Film Photography

Broken cameras

You can’t buy as many old cameras as I do and not get a few duds.

BCSuperSilette

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!

BCAF35M

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.

BCAutomatic35F

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.

BCElectroTL

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.

BCLynx14e

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.

BCRetinaS1

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%!

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Do you want to see my old cameras
that actually work? Then click here!

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20 thoughts on “Broken cameras

  1. Richard says:

    Broken Cameras, Broken Dreams,

    It’s probably worth even more blog posts.

    I have 30 35mm cameras in the basement in my “man cave” awaiting a Craigslist sale. It’s an attempt to thin my growing supply of cameras. But among those cameras are a few 100 year old cameras that at least open up. Those I’ll keep.

    Purchased a Yashica Lynx 14e in southern Wisconsin at a re-sale shop for $15. I almost jerked my neck when I saw the “goggle eyed” lens in a display cabinet. Luckily the owner didn’t see my re-action. As it turned out, the camera had 3 problems that I could fix. He asked $30, I showed him the problems and negotiated to $15. A repaired beauty.

    Richard

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      • Richard says:

        Jim,
        It was missing a film winder, had a slight imperfection on the lens (fungus?) and the bottom of the case was mangled. I cannibalized a broken Yashica Electro GSN for the film winder and a better case. I’ll live the tiny fungus.
        I later learned the meter doesn’t work with a batter (bummer) but the shutter speeds work perfectly.
        I think I’ll blog about my Yashica Lynx 14e on my new blog :)

        Like

  2. Jennifer S says:

    Maybe it’s just me… but I think they’re so interesting to look at. I wouldn’t mind the ones that don’t work. I’d sit them on a shelf and make a display.

    Like

  3. I have a few of those broken cameras too. I tell myself that one day I will get around to working on them, however when I have camera time I have enough cameras that already work that I turn to.

    Like

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