As you might already know, CLA means Clean - Lube - Adjust. But, what some repair people call CLA range from tear everything apart and re-assemble to blow dust away and put some oil in it. My local guy charges something like starting fee of $175 for this type of service and it goes up from there depending on what he finds.
Obviously, if you are buying old cameras, the cost of proper CLA will exceed your purchase price and in some cases by a large margin. If parts aren't available, which is often the case, it might be fabricated or somehow obtained from junker cameras.
Unless you want to go very seriously into this type of thing, my suggestion would be to buy one that functions well in the first place. If you are patient and watch classified section right here in APUG, you'll find something like Rolleicord fairly often in functioning condition. I bought and sold mine here too for something like $150ish. Various other makes and models often show up and as being an enthusiast site, description on what works and what doesn't are usually pretty accurate - based on my personal experience.
Also, as mentioned, KEH is a good source for fairly recent models. Their cameras are NOT CLA'd but they do guarantee they work and when they don't, they'll gladly refund or exchange your purchases.
I guess what I'm suggesting is to decide how far you'll want to get into this before you start.
Thanks for all the responses guys, its all very helpful information. I keep an eye on the inventory at KEH constantly and know of their great return policy, but its nice to hear the names of some other great places to buy.
There are lots of good technicians out there (and even more incompetent ones, I'm sure) One of the former is Michael Zack, at Zack's Camera Repair, in Providence. Another top notch company is SK Grimes, in Woonsocket, RI. They tend to be a bit pricier but they're able to do just about anything and their work is unbeatable.
Michael recently did a CLA on a Rollei Automat for me and I was quite pleased with the result. Give him a call. You would be able to find a good deal on cameras at the PHSNE Photographica show in April, in Wakefield, MA or, if you're a member or are willing to join PHSNE (half price membership for the first year is dirt cheap) the member's auction in February is a wonderful place to pick up bargains, as well as meet a bunch of fellow gear-heads (same location). Michael Zack is often there and can talk to you about any camera you might be interested in. Other folks can help with the selection as well–they won't be there as dealers, but as members and potential buyers. I have yet to see anything at the auction go for anything like its street price.
Well, I just took my first leap into the medium format world and went with a Mamiya c220 and 55mm from keh.
Excellent camera to start with.
Originally Posted by Ben Totman
Is the 55mm lens your only lens? It is quite wide for an "only" lens.
And a bit slow too - for an only lens.
But it is a good lens.
i can vouch for a handful of the people, zacks, sk grimes, and midstate camera repair all in rhode island and youxin ye, of massachusetts
they have all done top notch work for me without issue at a fair price.
i cannot vouch for mr certo6.
while others have had OK experiences, be aware not everything is wine and roses ...
he did the absolute worst camera fixing i have ever experienced. i will not pollute your thread with the details ... but
i wouldn't buy anything sold by him, or send anything to him to CLA, even if he was the last person around to do it.
They don't usually have much in the way of folders, though. As far as I know, certo6 is about the only game in town for repaired/CLAd folders; most folders seem to end up on eBay. Personally, I've actually had fairly good luck buying them there; I got one completely unusable bellows, one GORGEOUS Voigtlaender Rollfilmkamera that turns out to be so gorgeous because its standard is misaligned to the point of nonfunctionality,and the other seven or eight have been functional.
Originally Posted by Jeff Kubach
As a rule of thumb, Zeiss and Nettar folders will have good bellows (bellowses? bellowsen?), while Agfas will have a spiderweb of shreds where the bellows used to be. The very cheap Foldex 20 has a *really* robust bellows, but isn't much of a camera---they seem like good candidates for a lens-and-shutter transplant.
Thanks, it seemed like the right move to make especially for the price.
Originally Posted by MattKing
The 55mm will be my only lens for a little while, its the lens I wanted most out of the lineup and keh stated it was very clean and all speeds working properly, so I figured might as well get it now instead of searching out a good one down the road. I'm going to get the 80 later this month, then eventually I'd like to add the 105 and 180.
If you like buying old cameras, may I suggest you keep this in your browser -
Originally Posted by Ben Totman
If you plan to start buying a lot, you MUST learn to work on these yourself. You will pay an average $125 per camera for an overhaul, and from an economic point of view, it doesn't make sense to do that. Because once you've bought eight cameras, that means you will spend another $1,000 to have them serviced.
Either that, or buy only cameras that have been serviced.
If you only expect to buy a camera here or there, then it's not as big a deal to pay someone to have them serviced.
Folding cameras generally are easy to service, and you just need some patience, some tools and a steady hand.
When you enter the world of complex cameras, such as SLRs and anything with a focal-plane shutter, then that's a different ballgame entirely.