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  1. #1
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Our Cameras and the Future.. Repair-wise

    I sent my beloved Bronica RF645 to KEH for a CLA and received it back today with a note saying that some gear assemblies need to be replaced inside and that the parts are no longer available, sorry. Well the gear assembly for resetting the window counter after a roll is finished is what needs replaced. But a few flicks on the winding lever will reset the window. SO, the camera still functions, but this has me extremely scared. How much longer will this camera last until it will not function anymore? When will Tamron stop supporting it? I'm assuming Tamron will have the parts to fix it? What happens when they don't service Bronica stuff anymore? What about all our cameras? Film cameras were built to last because the film got better, the camera didn't have to. In these digital days cameras only need to last a few years then are replaced because technology moves so fast. But it seems parts and good technicians are dissapearing. I'd like my Bronica and my Mamiya 6's to last the rest of my life (I'm 30). But I highly doubt this will happen. Electronics fail, and these cameras weren't built super tough. I feel as if to keep shooting film I will need to invest in a Hasselblad or Mamiya RB67, something mecahnical that will always be able to be fixed. But SLR is not my style of shooting. I enjoy rangefinder shooting. My Mamiya 6's have had minor problems so far and were easily fixed. Plus Mamiya is still around and will still service their film cameras, but for how long??

    This whole situation just has me scared. I'm thinking I should buy another RF645 to take some of the burden off the one I have. But if so, it will just be a paper weight a few years down the road when Tamron stops service and or parts aren't available. I guess it's all just a huge gamble then as to how long the camera will last.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

  2. #2

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    All the cameras I use are completely mecahnical, all of them are well over 50 years old, and all are working well, and if any of them need service then I can get them repaired without problem, indeed, the oldest camera, I currently have, a 1938 Voightlander, recently needed a shutter repair and I had it done without a problem, If you like using Rangefinder's as I do, then perhaps invest in some older equipment, which has stood the test of time, and leave the ''modern'' cameras, with their electronics and batterys alone'
    Richard

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    Having mechanical cameras is no guarantee. They tend to be easier to maintain and longer lasting than electronics, but parts wear out and are in finite supply. Look at the web sites of some repair techs, and you will see notes about parts they can't get any more. At some point even salvage options from parts cameras will be limited. But look on the bright side: commercial film production will probably end before we no longer have any working cameras.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moopheus View Post
    Having mechanical cameras is no guarantee. They tend to be easier to maintain and longer lasting than electronics, but parts wear out and are in finite supply. Look at the web sites of some repair techs, and you will see notes about parts they can't get any more. At some point even salvage options from parts cameras will be limited. But look on the bright side: commercial film production will probably end before we no longer have any working cameras.
    parts for mechanical cameras are easy to manufacture with a lathe and a few rods of steel/brass. I am using Leica IIIF that is 60 years old for about 10 years now, just take it easy, shoot film and let the digital world worry about the cost of equipment.
    Multum egerunt, qui ante nos fuerunt, sed non peregedunt.

  5. #5

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    As the stock of film cameras wear out, somebody will start making new film cameras.

  6. #6
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbromaghin View Post
    As the stock of film cameras wear out, somebody will start making new film cameras.
    And who is that gonna be?

  7. #7

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    Was the camera used by a professional? Many Bronicas were and have thousands of film advances on them. Repalcement bodies are currently cheap so I'd suggest picking one up and holding it. I have the ETRS and at some point I'll likely pick up a ETR-Si body though my body is in excellent. At current prices it is not much more for a good body than a cheap p&s. I suspect as time goes on, the Bronicas will start rising in value again. I do not believe that Tamron supports them any longer but, this is not surprising as under US law they needed to support them model only for 7 years after being discontinued. I think the ETR-Si, the last of the Bronicas was discontinued in 2002 or so. There are a numner of Bronica repair techs so parts should be available for some time.

  8. #8
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    Interestingly, clocks and watches that are hundreds of years old, can be restored. Yes, they have to make parts sometimes. I think the cameras likely to be around the longest will be like the view camera, perhaps, Leica's. Electronics will shorten the useful life by leaps and bounds.

    JMHO
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  9. #9
    CGW
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    No need to wring your hands. Get back-ups whenever possible and buy the newest and "bestest," condition-wise, you can find/afford. It's about all you can do. With film demand still falling, it's highly implausible that anyone will be cranking out affordable new cameras comparable to today's to serve a shrinking market. Right now, I think a huge worry is capable repair staff and/or parts from sources other than donor stock, as your case suggests. Forget kindly Geppetto-like machinists eager to custom-make parts. Electronics are a wild card with no way to predict durability aside from what's still ticking today that's not required fixing.

    Buy what sold strongly over time, if only to be sure that back-ups are available now and parts in the future. Sadly, your Bronica RF didn't meet either criteria relative SQ and ETRS models.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fotch View Post
    Interestingly, clocks and watches that are hundreds of years old, can be restored. Yes, they have to make parts sometimes.
    JMHO
    It's true--I had this done for an old pocket watch. Cost more than the watch was technically worth to have a tiny spindle made. It's not something you have done by just some guy with a lathe. But like I said, when it gets to the point where all of our cameras are being held together with spit and glue, no one will be making film for them.

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