Camera repair track records?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by William D. Tallman, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. Here's a topical subject: What older camera bodies have the best repair
    records, ie, spend the least amount of time in the shop? Dunno how to
    define "older", so I won't... <grin>

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Apr 17, 2004
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  2. William D. Tallman

    Chris B Guest

    Hmmm.. interesting question and left wide open to debate ;)
    I guess the best thing would be to think of this in terms of length of
    usable camera service from new before a servicing was required. I have three
    Pentax ME's from the early/late 80's that haven't been serviced and still
    work OK - but I believe their duration is down to their lack of use rather
    than anything else. ME's have a nasty 'sticking mirror' habit caused by
    degredation of the foam stopper (lots of cameras suffer a similar fate) - it
    seems this happens more out of use than age.
    But anyway, what the heck, I think the old M-series Pentaxes are very
    reliable cameras.

    Chris B, Apr 17, 2004
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  3. William D. Tallman

    Gordon Moat Guest

    You may have opened quite a can of worms with this one Bill. I am certain
    that for every praise, someone will come along with a horror story. Just in
    general, and this is from observation of only a few sources, I have seen
    lower repair or adjustment frequency in higher end 35 mm gear with
    electronically controlled shutters. While it would seem that manual
    shutters, or even cameras without light meters, might fair better, most of
    those I have seen go off a bit in shutter timing as they age.

    Okay, so obviously the more expensive cameras of the past might be a good
    place to start. Those with long shutter life promise few problems in that
    regard, though their timing can still go off, requiring adjustment. Higher
    end older Nikon gear promised 150000 shutter cycles life, while the less
    expensive gear was often good for 100000 cycles. Leica M gear seems to
    promise 60000 to 90000 cycles (depending upon what you read), though being
    manual control could need adjustment of timing much sooner. The Canon F1
    (several), Pentax LX, Contax RTS, and Olympus OM-2 (several), are other
    ranges with good reputations in 35 mm.

    Film transport mechanisms are another issue. If you never used a motordrive
    on the camera, then you could reasonably expect few problems. Obviously,
    electric winding would put an electronic component as a wear item, though
    in practice most manual film winders are low force, so wear is slight and
    problems are few. However, there definitely has been exceptions, and the
    older the camera, the more trouble this area might become.

    Older manual focus lenses are actually quite robust and durable. As long as
    the glass looks good, there should be few problems ever. Older zoom lenses
    might be an exception.

    The foam and film door seals on almost all older cameras will definitely
    deteriorate. Finder, or pentaprism on SLR, fogging is another issue, and
    cleaning is expensive. Some older cameras are better sealed, so this is
    less of a problem. Some cameras, like the Pentax LX or Nikon F2, F3 or F4,
    allow for changing the finder, making that less of an issue.

    There are some cameras whose meters fail, and usually the cost (even if you
    can find parts) would be far too much to make it worth repairing. However,
    some cameras can still be used in manual mode even with a dead light meter.

    Okay, one camera I endorse is the Nikon FM, though not everyone likes using
    one of these. There has been a problem of the light meter going dead in
    some, yet the shutter is fairly robust, and maintains accuracy quite well.
    My personal one has been through three hard drops (including one that broke
    my ribs) and a dousing from salt water (rouge wave). It also went through
    an offroad adventure that dislodged the mirror. This camera has been in my
    family, and then my possession, since it was new. It went through a mirror
    replacement, and two cleanings (one for salt water) in two decades, and the
    meter still works, and the shutter works accurately. If a camera cold have
    a soul, this one would have one, plus some stories to tell.
    Gordon Moat, Apr 17, 2004
  4. William D. Tallman

    Peter Irwin Guest

    I've always been impressed with Compur shutters. They do get gummed
    up after a few decades, but once they are cleaned and lubricated,
    they hardly ever need to be adjusted.

    A simple folding camera with red window advance and a Compur shutter
    should be ultra-reliable.

    Peter Irwin, Apr 17, 2004
  5. William D. Tallman

    Mike Guest

    Maybe the question should be, which cameras do most repair shops see the
    most of?
    If we are talking 35mm gear, then in general the answer will be, the most
    popular in descending order.
    Interesting the number of Spotmatic thru SPIIs I see for service. Most of
    these need only a CLA and they will be good for another 20-30 years.
    MF gear is another story. Generally in order of frequency of repair will be
    magazines, lenses and bodies.
    Here as in 35mm there tends to be shops which specialize in brands.
    Mike, Apr 17, 2004
  6. I'm not sure if that would work either. I'd guess that a repair shop
    currently sees at least as many F3's as AE-1 or AE-1P, even though
    Canon sold millions more of the latter. But a far larger percentage
    of those AE-1's don't see any use, and I would imagine only a handful
    ever saw heavy use.

    Today, most AE-1's languish deep in storage, snug in their everready
    case and tote bag, seeing no light except for a brief shining moment
    when they are photographed by their distant digital cousins and sold
    on eBay. When one pays $80-$100 for a body, it's awfully hard to
    justify paying the same amount for a CLA and shutter speed adjustment.

    For older, mostly mechanical bodies, I would guess that the number one
    predictor of reliability is storage conditions. Number two is the
    number of shots on the shutter. Differences between brands is perhaps
    a distant third.
    Michael Benveniste, Apr 17, 2004
  7. The mechanical cameras need periodic attention, whether from the
    dedicated hobbyist or a pro, but as long as a few high-wear parts are
    available they go a very long time. Electronic cameras will work
    longer, in many cases, with no attention but failures are catastrophic
    as repair is often on the module level only. No module-no camera.

    The electronic cameras are cheaper to build in quantity, and everyone
    knows it. That's why we have highly electronic cameras. There are
    advantages,as well as disadvantages, but build cost is the deciding

    The popular quality cameras made between 1955 and 1980
    ,approximately, are superior in many respects to most of those on
    offer today. The Pentax K-1000 was an especially good value,as was the
    Yashica-Mat TLR, neither were the best cameras ever made but both were
    good cheap cameras. The M Leica is probably the greatest of all 35mm
    cameras but it is overpriced. If you honestly wear out any camera you
    are an unusual person.

    Digital will have the good effect, in my opinion, of getting rid of
    low end consumer snapshot mentality photography with minilabs and APS.
    Photography with any kind of film will be like large format
    photography is today. I am looking forward to it.
    Jim-Ed Browne, Apr 17, 2004
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