1961 Chevrolet Impala

Every day with a camera in your hand is a good day.  Today I had my digital Canon SD880 with me.  Sorry, no film camera today.

A Walk with My Wife

In the early evening on July 3, 2013, I suggested to my wife that we take a walk.  After all, you can only watch so many old cop shows on NetFlix.

Let’s Go Down this Alley

We live in Chicago, IL USA on the northwest side.

We were walking along and I said, “Let’s go down this alley.  I like this alley.”  Honest to goodness, that’s what I said.

Half way down the alley I saw a man working on an old Chevrolet.

1961 Chevrolet Impala

I shouted politely:  “1962?”

He shouted back politely:  “Almost, it’s a 1961 Chevrolet Impala.”

We talked a bit.  He was perhaps 15 years younger than me and I said I remembered the car.  He said it was his “daily driver” for around town.

Can I Take Your Photo?

I asked if I could take his photo.  He said yes right away.  Nice guy.

One photo was enough, nothing fancy.

Canon SD880, July 2013, 1961 Chevrolet Impala

Happy 4th of July

It was the day before Independence Day and the man wished my wife and I a Happy 4th of July.  We wished him well and kept on walking.

Don’t Just Sneak Photos, Try Asking for a Photo

You can always sneak a photo with a zoom lens.  You can even snap a photo when no one’s looking.

Why not walk up to someone, say hello, and ask for their photo?

They might say yes.  Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.

Canon Photura and Olympus LT-1

I was driving from Chicago’s north side to Lombard for a PMP study group (I had just passed the PMP test, hurray).  It was a June Saturday in 2013.

Garage Sale in Old Irving

I saw a garage sale sign for 3800 N. Tripp.  I thought, “Why not?”.  It would just take ten minutes or less.

“Do you have any old film cameras?”

Don’t look for film cameras.  Ask for film cameras.  Sometimes people have an old film camera in their home in the attic or basement (they forget about them).

The lady said, “Yes, I think I do have some cameras.”

Canon Photura, Autoboy Jet, Epoca

It’s all the same camera.

Michelle the owner reached into a bag and pulled out a bulky camera.  I knew right away it was a Canon Photura.  It’s not incredibly valuable, just valuable to me.  I purchased one on Craigslist long distance and it worked briefly and then stopped working (bad battery door).

She explained her husband purchased it for her in the U.S. and the camera had traveled with her to Hong Kong.  (I’ve never been to Hong Kong).

Olympus LT-1

She pulled the Olympus out of the bag.  It looked familiar.  I opened it’s leatherette case.  It’s really a fancy Olympus mju Stylus Epic dressed up in leather (the LT stands for leather tech).  It was a green leather beauty.

$12 and Two Cameras are Mine

As I told the owner, you don’t know if these cameras will work until you put in a battery.  So it’s risky.

I offered $10.  She wanted $15.  I countered with $12.  Sold.

Will they Work?

I still don’t know.  But I’ll test the Canon Photura tomorrow.  The Olympus LT-1 looks like it needs a special battery.

What’s Your Hobby?

I’ve never sold any of my cameras but I’m about to sell some on eBay.  I’ve never done this to make any money.  I just enjoy collecting and shooting old cameras.

But my wife tells me it’s time to sell some cameras.  So that’s what I’ll do.

Thanks for visiting and reading about my Canon Photura and Olympus LT-1.  Two beautiful cameras for $12 at a garage sale.

GAF L-ES Aperture Preferred Screw Mount

The title I chose is incredibly boring:  GAF L-ES aperture preferred screw mount.  But the camera is very, very nice.




My GAF L-ES Beats your Digital Camera at Night

Can your digital camera take a photo without flash in the dead of night and shoot a better picture than my 35 year old GAF L-ES?  Although the shutter speed has 1 second or Bulb, I had a suspicion that this camera would go beyond one second in automatic mode.  As I quietly counted to myself, I believe at least five seconds elapsed before I heard the shutter close.

As I said, can your digital camera beat my GAF L-ES at night?  See below.

GAF L-ES Night Photo

GAF L-ES Night Photo

$50 in Chicago but $5 on eBay

There’s a re-sale shop in Chicago that had 50 cameras in its back room in the summer of 2012.  I wanted several of those cameras.

The camera I liked the best was a GAF L-ES.  It just felt good in my hands.  Since I don’t own an iPhone I couldn’t research the camera on the spot.  All I knew was that I woudn’t pay $50 for this camera, too much.

But about 3 months later a GAF L-ES appeared for about $5 on eBay.  It was part of a camera lot I purchased for perhaps $15 from an honest eBay seller who sells well maintained cameras.  If you wait long enough, the cameras you want will come to you 🙂

Old Camera?  Test your Film Transport First

There are few things as frustrating as shooting a roll of film and then you cannot extract the film properly.  Always test a new/old camera with an expired roll of film to test your film transport.

First GAF L-ES Lost Forever, Film Rewind Problem

My first roll of film was lost forever.  I couldn’t depress the shutter rewind button on the bottom of the camera.  I tried extracting the film in a dark closet, no luck.

24 good photos lost.

Second GAF L-ES Roll, Film Rewind Problem Solved

Again, the rewind button jammed at the end of my 2nd roll.  I thought I would need to take it to Mr. Lee’s in Des Plaines, IL for camera repair.  But do I really want to spend $50 to repair a camera that I purchased for five dollars?

So I trolled the Internet and found someone who had the same problem.  They basically said use some force.  This time, instead of using my thumb, I pushed gently yet firmly with a screwdriver.

Hurray!  The rewind button depressed, I rewound the film, and popped out the film.  I called my wife who was taking 2 rolls of film to Costco to turnaround and come back.  Luckily, she came by the house 5 minutes later and didn’t seem angry at all (thanks honey).

In a few hours I’ll know if my GAF L-ES takes nice photos.

GAF L-ES First Roll of Film – Keepers

I shot my first roll in Chicago, IL and central Illinois.  They’re just nice photos, but I like them.

Chicago Photos

I live on the north west side of Chicago.  Let’s call it bungalow land.

Kids Bicycling on my Block

My block on Chicago’s north west side is alive again with kids bicycling back and forth and back and forth on our sidewalks.  Trust me, if you live on a Chicago street and kids are playing happily on bicycles, your neighborhood is alive and well.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Kids Cycling on Tripp Street

Backyard Bokeh

This is a very common photo of mine testing a camera’s bokeh.  I first did it with an Olympus Stylus camera years ago.  So again, here’s my wife’s plant on our deck with neighbor’s yards as bokeh.  See below.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Plant with Backyard Bokeh

Skylight and Neighbor’s Chimney

This may not be a terribly exciting photo to you.  But it’s my kind of photo.  One of our attic skylights looks directly at our neighbor’s chimney.  At certain times in the early morning, this chimney has dazzling red colors.  Today, it’s just a chimney.  See below.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Chimney through Skylight

 Photo at Night

Below is the original night photo I took around midnight with my GAF L-ES.  As you can see it was tricked during a 5-10 second exposure by the brightly lit home across the street.  It was an imperfect shot that I edited so it now had value.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Tripp Street at Night

GAF L-ES Double Exposure Feature

The camera does have a double exposure switch near the shutter button.  I had never tried that feature.  I think the result was just OK.  See below.  It’s a photo from my front porch looking both south and north along my street.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Tripp Street Double Exposure

GAF L-ES Photos Down on the Farm

I do enjoy my time in central Illinois where my wife’s family lives.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are always willing to let me take photos.  They’re very nice people.

 A Farmer, His Pickup, and his Childhood Home

My brother-in-law sometimes takes me on the back roads of central Illinois to drive his acreage.  This is a nice photo of Mike, his pickup truck, and in the background his childhood home.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Mike, Pickup, and Childhood Home

Mickey Mouse Sitting and Waiting

Here’s Mickey Mouse sitting on his chair waiting for someone to play with him.  Again, taken without flash of any kind.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Mickey waits for Mila

Somewhere, Muhammad Ali is Smiling

A year or two ago I purchased a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL and its 50 mm lens.  The camera had photographed Muhammad Ali close-up at a civil rights rally.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get the camera to behave and take good photos.

So I took the 50 mm lens that photographed Muhammad Ali in the 1970’s in Kansas City and placed it on this humble GAF L-ES.  They performed well together and took fine photos.

So somewhere, I hope Muhammad Ali is smiling.  He’s an old man now.  But he looked into this lens 35 or so years ago.  And the lens still works just fine.

Perfectly Happy with my GAF L-ES

If I were 25 again and the GAF L-ES was my one and only camera, I would have been perfectly happy to use it.  Just remember that it has electronic metering and needs a battery to work properly.

It has a nice heft and balance to it that I enjoy.  I prefer aperture preferred metering where I set the aperture for my bokeh needs or go fully manual.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today and reading about my GAF L-ES.

Best Camera Deal Ever

What’s Your Best Camera Deal Ever?

Last Saturday at a Chicago neighborhood garage sale, I experienced my best camera deal ever.  It’s not about cheating people out of money and tricking them to sell their old film cameras.  It’s about meeting people, making an honest offer (they can say yes or no), and sometimes making a new “home” for old cameras.
I’m hoping this blog post will inspire people to leave a comment on their best camera deals (garage sales, eBay, Craigslist, anywhere).

Forest Glen Garage Sale in Chicago, IL

Forest Glen is a very nice neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side.  Just go to Cicero Avenue and Foster.  Anything north and to the west is Forest Glen.  They have their garage sale in very early June of each year.  June 2013 they had 80 homes registered for garage sales.
Forest Glen
Last year I found a beautiful shelving unit that had 36 storage slots for 36 of my cameras.  It had been used in a Kindergarten class and had been discarded.  It was a wonderful bargain at $15.  But that was last year.

How to Buy Cameras at Garage Sales

This isn’t rocket science.  You find a neighborhood with garage sales so you can efficiently walk the alleys asking people about film cameras.
Do you have any film cameras?  Do you have any cameras inside the house?  One person had a Nikon inside, another lady had bunches of cameras 80 miles away, another lady said she had a Nikon but didn’t want to sell.  Thanks them and move on quickly.  More garages to look at for bargains.
At about the 10th garage sale of 80 sales an older man (just a bit older than me) said, “I know someone who has a bunch of cameras in her basement.  She doesn’t want to throw them away.  Do you want to see them?”
Yes.  Thirty minutes later I met the man on the front porch of a bungalow in Forest Glen and met the owner of the cameras:  Barb.

46 Pounds of Film Cameras

The owner had placed all of her film cameras in a sturdy box.  It was waiting for me on the cement front porch under a bright summer sun.

Sifting Through Film Cameras

I picked up each camera, lens, or device (there was one binocular), looked at it briefly and asked myself one question:  Do I want this camera?

  1. Good camera.  I put them to one side to inspect later more carefully.
  2. Average camera.  I put them in another pile.  What’s an average camera?  Perhaps an Argus 35mm or a plastic 35mm camera worth little (no Yashica T4s or Olympus XAs today).

I found 5 cameras I wanted to own and 16 other cameras or lenses that I didn’t need.  Sure, I’d take all of them, but I knew I wanted 5 cameras.

Make an Offer, Sometimes People Say “Yes”

I began the negotiation by saying that all the cameras were worth more than I could pay.  It seemed like the most honest way to start.
I had $30 in change in my camera bag (my piggy bank) and $45 in bills in my wallet.

The Craigslist “Convenience” Offer

We talked a little about some of the “5” special cameras and I suggested my first offer:  I’ll help you sell all this equipment on Craigslist and I’ll take a 50% commission.  I hoped they would say yes and perhaps bargain down my commission.
But Barb said no.  She wanted to sell everything.

All Cash Offer

Sometimes people just want to sell their cameras.

Finding a New Home for Cameras

Barb told the story of her cameras, they belonged to her father.  Let’s just say he had a very interesting career that ended as a commercial photographer for a large manufacturing company.  Barb didn’t want to give the cameras away to someone who wouldn’t appreciate her cameras.  I assured Barb I would make a home for her five special cameras and not sell them.
One of the cameras was a Nikon F.  The first SLR camera ever made.  I missed a Nikon F last year when it came up for sale on Craigslist and was sold in hours for $100, 70 miles from downtown Chicago, a long drive.  Photo below courtesy of Wikipedia.

$50 for 5 Wonderful Cameras?

Len, a Vietnam Veteran (thanks for your service Len), also had a Nikon F at his home.  He asked how much it was worth?  I believe I said it would sell easily for over $100.  I haven’t checked prices on eBay lately but I bet it sells for $100 to $200.
Len asked how much I would pay for the Nikon F.  I countered, I’ll pay $50 for the “5” cameras, that was every dollar I had on me.  It was an outrageous offer.  But Len and Barb knew that at least one of the cameras was worth over $100, just by itself.

$75 for 5 Wonderful Cameras?

Barb seemed interested but she didn’t say “yes” or “no”.
I countered:  “Barb, I’ll pay you $75 for these five cameras.”  This is a list of my five favorite cameras.
  1. Nikon F, Nikkor 50 mm lens, 1.4 aperture.
  2. Konica Autoreflex T, 52 mm lens, 1.8 aperture.
  3. Konica Autoreflex T3, 50 mm, 1.4 aperture (bent rim),
  4. Honeywell Spotmatic, 50mm 1.4 aperture.
  5. Konica C35, EF rangefinder.
Barb hesitated and said:  “What will you offer for everything?”

$100 for 46 Pounds of Cameras and Lenses?

I offered Barb $100 for all of her cameras and lenses.  $30 in change, $45 in paper bills, and the promise to pay $25 in the next two weeks.
Barb said, “Yes.”

Three Camera Surprises

Three wonderful things.
First, my amazing wife didn’t complain about me purchasing more cameras.  She had every right to do so.  But she knew I hadn’t purchased any cameras in perhaps a year.  God love her, what a gal.
Second, I discovered I had purchased a Nikon FE camera with a 1.4 Nikkor lens as part of the camera lot.  Yes, I missed it.  The Nikon FE doesn’t have FE plastered on the front of the camera, it’s discretely placed on the back of the camera.
Third, at Barb’s I thought a heavy object was a movie camera.  It turned out to be a Speed Graphic 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 camera.  Press photographers used this for decades before yielding to 35mm cameras.  The famous Iwo Jima photo  of 1945 was taken by a photographer Joe Rosenthal using a Speed Graphic camera.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Barb’s Cameras and Lenses, an Inventory

One hour later I was the proud owner of 46 pounds of cameras and lenses for $75 and the promise to pay another $25 (I was short on cash).  Here’s the inventory from best to OK lenses and cameras.
  1. Nikon F with Nikkor 50mm, 1.4 lens, original brown case, beautiful
  2. Konica Autoreflex T3 with 50mm 1.4 lens
  3. Konica Autoreflex T with 52mm 1.4 lens
  4. Honeywell Spotmatic with 50mm 1.4 lens
  5. Konica C35F, EF (I always wanted this plastic camera that revolunized photography years ago)
  6. Nikon FE with 1.4 Nikkor lens
  7. Three Argus 35 mm cameras
  8. Speed Graphic 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 (wow, I thought it was a movie camera at first)
  9. Yashica YF (Nicca) – Broken shutter
  10. 2 plastic 35 mm cameras
  11. Stereo Realist, Original Condition in Box
  12. Argus Argoflex 75, very good condition
  13. 4 more lenses (Old Nikon, 2 Vivitars, and one Pentax)

Thanks Barb (and Len)

This was an incredible camera deal.  I believe I was honest when I told Barb and Len how much the Nikon F was worth.

I began the negotiation telling them the cameras were worth a few hundred dollars but I don’t pay full price for cameras.

But I believe Barb wanted a home for the best of her father’s cameras.  And I promised I would never sell her father’s Nikon F, two Konicas, Spotmatic, and Konica C35 EF.

Soon Barb will have the $25 I owe her along with my renewed pledge not to sell her father’s very special cameras.  Many times, collecting cameras isn’t about making a profit.  It’s about keeping film alive and making friendships.

Thanks again Barb.  And thanks everyone for reading about my Best Camera Deal Ever today on What is a Film Camera.  I hope my readers will leave comments about their “best camera deal ever”.

Century Book by Phaidon

Yes, I own the Century Book by Phaidon.

My Century book by Phaidon was Free

At the end of a long day at the Andersonville Garage Sale in Chicago, IL, my friend Tom and I came up to a card table.  It had the Century book on it along with a few other trinkets.  A sign said:

Everything on this table (except the table) is free.

Canon SD880, June 23, 2012, Century by Phaidon

My friend Tom touched the book and I grabbed it and said, “Tom, it’s mine.”  Nothing like being aggressive I guess.

Tom didn’t mind, the depressing Century book has become a joke between my friend Tom and myself.  It’s just so depressing.

Century Book Review – Mood Swings Guaranteed

If you’re having a good day I suggest you not read or study the Century Book.  It will depress you.

Do I really need over a thousand pages of depressing photographs from the last century.  Didn’t anything good happen in the last century worth photographing?

Neither will you find many photographs by famous photographers.  There are good technical photographs in the book.  But good luck trying to find photographs from the masters of photography in the last century.

I just wish there were more photographs like the Jesse Owens’ photo on the left shown below where he’s conferring with a German competitor at the 1936 Olympics.

Canon SD880, June 23, 2012, Century by Phaidon, Jesse Owens

Leave your comment regarding the Century book by Phaidon

Did you read the book from cover to cover?  I did.  Please enter a comment for me.

I own The Photo Book by Phaidon and it’s terrific.  Every photographer should buy a used copy of The Photo Book.  But leave the Century book by Phaidon at the used book store.  It’s too heavy to carry around anyway.

Thanks for reading my Phaidon Century Book review today and visiting What is a Film Camera.


Yashica T4 Review

Do I like my Yashica T4?  Not so much.

Do you really think the Yashica T4 is great?

Yashica T4 Front

I know it’s heresy to say that I don’t like the Yashica T4.  But that’s how I feel.  My little Mamiya 135 EE is sitting next to my keyboard and I’d rather shoot with it than a Yashica T4.  Or give me my Canon A35F (son of Canonet) for confidence in taking good photos.

I’m glad I owned a Yashica T4.  I’m glad I tested it.  Here are some of my Yashica T4 photos.

Slide show here.

Do you think the Yashica T4 is great or not so great?  Please leave a comment.

How much is a Yashica T4 worth?

It’s worth whatever you can sell it for.

Yashica T4 on Craigslist

I found my Yashica T4 on Chicago’s Craigslist two summers ago for $30.  I called the owner and drove ten miles one way to purchase my champagne colored Yashica T4 for $30 from a family moving out of town.  Too bad they wouldn’t sell its original case.

Yashica T4 in Old Case

Yashica T4 Sold Prices on eBay

As of this September 10, 2012, Yashica T4 cameras in working condition have “sold prices”ranging from $135 to $267.  It’s a valuable point and shoot camera.  These are sold prices, not asking prices.

Yes, the Yashica T4 has some great features

Yashica T4 Lens

I won’t argue with you, the Yashica T4 has a great lens.  Here’s a photo taken from wine country west of St. Louis, Missouri.

Yashica T4, Missouri Wine Country

And here’s a beautiful photo from a Mount Prospect, Illinois pond.

Yashica T4, Pond in Mount Prospect

Yashica T4 Waist Level View Finder

The Yashica T4waist level view finder is very sharp, bright, and clear.  I could see using it effectively for street photography.

Yashica T4 Top Controls and Waist Level View Finder

What are my Yashica T4 Complaints?

Here they are.

Blurry Yashica T4 Photos in Daytime

A photographer friend of mine once told me to never show poor photos of my work.  But I disagree.  If our photos are poorly done it’s either user error or camera error.  In that spirit here’s a blurry photo taken during a Sunday lunch on my back porch.

Yashica T4, July 2012, Trouble with Daytime Focus

I have used many point and shoot cameras where you slightly depress the shutter button to automatically focus (my Olympus Stylus Epic) .  Then you fully depress the shutter button to take the photo.  Was the photo above user error or a camera error?  This isn’t the first time I’ve had focusing problems with the Yashica T4 in daytime.

Yashica T4 has trouble focusing when Using Flash

I consistently have trouble focusing this camera on a subject when using the flash.  See the photo below.

Yashica T4, Friends on the Back Porch, Flash and Focus Problem

But here’s a photo taken by someone else who knew nothing about my Yashica T4.  They just pointed the camera and took the picture.  It turned out great (except the chubby guy on the left needs to lose weight).

Yashica T4, Excellent flash and focus

Yashica T4 Exposure Problems

If I keep the Yashica T4 I’ll need to live with constant over exposures.  Here’s a photo at Deep Lake (Lindenhurst, IL) that was a disappointment.  It’s certainly over exposed and the focusing is off.

Yashica T4, July 2012, Deep Lake, Lindenhurst, IL, Over Exposed

Summary – Yashica T4 isn’t worth the Hype

Leave a comment, tell me that I’m wrong.  If my photo problems are a user error tell me in a comment.

I won’t sell my Yashica T4, yet.  Perhaps I’ll give it a 3rd and final roll.  I feel a lot more confident shooting a roll with my Mamiya 135 EE, Canon A35F, or my Olympus Stylus Epic.  Thanks for reading my Yashica T4 review today.  And tell your photography friends about What is a Film Camera.


Wardflex Camera – The Leave it to Beaver Camera

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I recently purchased a camera lot in Elmhurst, IL, that included a Wardflex camera.  It’s a twin lens reflex camera that seems to be well made.  The Craigslist ad had a photo of a brown case in the shape of a twin lens reflex.  It looked something like the photo below.

Wardflex Ward II in Case

Leave it to Beaver and the Wardflex Camera

Leave it to Beaver was a popular comedy on U.S. television beginning in the late 1950’s.  It was televised during 1957 to 1962.  At some point the Wardflex camera was almost advertised on the show.  Almost doesn’t count in advertising.

June Cleaver’s Camera

This photo from someone else’s Wardflex camera blog post is so great I had to share it with you.  Someone must have photo shopped June Cleaver (the mother in “Leave it to Beaver”) into holding her camera in the kitchen while cooking.

 My Wardflex Camera Has a Problem

Like many cameras from the fifties and sixties, my camera has oil on its shutter blades.  When I click the shutter, the blades open slowly.  Either I need to remove the oil on the shutter blades or take the camera to Mr. Lee of Lee’s Camera in Des Plaines, IL.

Here my Wardflex Ward II looks a little dirty.  But it will clean up nicely.

Wardflex Ward II, Front View

Is a 50 Year Old Wardflex Camera Worth Repairing?

If the Wardflex photos on Flickr are any indication, the Wardflex is worth a $60 repair at my camera shop.  Here’s a photo from Scott Cog’s Flickr account.

night market snacks...braised chicken parts by Scott Cog

Every Camera has a Story to Tell

Do you own a Wardflex Ward II?  Have you used it?  Would you kindly leave a comment for me?

One day I’ll have the Wardflex twin lens reflex repaired so I’ll have the “almost” camera from Leave it to Beaver.  Thanks for reading about my Leave it to Beaver – Wardflex Ward II camera today on What is a Film Camera.

Canon Powershot A570 IS, Scratched Screen Repair

When my Canon Powershot A570 IS drowned in the bottom of a Florida canoe in 1/3 inch of water (even in its case) it pushed me forward on a journey of camera collecting.  You can see the damaged Canon A570 below with corrosion in brown towards bottom right of the black display.

Canon PowerShot A570 with Water Corrosion

Canon Powershot A570 IS – Repair of Display

In brief, here are the instructions.

  1. Visit YouTube and study Canon A570 display screen repairs .  Amazing, this German guy never even speaks and it makes perfect sense.  Remove the battery first, unscrew bottom, left side, and right side screws (a total of 6 in video).
  2. Purchase tiny, magnetic screwdrivers such as the WIHA screwdrivers at Micro-Tools.
    WIHA Magnetic Phillips Screwdrivers
    Why purchase them after viewing the YouTube video?  The video will convince you that the repair is reasonable and doable.
  3. Begin the repair during the daytime when you’re not tired and you can focus.  It’s tempting to do a repair late at night when its quiet but you’re tired.  It’s a bad idea.  You can’t make good repairs when you’re tired at the end of a long day.
  4. Find a bright well lit work area where you can sit with good posture and begin your repair.  I placed a clean dish towel on my kitchen counter to begin the work and “catch” the screws without falling to the floor.  Most likely they won’t, the Canon Powershot A570 used magnetic screws and the WIHA screwdrivers are magnetic.
  5. If you’re cannibalizing one camera to fix another camera, work on the donor camera first.  Unscrew the donor camera and take the display screen that you want.
  6. Now that you have confidence in taking the donor part, unscrew the recipient camera and swap out the bad display for the good display.
  7. Test the camera and you’re done.

#5 – Working on the Donor Camera

In the photo below you can see that I unscrewed the donor camera.  You can see the display screen I want to use.

Canon PowerShot A570 Scratched Display

#7 – Test the Camera

I tested my improved Canon Powershot A570 IS and it worked perfectly fine.  It now had the unscratched display screen from my donor camera, an improvement.

Canon PowerShot A570 Repaired Back

Why did I repair a Canon Powershot A570?

I just wanted to replace my Canon Powershot A570 IS.  Just nostalgic on my part. Before drowning in the bottom of a canoe in Florida, my Canon A570 had photographed my daughter’s college graduation, a great trip to Hawaii, a scenic trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and parts of Florida.  My Canon Powershot A570 was my re-introduction to photography.

Even though I love old film cameras I always have my Canon SD880 with me as backup (just plain common sense).  It was always on my to do list to purchase another Canon Powershot A570.

On Craigslist I found a Canon A570 for $20 in Syracuse, New York.  After a few emails Sue agreed to a price and to ship the camera to Chicago, IL.  I had to smile when I read one of her emails:

And I’m sorry to say, my camera has no good stories.  It was a good camera and we had it for quite awhile, but nothing eventful happens to our cameras!  (just us. haha)

The Canon A570 arrived (thanks Sue) and it worked just fine.  Its display screen was scratched more than my old Canon A570 so that’s why I did the minor display repair.

Pick a Junky Film Camera and Repair It

So why not try to repair an old camera before selling it on Craigslist or eBay?  As I said, you will need a few good tools, a bright work table, and the belief that you can make the repair.  There’s a pleasure in repairing an old Canon Powershot A570 IS so it still works.

Canon PowerShot A570 Repaired Front

Honestly, if I can make a few small repairs (Yashica Lynx 14, Super Ricohflex, Canon A570) then anyone has a chance to successfully repair a camera.  Keep it simple and believe in yourself.

Please leave a comment describing your success or failure with any camera repair you have done.  And thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.



Super Ricohflex, Super Wife

Yes, I now have an operational Super Ricohflex twin lens reflex camera thanks to my super wife.  (Yes honey, this blog post is for you.)

Richard's Repaired Ricohflex

If you’re lucky, you have a spouse or a significant other who doesn’t throw out your cameras during a house cleaning frenzy.  If you’re really lucky, your wife tolerates your cameras and admits to reading your blog.

If you’re incredibly blessed with luck, your wife might actually help you make a minor camera repair.

Last night my wife and I repaired a Super Ricohflex TLR camera together

While my wife and I watched the TV show Anger Management I decided to try to combine two Ricohflex cameras into one operational camera.  This seems strangely oxymoronic:  repairing a camera with your wife while watching a show about anger management.

I sat in our big mission style chair with a bright end lamp turned on.  I took apart two cameras and tried to assemble one camera from two bad ones.  As any camera repair person knows, taking things apart is easy.  Putting things back together again is the hard part.

Two Marginal Ricohflex Cameras Become One

Super Ricohflex from eBay – $20 Wasted

My first Super Ricohflex came from eBay.  The shutter worked for one day and then magically became gummed up the next day.  Trying it at any speed, it failed.  I think it was $20 plus shipping.

I took the metal lens apart trying to reach the actual lens so I could clean it, more problems.  The two geared dials were incredibly stiff and then I misplaced the screws.

The Ricohflex Model IIIB from Elmhurst, IL – Slightly Defective

I purchased a camera lot early in the summer of 2012 for $100 in Elmhurst, IL.  I think I’ll break even eventually when I sell most of it.  The box of cameras was missing the two TLRs I had seen in the Craigslist photo.

Weren’t their two twin lens reflex cameras in the box?  They were in the Craigslist photo.

The owner sheepishly admitted she had set aside the two TLRs that were in the box.  I encouraged her to include them in the sale, after all she had advertised their photos.  She agreed.

The Elmhurst Ricohflex Model IIIB is peeling a bit but the shutter and aperture action seem accurate.  Too bad the back of the camera was missing a piece about the size of the dime.  What am I supposed to do, tape black duct tape over the missing piece?

The Ricohflex Solution

I realized that if I could remove the back of the eBay Ricohflex and swap it onto the Elmhurst Ricohflex, it would work.  I also realized I could swap out the viewfinders, they seemed to be the same size.  The only disadvantage is the Elmhurst Ricohflex has a top speed of 1/100.  The old eBay Ricohflex I am cannibalizing had a 1/300 top shutter speed.  But if you can’t clean the aperture blades, you have no top speed at all.  The combined Ricohflex will have a top shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.

In the snapshot below you can see the defective parts.

  1. eBay’s Super Ricohflex defective body.  The two geared wheels were gummed up with dried green grease.  Likewise, the aperture blades were gummed up with oil.  They rarely worked.
  2. Elmhurst’s Ricohflex Model IIIB defective back.  A hole almost as big as your little finger was missing from the back of the camera.
  3. Elmhurst’s Ricohflex Model IIIB viewfinder.  It wasn’t defective, the eBay Super Ricohflex viewfinder or top seemed better.

Ricohflex, Old Parts

Famous Last Camera Repair Words

I just need to unscrew 4 screws on the eBay Ricohflex and 4 screws on the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  Then I just need to screw in 4 screws on the repaired camera.

My Wife’s Camera Repair Intervention

Using a large popcorn bowl I placed the eBay Ricohflex into it.  If I lost a screw it would fall into the popcorn bowl.  (Yes, some readers are laughing even as they read this foolish technique.)  I sat in my big chair next to the sofa and turned on the incredibly bright end table lamp.  I unscrewed four screws.  So far so good.

I then unscrewed the same 4 screws from the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  So far so good.

My hands are too big for the tiny screws.  Taking a tweezers, I held the tiny screw, placed it into one of the holes, and tried to tighten it with my eyeglass repair kit screwdriver.  As you can see, these screw/bolts and their holes are rather tiny.  On the right side of the camera you can see two of the four screws.  I theorized that removing those four screws would allow me to swap out the defective back piece and attach a better viewfinder.  I was correct.

Ricohflex, Two of Four Screws

After my tenth failure my wife said:

Are you still having trouble with that screw?

She left the sofa, bent over the camera, took the first screw in her hands, and screwed it in as cleanly as a Japanese repairman from 50 years ago.

“You need better light.”

My wife was absolutely right.  Anger Management the show was over so we moved our camera repair onto the kitchen table with its bright light.

Sit up straight when you do your camera repairs

Actually my wife didn’t say that.  My back was already hurting from unnaturally bending over to work on a camera screw.  Sitting properly in the kitchen was a better idea.

I give up, I’m going upstairs to read

For some reason my wife’s magical repair touch left her.  She became frustrated, said good luck, and went upstairs to read.  I persevered.

I took two slightly larger screws from our screw jar (everyone has a screw jar underneath the sink, don’t they?) and screwed them into two of the remaining slots on top of the Elmhurst Ricohflex.  This seemed to align the holes better which had been my plan.

I gave up on the tweezer technique and placed a screw near the tiny hole.  Then I nudged it into place with my hands and my tiny screwdriver.  When it seemed to be in alignment I surprised myself that it screwed in properly.

I screwed in the third and fourth tiny screws (really, they’re more like tiny bolts) with relative ease.

The eBay Ricohflex and the Elmhurst Ricohflex gave up their parts to become Richard’s Repaired Super Ricohflex.

Basic Advice on Camera Repairs

Don’t try repairs when you’re tired, working in bad lighting, or are in a bad mood.  Good posture, an organized work area and using decent tools would help also.  A camera repair is a reflective task whether you are a beginner or an expert.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a sympathetic spouse to help you with your camera repair without laughing.  After all, fixing a $20 sixty year old camera might seem a bit funny to most people.  Richard’s repaired Ricohflex is shown below.

Richard's Repaired Ricohflex

Thanks for reading about my Super Ricohflex, Super Wife today.  (I smile knowing that nobody on the Internet will be competing for the keywords Super Ricohflex, Super Wife.)  Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.

Craigslist Lubitel 166B

Yes, I found my Lubitel 166B on Craigslist.

A Craigslist Picture is better than a Thousand Words

I passed on this original Craigslist ad about two weeks ago.  I originally emailed the owner and I still didn’t see the magic word “Lubitel” in his response.  Silly me.  Most people can’t read Russian (I learned a bit 35 years ago).  The camera’s name was written in Cyrillic script, not Roman script (English).

Then the owner re-posted his ad on Craigslist with photos and I saw that a Lubitel 166B was being sold with 3 other cameras for $15.  I emailed and phoned the owner immediately.

Does the Lubitel 166B Work?

I phoned the owner immediately and asked if the Lubitel 166B worked.  I expected some double-talk but instead the older gentleman said:

Yes, it works.  I used it last year.

I believed him and made arrangements to pick up his four cameras early next week.  I sealed the deal by sending him an email with my full name and phone.

A Lubitel 166B for under Five Dollars?

As I spoke with the owner Mat a second time, it became clear this man knew his cameras.  After all, he owned a Leica.  I re-confirmed on the phone:

So, I am purchasing all 4 cameras for $15 ?

He said “yes”.

His initial Craigslist ad had no nibbles.  But when he posted a photo I knew he had a Lubitel 166B and some other fun cameras.  Not expensive cameras, but fun cameras worth a roll of film.

Mat did say he was given all 4 cameras by the “cheapest son-of-a-bitch” he ever knew.  After doing tons of carpentry work for someone, they “gave” him these 4 cameras.  For some reason, Mat decided I would get these cameras.  Thanks Mat.

Visiting Mat and Purchasing his Craigslist Lubitel 166

I drove 45 minutes to Mat’s home to purchase his Lubitel 166B, Smena, Holga, and old Kodak camera.  He invited me into his home, showed me how the cameras worked, and we discussed cameras.

Mat is into his 70’s I’d say and was a carpenter (still is when his arm doesn’t hurt).  His wife Kathleen looked on approvingly as she walked to and from the kitchen.  This is why I love cameras.  You get to purchase old cameras and meet the people who owned them.

Mat took me into his basement and showed me his basic photography set-up.  Then he showed me photos he had taken 50 years ago.  He served in the U.S. Army, took photos of Irish-American events in the 60’s around Chicago, and dabbled in sports photography.  He even showed me a photo of his friends with protest posters from Ireland when he was a young man.  I only wish I could have asked for a copy or two of those photos.

Then he even told a dirty photography story from when he was in the army.  Sorry, I can’t mention it here…

We returned to his front room, discussed life and religion a bit (his choice, not mine), and parted as photographic friends.  As I left Mat said:

The next time you come over I’ll show you more.

I still wonder if I’ll meet this Irish-American carpenter again at the Fotorama camera meet in Schaumburg, IL, one day.  Mat’s a good reason to collect old cameras and meet the people who used those cameras 50 years ago.

Two Russian Cameras, a Chinese Camera, and an American Camera Walk into a Bar

It’s almost like the beginning of some joke.

The Lubitel 166B is Russian and so’s the Smena 3 in the photo.  The Holga is actually a Chinese camera.  And the owner said he used the Kodak 30 years ago (still don’t know how old it is).  Apparently the Kodak is a Kodak Vigilant Junior Six – 20.  So there should be some cameras to experiment with once I make the purchase.

I purchased Mat’s cameras in August 2012.  So thanks to Mat, I now have a Craigslist Lubitel 166B for less than five dollars.  Thanks for reading about my Craigslist Lubitel 166B today and visiting What is a Film Camera today.