On the Introductions thread here on the Canon FD Group, there is a discussion on how some look at a newly arrived used camera and what they do with it to make it ready for use. That thought is worthy of a thread topic of its own.
What do you do with a used camera that has just appeared in your home?
Do you have a camera technician nearby who can look at a camera for you, make any needed repairs, and perform a CLA (Cleaning, Lubrication, and Adjustment) on a used camera for you?
Do you make any attempt to adjust a selling price for a camera you are buying depending on whether or not it may need a CLA?
As an effort to get this line of thought under way, I often buy used cameras, both for my use and for additions to the growing collection of mainly Minolta brand cameras here, and I do have a policy regarding any used camera that comes to me: Normally I do assume that any "new" camera coming to me does need a CLA. At the very least, regardless of how nice it looks when it is handed to me, even if it has been sitting on a closet shelf for years, probably it will need to have that CLA. A lot of the cameras I get were made back in the 1950s, 1960s, or the 1970s. Just over that time period, the few places that do get lubricated on a camera, or a lens, probably will have those lubricants change over that multiple year long time period. Just as with the lubricants in your car, the lubricants on a camera should be cleaned and replaced at intervals, possibly with the lubricants of our modern times that have better stability and life expectancy than the ones we had back in the 1950s or 1960s. Now with a CLA, I expect my cameras to be ready to run for another 10 to 20 years, at least.
One thing I have wondered about over the years is whether or not I should argue for a price adjustment based on the highly probable need for a CLA. So far, I have not really pursued this idea. Usually the camera shops I visit will make an adjustment when they watch me going through my check-out procedure for a camera, and what I find while doing that. I wish I had an opportunity to do something like that with the things I have bought from e-Bay sources over the years. So often it seems that there were some things that just seemed to have been "forgotten" while they were writing the description of the camera. Even when they claim to be a person without any real knowledge of cameras, what does it take to recognize that the front element of the fixed lens on a camera is flopping around when you move the camera? My purchases of things over e-Bay are very limited today. Yes, I am discouraged with the prospect of trying to buy something over e-Bay.
Latte Land, Washington
When I'm buying sight unseen I factor in the cost of a CLA and decide if it's worth it; if so, I bid accordingly. If the seller says it's been recently CLA'd and I find it hadn't, I give the seller the opportunity to make it right, otherwise it's going right back to him. This past spring I bought a Contax RX in EX+ condition (he had many photos of the camera) and described it as working perfectly. When I got it I found that the eyepiece diopter had come loose, rendering the camera unusable. I took it to Doug who estimated the cost to repair between $90 and $130. I communicated this to the seller and offered to accept a $90 refund to make this good, which he duly sent.
Any camera I buy with the intent to use I have CLA'd; the only exceptions to that are the fairly recent models, such as the EOS 1V, 1N, 1N-RS, and 3. The Contax RX and AX I likewise decided didn't need a cleaning. The RTS-III, in spite of its age, is in perfect condition; indeed, I suspect the previous owner had it CLA'd at some point. Cameras that I buy as spares don't get CLA'd unless I have spare money to splash around. Parts cameras don't get CLA'd, period. Unless I decide it's in good enough shape to have refurbished and put into service. I have between 8 and 10 FTbn (how do you pluralize a word like FTbn without changing the part number or making it look possessive?); two have been completely refurbed, the others are awaiting my ... um ... pleasure. Likewise I have four or five XD-11; two have been serviced, the others I have no particular plans for as yet.
Sometimes I get a camera I'm not sure I'm going to keep, so there's no point in spending the money to have it cleaned up. My Canon EF, F-1 (original) and Minolta XE-7 fall into that category. Admittedly I've had all three rather a long time now (F-1 six years, EF five years, XE-7 two years, and yes, I'm still undecided) but I still can't bring myself to spend the money. They don't look like they need it and they work fine.
The only 35mm SLR cameras I use are FD ones all of which must be at least twenty five years old and the majority of them I've personally owned for at least twenty years, all of them with the exception of an FTbn I decided to retire have been CLA'd over the last three years.
I don't want any more cameras, but in the past I always factored into the price of a CLA into what I offered for the camera because very few cameras offered for sale have ever had any maintenance.
For the price of annoyance when buying off Ebay I actually prefer to buy from KEH. They now have a 6 month warranty return. I've yet had to cla anything from them when buying E or better. On the other hand I had one Ebay purchase where the seller noted he checked the camera but apparently didn't as there was a roll of film in it and the seals were shot. Luckily I really just wanted the lens on it.
Garry's Camera Repair up in Illinois cla's manual bodies for $45 + $8 Shpg and handling. You really can't get better then that. He did a fine job on my FTBn and recently per conversation told me that it was probably unwise to try to repair a Nikon I bought. I had it cla'd by someone else, sent it back cause they didn't replace the seals(!!?) and on return I noticed they somehow screwed up the infinity focus. All at a cost of $130 + shipping twice plus the cost of the camera.
Try Garry http://www.garryscamera.com/.
I just use it -- it's a hobby and not like I'm doing weddings. Usually when I travel, especially any significant distance -- like Italy! -- I take a spare camera or two.
My two folders were bought from certo6 CLA'd and ready to go. I did have a problem with a Bronica SQ-A body, but bought another body in near mint condition for $80, which I doubt would go very far on technician time. I later bought another body, it's just about the cheapest component in the system. (So now I have enough adult Tinker Toy stuff to put two SQ-As together for use.
My venerable old "brick," the Argus C3 which I bought new in high school in the late 1950s, I have CLA'd myself successfully. And I've replaced the mirror bumper and light seals on a couple others. Attractive diversions for a compulsive tinkerer (who is also cheap!)
I just prefer the feeling that if I go to a lot of planning, trouble and expense to travel and shoot the pictures that the equipment Isn't going to crap out on me.
The CLA is like buying a car and they say "Oh yeah, it needs a new transmission" -- it means I automatically lower what I'm willing to spend on that camera by half. It's a lot of time, money, and hassle, to get a full CLA done, and if I'm buying a camera that needs one, it is by definition in a less than desirable condition.
If the camera already had a CLA, if it's working flawlessly, if the light seals are fresh, newly replaced, and it's been generally serviced, I consider that in top-level condition.
Frankly, if I'm spending THAT much on a camera (yes, to me it's a lot) I'm looking for one that doesn't require me to do half the work and double my investment.
I do not, however, have a specific plan to have them serviced, or take it right away to the camera shop for a thorough check-out. I don't have that kind of funds. While I would like to, I will service it on an as-needed basis.
If it looks fine after a scrutinizing glance at all the important areas, I'll just run film through it. It's the fastest, and cheapest, test!
Buying an FD camera and not getting it CLA'd IMO is like buying a car that's between twenty five and forty years and driving it on the highway without even checking the oil.
Hehe, I consider giving it a once-over, listening carefully, hearing the sound (no shutter squeak, etc) to be the checking the oil and regular monitoring... That's just me. I'm frugal (of necessity), and (most of the time) won't get something repaired unless there's a problem with it.
Markster - What you refer to as "shutter squeak" causes many hapless Canon A series owners to start oiling their shutters, the camera tech. who services my cameras tells me that the sound is actually caused by a dry bearing in the mirror braking mechanism, and has nothing to do with the shutter.
Most likely you are right, I've read a few things about it when I needed to CLA my AE-1P some years back.
The name has stuck, however, and is the common name of this particular ailment. So, I use it.
Edit: Maybe I should put it in quotes, though? Not sure if it's necessary, but I can try doing that.
In addition to to me writing that if I buy a used camera I have it C.L.A'd before I use it I neglected to mention I have only bought three cameras in the past 25 years.