Our Repair Desk This Week: 9 October 2023

Welcome to a new series we are hoping to be doing on our website blog! We repair and service lots of film cameras every week, and wanted to show what we get up to behind-the-scenes.


DISCLAIMER: these posts are not intended to be a how-to on repairs. We recommend booking a repair or service in with us, rather than taking apart your beloved camera and risking further damage.

Our repair desk this week thumbnail

This week saw a very diverse range of issues coming across our desk. Our weeks are normally filled with routine services of gear that hasn't been touched for many years. And whilst we did have our fair share of servicing this week, we also had some situations and repairs that we have not seen many times before. A great time to be doing a blog post about our repairs! 

Let's start off with one that could not be brought back to life, because I want to re-emphasise why you should get a case for your camera.

This Canon Sure Shot Supreme was most likely living its best life in the bottom of someone's bag (off to somewhere really exciting where it could take amazing images, obviously). But unfortunately, their water bottle leaked. 

As you can see from the images below, the camera was SOAKED. It was far more water than I was expecting to get inside the camera, so I can only guess that it was left in the water for a sustained period of time.

Canon Sure Shot Supreme repair
Canon Sure Shot Supreme repair

The customer spoke of trying to clean the camera off as much as they could, and then they rewound their roll of film. Once rewound, the camera was making a loud whirring noise. 

So here is my first piece of advice for this blog. If you ever spill water on your camera, especially an electronic one, take the battery out immediately. Don't attempt to use the camera at all. 

Why? Well, under that shell, there are tens, or sometimes hundreds, of small electronic pieces, soldering points, and capacitors. And as we all know, water conducts electricity. 

So adding water in and around your circuit board inside the camera, is basically redirecting electricity where it wasn't supposed to be going, as well as just slowly frying the electrical components. 

All cameras have some level of weather sealing in them, intended to stop rain from damaging the electrics of the camera. For example, the Olympus Mju II claims to be an all-weather camera. Unfortunately for this little fella, it was too late to try and save him. 

Let's move on to a more positive outcome. 

A few weeks ago, I received a wonderful and heartwarming message from a customer who hadn't used her camera for over 30 years. The automatic exposure function on her camera had stopped working, and she didn't have the confidence to use the camera manually.

Minolta Himatic 7s

The camera in question was this lovely Minolta 7s rangefinder camera. Similar to the Yashica Electro 35, this camera uses a battery to automatically choose its settings. It is a simple camera, and fortunately, the repair on this one was simple as well. 

The battery contacts needed to be cleaned, repositioned and a new battery installed. The previous battery had corroded and stained the contacts, so a quick wash in our ultrasonic cleaner (more on that later) and the battery compartment was clean and functioning again. 

Yes, so we recently purchased an ultrasonic cleaner. I don't fully understand how they work, but they are phenomenally effective at removing all the dirt found on camera parts, as well as the old grease used when they were manufactured.

Below you can see an example of this being used on the Olympus Trip lens rings.

Olympus Trip lens ring cleaned with ultrasonic cleaner
Olympus Trip lens ring cleaned with ultrasonic cleaner

The image on the left shows the lens ring before it went in to the ultrasonic cleaner. The image on the right shows it after it has been cleaned. 

Olympus Trip lenses are often filled with old grease from previous services or even from when they were made. Cleaning this grease out not only makes your camera cleaner and feel nicer, but also means that new grease added after has a good contact with the surfaces, and is not just caked on over the top of the old stuff.

You may have seen this black Olympus Trip on our Instagram stories last week. The camera had several issues that needed to be repaired, but one of the main ones was that the light meter was not working.

In my experience, it is far more common for the light meter needle to have an issue than the selenium meter not working. I shudder to think how many Olympus Trips are disregarded because people thought the selenium meter (the bit around the lens that receives light) was broken when really it was just an issue with the needle or aperture blades.

This camera was suffering from a loose lens, as well as the stuck meter needle. I immediately knew what the issue was going to be even before I opened the camera up to have a look. 

Olympus Trip in black part-disassembled
Olympus Trip in black part-disassembled

After disassembling the camera (removing the entire shutter mechanism away from the chassis of the camera), I could see that there was a misplaced screw. The lens is mounted to the shutter plate with four screws. One of these screws had gone AWOL.

Where was it? Because the light meter needle is magnetised, loose debris and screws get stuck to it. Oftentimes, this leads the needle to be inoperable, as all cameras are designed for all the little pieces to be in exactly the right place. 

Below shows the rear side of the piece removed that secures the lens. Below the brass arm of the red flag, you can see a screw hole with no screw in it. 

Olympus Trip in black part-disassembled

Any loose parts or changes in how your camera behaves are normally a sign of another issue. For example, this camera had a loose lens, but the light meter still appeared to be working. In fact, the meter needle was stuck just far enough along to make it look like the camera was firing and also not allowing the red flag (another usual sign of the light meter not working) to pop up.

The rest of our week (or at least the bits I remembered to photograph) were lens cleanings and general repairs. Below is a Pentax lens that was cleaned up from being very dusty (inside and out) to being in a very good condition. 

Pentax lens cleaning
Pentax lens cleaning

Fortunately, the lens above only had a small amount of fungus in the elements. Fungus is generally caused by lenses being stored in damp or humid conditions. Over time (usually years) small spiderweb-like lines will appear across a lens surface, whether this is on the outside or the inside. It is more common on the inside.

Cleaning fungus from lenses is a little hit and miss for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, if left for a long time, or if your lens was cheaply made, the fungus can affect the coatings of the lens glass. All lenses are covered in coatings for various reasons, such as reducing glare. These coatings are fragile, and the fungus can start to degrade these coatings over time. Repairing coating damage on a lens is far harder than removing fungus in its early stages. 

As well as this, the lens elements may be inaccessible. This is a common issue with Olympus Zuiko lenses as a lot of the front elements are cemented together, meaning they were never intended, nor is it easily possible, to be cleaned. 

Below is one of the Canon FD lenses we had to clean up this week. Fortunately, it was a later version in which the elements were not cemented together, and Canon lenses generally have strong, high quality coatings, that allow for fungus to be easily removed.

On the left, you can see the small spiderweb of fungus starting to move across the lens of the camera. On the right is after it has been cleaned by us. 

Canon lens fungus being cleaned
Canon lens fungus being cleaned

The final bit of repair work we've done this week is less of a repair and more of a refurbishment, but I know how much people love seeing inside cameras. 

Below is the Yashica T4 minus its external casing. There are many many ways to break this camera whilst disassembling if you do not have experience, so if you are looking to disassemble this camera by yourself for whatever reason, get in touch with us. 

Whilst this camera looked phenomenally clean from the outside, I could see some dust under the LCD window, and decided to disassemble the camera for a full internal clean, an important part of selling point and shoots. We do this for almost all of the point and shoots on our website. 

Inside the Yashica T4 35mm point and shoot

Inside, this camera was filthy. The brush contacts needed cleaning, as well as the viewfinder, the entire circuit board, and the winding mechanism. Below you can see the before and after of cleaning this camera.

Cleaning inside the Yashica T4
Cleaning inside the Yashica T4

Next week is a busier week as we have had a few cameras requiring full disassembly and servicing. We have been waiting for parts to come in, and now they have, we have quite a few cameras ready to be repaired. 

We hope to be able to post about our repair endeavours often, and would love to hear your feedback on this kind of post. If you are looking to have a camera or lens repaired or serviced, get in touch with us here. If you want to see more behind-the-scenes, we post most frequently on Instagram. And if you are a fellow repair technician who fancies a chat, get in touch!

We love creating content here at Cameras By Max, but finding time is really difficult. We would love to create more video content about cameras and also about repairs, so perhaps in the future, this is something we can work towards!

If you like what we do, but can't buy a camera from us, please consider buying us a cup of coffee! It helps us to keep these resources free, consistent, and accessible.

Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.

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