A few weeks ago I noticed that my lovely Olympus 35DC has some serious light leaks. After examining the camera, I found that the foam from the light seals has completely disintegrated. Since it was time to get new light seals, I also decided to replace the old leatherette, which started to peel off in the corners. So I checked the website from Aki-Asahi Custom Camera Coverings in Japan to order all necessary parts. In the past I ordered new leatherette for my Minolta XD from there and I was very satisfied. This time I decided not to chose a black leatherette. Instead I wanted something different. I was a bit hesitating between a bright color or something more elegant. In the end I picked navy blue. The shipment arrived quickly and everything was well packed.
When I wanted to change the leatherette of my Minolta XD a few years ago, I send it to a repair shop to let them do it. It was not a good experience. They did the job, but it was pricey for Taiwan (1000 NT$ or roughly 30 Euro) and they damaged the camera. This time I wanted to save the money, trouble and break the camera by myself. Changing the leatherette on the 35DC is very easy, because there are no parts that need to be removed from the camera. This was different with the Minolta XD.
First step was to remove the old leatherette, which was easy because the old adhesive lost its power. I removed glue residuals with Ethanol that also helped to remove grease from the surface and prepare it for the new leatherette. Seeing the camera naked was quite interesting. There were plenty of hidden screws and even some openings in the body. I guess they can be used to adjust some functions in the camera.
Luckily Aki Asahi sends together with the new leatherette one additional set to practice the application. This was very useful for me, because it helped me to get a feeling for the procedure. Applying the new leatherette is very easy, but you need to be careful and precise from the beginning. The adhesive is very sticky, and removing and re-positioning the leatherette is almost not possible. When I removed the test-leatherette, a small part of the adhesive layer was ripped off and stuck on the camera body. If this would have been the good leatherette, it would be lost now. The test-leatherette was also helpful to figure out which of the front parts belongs to which side of the camera. The left and right side are not of same size and the cutting around the lens is not symmetric, so the correct position matters.
After practicing with the interesting looking test-leatherette I was confident enough to apply the new blue leatherette. Application was really easy and fast. A tool (tweezers in my case) to press down the leatherette in the corners near the lens was helpful. The result looks amazing. I like the color and it matches the camera quite well.
The final step was to install new light seals. First I tried to remove the remnants of the old light seals and glue residue. This was not easy. It was so old and sticky, that some of it I could not remove. However, the surface was clean enough to apply the new seals. On the website from Aki Asahi you can find instructions where each foam piece goes. I was surprised, that there were so many different pieces. The large pieces were easy to apply, but the very thin (about 0.5 mm thick) and long foam strips, which fit into the indentation of the body, were difficult. Because the adhesive covers the entire backside of the foam strip. When putting it into the narrow indentation, it immediately gets stuck to the side and the foam does not slide all the way in. It took me a while to get it in as good as possible, but still didn’t manage to get it perfectly in. However, I think a badly installed light seal is already so much better than the not existing light seals before. One thing I noticed after installing the light seals: The film door as no play and it needs more force to close it.
Now I am testing the camera and soon I will see, if the new seals protect the film from light leaks.