Inevitably, most vintage cameras will have one or more problems, and the more features the camera has, the more can be wrong with it. However, most of these cameras are based on simple mechanics and with patience, dedication and the right tools many can be brought back to working condition.
The most common problems are shutters that get stuck at slow speeds, sticky shutter blades, hazy or dusty lenses, viewfinders and rangefinders, and inaccurate or faded rangefinders. A problem which is harder to detect is inaccurate focussing. Generally I assume it will be incorrect as most cameras show signs of poor attempts to service or repair and I doubt these individuals had enough skill to properly calibrate lens focus.
My general work routine is as follows:
- remove top housing, clean it, clean view- or rangefinder
- if needed, recoat semi-transparant rangefinder mirror
- take apart lens and clean elements
- open shutter and remove and clean speedcam and time delay
- clean camera body and inside, reassemble
- check all functions with dummy film
- check or adjust infinity focus.
Depending what one comes across this might take a few hours to well, months.
As I've gone over 200+ cameras the last few years I've built up a reasonable knowledge what to expect, what to do and what not to do (don't clean old rangefinder mirrors with window cleaner!). Not all cameras can be completely restored, especially when parts are broken (like my poor Edinex and Minolta A-2 with broken wind spools). I'd say my average success rate is 75% and better if I try hard. At the very least they will look good enough to display again!
If you have a camera you want to have fixed or serviced but don't have the time, skill or courage to tackle it yourself, I am happy to do it for you for a reasonable price. A standard make-over like I have listed above would cost £20-50 (depending on the camera, rangefinders cost more, inquire first) + the cost of shipping the camera. If it has problems that are not covered by the above, I will give you a detailed description what is wrong, how (if) it can be repaired and what it will cost. If we do not agree, no harm done, I will return the camera and will probably have cleaned it to some extent during assessing the condition of the camera. Disclaimer: Everyone makes mistakes, so do I occasionally. If anything gets damaged, I will return the camera without charging for any work done, but I cannot be held responsible for any loss in value of the camera.
I am also doing mount conversions of vintage lenses to Sony Alpha or M42. Examples include a Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 58mm f/1.2 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 to Sony Alpha. Contact me for more info.
Contact me at cjs.classic.cameras [at] gmail.com. I am located in Edinburgh, UK.