I am delighted to say I’ve just had three cameras repaired to satisfaction:
- Leica M2 – rangefinder was way, way out. Peter at CRR Luton realigned the rangefinder prisms.
- Hexar RF – rangefinder was way, way out. Kamera Service in the Netherlands were able to fix it.
- Bronica RF645 – Camera was electronically dead, and the transport mechanism suspect. Kamera Service have been able to fix both issues, resurrecting the Bronica.
That’s one 50 year old camera, and two cameras that have long been discontinued that I was able to (reasonably) economically fix. It’s never nice when a camera goes wrong, but forking out hard earned cash is less painful than throwing the camera in the bin.
I had tried to adjust the Hexar RF myself, having found some scans of the service manual online, butin the words of Kamera Service: “the camera was heavily mistreated by somebody”. I think I ought to practice on cheaper cameras. I have a Zorki and a Balda 6×6 that have rangefinder misalignments. Maybe that’s a better place to start.
But I worry. My guess is the select number of individuals in the world that can perform these operations is tiny, especially for non-Leica rangefinders. And it ain’t getting any bigger. My feeling is these guys either worked at a camera manufacturer at one time, or worked through the period when these cameras were introduced and spare parts available. Is there enough demand for this repair work for them to consider apprenticing? I know the two main guys in the UK (Peter at CRR and Malcolm Taylor) are essentially one-man operations, and I assume (do excuse me if I’m wrong) that they have at least 20, maybe 30 years on me, and I expect them to retire long before I wish to stop shooting film in classic rangefinders.
Would it be feasible for someone born today to even become an independent camera repairman, let alone one who would receive an obituary in the NY Times, as Marty Forscher did? Or will we soon see the last generation of this venerable profession?
Perhaps we’ll just have to get increasingly used to a world in which certain camera are unrepairable. Prices will initially take a drop, but then as the cameras slowly die and become rarer, prices for working copies will rise again.