To my disappointment, I found it to be not working — the winder was stuck, and the meter wasn’t reading.
Whatever is causing these failures is going to be beyond my meager repair abilities. I boxed up the F3 and sent it to International Camera Technicians for evaluation. They charge $50 to figure out what’s wrong with your camera and what it will cost to repair it. If you then have them do the work, they apply that fee to the repair charge. I hope to hear from them soon.
So it goes with old photographic gear — sooner or later, it will break. It’s why I’ve started to learn basic repair skills. I replaced the light seals on this very F3 myself a couple years ago.
Finding my F3 on the fritz led me to test every camera I own for proper functioning. Now that I’ve thinned the herd to about 25 cameras, it was a pleasant afternoon’s task.
I discovered metering problems in five of my cameras. The meters in both my Olympus OM-1 and my Olympus XA were reading several stops off. The meter in my Yashica Lynx 14e is one stop off (but I’ve known that for years). The meters in my Nikon F2AS and in my Pentax Spotmatic F had both gone all jumpy.
I also found that the winder on my Nikon F2A sometimes gets stuck mid-wind, but if you back off the pressure and try again you can finish winding just fine. This was disappointing, as I has Sover Wong, the premier Nikon F2 repairperson, overhaul the camera a couple years ago. I’ll test this camera with film soon to see if the condition persists.
Finally, my Sears KSX-P is dead. I bought it only last year, immediately put two rolls of film through it, and then set it aside in my camera cabinet. I can’t fathom what would cause it to not respond at all now.
That’s how it seems to go with old cameras. I’ve never had one fail under use. They always malfunction or die while sitting on the shelf.
I’ve already had the Spotmatic F repaired; I wrote about it here. I had the OM-1 repaired, too; a post about it is coming on Monday. I chose to test the Olympus XA with film — it actually has two meters, one to power the viewfinder needle and another that sets exposure, and one meter can go south while the other works. A post about this test is scheduled for early May. I hope to have the F3 back soon, and will share my test roll with you as soon as I have scans.
Next, I will send the F2AS out to have its meter repaired. I will use Sover Wong, but I’m bracing for impact, because his service is expensive. Also, his wait list is currently two full years.
I’m on the fence about the Lynx 14e. I’ve not shot it since completing Operation Thin the Herd. It’s either time for that camera to find its new owner, or to go to Mark Hama for repair.
The KSX-P also has me on the fence. It is a surprisingly pleasant camera to use, which is why I kept it. On the other hand, it’s worth essentially nothing. Perhaps Garry’s Camera can do it, as he lists other Sears SLRs on his site. Perhaps this camera should just go into the trash.
Now is the time to have your broken cameras repaired, and your working cameras overhauled, so they might last. The men (it seems always to be men) who repair old cameras are no longer young. I know of no young pups learning the film-camera repair business.
One day, when our old gear breaks, that will be that.