Repairing a 35mm...
For those of you who repair your own cameras, is it something that can be learned?
I'm fairly mechanically inclined with most things, but I've never attempted to fix a camera. Would it be a completely ridiculous for me to purchase two 'for parts' Nikon FM's and tinker with them? If I take them apart and can't get them back together, I will have lost $25. But then again, a $25 for a few hours of entertainment is cheaper than going to the movies.
Anything can be learned, I say go for it :)
That's pretty much how I learned...
Well, repairing my own cameras, starting with the simpler things first.
Get some decent tools and, when stuck, look for advice online (there used to be a classic camera repair forum).
You might not get anything working from "parts" cameras in a short time (then you might: depends what is wrong with them...), but it certainly is a good experience!
Christopher, I have been doing minor repairs for years, and have a graveyard of cameras and lenses that I broke in the process. Living in Philadelphia is rich territory for buying used cameras and I have bought many a 5 dollar SLR that had only gummed up gears that were easily cleaned with lighter fluid.
But, start with either simple rangefinders, or prime, cheap lenses. Some lenses are rather easy to take apart and get rid of all the dried out lubricant on the helical so it will focus easier. Usually, one begins with the front by either unscrewing the center ring or, on some, the whole front of the lens body screws off. It is very frustrating but can be very rewarding even after you have (yes) KILLED hundreds of cameras and lenses in order to get down the knowledge. But do not throw out the dead bodies, they can be like gold when you need parts.
In a tiny container (like a plastic, screw-on coin tube from numismatists) you begin collecting tiny screws of all different sizes. These, also are like gold when you need them. I never bought a spanner wrench but use a sharp, old pair of scissors to unscrew the spanner nuts. What is REALLY frustrating is when some screws (most are NOT) are threaded to turn the opposite way (clockwise) to unloosen. I could tell you more but it's difficult to impart because each camera is different. If you email me I will send you my repair sheet. Also, from the late 70s to the early eighties MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY published, in each issue, an exploded view of a specific SLR. I am sure that you have access to a library that would have these issues on microfilm.
Minature screwdrivers are essential and I bought mine at the dollar store. - David Lyga email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you think you're going to enjoy it and are up for a challenge, I think it's a good way to spend $25. I have managed to fix a jammed rangefinder, so I turned $35 of junk in to a working camera. If you find you're good at it and enjoy it, you may even be able to do a friend a favour sometime in the future...or perhaps get that camera you've always wanted at a price you can afford.
Certain cameras are easier to work on than others. Here is a thread I did that shows some simple repairs on a Yashica FX-3 http://www.apug.org/forums/forum52/9...nical-slr.html
I also have a Rollei SL2000F that has gone bad on my workbench now. I have already replaced it with another SL2000F from ebay and two SL3003s. That camera would be at the far extreme from the Yashica. I have only heard rumors of a repair manual for those and I have been using the SL2000 cameras since they were availabe new in 1985.
Not a hobby for me. Years ago as a kid, I would disassemble pocket watches, Scotties so don't worry I hurt a good one. On reassembling them I always had left over parts and all but one never worked, the one that worked actually went backwards but I never saved time when I used it. I finally gave up. I have dismantled a couple of junker cameras to see the guts and decided I'd have a better chance working on a Rolls Royce Merlin engine or some rocket.
Sure it lcan be learned, just like any other trade.
Vocational schools used to teach camera repair. I'm a graduate of the course at National Camera.
You can get tools and supplies from Micro-Tools in Vacaville, California. It's the largest supplier of such to the repair industry.
One key to doing a complete camera repair, resulting in a camera that will work properly for years to come, is lubricants.
Some of them can be expensive, like Nye Astro Oil (no longer available) at $90 per ounce.
The proper adhesive for replacing leatherette is Plio-Bond.
One thing that can get you into trouble quicker than anything else is screws. Make sure you return each one to its original place... no exceptions. The small screws used in manual cameras can differ in length by a small fraction of a millimeter, but that can be enough to cause the camera to not work if you put one in the wrong place.
FMs are a good camera to start with. There are many out there with simple problems and you can get them cheap. after they are fixed you have something usable or saleable. I wouldn't waste my money on cheap junk just because its cheap
If you start with a junker or two, there's nothing to be lost. Take as much time as you need and don't treat it as a race. Here's a link to the Classic Camera Repair Forum:
http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/foru...tml?1319000955 If you need help there's usually someone on there who can advise. I started repairing cameras when a repair man gave me back a Pentax ME with a wire poking out from under the top plate. I pointed this out to him then watched as he whipped the top off, poked the wire back and reassembled it. There was no black magic involved. Thereafter, I started doing simple repairs to my various Pentax bodies and lenses. A good quality set of cross-head and flat blade screwdrivers is essential (personally I'd steer clear of the pound or dollar shops!), but most other tools can be easily made to suit a particular job. There's a very good pair of books by Tomosy that give some basic repair advice. He suggests that when you are able to replace an SLR's shutter blinds, you can call yourself a camera repair man. I've got nowhere near that level but have saved myself a lot of money by cleaning my own lenses, freeing stuck mechanisms, replacing PCBs, etc.. It's surprising how many faults are actually quite simple to fix if you're able to spend a little time on them. As with so many other things, it's the cost of labour that often makes commercial repairs uneconomical.