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I'm trying to identify a likely cause of a strange line which seems to crop up occasionally in some of my shots.

From my limited experience, it looks like a light leak, however it doesn't seem to be a permanent one as not all shots are affected.

When it does come up, it's usually in the same spot, and often only on longer exposures.

My best theory is that the shutter is sticking slightly, but as I've not been doing this for very long, I would be grateful for any advice or insight.

I've attached some affected images.

To add a little more detail, this was taken on a Fujica ST705 which has a cloth focal plane shutter. I've investigated the body for light leaks, and cannot find any obvious ones.

When I store the camera while not in use, it lives in my camera bag which is very dark and made of thick canvas so quite good for light insulation.

As I was asked in one of the comments, my practice when using the camera is normally to wind the film on after taking a shot, and if the camera won't be used for a while, I lock the shutter release.

I can't remember exactly which sep-sure settings I used on the two shots, but for the first, I would guess that I set to f11 (North Wales on a slightly dull day), and shot at 1/60, and the second was likely f4 at 1/30, but that is a guess based on how I would approach the same situation now. Considering that both shots are underexposed though, it's entirely possible that my exposure time was shorter - I've not been doing this for very long, and I'm certainly not discounting the possibility that this issue is down to my own mistake.

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    If you leave the camera for a while (hours, days, etc.) and then take a few frames in fairly quick succession (seconds, minutes, etc) which frames are usually affected? Is it only the first or last frame in the sequence? Do you usually advance the film immediately after taking a shot or do you wait until just before taking a shot? – Michael C Nov 24 '17 at 1:31
  • Take a look at this post: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/90364/… – Rafael Nov 24 '17 at 5:38
  • In both cases, those shots were taken during a bit of a session. The first was the final shot I took on a day out at some old mine workings, and the second was at my wedding. In both cases, they were not the last shot of the day. Normally, if I'm not using the camera for a while, I wind it on and lock the shutter release, and it lives most of the time in my camera bag when not in use. That linked post is an interesting read, thank you! The cassettes were installed and removed very carefully, so my best guess is possibly a faulty cassette or a leak in the camera that I've not found yet... – Alex Nov 24 '17 at 11:28
  • I'm leaning more toward a leak in the camera somewhere as the two films were of different types and it's far more likely that the same symptom in each case is the result of a common cause. It's too much of a coincidence that the problem manifested in the same way because two rolls had the same issue. The one common thing to both images is that they were both a longer exposure, probably 1/60 or 1/30. If the shutter was slightly tight at some point in its travel, how would that manifest? – Alex Nov 24 '17 at 11:33
  • Do the artifacts appear outside the image on the negative? With a light leak the almost certainly will. With a shutter problem, they almost certainly will not. – user50888 Nov 24 '17 at 15:11
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I like Alan's idea of putting a small light inside the camera.

My guess is that you've got a problem with the light seal on the vertical edge of the camera back on the takeup spool side.

I don't think the shutter is sticking - the right hand edge of the overexposed bit isn't even, while the edge of the shutter ought to be a straight line.

Reasons to suggest a takeup side leak:

-The overexposed bit is in different places on the two images. If it was on the film casette side, then you'd expect it to be in the same position every time - since you've only got a fixed length of film outside the casette between the casette and the frame you're about to expose, any light leak there should always be in the same position relative to the frame.

-On the other hand, at the takeup side, you're wrapping the film around the takeup spool. As you take more shots, the radius of the film wrapped around the spool increases, so where a light leak hits the film can change relative to the frame boundaries.

-The rough and not straight right hand edge of the overexposed bit suggests a light leak, rather than a shutter problem, to me.

  • I had a proper investigate, and you are right, it's the makeup spool edge. Light seal replacement kit arrived yesterday so I'll get that sorted over Christmas. Until then, I've put some electrical tape around the edge of the seal so I can still use it in the mean time. – Alex Dec 22 '17 at 13:51
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Procure a tiny key chain flashlight. It must be tiny and it must remain on after being switched on. Place the flashlight inside the camera. Now go to a room or closet you can make dark. Stay in the dark examining the camera from all angles. The theory is, a breach that allows light to leak in will also leak out. If the breach is tiny and the light leaking out is feeble, you will need about 15 minutes to dark adapt.

This method works - best of luck!

  • Thats a damn fine idea. Once I've shot the rest of the roll thats in there at the moment, I'll try that out. It's an old camera, and I don't know its history so I can't tell if the seal has been changed at any point, however a friend who has a similar unit found he had a light leak which was cured by a new seal. The old one has partly crumbled to dust though, so it was pretty obvious that it needed changing in his case. – Alex Dec 1 '17 at 17:03
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Had similar concern about leak for an old Nikon FE. Tried out Alan's idea (with some modif), not sure if it gets the correct result. I didn't have a small tiny keychain light, only had a small regular torch. I took out the lens, switched camera to bulb mode, and shone a torch through the front opening with the shutter up (button pressed) and film back closed. Then i examined if there was any leak. To test leak from shutter, i opened the film back and left the shutter closed to see if shutter leaks light.

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