Collecting and Fixing Old Cameras

I don't just like to collect older mechanical cameras. I also enjoy shooting pictures with them. After all, that's what cameras are for -- to take pictures. Although collecting is interesting in itself, and you can learn a lot about the history of photography just by collecting, I think you get a better appreciation of the development of cameras and photography by actually taking pictures with the older cameras. What's more, you'll find that many older cameras are superior in construction and image quality than all but the most expensive new cameras. A good quality rangefinder made in the 1960's can often be bought for as little as $25 (or less) and will usually allow you to take better pictures than with new cameras costing $500 or more!

Unfortunately, many old cameras have been left sitting around in less than ideal conditions and have deteriorated to the point where they won't work anymore. Except for the high quality professional cameras or rare and valuable collectibles it isn't economical to pay a professional technician to repair them. As a result, many collectors like myself have had to learn some basic camera repair skills just in order to use these little marvels of precision.

The pages that are linked below contain descriptions and repair information on some of the cameras in my collection. I've tried to pick out cameras that are inexpensive, readily available, and simple enough that an amateur tinker can have some success at getting them going again. Rather than just repeating what others have already documented, I've also tried to pick some cameras for which there isn't much information available on the Internet.

These examples assume you know what tools you need, how to use them and what solvents and cleaners to use on various parts of the camera. If you get stuck and need some help, try posting your problem to the Classic Camera Repair Forum. There you'll find a community of other amateur tinkers and collectors as well as some professional camera technicians. There's a very good chance that someone visiting that forum has already seen and solved the same problem that you have.

Some of the pages below show complete disassembly of the shutters for reference purposes. Usually a shutter can be cleaned by removing the cover and flushing the shutter with a solvent without a complete disassembly.




Links to other camera sites that have repair information: