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Home » Vintage Lens Repairs » Meyer-Optik Repair » Stripping and cleaning a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 M42 lens

Stripping and cleaning a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 M42 lens

I bought this Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 lens as ‘for spares or repair’ from eBay a few days ago for £9 as a project to help develop my strip down and clean up skills! When I received it the aperture blades were completely stuck open so that no amount of trying to free it by turning the aperture ring or pressing the actuation pin would work so I pulled it apart and wrote this post as I repaired it.

I apologise for the quality of the images – I took these with a compact camera as I did the strip down.

Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 Strip down images

Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 strip down procedure

Turns out it is relatively easy to get it apart. I’ll describe the process here but please refer to the pictures above for greater clarity.

  1. Remove the aperture selection ring by unscrewing the lens nameplate on the front. It may be quite stiff but I found gripping the lens by the body and applying force with the fingers flat on the nameplate enabled me to get enough grip. There is a large spring under the aperture ring which you can also remove as the ring comes free. Note that the thread of this component is plastic so it can be easily cross threaded or worn by being fitted too many times. My advice would be to make sure you take it off once and only  fit it once the whole operation is complete.
  2. Turn the lens over and unscrew the ring round the outside of the lens. Again this will probably be stiff. Once this is off it reveals the workings of the aperture control.
  3. Remove the three small screws which hold the aperture control assembly onto the lens body. Two of these are located under the bar which moves the aperture but they can be undone with a small watchmakers screwdriver. Be careful because as the control assembly is removed it’s possible for a couple of small springs to fall out. If they don’t I recommend you find them in the lens body and remove them for safekeeping.
  4. Now the aperture compartment itself is revealed and can be opened by removing the three screws which hold it on. Lift it away to reveal the aperture blades. In my case the blades were covered in oil which was why they wouldn’t move. Note that in the disassembly pictures above the blades aren’t shown because I removed them for cleaning before I took the picture.
  5. In order to remove the oil from the aperture blades and assembly I dropped them all into a small glass with about 1/2 inch or Isopropyl Alcohol and swirled it all about for a minute or so and then put them through an ultrasonic bath for 3 minutes to give them a final wash. Once the wash finished I put all the items on a piece of tissue for a few minutes and let them air dry.
  6. At this stage I fitted the aperture assembly back on the lens body and held it in place with one of the screws so it didn’t move about as I reassembled the aperture blades.
  7. As with any aperture, re-assembly is an exercise in patience. The rules are
    • Don’t touch the blades with your fingers – it’s easy to damage them and you could transfer oil from your fingers to the blades
    • Add each blade with the small protruding pins sitting in the relevant holes in the aperture assembly. The pin at the end of the blade goes in the outer ring and the pin towards the right angle sits in the inner ring. The photo above shows this.
    • As you add each blade you fit it over the last one you fitted. When you get to the last two this becomes tricky because you have to also fit it under the first blade you fitted. It’s particularly fiddly with the last blade.
    • Moving the aperture pin with make the rings turn relative to each other and the blades will form the correct O shape, but be careful as a rapid movement will make the blades fly out.
    • Once they are all in place you can fit the top of the aperture assembly in place. Remove the screw you used in step 6 to hold the aperture assembly together and fit the top in place. You will need to slightly close the aperture so that the blades don’t get trapped
  8. In order for the focus helicoid to properly drive the back lens assembly the two small pegs in the camera body need to fit into the two slots in the back lens assembly. These two slots then have the small springs fitted inside them. At this point I must admit I didn’t find a way to get the two springs to stay in place whilst I reassembles the lens – this is something I’m still thinking of a method for and my lens was assembled without them
  9. To fit the bottom of the lens I found it best to hold it the right way up and drop the rest of the lens in it, making sure that the aperture will close down as the pin is pushed. Once this is working it’s easy to put the lens back on the bench upside down and screw the retaining screws in place.
  10. Finally, reassemble the front aperture control ring and makers name plate.

The missing screws didn’t seem to be a problem – there is a small amount of play in the lens focusing but not too bad. Once I work out a method of fitting the small springs I’ll amend this post.

Some sample pictures taken with a Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 lens are shown in this post

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I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

  1. arshia says:

    Hi! I followed your guide and found it very helpful! But I have the same problem as you have, I cannot seem to reassemble with the springs still in.

    I also cannot fit the front aperture control in a way so that it controls the aperture blades. Would appreciate the help!

    Best regards

    1. Hi – glad the post helped you. I never did go back and fit the springs so I’m afraid I can’t help much. The only thing I could think at the time was to possibly fit some tiny strips of sticky tape over the springs with enough left sticking out so they can be pulled off as the outer ring is fitted in place – don’t know it that would work though. I found I had to fit the aperture control and jiggle it a bit until it controlled the blades.

      1. Ian Button says:

        Hi Simon,
        Thanks very much for your excellent photos & step-by-step instructions. I have just finished my Domiplan – the iris blades were a bit sticky. May I add a few hints to help those in our wake? :-
        a) For the iris blades’ removal & cleaning, only the rear of the lens need removing.
        b) to reposition each of the last 2 blades (one at a time), it helps to slide its base under the others already positioned, and try to get that base in roughly the right spot before gently positioning the tip so everything drops into place.
        c) regarding the tiny springs that hold the plugs into their slots (though not in the “camera body” as you say!) what worked for me was to insert a very narrow blade to force the centre of the spring down while pushing the ring gently into place. If the spring catches on the metal & won’t retract, release gently and try again. I used a craft-knife blade, though a piece of old razor blade might work.
        d) The pin didn’t move the aperture mechanism until I had screwed in all 3 screws holding the aperture assembly in place.
        Thanks again

        1. simon says:

          Thanks Ian – and thanks for adding these additional notes.

    2. Petri junno says:


      I just cleaned one of these I had lying around. It had an aperture always wide open. I suspect someone had already been in there or something and did not quite get it right.

      The information here was usefull especially in getting it apart. Thanks for that Simon!

      Now for the aperture control part… (Bit late, but maybe someone finds it usefull.) The aperture ring should be easy to get right… It just needs to go so the longest part going in the barrel goes between two restricting pins in the barrel. It’s also the only way the clicks on the aperture ring work (the little steel ball and the spring hit the detents in the barrrel).

      There are other things however… For the aperture to move you need to push the pin at the back of the lens. (Just in case someone did not know.) For that to work the parts on the back need to go in right. There is a small part that looks a bit like like a small swing or something in the rear part. It needs to be lying against a small pin that is connected to long curved metal strip when you are putting the parts together.

      The focusing helicoid can also be screwed on several ways… And only one of them is right for focus to work properly from minimum focus to infinity. However, the focus is not the only thing that affects… If it is wrong the aperture mechanism might work at first when focus is at infinity (acording to markings on the barrel anyway) but when you turn it to closer focus the aperture stops working. How do I know? 😀 I wanted to clean and re-grease the helicoid on my copy as it felt a bit stiff sometimes.

  2. Petri junno says:

    Oh… One more thing agout the aperture control ring of this thing: The movement of the blades from the rear aperture pin should work even whithout the aperture control ring. The control ring only limits the amount the aperture can close.

  3. Ken Hardy says:

    Hi, I know this is a very old article but I just wanted to say that I’ve found it invaluable in refurbishing my Exakta mount Domiplan lens. There are minor differences due to the different mount but nothing that couldn’t be guessed around! The aperture leaves are now moving nicely and freely and I was also able to clean much of the dust that had accumulated on the glass elements.

    Regarding getting the springs back into place: I had the same trouble as everyone else has expressed and almost gave up on it, as you had done. However, after a bit of thought I managed to get one of the springs back into place. Basically, all you need is a very thin strip of steel to locate over the spring as the bottom part of the lens body is being slid into position, thus allowing the spring to compress without getting distorted – similar to your suggestion of using sticky tape. The strip can then be slid out once all is in position. I happened to have some ancient automotive feeler gauges and a 3 thousands of an inch one proved to be ideal.

    Unfortunately, I’d managed to lose one of the springs during earlier attempts to fit them but I found that having just one in place is all that’s necessary to get the smooth focusing action back.

    I hope this helps others with this problem.

  4. Sk8Wine says:


    I too lost a spring, you need to get a jewellers screwdrivers and press down/wiggle (although I now only have one spring currently.)

    Bought this lens off eBay as ‘working’ and I found the aperture blades stuck… Still stick a little past 11… But that’ll do!!!

    THANK YOU! You need a donate button, to keep the website up and running

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