Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
At this point I have to decide whether to pay the $30 and pick up the camera, pay the $163 and pick up the camera, or just let them keep the thing for their boneyard.
Many people say get a CLA as a matter of course but I beg to differ. I have 20 + old SLRs of various makes, manual through matrix and have only had one CLA'd and that was while fixing a separate problem.

The reality is cameras of your Nikon's era are mechanically sound but have ancient metering technology which is a specialist fix and spare parts are from donor bodies. I'm not saying don't have the repair done but it takes your $30 camera into a different league of expense.
My first response to receiving any camera is to check cosmetic condition, that knobs and dials all work correctly and put a film through, then process it in a familiar developer.

If negative density is as expected and nothing squeaks or falls off the camera is fit for purpose. There is no other criterion of accuracy than a good negative. I had five Nikkormats at the last count (I had more but gave some to friends) the forerunner of the FE/FM and the metering works correctly in one, is dubious in another and the rest don't work at all. To fix them all would mean a considerable financial outlay but I use Sunny 16, carry a hand meter or confirm with a second camera body I trust the metering in.
They cost between 20 and 40 with a mint example at 50, a great price for a fine camera and I'm happy to ignore their antique circuitry and appreciate the excellent engineering that delivers the shots.