Checking a View-Master Camera
before buying

see Controls and functions page for reference.

1) Open up the back of the camera.

2) Find the 'Shutter Speed' control (It goes from 100.. to ..50.. to ..B). Set it to B. Does the 'Shutter Speed' move smoothly? (B allows the shutters to stay open when you press the 'Shutter Release Button'.) (Don't get the 'Shutter Speed' 'B' confused with the 'Shift Knob' 'B'.)

3) Wind the 'Winding Knob', if it's not already wound. Don't force it. The 'Winding Knob' should move smoothly? It should also lock in place after a few turns.

4) Look through the back of the opened camera through the lens and 'click' the 'Shutter Release Button' (shutter speed still set to B) AND keep it down. If you can see light through the lens that's good. You should also hear the shutters open.

5) Release the 'Shutter Release Button'. If it closes that's good. You should also hear the shutters close. (If you're not sure you may want to repeat step 4 and 5.)

6) Change the Shift Knob from 'A' to 'B' (or from 'B' to 'A' if it was already on 'B'). When turning the A/B dial it should start hard then move smooth, like it has an indent at the end of the turning. Once off the indent, it should move smoothly.

7) (Like step 3) Wind the 'Winding Knob'.

8) (Like Step 4) Look through the back of the camera through the lens and 'click' the 'Shutter Release Button' AND keep it down. If you can see light through the lens that's good. You should also hear the shutters open.

9) (Like Step 5) Release the 'Shutter Release Button'. If it closes that's good. You should also hear the shutters close.

10) Change the shutter speed to 50.

11) (Like step 3 and 7) Wind the 'Winding Knob'.

12) Look through the back of the camera through the lens and 'click' the 'Shutter Release Button' AND keep it down. If you can see light through the lens that's bad. With this setting you should have heard the shutters open and close (this may sound like one sound). You may have been able to see the shutters open for a brief instance, but perhaps not.

13) Release the 'Shutter Release Button' and nothing should happen because the shutters should already be closed.

14) Change the Shift Knob back and forth between 'A' to 'B' two or three times while you look into the back of the camera. The lens mounts in the back of the camera should go up and down.

15) Try turning the 'Lens Opening Dial'. Does it move smoothly? You may want to set the shutter to B and look through the lens while you hold the shutter open so you can see the aperture change as you do this.

16) Turn both the shutter speed and 'Lens Opening'/Aperture dials and make sure that the Easy Indicator moves freely. Also make sure you can push it down and change it from summer to winter and vice versa.

17) Release the shutter at 25, 50 and 100 progressively and listen to the pitch of the ratchet. It should get higher for the higher speeds.

18) release the shutter at 100 extremely slowly (slowly squeeze it) and listen to the ratchet. It should fire all at once and not stop and start.

19) With the back open look at the middle film sprockets and wiggle the winding knob (in locked state) back and forth to make sure it doesn't have too much back and fourth travel. A tiny bit is ok, but you should only see it barley move.

General tips: Some rust on the shutters is normal, and you shouldn't worry about it if the camera works, but you can always complain about it to get a better price. Beware of corrosion anywhere in the film path however.

Shutter Bounce is a common problem with these old cameras, but it can only be tested by shooting some film. For more info on this see the Shutter Bounce Page.


This procedure developed by Joseph Kearse with addition by me.