Break Stuff: The Camera Edition


In a lifetime of owning things, these things are liable to break. I’ve broken two bikes: the frame on my Centurion Accordo cracked at the bottom bracket (back in 2008) and I separated the seatstay on my Raleigh Wayfarer from the frame. (That did get repaired.) Many things on the bikes have broken, too, like handlebars, pedals, cranks, and most notably the Crested Butte’s seatpost that broke while riding.

And with a new obsession, namely cameras, comes new opportunities to break things.

Breaking cameras is not new for me. The Honeywell Visimatic 615 (supposedly a rebadge of a Petri Computor 35) rangefinder camera I found in the back of mom’s junk drawer around 1998 gave up the ghost around 2004–either the film advance or the shutter stopped working. My first digital camera, a Kodak Easy Share V1233, met its final fate on a November day in 2012, when I dropped it after a self-portrait. Since getting back into film, I’ve had mostly good luck. Mostly.

My most unlucky camera is my Olympus 35 RD. It was gifted to me in unusable state, so the first thing I needed to do was send it off to the shop to get serviced. It was an act of blind faith, spending $125 on a CLA for a camera I had never used, but I had heard such good things about the 35 RD, plus its scarcity means that reselling it for a decent price would be easy. It was a good companion for a year, then beer unfortunately got spilled on it. So back to the shop it went.

This time the damage is more superficial and less major, but damage it is: A couple weeks ago I put it in my backpack along with my laptop, and the edge of the laptop or something managed to hit the viewfinder glass just right, cracking it. It was still useable, but annoying. So again to the shop. It’s currently getting fixed, and I hope this is the last fix for a long time. The irony is that the camera does have a (n)ever-ready case, but I never use it because it’s a degraded shell of itself. (Olympus didn’t seem to care about making good Ever-Ready cases, which is the opposite approach of Minolta.) Well, I’m probably going to be using it more, at least for transport.

But that’s not the only Olympus in the shop. My Pen EES-2 seemed to develop an aperture problem, where the aperture doesn’t appear to open properly, so it went off to another shop. I’m still waiting word on what exactly is up with it. This is the second EES-2 I’ve had, the first one also had an aperture problem. But that was caused by a very-obvious bang to the lens barrel. But this time I don’t know what is happening, so it’s worrying.

And if that wasn’t enough: The other day I was playing around with my Ricohflex Model VII. The issue it had (and why I got it cheap) was that the focus was very stiff. So I was turning the viewing lens, and magically it started to loosen! And…loosen. It was spinning freely, not stopping. And it fell off. Oof.

Now it’s probably repairable. But I don’t think it’s worth it. The Ricohflex is quite limited with just three shutter speeds (1/25, 1/50, 1/100) plus bulb. It was a good entry point into twin lens reflex cameras, but I want something more. Now I’ll have a bit of a fire under my ass to find another TLR, as now I have no 120/medium format cameras.

Hopefully this will be all the breaks for now. Repairing cameras ain’t cheap, and I don’t want to have one of my cameras eternally in the shop.

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2 thoughts on “Break Stuff: The Camera Edition

Add yours

  1. Cameras can be sturdy and lovely most of the times, but sometimes they simply refuse to co-operate. For example old, really old cameras have a tendency to stop working when taking photos in the winter during minus degrees. Something with old oil and grease that freezes. Imagine that, a 70 year old un-serviced camera freezes up… I never hear of it…

    Once I dropped a Leica M2 from a tripod straight down in the floor. The fun was quickly over. Or the time I bought a Kodak Retinette for way too much and it broke down on the first frame.

    Cameras, it is a world of it’s own.

    1. Old bikes can be a crapshoot too, but since most things are out in the open, it’s easier to know what doesn’t work. With old cameras, you might not know until you shoot a roll.

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