Rolleiflex T is a reasonably good camera when compared to a Rolleicord, or Yashicamat, however, it is a solid step below the Automat, and not even comparable to a Letter model. These cameras were cheapened consumer products that were meant to be discarded when worn. Now they have the Rolleiflex name on them, and people pay well into the 400 dollar range, which is about four times what they are worth. So, when it comes to fixing them, I have to take several hours and charge 120-150 dollars for a camera that will have a useful life of maybe a few more years, and that I cannot warranty for more than a few months. In short the insides are not up to Rollei standards, they have plastic parts and you the photographer should get an Automat instead; save money, and have a lifetime camera.
Rolleimajic, every example has a bad meter, and will not function. This is also the only Rollei product in 50 plus years and upwards of 7,000,000 cameras that uses a Prontor shutter. These are collectable's only.
Yashica cameras can be very high in functionality however, they are prone to wear, and I cannot warrant them, so I will not work on them. I have opened the film advance to find metal parts that were made from Heidelberg Beer cans...Does that sound like a quality camera to you? At times, I can be talked into working on the early TLR, such as the A, C, or D. But please ask me before sending the camera--I have to be in the mood to work on them.
Undervalued Cameras,I Like To Work On
Ikoflex Cameras:Since many people are unaware of the Ikoflex line I thought I would put up a brief overview of the entire line. Firstly, Zeiss Ikon never really took the TLR seriously. I say this because they had in their inventory Planar, Biotar, and Sonnar lenses but they stuck to the Novar and Tessar lenses for their TLR line; while Rollei made a true professionals camera with Planar/Xenotar lens. That said they can still be very good cameras in terms of picture quality, and are very well engineered and built. One selling point of the entire line is that they all had bright screens, so you do not have to suffer the added expense of a Beatie or Maxwell screen. I have no experience with the Coffee Can or III, so I will start with the I.
I, is a well made camera and is easy to work on, with its simple (red window) film advance and operator tensioned shutter. The view finder has a slow f:3.5 lens, but is one of the brightest in all TLR cameras, as it uses a ground condenser lens, and is slightly smaller than the actual 2.25x2.25 negative. These cameras are a good value in the 25-50 dollar range, and can be serviced for around 75 dollars.
Ia, this is in my opinion the best of the whole line. The post war model could be ordered with either Tessar or Novar lens, has flash synch, and the film advance is a work of art. I have worked on dozens with the Novar lens and in most cases (they) equal the resolving power of the Tessar at all f:stops above 5.6.
Expect to pay 60-75 dollars for a nice example, and 60-75 to have it serviced. Focus CLA will add 30-45 dollars, and the transport will be, 45-60 dollars.
Ib-Ic, (Ic pictured) this is almost as good as the Ia, but the film advance is a bit less reliable, so I give the "A" a bit higher rating. The b, and c have the trigger repositioned to the more ergonomic position of next to the lens board, otherwise it is the same as the Ia. The metering system on the Ic is a bit cumbersome to use and many I have worked on had bad photovoltaic cells, which made them useless. Expect to pay 50-75 for the b, and 60-100 for the c, expect to pay 100-200 for a complete camera service.
II, IIb, IIc, Zeiss Ikon used the same name for three different cameras, so this can be very confusing. I like the IIc (pictured) it has a good Tessar lens and the controls are easy to use. It also has the same advance as the Ia, so it will give years of service. The II, and IIb are pretty much nuts and bolts cameras with the I body and uncoated Tessar lenses. For a good IIc expect to pay 50-75 dollars with a shutter CLA costing 45-60 dollars and a full camera service costing 120-180 dollars.
IIa, This is a well made camera and can be serviced for a fair price and have a resonable warranty period. You can identify the camera because it looks like the favorit below, but lacks the metered hood and has the knurled wheel for reseting the film advance. I can whole hartedly recomend this camera as a user camera and can do the shutter on one for 75-90 dollars, and the full camera service for 150-180 dollars.
Favorit, the Favorit (Pictured) usse the Ic body. This camera has a very basic flaw--the film advance tensions the shutter while advancing the film, with no way to release the shutter after the 12th frame. So the shutter sits cocked for months at a time, and fatigues the main spring. In the last ten years I have not encountered one example of this camera that had a working film transport. I do not recommend this camera as a user. Expect to pay 80-150 dollars for a good example. Due to the fact that some of the later cameras have some very poor quality parts, I no longer work on the Favorit model of this line of cameras. Or to put it another way, the Favorit is my least favorite off the whole line.
I hope this has been helpful and that you will purchase an Ikoflex and have me service it for you.
The Finest Camera Ever Made--CONTAX IIa/IIIa
I know all you Leica M fans will not agree but in terms of built quality, no other camera can come close to the Contax IIa/IIIa. Here is why:
1) All metal parts that touch each other, except the curtain, are chrome plated, for better wear resistance, and to prevent corrosion.
2) The only plastic parts in the camera are on the flash synch insulators, and on the meter window, the entire rest of the camera is metal.
3) The camera is flash synched from 1/50, and every speed slower, not just the 1/25 speed like the Leica.
4) Metal shutter curtain. Never worry about burning the curtain on a sunset photo again.
6) The Range finder is a longer base, and can actually coordinate with the longest lenses made for the camera, in the 250mm-300mm range.
7) The shoe is actually centered over the lens, so parallax is only in the vertical.
8) The Range finder spot is brighter and contrasts better, making it more useful in low light.
9) For lenses of focal lengths of 50mm or less can use the finger focus wheel. This is the fastest way to focus any range finder camera.
10) Good reliable self timer.
11) Superior fit and finish for all parts, including the leather covering, and all chrome plated covers.
12) Removable back making it super easy to load.
So, considering all the above, and that the lenses are about half the price, and just as sharp as any Leica lens, why would you want the Wetzlar product? Contax was and will always be the best camera ever made. And I know because I have taken all of them apart, and none can compare.
Bellows Problems :
For just about any folding camera the bellows is what limits the life of the camera. In some cases, and where properly taken care of, the bellows will last for years, and not give a lick of trouble. These bellows tend to be those made of leather, backed with card stock and then a layer of shutter curtain material. This is what the finer camera makers used, such as those form Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander, Welta... However, some manufacturers cut corners by using a cloth backed vinyl product, that was cheaper to make, and therefore reduced the cost of the camera to the end user. This material is virtually always bad, and will require replacement, if possible or in the minimum a costly repair. The companies that used this type of material are: Agfa, Ansco, Kodak, Graflex (surprisingly these tend to last). I am regularly send cameras from Agfa, with good shutters, lenses and film transports, but the bellows are full of holes and so the camera is useless. This is really a shame, for both the customer, and myself, since we both loose money and really have no way to recover any of our investment.
So, before you buy a folding camera, take bright flash light, and shine it into the bellows and see if any pin holes appear. At the current time I have no new bellows, and I can forsee no new source. So if the bellows is bad, the camera becomes a paper weight.
Aftermarket Bright-Focus Screens:
I get many repuests for installing aftermarket bright focus screens, into Rolleiflex, and Rolleicord caemras, so here is my take on them.
I am a purest. In my perfect world, all caemras would be exactly as they left the factory. To this end... I believe that the engineers at the cameras manufacturer, put a lot of time and effort into figuring out what they wanted the camera to do, and designed it accordingly. Those engineers had specific standards, and they tested and measured the cameras performance to those standards. Rolleiflex did not put a Fresnel screen into a camera until the model E2, in the late 1950s, and then they continued the practice with TLRs until the end of the company in 1980. The problems with the ground glass is that it is a bit dark round the edges. The problem with the Fresnel is that it is hard to get a good crisp image while looking at the grooves, of the fresnel, and that the soft plastic is not very durable when being cleaned, and scratches easily, making focusing and composition even more difficult. So, brightness is enhanced but durability, and image quaily are degraded.
Now let's move ahead 50 years to today. There are at least three different makers of aftermarket bright screens available for Rolleiflex cameras, and probably 25 different models of screens from these three makers. Some have split image focus aids, some have a bright spot for focus, there are grids on the ground side, and some just have cross hairs. For all there feathres, not one aftermarket screen has been designed by team of Opitcal Engineers. This leaves me the camera tech to try and make them work.
The problems with most aftermaret screens are thus: Is the focal length the same as the lens on the camera you are using. f:3.5 Rolleiflex cameras have 7.5cm lenses, and f:2.8 cameras have 8cm lenses. This may seem trivial, but it is not. No camera equipped with a 7.5cm viewer lens will ever properly focus with an 8cm focal length bright screen. I find this over and over, with camera sent to me, that have Yashica Fresnels fitted under the ground glass. This latter example is the worst case, an 8cm Fresnel up below (closer) to the 7.5cm lens; which makes it never focus at infinity be way off up close.
So lets assume the focal length is correct for your camera. Now the next problem is how many segemts the Fresnel has. The more segments, the brighter the screen is. The more segments the Fresnel has the More distorted the images is. So, the manufacture has to pick what they want, a very bright image, or a very distorted image. So, now most aftermarket screens have gone for maximum brightness, but they leave the image badly distorted. One of the most popual aftermarket screens, is so fine and badly distorted that if you view the screen off axis (not looking perfectly straight down) the images completly vanishes, leaving a black screen. It is only a guess, but I bet the Rollei engineers would have found this unacceptable.
Split image focus spots. To date, I have probably installed (kicking and screeming!) 100+ bright screens with this feature. To my eye, not one of these has perfectly coordinated with the ground image, on the rest of the finder. To this end, I began using my Collimator to check the results, and take my subjective human eye out of the equation, no difference. They leave a dark spot in the middle of the ground area, they never coordinate, and they are just not needed; if you like the one on your 35mm SLR, you will hate the one on your TLR.
So, in closing, I have used all three of the major makes of "Bright Screens" and in my Rolleiflex 3.5E1 I am using--you guessed it, the ground glass that came with the camera. It is ground very finely, is sharp and easy to see when the subject is perfectly in focus. I can clean it with a cotton swab, and not scratch it. The grid is accurate, but dark enough to not obtrusively intrude, into the image, and best off all, it does not cost an arm and a leg.
A list of Cheap Cameras that Are Fun To use, and Cheap to Fix:
1) Gear focus Ricohflex all models especially the Super. Most sell for under 40 dollars and I can fix one for $30-45. These are real sleeper cameras but keep in mind that they only have shutter speeds of B, 25, 50, 100, with the super having a 10 and 200. As the lenses are front cell focus I can easily set them for optimum focus, and you will get best results. Most of these lenses resolve somewhere in the 250 line pairs per millimeter range. That is as good as a Tessar/Xenar!
One other nice thing about this range of cameras, are the number of accessories that are available: 35mm and 127 backs, Auto film advances, and 36mm clamp on filters and hoods. If you are looking for a first TLR this is the one. Here are some photos taken with Ektachrome E-100G and a Richflex holiday:
2)Rolleicord I--These are very nice cameras and sell for 20-30 dollars in the current market. Complete camera rebuild is 150-180 but a shutter only CLA is 45-60 dollars. Not too bad for a camera that has a Zeiss lens and a Compur Rapid shutter (B, 1-300)
3) Ikonta A, B, C--These sell with a Novar lens in the 30-50 dollar range, and once serviced produce great pictures. I can CLA one for 30-45 dollars. These came with either a Compur Rapid shutter or a Prontor shutter, speeds B, 1-300.
4) Netar, folding cameras--these are somewhat more cheaply made than the Ikonta, but can still be made to produce excellent images. Most sell for 20-30 dollars in like new condition, and I charge 30-45 dollars to CLA one. Most of these cameras have a Pronto shutter with speeds of 25, 50 , 100, 200, and B.
5) Flexaret III, IV, V--The III (Pictured) and IV are much simpler and less refined camera than the V, but will still take excellent pictures, get one with a Prontor shutter and Bellar lens. A good III will command 40 dollars in the used market and expect to pay 45-60 dollars to CLA it. The V is an automat camera that cocks the shutter while advancing the film, and auto spaces the exposures. All the Bellar lenses are excellent "Cook Triplet" Tessar types, and produce stunning images, however the V will cost more to service with a complete service running 120-150 dollars, and a good used example will run 50-60 dollars.
6) Argoflex--these are very simple Bakelite bodied cameras that will produce images equal to just about any of the cameras above, but they lack the slow shutter speeds of the Rollei, Ikonta and Flexaret, so they sell for far less. Shutter speeds are 25, 50, 100, 200, T, B. The T is very nice for shooting at night. Expect to pay 10-15 dollars for a 620 only version, and 20-30 for a 120, 620 version. I can CLA one for 45 dollars.
Some Good Cameras that are cheap to buy but not
to fix :
1) Ansco Automatic Reflex--This was Anscos answer to the predicted Rolleiflex shortage that never happened at the end of WWII. So, they spent a lot of time and money designing a camera that never took off in sales--and with a price of $269.99 in 1947 it was no wonder. However this turned out, you can now benefit form the fact that they are not well know, and not well respected. These cameras regularly sell for 50-100 dollars on ebay, with the most pristine pure model not selling for more than 400 dollars.
These cameras have double exposure protection, and auto exposure spacing was well as a Newton sports finder, and are fully flash synched. They come with a 83mm Wollensak lens that is a fine Cook Triplet design similar to the Novar with three elements in three groups. The shutter is a Rapax with speeds of T,B, 1,2,5,10,25,50,100,200, and 400.
Due to the fact that several Ansco Automatic Reflex's have come here which were non-functioning form the factory, good luck when buying one. This may be one camera that signs of use, is a good thing.
I am able to work on this line of cameras, but I can tell you that they will never function perfectly, no matter how much work I put in. The problem was that many of the pats were not plated against corrosion, and they are riveted in place. So, If you can put up with a camera that works 95% of the time, I'm your repair guy.
2) Kodak Reflex II
The Kodak Reflex and Reflex II are pretty much similar cameras and will cost similar amounts to be repaired. The real drawback to this line of cameras is that Kodak cemented the lens groups into the lens mounts and therefore, they cannot be easily cleaned when they become fogged, hazy or have fungus. That said, if the lens is good they can be very good cameras indeed, and in the case of the Anastar Lens version, they will produce excellent photographs.
Expect to pay about 90-120 dollars to have the entire body overhauled, and expect to pay about 25 dollar for the camera in the first place. There is no way to convert this camera to 120 film so keep some money aside for purchasing a supply of 620 spools. Also if you ever decide to sell the camera, you will be eating the entire cost of the repair, as they will sell for the same amount as complete basket case cameras, as they will completely functional.
3) Ricohflex 225, Diacord
This is Ricohs answer to the Minolta Autocord. These tend to be way under valued in the current market. I have seen very nice examples of the Diacord G, on ebay selling for under 40 dollars. This is a crying shame, as the lenses are always excellent, and the camera body is well made. I prefer the non meter model of Diacord, and I like the 225 a bit more than the Daicord, as they are more robustly built. The film transport is simple, however is can be prone to wear if the parts were not lubricated properly at the factory, or by some would be repair person.
Expect to pay me 90-120 dollars to do the shutter focus, and film transport. When done though, you will have a very nice camera for years to come.
4) Graflex 22/Ciro-Flex
The Ciro-Flex line of cameras came about as an American answer to the Rolleiflex' commanding market share. So as with all American cameras what it lacks in workmanship, it makes up for in low price and heavy metals. As TLR cameras go, these are just about the most simply engineered. Open he back and you can see the entire focus mechanism, the shutter is held to the front by a locking ring, and the film transport is by the red window. Simple, reliable, and rugged, is what these cameras are. Now for the drawbacks. They use a Wolensak shutter that is less than accurate, at most speeds, and as with all Wolensak products, has lots of bare steel parts inside, so it rusts. About one in 8 is a complete loss. So they tend to be a bit of a gamble. The lens is an 85mm focal length, so they give sort of a narrow field of view, and are something less than stunning in the corners. I chard 45-75 dollars to go completely through one of these. So they are pretty cheep to work on. As for the sale price, the Graflex 22 model is somewhat collectable, and so sells for 75-90 dollars in very nice condition, the Ciro-Flex sells from 15-75 dollars depending on the model and condition. Look for the cameras with the Rapax shutter to sell for more, and the Alphax models to sell for less.
My Take On Leica Cameras:
As something of a German Camera nut, I pretty much have to like Lieca products, however as a regular repairman for Leica cameras I have a slightly different take than most Leica owners. Here is what I think:
The older the camera the better made it is. When getting a model III you should try to find a pre-F model. The III, IIIa, IIIb, and IIIc are fine cameras that are extremely well made and are simple to work on. When Leica tried to keep up with Zeiss Ikon's Contax IIa, IIIa, they made a number of changes to the basic Barnac design that negatively effected reliability, and increase complexity--thereby increasing repair costs.
So what you get with the IIIf (Pictured) camera is a camera that can be flash synched at one speed the 1/25, and you the user will have to test it and adjust the flash retard dial under the speed selector knob. This will basically take a roll of film and one hour of your dark room time to figure where the flash is operating correctly.
On the older cameras the view and range finder were separated so there were fewer instances of taking the picture with the range finder, and not framing it correctly. Also, the older cameras only had a shutter speed to 1/500 which made things a lot less complex on the bottom of the camera, as the higher speed made necessary a curtain break and a bounce back clutch. Besides I have owned many IIIf, examples and to date have never shot one at 1/1000, and rarely at 1/500.
Built Quality of the Entire Line of SM Cameras:
Leica cameras are the Chevrolet of German Cameras, not the Rolls Royce, as many would have you believe. They are made of good materials, but they cut many corners in making them price point products. On a Contax virtually all the internal parts are painted, anodized, or hard chrome plated. On a Leica, the internal parts are typically painted, almost never chromed, and sometimes anodized. Chrome was reserved for cosmetic parts on the outside, the insides need not matter.
So, what you get with most old Leica cameras is that they are rusty inside, and will need a good chemical cleaning, to remove this rust, and a good oiling to prevent it in the future.
One last thing, if you are choosing a Leica, purely as a shooter, the simpler the camera is the better. I shoot a IC and love it, and use it 10 times more than I ever did my IIIf! Even the lack of slow speeds does not slow me down, I use it for daylight work, and if in lower light I shoot faster film. If you are hopelessly tied to having a range finder then get a II model, and as the slow speeds on Lieca tend to be problematic anyway.
So go out a get that old Leica I, II, or III and shoot some film, who knows, you may have fun doing it!
My Take on Nikon RF Cameras:
As a repair person I take a keen interest in the used market and one area that has been of particularly fascinating is the Nikon Range Finder market. The entire line of cameras including the SP suffer from the same basic flaw as the Leica cameras--a cloth shutter curtain, and a range finder with a short base. The basic camera is designed to look like a Contax II, but the shutter is a pure rip off of a Leica design, to keep things simple. This is where the similarities between the German products and the Japanese knock off end. The built quality is like many price point cameras from Nippon--kind of cheap, with loads of soft brass parts, and little or no hardened parts. They will take some nice pictures, but don't expect them to last as long as the German cameras, because they won't.
So, considering the above, it is a real mystery to me why they continue to fetch such high prices on the used market? The only thing I can think of is that people are familiar with the name and so they feel safe purchasing the cameras; or perhaps they already have a Nikon SLR and are just brand loyal. Keeping the built quality in mind, they could be a good investment though, as those being used are doomed to wear out soon enough.
So forget Nikon, save money, and go Contax IIa, or Leica S.M!
My Take on Voigtlander Porducts:
In Germany prior to WWII there were many camera makers that all competed to out design each other, and pattent the lastest inovations. The Germans had at that time very strigent pattent laws, and so there was little pattent fraud. These two facts lead to each camera company having to re-invent the wheel so to speak, and so there are many different methods to accomplish the same end goal. Of all the different ways of doing things, Voigtlander is by far the most different, and in some cases, just plain strange. Take the case with Franke, and Heidecke, both of whom are Voigtlander employees, and come up with the TLR concept, but Voigtlander turns it down, by telling them: Marketing comes up with the concepts--you make them (to paraphrase the actual quote). So they start there own company, and the Rolleiflex is born! Not to be outdone, Voigtlander comes up with the Superb, just to show they are not be out done. This camera is a real oddball, the shutter body is the focus helix, the entire mirror box is hinged to correct for paralax, the film is transported from right to left, and lastly the shutter speeds are read from a little prism on the front of the shutter. All of this is done to not infringe on Rolleis pattents. It all sounds pretty good too, until you have to take one apart and work on it--hugely complex, and just plainly done wrong. This sort of design prowerse, continues on with their folding cameras like the funky little 127 Perkeo, range finder cameras like the Prominent, and the barn door Vitessa. All lack simplicity of design, and function. Why--because the best and most simple way was taken by the big boys of German camera manufacture, Leica, Rollei, Zeiss Ikon, Welta, Wirgin, KW, and Ihagee. So they engineered themselves into a corner, and ran with it. Keep in mind, I do like Voigtlander cameras, I just don't like to work on them. The lenses are awesome, and in some cases, they are the best of the best (my Prominents Ultron, out performed my Contax' Sonnar and M3 Leica's Sumicron). Here is a short list of worst cameras to work on, by type, to prove my point:
1) TLR--Rolleiflex 3.5f1, tied with Voigtlander Superb, and Ikoflex Favorit is just behind.
2) Folding Range finder camera--Barn Door Vitessa
3) 35mm SLR--Bessamatic
4) Folding Camera 120 film--Bessa I, and II
5) 35mm Range finder Camera--Prominent
The list goes on...
So, if you have more money than you know what to do with, and you like spending it, get a broken voigtlander, send it to me, and wait for the bill!
Ihagee's Exakta SLRs:
Over the last few years I have made a point of teaching myself Exakat SLR repair. I undertook this line of cameras, because they are currently grossly undervalued in the used market. This line of cameras has interchangable lenses, viewfinders and Back; yet sell for far less than a similary versatile Nikon F! The lens selection in Exakta mount is unmatched by any other camera line, even eclipsing the 42mm universal mount. The lenses tend to represent a full range of quality, and price, and on the low end will give "funky" Holga like results, and on the high end will rival any lens put on a modern Japanese SLR. So, here is my take on the entire camera line:
Vest Pocket Exaktas: The vest pocket Exakta A, introduced in 1933 was the first mass marketed compact SLR camera, and produced 4cmx6.5cm images on 127 roll film. These cameras had only the waist level finder, but had interchangeable lenses, using a unique 40mm screw mount. Model A cameras have a finer thread pitch than later models, so early lenses may not fit later cameras. These cameras used the "Red Window" film advance, for spacing eight exposures on the film, which lead to the so called "left handed" operation. The way the film is advanced is to turn the camera (while looking form the back) 90 degrees clockwise, hold open the red window with your left thumb, and advance the film with your right thumb. This system was carried over to all subsequent cameras and so all 35mm Exa, Exakta cameras were "left handed."
In use these are fine medium format cameras, and with a Zeiss Tessar lens, are unequaled in a pre-war compact camera. There are a list of features added to this line of cameras over time, like the famous low speed/delay timer, and the "Vacublitz" sockets on the front of the body. When more features were added to the basic model of camera, Ihagee introduced the old model as the "Junior" for less money. Later in the production of the Vest Pocket line, special fast lenses were introduced and the cameras were marketed as Night Exaktas. These fast lenses no command a very high price in the used market, and are highly sought after by collectors.
I do work on Exakta Vest Pocket cameras, but I have no spare parts, so the camera needs to be complete. Expect to pay me 250-350 dollars to put new curtains in, and do a complete CLA.
35mm Exakta SLRs: Where the 35mm exaktas are concerned the older cameras tend to be better quality, and I cannot recoment any Exakta camera after the VXIIa. The early, so called Kine (little) Exakta models are quite collectable, but are an excellent camera, of very high quality, and which have sown by there age to be very rugged. The Exakta Varex (V) was the first of the line to have the interchangeable view finderr and are a good value int he used market. Expect to pay 150-250 to get new curtains and a complete CLA
Hello and welcome to my classic camera blog. I am very enthusiastic about using vintage and classic cameras, below you will find several pictures that I made using classic cameras, and I give the full photo details (just like a photo mag). As I get more photographs scanned I will post more.
Here is my take on some of the cameras I don’t like to work on, and some I think are undervalued in the current used market (Ikoflex). I will start with the Rolleiflex T, and Rolleimajic (which spell check humorously corrects to Problematic) I and II.
Blackmaild from Sparks Nevada!
Recently, I gave a quote to a guy who had purchasd a used Rolleiflex Automat X, at a thrift store for 25 dollars. He said the film transport was acting up, and he needed to get it serviced, and that the finder was very dark, and the mirror appeared to be bad. I quoted him the typical 120 for the advace and 20 for the mirror, and if I was working on the shutter I would clean the mirror/ground glass, and the lenses for free. He told me there was still a roll of film in it, and to open it up in a dark room to save it...
When I got the camera the advance was completely forzen, the crank would not move at all. So I went into my dark room to open it, and remove the film. The film was run under the film gate rollers, both of them. I removed the film in the dark, but it was completely chewed up and shredded. Once the lights were back on, I could see hundreds of film chips around the lens area in the film gate, and all over the rest of the insides. Now the film transpor was freed up, I tested it, and about one in three the counter did not reset to 0, so in informed the customer of the problems, and got his permission to work on it. It bears mention that this camera was in rather used looking condition, very dirty, lots of dings and missing paint, and it had the mounts for a Solenoid, which is the secret code for a professionally used camera. Not good.
So I took a good hard look at the camera, what he had paid for it, the condition, and what I thought, of the costomers situation, and offered him three options: 1) Go completely through the camera, for 260 dollars. 2) Fix just the film transport for 120. 3) For 150 I'd removed the solenoid mount, clean the lenses, and replace the mirror, clean the ground glass and clean it up, some. He opted for the 150, which was the bargain out of the three, as I did a lot of work for the extra 30 dollars.
When I removed the side leahter to allow me to access the film transport, it appeared that it had been reglued at least 5 times, and there were two screws holding the side panel on, that were not original to the camera. This should have been a warning flag to me, but I persisted onward anyway. The actual transport parts were really not that bad. There was a bit of wear to the chrome, and there was some dirt and grime, and dired grease, but all things considered, not really as bat as I would have thought. I guess this was due to the five precious services.
I got it up and running no problems, it was super smooth and very positive on exposure spacing and in resetting to 0, so I closed her up, did the view finder work, cleaned the lenses, and removed the solenoid mount. I invoice the customer, and in about a week he pays me, and I ship it back.
I don't hear a word from him for about two weeks. The the fire and brimstone start. "The transport does not work!" I paid you to fix it and you recked it... "It is obvious to me you never tested it, so test it before you send it back to me this time... So I convince him to return it, and I will "Happily work on it under the warranty." When I get it back the only thing wrong is there is a big buldge on the side of the camera under the film spindle. Now I need to digress a bit. On the early Automats, there is one screw that holds the film transport side cover on, buy the film sprocket. On later cameras there is two screws. Know why? Because, if the user pushes on the film sprocket hard enough, it will disengage from the rest of the transport, and in sevear cases be damaged. Rollei fixed this in about 1952, but he has an earlier camera...
So when I get the camera back, I find the film sprocket is not engaged with the rest of the drive components, and is damaged beyond repair, so I replace it at my expense and test it out. Working perfectly for me. A major part of my job is education, so I let the customer know abou the design flaw of his camera and how to avoid future problmes like this; and I return the camera at my expense.
A week or so passes and then the emails start. The film transport overlaps exposures! I want my money back. So, in a bold move I have never done before, or since, I return to him the 120 dollars he paid for the film transport work, and the postage for the warranty return! This is just not good enough for this guy. He starts telling me he needs 682 dollars, which is the cost of the film I ruined (including the first roll from under the rollers), All the money including postage he paid me, and the amount at good working camera would sell for on ebay! If I did not do this, he was going to go on facebook and slam me. I gleefully informed him that in the state of Oregon, what he was doiong was called Collusion and it was a crime, and since he had sent me a letter stating that very intent, it was a federal crime! I haven't heard back from him...