You can’t buy as many old cameras as I do and not get a few duds.
Sometimes I buy a camera because it looks to be a bargain. Such was the case with this Agfa Super Silette from 1955. I picked it up for five bucks plus shipping several years ago, and when it arrived nothing on it worked – not the rangefinder, not the focusing mechanism, not the shutter, not anything. You can’t even turn the aperture ring. I’m not sure why I haven’t just thrown this camera away!
This Canon AF35M came in a box of old cameras I got for five dollars a couple years ago. (My related Canon AF35ML was in that box, too.) Produced from 1979 to 1983, it is an early autofocus and autoexposure point-and-shoot camera. I was looking forward to experiencing its f/2.8 lens. But its motorized film winder is busted, rendering the camera useless. I’m not sure why I keep this one, either.
I know why I keep this one, a Kodak Automatic 35F from 1962-1966. I had one in my first camera collection, and I enjoyed it immensely when I took it on a solo trip to explore the hills of Tennessee. I liked it so much that when I started collecting again in 2006, I bought this camera first. When I got around to shooting with it, I discovered that the film pressure plate had come off. Kodak had attached it with a piece of sticky foam, which had disintegrated. One of these days I’ll scrape off all the residue and reattach the pressure plate with new foam.
The remaining broken cameras are all 2012 purchases. I got this 1972 Yashica TL-Electro for ten bucks. The seller advertised it as working perfectly, but when I fired the shutter the mirror stuck in the up position and I can’t get it to come back down. The seller cheerfully refunded my money and told me not to bother returning the camera. I researched the problem online and found someone else who experienced this problem. His repair involved taking off the bottom plate and carefully squirting a few drops of solvent into just the right places. Bleagh. And then a couple days later I stumbled across another TL-Electro body on eBay for just five dollars. You can probably guess the rest: I now have two TL-Electros with the same problem. Knowing me, I’ll never get around to fixing either camera. At least I got a nice 50 mm f/2 Yashinon screw-mount lens for my trouble.
I have wanted a 1968 Yashica Lynx 14E for years because of its lens. With seven elements in five groups, its maximum aperture is a whopping f/1.4! Very, very few rangefinder cameras boast a lens that lets in so much light. Yet this one arrived with a stuck shutter. I’m sure a couple drops of lighter fluid, carefully applied, will loosen this shutter right up. Thing is, I have so many working cameras I haven’t shot yet, and the allure of just dropping some film into them keeps pushing this camera’s repair to the back of my to-do list.
Sometimes I stumble upon an interesting eBay listing in its final seconds and make an impulse bid without closely reading the listing. Such was the case with this 1966-1969 Kodak Retina S1, which represents the end of Kodak’s made-in-Germany Retina line. It was filthy upon arrival; I cleaned it up before photographing it. Its winder works very roughly, and I’m unsure whether it will function at all with film inside. After the camera arrived in this condition, I went back and read the listing – which described the camera’s condition accurately. So I got what I paid for!
I figure I have about 75 cameras now. That only six of them don’t work means my success rate is 92%!
Do you want to see my old cameras that actually work? Then click here!
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.