View Full Version : Zone VI and sticky focusing

12-Jun-2014, 13:31
I have a Zone VI camera. I have use it just a bit but not much.
The focus on it moves in jerks and not smooth movements. It is like a drawer sticking that a good waxing will cure. It is hard to focus.
If I loosen the left knob to focus, as I move the front standard forward I have to loosen the knob more.

Is this normal?
Any suggestions?

Kevin Crisp
12-Jun-2014, 14:27
The issue with having to loosen the knob more is common to many cameras, I think it is because the knob slips on the shaft as it rotates during focussing. I did find on mine that a little birthday candle wax on the wood/wood contact points would smooth things up. Car wax applied and then polished off can help too as an alternative.

You will find that putting a desiccant in the bag for a bit will also loosen things up.

12-Jun-2014, 14:31
Camera swelled up.
Yes, as you focus the camera if the left knob is not out far enough it will start tighten up as you focus.

12-Jun-2014, 15:56
The left knob is a lock. It's designed to prevent focus movement when it's tightened.

Loosen it by a full turn or more.

- Leigh

12-Jun-2014, 16:15
Which zone VI. I had the vermont wisner style that had a warped rail. I had to sand it just a little to get it to move smooth. also, there are plastic inserts in the bed that the focus rod is inserted into when built. Those can get cruddy. The best way to clean is to disassemble, but a drop of lighter fluid can help. just be sure it won't hurt the finish. alcohol will kill the finish on the version I had, but ronsonal lighter fluid had no affect on the wood finish.

Doremus Scudder
13-Jun-2014, 06:57
Disassemble and look for areas of wear. If there aren't any, the rails and bed likely just need a good cleaning (Q-tips and whatever non-solvent cleaner you like - I use Windex usually) and then a lubricating with wax. Carnuba and/or beeswax are my favorites.

If there are areas of wear where something has warped, a light sanding may be in order as suggested above.

When reassembling, make sure the rail gears mesh to the focusing gear correctly, i.e., square, so the same number of teeth are always in front of/ behind the focus gear. It the camera has been reassembled crooked in the past, this alone may be the cause of your stiff focusing.

I don't use the focus lock knob that much. I usually unscrew it all the way till it jams against the lock nut and stays there in position. Just don't jam it so hard you damage something or can't use it when you do need it.



13-Jun-2014, 10:13
This is a real Zone VI. The jerking feels and sounds like wood to wood or finish to finish. The front standard did go beyond the gears. It has happened more than once. Perhaps it did get crossed. I will check that this evening. The swelling worries me as I live in a humid climate and I do not have the most efficient house. I am not sure I can prevent this from happening. But I have a number of acoustic guitars that seem not to have wet guitar syndrome.

I will have a closer look this weekend.
Thanks for the responses!

13-Jun-2014, 10:20
I have a Zone VI 8x10. I live in a damp (minimum RH 60%, but cool) climate and have had Bridalvail Fall get shifted by the wind and come right on top of me and the camera. So far (almost 20 years) no swelling or warping of the wood.

But I notice that when I get out of the county, the legs of my Ries tripod become much easier to slide.

13-Jun-2014, 10:43
As to the swelling I had the same problem with mine and I took the camera apart adjusted the clearances and refinished the camera. The camera has never had the problem since I did the rework.
We had one year where the humidity here in Vermont that winter went down to 10% and hung around 15% for a few weeks. The company that made the wood for the camera kept their shop climate control but that winter the system could not keep up. I know My camera came from that run. I have repaired a few others that had the same problem. Yours could be from that run.

When the camera is in storage put it a plastic bag and get a few silicon dry packets or a reusable canister. It will help a lot.

If it did swell wax will not help the problem. It could make it worse.

I have repair parts for the Zone VI cameras both 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 and the Wisner cameras all sizes.

13-Jun-2014, 17:17
I took the camera apart and did an inspection of the rails. The front standard rails and associated inside tracking rails had a build up of wax. I removed most of it with a cotton squab. I could see some places were there appeared to be some checking from the skipping wood on wood. I was tempted to take a high grain sand paper to it but was afraid that removing the finish might be a bad idea. I did some rapid rubbing together of the rails trying to work the remaining wax down. It seems better after reassembling but it is still jerky at slow movement. Should I do some light sanding where I see those check marks? Also, the back standard will not come off the gear unless I loosen the inner rails but the front standard will move right off the gear. There is no stop. Is this normal?

BTW this is camera 1915.

14-Jun-2014, 05:59
Try taking alcohol and a cloth and rubbing the parts. Them 600 sand paper or 0000 steel wool and rub lightly. Your camera was build 2 years before mine.

On the rear rail did remove the screws best ones are the ones at the front of the rail?