We get this question often. The answer is: if you like your camera and enjoy taking pictures with it, it is worth restoring and keeping. If you are not sure, then we suggest you get your classic 35mm camera repaired and buy one of the new plastic marvel cameras also. It has been our experience that most people enjoy using a new electronic camera at first, but eventually they tend to return to their old trusty manual SLR that has taken such nice pictures in all those previous years. Plastic cameras just feel like toys, and (in my opinion) are not enjoyable to take pictures with. Also, if you own several lenses for your older SLR, you need to consider the extra cost of replacing them with your new electronic camera purchase.(Back)Will digital cameras replace the 35mm film camera?
NO! Digital cameras are the new instant Polaroid cameras of our time. They have a place in our society for taking pictures, but they will not completely replace the film camera. Take for instance the example here at our shop. When we take pictures of cameras disassembled, we use digital cameras, but when we go out on weekends to photograph we take our film cameras. Digital cameras have three bad things about them. (1.) They are expensive. To get the same quality picture as you would with a film camera, you have to spend about one thousand dollars and depreciation is straight down to half in the first year. (2.) They eat batteries up in about an hour under normal use, and rechargeable batteries loose about half their charge every 30 days if you use them or not. You have to carry spare batteries when you leave the house, or limit your picture taking. (3.) Digital cameras can not be dropped even once, or they will damage. Compare this with a film camera: (1.) A nice 35mm camera cost about $300. Most classic cameras are over twenty five years old and still working. (2.) The battery in any classic 35mm will last a year, and usually three years. (3.) You can drop it again and again on a vacation trip and usually they will get a dent on the case and keep going. You can toss them onto the car seat when you are finished with them. They keep working in dust, sand, and damp conditions. Digital cameras are great for fun photos around the house, but when you go outside it's better to take a film camera.(Back)What does SLR mean?
SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. This is a type, or class, of camera that reflects the lens image off of a reflex mirror onto the focusing screen for viewing. Since there are many types of cameras, SLR is a shorthand way of telling people what kind of camera you own. There are medium format SLRs also, but in daily life most people identify the word SLR as being a 35mm camera that has a reflex mirror viewing system with interchangeable lenses. All of the cameras listed on Abilene Camera Repair are classic 35mm SLRs. (Back)Are there parts available for my 35mm camera?
There are no new parts available for these classic manual focus 35mm SLRs. (Maybe a few.) ACR offers to buy unrepairable cameras to use for parts. Most of the parts we use come from these cameras. So, yes there are parts available but not new ones.(Back)Why is 35mm camera repair so costly?
There are no automatic power tools or computer programs to help a camera technician repair cameras. They are repaired today the same as they were fifty years ago, one at a time in a intensive manual labor process with hand tools. It normally requires one-and-a-half to two-days for one repairmen to repair, clean and adjust just one of these classic SLRs. Full refurb restoration can take two-days or three-days. Camera repair is costly because you are paying for this time and repair skill.(Back)Does my camera need Silver or Gold repair service?
Most of the classic SLRs listed on our web site are at least thirty years old and older. Because of their age, all of them need lubrication and cleaning deep inside the camera where the shutter bearings are located. The only way to reach this level is to pull the mirror cage. This takes more time for the camera repairman and this is why it costs more. So the answer is, all older manual SLRs need at least the Gold service. The Silver service is for the customer who just wants the camera repaired to a good working order at the lowest possible price. If you are not sure what you need, call us, and tell us what is wrong with your camera. No one will pressure you. We will only tell you what service we think you need. All repair levels are based on hour-per-unit. (Back)Does my camera need Gold service or Refurb repair service?
The Gold repair service is good enough for any classic 35mm camera. The Refurb service is a Gold repair service, plus restoration service. We cannot make any camera new, but we can spend the extra time flushing gear trains with solvent, replacing corroded wires, giving the camera a detailed cleaning inside and doing preventive maintenance to fix future problem areas. (Back)How often should a classic 35mm camera be serviced?
Cameras are not like cars. They do not need a yearly servicing. With normal use, a classic 35mm camera should be serviced about every ten years. But, if you have exposed your camera to an extremely harsh environment, such as beach sand or water spray, it would not hurt to send it in to your local repair shop for a CLA (clean, lubrication and adjustment). This is a preventive measure to insure that no damage, such as corrosion to electronics or abrasion to bearings, is taking place inside your camera. Of course, better yet, try to keep your camera away from water spray and sand. Buy a cheap plastic throw-away camera for those rafting trips and leave your good 35mm SLR in the car.(Back)If my camera can't be repaired, do you still charge me a service fee?
No. We open every camera that comes into our shop for inspection. We can't give you exact figures, but about one in every twenty cameras cannot be repaired. Usually it because excessive wear or corrosion. When we come across one of these problems, we can't restore them to good working order. Fortunately this does not happen often. When we do find a camera we can't repair, we box the camera quickly and send the camera / payment (or a refund check) back to the customer. There are no hidden charges.(Back)Do you charge the same prices for a simple repair, such as a missing rewind knob?
Yes. We do not like charging full price for simple repairs such as a rewind knob replacement, but too many people in the past have sent us cameras for what they said were simple repairs that were not simple. Some of these people were dishonest with us, and others were honestly mistaken about the condition of their camera. For these reasons we have to charge full price even for simple repairs to protect ourselves. But, we try to give our customers full value by doing other things to their camera besides the small repair for which it was sent. Your camera will receive such things as cleaning, lubrication, adjustments, and with Silver / Gold service, replacing the foam mirror bumper and the foam seals around the film door. All this involves a lot of time which gives the customers full value for their payment regardless of the type of repair their camera was sent in for.(Back)Does ACR subcontract any of its repair work?
NO! Subcontracting is a common practice in the camera repair world. For example, when camera repair shops get more work than they can take care of, they may subcontract their excess repairs to other repair shops. Most photo dealers have no repairmen at all. They subcontract all their repairs. Even factory repair centers have been know to subcontract their repairs to privately owned repair shops. It is a common practice and it is probably a reasonable solution for repair overloads. But... to ACR it has the smell of drop-shipping. Also, ACR would have no control over the quality of the repair work. For these reasons, ACR never subcontracts any of its repairs. If you send your camera to ACR, it is repaired here in house, and no where else.(Back)How should I pack my 35mm camera for shipping?
A box about 8x8 inches is best. The camera needs about two inches of clearance from the sides of the box. Put the camera in a zip lock food bag, or a plastic bag of some sort, to keep packing material from getting into the front of the camera. Filling the box with packing peanuts works best, newspaper will work also. The shipping cost runs about $5 to $7. Leaving the lens off the camera helps a little on the shipping cost by making it weigh less. These classic all metal SLRs were made for rough treatment (unlike the new plastic SLRs), and we have never had one damaged in shipment yet. (Back)What is your shipping address?
You can find our shipping address on the PRINT-OUT REPAIR FORM . It is:
401 Neas Rd.
Send us as little as possible. If it is a 35mm camera body repair, leave the case, lens and strap, at home. Send only the body (or the lens) that is needing repair. But... send the lens with the body if you think it is part of the repair problem, or if you are not sure if it is the lens or the body that is causing the problem.(Back)How should I send my camera: UPS, FedEx, or USA Postal?
In our experience, it does not seem to make any difference which service you use. We have not noticed any one of them giving better or worse service. (Back)Are the classic 35mm cameras better than the new ones?
Yes! When the classic 35mm manual focus SLRs were being made back in the 60s, 70s and 80s the USA dollar was worth more in Japan, and the Japanese cost to produce cameras was lower. For this reason, and others, the cameras were made of different grades of metal. Plastic was used in the camera only where it was better suited for a function than metal. Today, because of the low value of the USA dollar and the high cost of production, plastic is used shamelessly in SLR camera body and lens production where metal parts are badly needed. Go to a photo dealer and hold in your hand a new SLR body without a lens. Feel how light it is. Now go do the same thing with your classic 35mm SLR camera. Feels heavy, right? That is metal you feel. The rule is, 'The heavier the camera body the more metal it has in it, and the lighter the camera, the more plastic.' The new SLR bodies and lenses also are highly electronic in nature where the classic 35mm SLRs were mostly mechanical in nature. Electronic devices are not well suited for outdoor environment use. Dust, sand, and moisture kills electronic devices where a mechanical device will keep going year after year. Most of the 35mm SLR camera bodies and lenses that we service here at ACR are at least twenty-five years to thirty-five years old. Ask yourself this question, 'How many of these new plastic / electronic SLR camera bodies and lenses are going to be even working in ten years?'(Back)Do the new cameras take better pictures than the classic 35mm manual focus SLRs?
No. The new electronic cameras, both SLR and point-and-shoot, don't take pictures that have better color, more contrast, or a sharper image. The quality of a picture is mainly the function of the lens, if you leave out the film and film processing factors. The production cost and work that went into the making of the older manual SLR lenses, far exceeds anything that is produced today in the same price range. It is all a simple matter of the USA dollar value and production costs back then, and those of today. A thirty-five year old classic 35mm SLR will take pictures as good or better than a new SLR because of superior lens grade.(Back)I need to purchase some classic 35mm used photographic equipment, such as bodies or lenses, where can I find them?
The best source is your local camera show. Every major city has two or three camera shows a year. They are usually held at the city civic center. If one is not near you, it's worth the few hours drive to go to one in another city. They are usually held on a Saturday and Sunday, and they are a lot of fun. You get to handle all kinds of classic cameras and lenses, and talk to interesting people about cameras. The best part about buying used equipment at a camera show is, you get to see and test the camera or lens before you buy it. You know exactly what you are buying and the prices are very reasonable. Another internet source is http://www.ebay.com
Ebay is a large internet auction site that has hundreds of listings for used classic photographic equipment sold by individuals (Buyer beware: we seem to get a lot of work from people who bought used cameras off eBay from dealers.). Of course there are more sources you can find no the internet, but these should get you started. Don't forget that the camera show is still the best source, and well worth the wait and the drive.(Back)
Always discount the purchase price of a used classic 35mm camera by at least $100 for a CLA (clean, lubrication and adjustment). If you can't get the full $100 discount, try to at least get a $50 discount and plan on paying the other half out of your own pocket. The rule is: 'Almost all used classic cameras need some restoration service.' A standard classic 35mm SLR will need cleaning and lubrication. And it will most certainly need adjustments to the shutter speeds and the meter. And finally, the mirror bumper and the film door foam seals will need replacing. Maybe these things were done to the camera before you purchased it, but probably they were not, and you have to discount the price to cover this hidden expense.(Back)What are some specific things I should check on a classic 35mm camera I am buying?
It would take a lot more space than we have here to tell you exactly what to look for in buying a used classic 35mm camera, but here are the nine things ACR would look for if we were buying a camera.
One: Does the camera advance smoothly under film load? Put film in the camera and advance it. If it's smooth, it is in good condition. If it's rough or hard to advance, the gears are damaged or worn.
Two: Check the Rewind knob shaft for wear. Pull up the rewind knob shaft. Look at it's condition and look at the condition of the groove on the shaft. A spring rides in this groove. It holds the rewind knob down. The groove will often brass or be deeply pitted if the camera has had a lot of film run through it.
Three: Open the back of the camera and look at the film pressure plate. If it's smooth and looks new, the camera has had very little use. If it has streaks or lines running horizontally across it, a lot of film has gone through the camera and it may be near the end of its useful life.
Four: Are the shutter blades (or shutter cloth) in good condition? Open the film door and have a look. Do they look new? Are they bent or discolored?
Five: Is the lens mount loose? Push it with your fingers and see if it moves. Cameras that have had heavy use, sometimes have a loose lens mount because the lenses were taken on and off frequently.
Six: Does the camera have battery corrosion? Look in the battery compartment. Do you see any white corrosion substance around the bottom of the battery chamber? (Battery corrosion is white, not red.) Do you see any around the battery cap threads. Battery acid can be cleaned up where it is visible, but it wicks into the wires where you can't see it, and this is where the damage is done.
Seven: Does the camera have water damage? Open the film door. Look at the pressure plate and the film track. Do you see a tank tread stain pattern? Water damage rust / stain is mostly red and sometimes white. This means water has been inside the film compartment, and that the camera is water damaged for sure. Also, look inside the front of the camera. You will usually see red rust stains at mechanical moving points around the mirror if the camera is water damaged. (Believe us when we say, water damaged cameras CAN NOT be repaired.)
Eight: Is the 1000 sec shutter speed working properly? Set the camera for 1000 sec. Open the back of the camera. Hold it up to the light. Fire the shutter. If you see black, the shutter is not opening. If you see white light, the shutter is slow. If you see gray, it's OK. This test is important because 1000 sec is always the first speed to go when a camera needs shutter adjustment.
Nine: Is there black goo on the mirror where the mirror has touched the foam bumper, and is the film door foam seal in the same deteriorated condition? Is there black goo on the edges of the film door? Rub your finger along the edges of the film door. Does black goo come off on your finger? This foam deterioration does not mean the camera is in bad condition, but it does mean you are going to be out the cost of replacing the foams seals for the mirror bumper and the film door. Try to have the price discounted for CLA and foam seal replacement.
Ten: Remember, that you are trying to check the inside condition of the camera. Just because a camera is rough outside, does not mean it has had heavy film use. It may be like-new inside. A rough outside condition may only mean the camera was carried around a lot by the owner. (Back)
No. A camera that has had water spray or water splash damage, might be repaired. But a camera that has been immersed in water is finished. Even if it was only immersed for one second, it is still unrepairable. What happens is the water gets into the electronics and the small mechanical parts where it is not possible for a repairmen to reach. Rust and corrosion slowly starts damaging the electronics and the small mechanical parts. The camera may work properly for days or months, but as the corrosion spreads the camera will fail in time. Fresh water spray or splash is bad for a camera and it needs to be cleaned quickly before corrosion sets in. Salt water spray or splash is acid to a camera. The best solution is to buy a cheap throw-away plastic camera when you need pictures of water sports. We will qualify our statement by saying that any camera can be repaired, no matter what type of damage it has, but the cost to replace the mechanical parts or electronic parts, and the labor involved, would cost enough to buy two or three replacement cameras of the same type. (Back)Where is the best place to sell my camera?
Ebay commands the highest prices most of the time because it has the largest customer base. The best approach is to look under 'Completed Auctions' at the eBay site and check out what your camera is selling for in auctions. This will give you an idea of what you can expect to auction your camera for.(Back)Do antique cameras have collectors value?
As a rule, no. People collect many things, but not cameras it seems. You can check a book called 'McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras,' and find out what your camera may be worth, but don't get your hopes up. You can also do a search on ebay, and see if any are being sold. Few antique cameras have any value. The value of older cameras may sky rocket some day when they become collectible items, so never throw away an antique camera. The camera you tossed in the trash may be worth thousands someday.(Back)Can I oil my classic camera body or lens?
No. We quite often get cameras and lenses that people have tried to oil with 3 in 1 or WD40. Because of the way cameras and lenses are constructed, the parts that need oiling are deep inside. When people try to oil a camera body or lens from the outside, all they do is flood the case with oil which causes a big mess to clean up. It does more harm than good, and sometimes the oil may get into the electronics and cause real damage. (Back)My camera needs a 1.35 volt battery, what can I do?
There are still some sources for 1.35 volt batteries. You will have to run a search on the internet to find them. We buy them when needed from www.micro-tools.com. At ACR we normally reset the camera meter to accept the present standard 1.5 volt battery, unless the customer tells us not to. We reset for the 1.5 volt because this is the one that is most commonly sold in stores today. (Back)Why don't I see my classic camera model on your repair list?
ACR has repaired (since 1978) about every type of: 'range finder, 126, 110, TLR, SLR, medium format, large format, press camera, 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, movie projector, slide projector, enlarger, point and shoot plastic, auto focus SLR, there is to repair. We have even repaired hand held light meters and tripods a few times. We do not repair all camera models for several reasons. Restoration work on many cameras is not profitable because they are troublesome and parts are hard to find. But the main reason is, we just prefer to specialize in restoration of classic 35mm SLRs. These are the cameras we enjoy restoring. If you can't find your camera on our list, e-mail us and we will try to refer you to someone who will repair your camera. (Back)Where can I learn camera repair?
The camera repair schools closed many years ago. There is no place that we are aware of to learn camera repair. There is a reason for this. Most of the new plastic point and shoot, and 35mm SLR cameras are not made to be repaired. They are throw-away in nature. The few good metal SLRs that are being produced are limited in number because of their high cost. Factory service can take care of such a small market, and the private repair shops are not needed. Looking to the near future, digital cameras and plastic point-and-shoot cameras, will rule the market. As more and more of these classic 35mm SLRs become retired, there will be less need for SLR camera repairmen. We would not encourage anyone to enter the camera repair business because it is drying up year by year. We strongly suggest that those who are interested in photography equipment repair, to learn to repair digital cameras and video cams. (Back)Does ACR accept repair work from government agencies, universities, or other related associations?
No. ACR only accepts repair work from individual persons. At one time ACR did accept wholesale and retail work from government agencies, universities and other agencies, but the payments were always accompanied by to much time consuming paper work. The policy of ACR now is to not accept work from such agencies.(Back)How do I go about adding a question to this list?
We try to answer the most common questions we hear daily, but if you have a question that you think is a good one, send it to us by e-mail and we will consider its merits. If we like it, we will add it to the list.(Back)