Seeking expert repair and restoration of classic film cameras

I think it happens to most camera collectors: the time when you decide to pare the collection down to just the ones you’re likely to keep using. I’ve been slowly giving away and selling all of my other cameras.

I want to slowly invest in having my remaining cameras restored and, as needed, repaired. I realized early on that I don’t enjoy camera repair. I’m willing to do some work myself, but only if it’s straightforward and doesn’t involve major disassembly. For example, my 1930s Certo Super Sport Dolly has broken part in the focusing mechanism. A replacement part is on the way, and as part of the repair I’ll have to recalibrate its focus. I have good instructions and the process seems relatively straightforward, so I’ll give it a go. Still, I tend to procrastinate this kind of work. Fresh light seals have been sitting here waiting to go into my Canon Canonet QL17 G-III for four years now.

Nikon F2

My Nikon F2A works well mechanically, but the meter inside its DP-11 head reacts erratically. I’d like to have it cleaned, lubed, and adjusted (CLA’d), and have that meter repaired. And I know just who I’ll have do it: Sover Wong, the world’s foremost F2 expert. My other F2 has been “Soverized.” It works like brand new, and should for decades to come.

Pentax ES II

I enjoy my Pentax ES II, but it blows through batteries like our government blows through tax revenue. Reader J.R. Smith recently sent his to Eric Hendrickson for a CLA. Eric has repaired Pentax cameras almost as long as I’ve been alive. Perhaps he can fix the battery problem. I might also send him my Spotmatic SP as it is mighty stiff.

Yashica Lynx 14e

In exchange for some cameras he wanted from my collection, reader Derek Wong made one working Yashica Lynx 14e out of two broken ones I owned. It works pretty well, though its meter is a full stop off. Fixing that probably requires parts Derek didn’t have on hand. So I’ll send it to Mark Hama, who worked in the Yashica factory years ago and repairs Yashicas today. When I bought my Yashica-12 last year, it was fresh from a Mark Hama CLA. It works like new.

I’ll take my time getting these cameras repaired and restored, as I’m hyperfocused on making sure money is there to pay for my two sons’ college educations (one’s at Purdue now; the other will head to college next fall). But send them off I will, sooner or later.

Do you know of other people who do good work repairing cameras? I wouldn’t mind having several other of my cameras CLA’d, such as my Minolta SR-T 101, my Kodak Retina IIa, and my Konica Autoreflex T3Share your recommendations in the comments for anyone and everyone you have used and can vouch for.


Comments

37 responses to “Seeking expert repair and restoration of classic film cameras”

  1. nobbyknipstNobby knipst Avatar

    In Germany I know a special workshop, the “Kamera-Spezialwerkstatt Karl Hügle”, Taubenstraße 6, D-06847 Dessau, Tel.: 0340 / 85 911 22, Fax: 0340 / 51 32 18
    e-Mail: Kameraspezi@t-online.de, http://www.kameraspezi.de which repair only old and very old cameras. Sometime I wanted to send my Konica Automatik S3, ’cause the lens is a little shaky. But I didn’t do it till today, because I think it’s a little expensive.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wish I had a camera workshop somewhere near me! I checked their Web site; I love how this shop is in its fourth generation in the Hügle family.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I don’t know if he’s still in business, but Paul Ebel in Wisconsin did some fine work for me repairing view camera shutters, especially old Kodak Supermatics. He also had a knack for working on Minolta Autocords (at one time I had 5!). You can check on the googles and see if you can find any info for him. He was located in Menomonie Wisconsin (note NOT Menomonee Falls!).

    I have to lament not having Essex Camera around, if anyone knows what happened to those guys after they shut down, I’d like to know! They fixed my Miranda Sensorex (apparently a difficult shutter to work on), even tho it took them two times. It’s perfect and it is as soft and quiet as a Leica SLR. Miranda really had something going for a while, and I’d like to have the other two I have repaired.

    Second for Erik Henderickson, he worked on a K-1000 for me, and now I have 2 more floating around. I’d like to send all 3 back in to get CLA’d, just saving up. I can’t say enough about those lates series Pentax mulit-coated screw-mount lenses, and the early series K mount multi-coats. I had Pentax cameras for a very short time as a “pro” since I didn’t “sell” 35mm much (altho I changed systems around a lot, like a hobby), and to this day, I can go back and virtually pick out transparencies I shot in the late 70’s on the Pentax, just by sharpness and color.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I would LOVE to have my Sensorex II repaired. It has a shutter issue that causes a dark band on the left edge of some photographs. That is such a lovely camera to use. And thanks for the second recommendation of Erik H. — would love to have him CLA my entire Pentax collection. I love my Pentaxes!

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        There’s something about the Sensorex shutters. I used to have mine repaired at the Miranda/AIC facility in west suburban Chicago back in the early 70’s, before I just got rid of them because every studio I was working at, had either Nikon or Canon. I heard or read they had more than the normal amount of moving parts (hence it took Essex twice to get the repair ‘right’), but I have to say, mine has virtually zero noise or vibration. It’s one of the quietest shutters on any 35mm I ever had. When I started using my employers Nikons I thought, “…man, these are kind of rough..”I chalked it up to being “robust” construction, but those Mirandas seemed like Rolex watches in comparison! When a Nikon shutter blew, you knew it, but I had to give up the Mirandas too because the mechanism that spaced the slit would always stop working, but you couldn’t tell ’cause it didn’t sound any different. You’d get home with 4 rolls of film completely unexposed! Still, I loved those cameras and rebuy them when I can find them cheap and mint.

  3. Peter Paar Avatar

    Jim,
    For Kodak Retinas there is only one person for repairs – Chris Sherlock. His web site is http://retinarescue.com/kodakretinarepairservice.html He is to Retinas what Mark Hama is to Yashicas. He will also repair any 35mm camera with a leaf shutter.
    Even with the postage to and from New Zealand the total cost is reasonable.

    Peter

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Outstanding, thanks Peter for the tip. I really enjoy my Retina IIa and someday would like to have it CLA’d.

  4. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Of course, you’ve already mentioned Sover and Eric. I’d add Youxin Ye for Leica and Canon rangefinders–he’s a master. And I currently have a couple of cameras out to Jim at Vermont Camera Works for the first time. Let you know how that goes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Excellent, thanks for droping Youxin’s name! Eager to hear about how Vermont Camera works out for you.

    2. Joshua Fast Avatar

      I’ll second Youxin. I’ve had him service two Leica’s and he had them CLA’d and in the mail 24 hours after receiving them. Cost was well under fair. He’ll do pretty much any LTM or M camera made.

  5. Wes Carroll Avatar
    Wes Carroll

    Jim, I have dealt with Sover Wong, Chris Sherlock and Mark Hama. All were excellent experiences. Mark Hama really went above and beyond with my Lynx 5000. Nothing on it worked when I shipped it out, and it came back like new!

    Wes

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m really eager to ship Mark Hama my Lynx 14e. It is a *wonderful* camera and I’d love it if the light meter could be made accurate.

  6. Dave Avatar

    Mark Hama repairs more than Yashicas. He did a great job on my Canonet and Rolleiflex too!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Excellent – good to know that!

  7. Bill Bussell Avatar
    Bill Bussell

    I would suggest Robert’s Imaging in Indianapolis. They have sources, and I suspect the work has warranty. I have also driven 200 miles to Chicago to drop off a camera for repair at Central Camera. Central has been in business since 1899. Parking cost in Chicago is now outrageous since the broken government use parking as a way to tax, and tax big. It might be smarter to park free at Indiana Dunes South Shore Station, and ride the train into Chicago. There was a fellow on Indianapolis Rockville Road that seems to have disappeared. I really trusted his work.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have heard that Roberts does repairs, but I’ve always been hinky because I have gathered that they send cameras out to various places and I feel better knowing who’s getting my gear.

      I’ve got to get up to Chicago just to see Central Camera one day.

      I’ve heard about the fellow on Rockville Road. I remember having a conversation with another film camera user who used that guy and liked his service. Sorry to hear he seems to have dropped out of view.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Roxanne at Roberts handles repairs, she sends back to the factory for a lot of stuff, but she also says she has a few guys she trusts for indie repair. Worth a try with more modern stuff, but I’m not sure they’d even have a clue if you walked in with a 40 year old camera.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          If I had a modern camera with an issue I’d be happy to have Roberts interface with the factory.

      2. Joshua Fast Avatar

        I had Roberts fix a Yashica GSN that had family value. The POD issue was more labor than i had time for. They sent it out to a local guy who specializes in film cameras. Had it back in a week and cost $30.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Thanks for the experience report. Maybe I ought to just go down to Roberts and talk to them about their abilities to have film cameras repaired.

  8. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Pentax Camera Repair…it’s Eric with a “c.” Eric Hendrickson.

  9. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Can’t recommend any repairers as in UK but have a question about you Lynx 14e, what battery are you using as the original ones were two mercury ones of 1.35v each (2.7v total) and modern day ones of 1.5v ie SR44 ext will throw the Meter of a stop or two.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I am almost certainly using a 1.5V battery in mine. But in other cameras where I do this, I don’t notice an appreciable change in exposure, even in the cameras that don’t have a bridge circuit. Why would it be different for the Lynx 14e?

      1. Kevin Thomas Avatar
        Kevin Thomas

        Hi Jim. Some old cameras had circuits that regulated the battery voltage down to the voltage the circuit required. Others just assumed the battery would be the same 1.35v for all eternity, so didn’t bother to regulate the voltage – which also saved a few cents in the cost of the camera. So some cameras work fine with newer batteries, and some don’t.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          What I’ve experienced is that the color and b/w print films I typically shoot have enough exposure latitude to cover the voltage difference. I suspect that I’d not be as happy with the results if I shot slide film in a camera without a bridge circuit.

  10. Richard Scholl Avatar
    Richard Scholl

    For Olympus OM repair I believe that Camtech Photo Services in Huntinton, NY, Zuiko.com is still around, and is highly regarded.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hey, he repairs the XA too! Thanks for the tip.

  11. pesoto74 Avatar

    I haven’t got any suggestions, however this got me to thinking that I hope that some of these guys find a way to pass on what they know to younger guys. At one time there used to be a number of people in the Champaign/Urbana area that could fix most film cameras. I think most of them have passed on now or at least aren’t still in business.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You raise a really important point – that if you want any of these guys to fix your old cameras, don’t wait too long, before they are not doing it anymore and there’s nobody behind them to take their place.

  12. picklejuicesoda Avatar

    No suggestions here but your post caught my eye, I just bought a canon ae-1 program a few days ago. It caught my eye online and have been wanting to actually start using 35mm film again as opposed to only taking photos with my iPhone 😕. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some great inspiration and some really nice shots using it but of course you don’t get the nostalgic feel. So I saw the canon for 170.00 and thought that’s not bad and planned on ordering it, that same afternoon I stopped in an antique and collectibles shop and asked if they had any 35 mm cameras. The owner went upstairs and brought a box of maybe 6 cameras and low and behold, there was the canon ae-1! Looked in great condition and asked how much for the camera and 50mm lense, I knew I couldn’t go over my budget this week and figured I’d have to wait. Much to my surprise she said “how does 25.00 sound”, holding in my excitement I said I can do that! Bought film and a battery and seems to be working fine. I was wondering where you develop your film. It’s been so long I didn’t realize that places like cvs or the dreaded Walmart send them out. I saw a few places online you can send them to, also I noticed it’s a tad pricier than years ago… any help would be appreciated. I look forward to reading more of your posts and I plan on posting more photos on my site as well. Thanks!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      $25 is a fair price for a working AE-1. I’d go up to $50. But no way would I pay $170 for one!

      And about developing film: do I have a blog post for you.

      https://blog.jimgrey.net/2014/08/22/where-can-you-still-get-film-developed/

  13. picklejuicesoda Avatar

    Thanks! I greatly appreciate it. Someone should open up a fotomat kiosk again!

  14. jacullman Avatar

    Jim – link to site that addresses vintage camera service issues. some of these repair folks are mentioned above, but there is a whole chart of specialists and their contact info at the bottom of the page. http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/repair.html

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Why doesn’t it surprise me that Karen Nakamura’s site has a list of repair services? I wonder if it’s fresh. She doesn’t seem to post much to her site anymore. Her site helped me a lot as I got started collecting cameras again about 10 years ago.

      1. jacullman Avatar

        Looks like it was written in 2011.

  15. Tbm3fan Avatar

    As you know it can be hard to find repair for certain cameras. My extensive Minolta and Miranda collection comes to mind. Fortunately my Pentax collection can be handled by Eric Hendrickson who has done three Spotmatics and one Asahi-Pentax camera. Tomorrow Eric is going to have two Spotmatic F cameras, donated to me, sent out to him for tune ups. The most expensive job was $75 and that Pentax needed meter work while the others didn’t.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for this good report of Eric’s work! His price is certainly right — makes me want to move my Pentax gear to the top of the list to be restored.

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