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Epson R-D1 modifications: improving the shutter button

The problem

The shutter release button on my Epson R-D1 has always felt a bit ‘scratchy’ when pressed  and this roughness was magnified when I tried using a soft release. For some reason, I was particulary sensitive to this minor fault every time I used the camera, and eventually decided to do something about it.

The solution

I dismantled the shutter-button assembly (a quick, simple job), using a cheap pair of tweezers in place of the correct tool (a spanner wrench). On examining the mechanism, the problem seems to be that the button does not depress squarely, and hence catches on surfaces.

Shutter button assembly

Figure 1. The shutter-release assembly. See the text for explanation of labels.

I modified the shutter-release mechanism as follows:

1. The sides of the shutter button touch the inside edges of the outer retaining ring (Figure 1a) as it is depressed. Both the button and the retaining ring have a paint finish that is slightly rough. I polished the paint smooth with fine wet-and-dry paper (grades 1000 and 2000), finishing off with car paintwork scratch remover and polish. Do not take the paint down to bare metal – you just want to give the paint a smooth finish.

2. The lower, tubular, part of the shutter button touches the sides of the shaft in which it travels (Figure 1b). I rounded off the square edges of the shutter tube exit, again using fine wet-and-dry paper. I also polished the rough black paint on the tube to a gloss finish, to reduce friction. (I deliberately didn’t polish the paint off, as soft, bare aluminium would then be rubbing on steel, leading to increased friction as the aluminium abrades.)

3. The shutter button is prevented from rotating by a washer with two upright tabs (Figure 1c), and a retaining lip on the button slides against these tabs (Figure 1d). I rounded off the angular edges on both the retaining lip and tabs, using fine wet-and-dry paper.

4. I then bent the tabs on the washer inwards very slightly so that the shutton button is still free to move within the tabs but side-to-side movement is lessened.

5. The shutter button tube rests on a circular stop on a steel shaft (Figure 1e). This stop has sharp edges, which I smoothed off with fine wet-and-dry paper

This easy modification only took about half an hour, but has completely altered the feel of the shutter button: it’s now as smooth as silk when pressed!