When I first started shooting film photography, my camera had light leaks right the way through and it ruined my images! Now, I replace light seals for all kinds of cameras and prevent light leaks all the time.
To replace camera light seals you simply need your camera, some light seal foam, a small flathead screwdriver to clear the old light seals and a small knife to cut your foam to size. You then have to remove the old seals and replace them with new ones.
Obviously, it’s a bit more complicated than just that, so if you want to see exactly how to do it, I made this video to show you.
How To Replace Your Film Cameras Light Seals
What Are Light Leaks?
Light leaks are caused by light ‘leaking’ into the film compartment in one way or another. Sometimes light leaks can be white, yellow or red, depending on where the light is coming from. This is usually due to degradation of the light seals but not always, sometimes other kinds of damage could cause a light leak. You would always replace light seals as a top priority.
Over time, the light seals of a vintage camera break down and no longer do their job, meaning that tiny bits of light can find their way into your film compartment. This is why light leaks often only show in certain places on an image because some of the seals are still intact.
The two images above show what a light leak looks like, these are textbook displays of a light leak caused by degradation of your camera’s light seals, if your pictures come back looking like that then you need to replace your light seals.
The image above is not due to a light leak, this is from a ‘first of the roll’ shot. Basically, when you first load your camera (Only with SLR/Rangefinders), there is a small portion of the first shot which has usually already been exposed, resulting in this kind of image. If you have this on your pictures then it is not a sign that anything is wrong with your camera.
What If You Want Light Leaks?
You may decide that you actually want light leaks as a kind of artistic choice, while this is strange, you do you. You could cause light leaks by removing very small parts of your light seals before shooting. Just remember if you are trying to cause the leak in a specific place, the image is flipped on your negative so the leak will appear in the opposite place.
If you’re just getting into photography, why not take a look at this article I wrote on street photography, this will get you energised for some fun photography projects and help you avoid some rookie mistakes!