Saturday, March 14, 2015

In praise of repair people

It’s been a bit of a rough patch, photographically. shoot-316In the past few weeks, I’ve had a fair number of equipment failures. It’s been a bit discouraging. It’s time to call in the cavalry and make things better- I’ve got to make some calls to the repair folks.

The shutter on my Canon 7 Rangefinder has jammed while winding. I did some rudimentary looking in to how to possibly repair it and came to the conclusion it is beyond me. Removing the top piece of that camera unveils a very complex viewfinder. I had heard it is one of the most complex viewfinders ever made, what with the parallax correction and switchable bright lines for different lens lengths. I looked at it for a moment and realized I didn’t feel comfortable digging around in there and decided it was something I would send out for repair.

Likewise, my new foray in to large format has been an adventure. I’ve been figuring it out as I go since I have no experience in the format at all. So far, my choices have been hit or miss, but forward progress has been pretty steady. I’ve gotten myself a Zeiss Tessar for portrait work, and the shutter has started being cranky. It’s a Deckel Compur 1 from 1938, and it is showing its age. Since this is the first one of these I’ve ever seen, I’m not real confident I can fix it either. Another that needs to be farmed out for repair.

There used to be a guy here in Denver who did repairs. Ray was a solid repairman. I once took him a F3 body that turned out to not be fixable. Even though it wasn’t, he still took time to knock the dents out of the viewfinder and pretty it up. It was almost like he couldn’t stand to give something back if it was ugly, even though he couldn’t fix it. But Ray has retired, so I’ll have to see if the new shop I’ve found is any good.

shoot-315I’ve had good luck with repair people so far. My Yashica Mat was repaired to good shape for $25 and a six-pack. Cory put my Polaroid SLR 680 right. There are people who specialize in certain cameras that reportedly do good work like the guy in New York state that does XA repair. I love my XAs so I’ve bookmarked him in case one of mine dies.

Repair people are a breed apart. I can ham-fist a few things, but they have an attention to detail and patience I do not have. I miss the ones who have retired. I respect the one who are still in the trenches and taking care of business. They’re serving a vital purpose, keeping our cameras alive. Only a few companies still make new film cameras, and that number shrinks more often than I like. Just this week, it was announced that Rollei was calling it and closing down, after decades of questionable management. If that trend continues, every repair person we have will become more critical.

Repair people are more than just fixer-uppers. They give me hope for the future and keep my favorite tools sharp and ready.

In praise of repair people

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