bellows light leak?/ : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I think I know the answer to this question but I'm not sure. I just got a Galvin 6x9 at a pretty good price and I'd love to keep it. The bellows are of two materials: a kind of black plastic on the outside and a kind of black fabric on the inside. To check for light leaks I took the camera into the darkroom, extended the bellows to the max, shut off the darkroom light, and then reached inside holding a bare lighted sixty watt bulb in a socket. As I moved the light around inside I looked closely at the outside. In two or three places I could see a pin-prick of light coming out. This seems to me to be a pretty tough test.

Question: Is *any light at all* too much light? Or, in real world use, does a bit of light from a tiny hole or two die as it bounces around on the black fabric pleats inside.

Clearly, I'm looking for a way to keep this camera.

TIA, njb

Any suggestions as to remedy short of ugly tape on the outside of the bellows?

-- Nacio Brown (, July 23, 1999


I've used black gaffer tape to make "temporary" repairs. I put the tape on the exterior of the bellows, and it lasted for a year. That's how long it took me to get new bellows.

I'm not sure how long I had the light leak because it wasn't affecting my film. I discovered it during a periodic check that I give my equipment. I suspect the significance of any given light leak depends on where it is and how much extension you use. But I'd play it safe and make the repair either this way or in a method recommended by a subsequent respondant.

By the way, Calumet sells two grades of gaffer tape, and I've always used the more expensive one, including using it to repair my camera bellows.

Good luck! Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, July 24, 1999.

I've seen all sorts of suggestions over the years. Most recently, Richard Sullivan of Bostick and Sullivan has been raving about some sort of glue-like substance (that he sells). If you go to the Bostick and Sullivan web site I think you'll see something about it or, if not, you could send Richard an e mail. One thing that I think gets overlooked sometimes with bellows repairs. Unless the original leaks were caused by an accident of some sort, there's a reason why the leaks developed and it's a virtual certainty that they'll continue to develop. Unfortunately, after repairing the original leaks you won't be aware of the new leaks until you've ruined some photographs. Inevitably, the ruined photographs will be the best, most important, most valuable photographs you've ever made in your life. I would recommend replacing the bellows if you really like the camera.

-- Brian Ellis (, July 24, 1999.


One method that's worked well for me is black acrylic paint, something you can get at any good art supply store. Its a flexible and opaque paint film once it is dry. Hope that helps.


-- N Dhananjay (, July 24, 1999.

I've seen black fingernail polish recommended. It's acrylic, so it's plenty pliable.

-- Chad Jarvis (, July 25, 1999.

You may see a view of a pinhole size light leak in the bellows of a Fuji 645 and the results on the film at my page (in French)

-- Dominique Cesari (, July 26, 1999.

I recently discovered the corners of my Omega 45E bellows had developed leaks. It looked from the outside like they just wore through with only a thin fabric left in some spots. I used the black figernail polish tip and it seems to work fine. The bellows remain flexible and light tight. I used two coats. I needed a quick repair since I was heading to the Black Hills when I noticed the leaks.

-- Dave Schneider (, June 30, 2000.

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