. Sorry I could not get a better photo of this.
#3 - When the shutter ring is at it's resting position, remove and replace the above gear at this spot so that just the end teeth are making contact with the ring. It should look exactly like the photo above.

With everything back in order, replace the cover ring making note of the two pegs sticking up at the bottom of the shutter mechanism.

These pegs control the shutter speed. As you rotate the cover ring, you'll see it change position as it rides the edge of the cutout. Rotate the ring clockwise until the rightmost peg rests as far to the right of the cutout as possible (bulb mode). Ignore the position of the peg in the photo above—it is in the 1 second position, which isn't quite all the way to the right. Also now is the time to move the aperture dial down to its largest opening.

To replace the shutter and aperture rings, nest them together and make sure that the shutter speed pointer is pointing at the B marking, for bulb mode. Wiggle the two rings back into place, making sure that the aperture dial on the side of the lens is pointing at the largest aperture setting (2.8 for this lens) on the ring. Replace the black notched ring to keep everything in place, and test that it's tightened properly by changing the shutter speed. You should feel it click and there should be a small amount of resistance, but not too much. Adjust the tightness of the notched ring until you're happy with the feel of the shutter speed dial. If this ring is too loose, it will cause the shutter lever to flip back up immediately instead of remaining locked down when you cock it. Finally replace the tiny screw to hold the notched ring in place and screw on the front element again.

Holy hell, you did it. Hopefully that solved any issues you were having with your lens. It improved my shutter speed accuracy considerably, and the shutter blades no longer stick at all. I hope my instructions were clear—if not, let me know in the comments and I will try to clarify anything. For any camera repair pros out there, please feel free to correct me as you see fit.

This is a great camera. I've wanted a TLR for a long time, and this satisfies my never ending lust for more photography gear—at least for now. So far I have only put one test roll through it, but I plan to do a lot more shooting with it now that the lens is fixed.


Hi Jeff,
I'll need to do this also on my Mamiya lens.
Every second shoot it seems to fire at 1/500 even when 1 sec is selected.
Hope I can get it back to a reliable one.
Thanks for sharing !

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this detailed and very informative tutorial. I managed to clean my shutter following your instructions and all speeds are now as accurate as they should be.


Glad it helped you. Since writing this post, I experimented some more and was able to completely remove the timing mechanism quite easily for a more thorough clean. I also noticed that after a good clean, the shutter does not operate as silky smooth as other lenses I have - I think this is because the lighter fluid strips some of the essential grease applied to very specific areas inside the lens. Through trial and error I was able to determine where to apply a VERY SMALL amount of oil (sewing machine type works) to provide lubrication where needed which greatly improved the "feel" without danger of it seeping back onto the blades. Maybe I should post a Part 2 to this guide.


Thanks so much for this post. I was able to fix my 80mm lens following your instructions, but I just cant seem to get to the guts of the 135mm. Any suggustions? Thanks!

Very well documented (and presented) article on something that's soon going to become a niche skill!!

thanks so much for this! saved my camera! the shutter speed mechanism was stuck so i just used your instructions to open up the lens and just poured in a ton of lighter fluid and blew it out with compressed air

Thank you for this fantastic write-up. I have the later black lenses but this gives me a lot of confidence to open them up. My speeds are way slow and during the recent cold weather the shutter took a random number of seconds to fire after pressing the shutter release. Clearly the original oil is dried up and very sticky.

You mentioned finding the proper lubrication points ... I would really appreciate an oiling diagram, however rough and ready, if you have the time.

Thanks again.

Thanks for the lowdown. I'm in the middle of trying to fix a sticking shutter on a later version (black/blue dot) 80mm lens. I've noticed that to remove the front barrel of the lens completely (the part that has the shutter speeds on), you need to remove a screw from the the aperture arm that's connected to the main body of the lens. The screw is very very small and fiddly.

This is different to the one in your pictures where the arm becomes a dial arrow for the aperture numbers (the aperture numbers are on the other side of the barrel on the blue dot lenses).

Hope that helps anyone.


It helps me!
Which screw are you referring to?
If you have any more tips please share them. I haven't started on my 80/2.8 yet, but I am close. I warmed up today by fixing sticky apertures on two of my Olympus lenses, which was totally straightforward.

Hi Simon

It's a screw that is actually on the aperture dial arm. It'll be painted black. There are two at the top, and one at the bottom. Go for the bottom screw only. That's all you need to unscrew to get at the rest of the lens.

Also, the screw mentioned in this article that holds the brass ring in place (which allows you to get further into the rest of the lens's mechanism), is, I've been told, called a dog point screw (I think). It won't come out (it's not meant to). So, don't spend ages trying to unscrew it completely out! It will rotate enough to loosen the ring, and then the ring will come off.

I did all this and I'm having a hard time trying to retighten the screw to fix the ring. So, tread lightly!

I'm in there now. I've never heard of a dog point screw before. At first I thought it was broken but finally realized I only needed to rotate it 1/4 turn anyway :-)
Everything looks very clean. No obvious gunk or old oil. I wonder if the entire shutter assembly can come off the back plate so that I can give the whole thing a ronsonol bath without disassembling further, which is a rather terrifying prospect.

Great to hear you've made it that far! Let me know if you managed to get it fitted back again!

I won't be putting it together again until I have decided what and how to clean. Instead of flooding the whole thing with lighter fluid and getting it on the rear element, I'd rather remove the shutter or spot clean inside the mechanism. Trouble is I'm not sure if/how it comes off the back plate, nor which parts of the mechanism are sticking. So at this point I am taking a pause-for-thought. I'm curious which screw is giving you trouble, and if you were successful in freeing up your shutter. Rather than clutter this thread, you are welcome to email <me> at makermobile.org.

My 80/2.8 blue dot is back together again, after I removed the speed governor (the extended brass unit at the 4 o'clock position), washed it in Ronsonol, allowed it to dry and lubricated the pallet bearings and star wheel bearings. Sadly my speeds didn't change - they are all slow by between 1/3 and 1 stop except for 1/30 which is bang-on. However I am hopeful that at least I might not have the problem with the shutter freezing in cold weather. I can work with the speeds as they are at least consistent. I think that maybe I have a weak spring in the governor. My 55/4.5 blue dot has speeds which are very close to spec.
Some details:
Shutter is a Seiko SLV. There is a pdf manual available online. Mine has the later 730-series governor (recognisable by its shape, per the manual).
Before removing the governor, I would recommend releasing the mainspring (located immediately adjacent to the governor) and lifting out the complete part with the mainspring that pushes against the lever on the governor. It's very easy to remove and install with just tweezers.
The governor actually has two pallets rather than one and controls all speeds, not just the slow speeds.
The lubricant I used was the 'top half' of WD-40 that is given a chance to separate out (it is a very light clear oil).
I did not clean the shutter blades because (a) they look perfectly clean and (b) if they were at all sticky the faster speeds would be much more badly affected, and they aren't.
It's fairly obvious how everything goes back together.When replacing the cam disc (the black disc with the stepped slot that controls the lever on the governor) on top of the mechanism, make sure to get not only the governor levers in place, but also the two fixed posts which engage with small circular holes in the disc.

At this point I am confident that short of laser-cutting a new custom cam disc, there is nothing to be done to bring the speeds close to spec, but as I said I figure I can work with what I've got.

Correction ... the posts I mentioned engage two holes in the aperture setting disc.

More fun facts about the SLV 'blue dot' shutter:

The speed governor controls all speeds except 1/500, which does not have a delay added between the shutter opening and closing ... it basically goes flat out.

Of the two screws holding the governor to the chassis, the top one is glued in place. Be careful when unscrewing it not to let the screwdriver slip. I think the idea is that it has a little wiggle room either way when positioning the governor. This provides a small degree of adjustment for speeds from 1 to 1/250. I cleaned the glue off the screw before reinstalling it.

It's not actually necessary to remove the mainspring unit in order to take out the governor for cleaning. But when reinstalling the governor, move its lever (which engages the mainspring assembly) so that it clears that part.

Sorry about all the posts, but I was inspired by Jeff to open up my lens and just wanted to pass on all that I have learned. I may have to do a video at some point!

Thank you for taking the time to write this in detail. Hope this surgery goes well for my lens!

Kudos to Jeff. Worked very well. Thanks for sharing your experience. Very helpful.

hi jeff
how can i addapting mamia c 220 lens in digital camera ( pntax k5 )

Nice! I just bought a rather filthy C33 and look forward to trying my precision cleaning skills on it.

Hope you could help me out... I have a chrome 65 and the shutter speed dial works and the speeds are all accurate...great! But, the Aperture selector will not move. At all. Do you have any idea what could be causing this internally? Or how it could have happened? I just got it so I do not know its past.

I just put a roll of Tri-X through a c2 I haven't used in > 30-years (!) and it came back from the lab completely blank (whereas I was expecting mega light leaks). When I was shooting it, I noticed an odd behavior of the shutter on a few shots: several seconds after releasing the shutter it would unexpectedly 'click', as though it had been open the duration. Most shots did not do this however. So I shall have to test it by dry-firing it with the back open to see what's up with that. I'm assuming it needs a clean/lube at a minimum, but hopefully not something like a spring replacement.

I also had some difficulty with the film advance, and found a good guide that may help with that here: https://flickr.com/groups/35034355476@N01/… (before 'retiring' the camera ~30-years ago, I was getting bad frame spacing, overlaps &ct.)

One other possible fault was with how I was using the "lock" feature, which I assume is meant for lens changing but I used it between (non-) exposures as a precaution against light leaks. When I observed its function with the back open, this feature appeared to work ok.

If anyone else can suggest how an entire roll goes through the wind-cock-release cycle twelve times and come out completely unexposed, I'd love to hear it!

Whalp, this is the reult of my dry-fire test. First I removed the lens from the mount ro make this a bit less awkward. "B' & "1" [-second]: shutter operation normal. All other speeds: shutter failed to fire until the cocking-lever was physically forced upward. Timings appeared to be accurate (at least, they become progressively shorter as I moved up the scale, so far as I was able to discern the difference). This at least explains why the film was completely blank, and also why I heard a zombie-click some seconds after release (no doubt after I closed the light path-blocking "lock" mechanism). Clearly in need of a cleaning (and hopefully no repairs as such, the lens is apparently usable 'as is', so long as I do this double-release procedure.

That was very useful - my 80mm f/2.8 is sticky at one second, but after unscrewing it and applying lighter fluid it has come back to life. I tried the same thing with my 65mm f/3.5.

Unscrewing it was awkward, because you have to unscrew the taking lens a little bit, then unscrew the viewing lens a bit, then the taking lens, the viewing lens etc, but after taking off the front element the construction looked very similar. Again, lighter fluid made the slow speeds work again.

I love the Mamiya TLRs. They're easy to work on, they look awesome, and the lenses have lovely bokeh. Looking through viewfinder reminds me of why I love photography.

Just wanted to follow up. After putting through another roll that came out blank I decided to RTFM and learned the "lock" feature needs to be left on "lock" (and I just have one lens anyway...). Since then I've put through three more rolls, and all came out properly exposed. My problem now is the little lug screw for the aperture fell off some time ago, and I can't figure out a practical replacement. The aperture is very very stiff, and pretty much impossible to adjust in the field. I need to figure out how to lubricate it (it works fine with lighter fluid until it dries).

As for the stiff focusing working only when wet with ligther fluid. Mix the lighter fluid with 10% good quality oil, like sewing machine oil - do not use WD-40. Apply ligher fluid/oil mixture sparingly using a syringe and keep moving the focus for a while. The lighter fluid will evaporate but the oil will stay behind. That may be all you need.