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The adventures of camera repair...

Or: "I never thought it possible to combine electronics and origami, but Canon found a way!"

Another little story... this time about a nice little camera I bought myself back in '94 or '95. It was the pre-digital age and the then new Canon EOS 50 was spiffy and shiny. Even our local professional photographer turned his head and asked about it. I was proud. But then, the digital age came by and with the start of 3+ MPixel cameras they were a real alternative and so the good old film camera got put aside for storage.

Fast forward about 12 years, I decide to take up B/W photography again. I dust off the trusty camera and shoot several films without problems (but with a new battery).
A few weekends back though - when I took it to the vienna Zoo - it started to act up quite badly. The shutter wouldn't release every other time and the camera would display the "empty battery" symbol. So I figured: bad battery for some reason. But a new battery didn't fix the problem at all. In fact it got worse and to a point where the shutter wouldn't releas at all.

I took it to a repair shop and asked about it... turns out a new shutter was about 200 Euro just for the parts so the decision to NOT leave it there was an easy one. The repair however man told me what's wrong: With this model - as with some others - the shutter disintegrates because the rubber stoppers will age and turn into tar pretty much. So the hot day at the zoo added to the problem. Since it couldn't possibly get any worse, I decided to try to fix it myself.

A bucket of 1mm and 2mm screws later I found out that - in order to gain access to the shutter - you had to remove some of the soldered on flexprints, mainly from the battery terminals but also some of the soldered together flexprints in order to "unwrap" the mirror part at least to a point where I could take a peek at the shutter. Took me four hours to finally hold that central part in my hands, with all the tangled up flexprints still attached!

Up next I actually took apart the shutter - yes, I didn't remove the individual slides but I did bend them a bit to use a q-tip with some cleaning fluid on them and that implied taking everything else that is part of the shutter apart: some spacers and the cover. Here is where I found the drop of tar that once was a piece of rubber. Needless to say I had to replace that with something... and I found a piece of hifi speaker wiring that had a rubbery insulation. Cut a piece off from it, shaped it with a scalpel and put it in. Perfect fit, the shutter moved and everything seemed fine so I rebuilt the camera....

...just to find out that it didn't work at all. The shutter STILL was stuck. Unscrew (and un-solder) again and find that there are two more rubbery-buffers that haven't completely gone yet. So I decided to apply some talk to them and indeed, the shutter didn't stick a bit anymore. Rebuild again....

...and still no luck. At that point I decided to call it a day. But today came and I just couldn't quit now, could I? I took another look at the shutter/mirror mechanics and found out that when I removed the shutter from the mirror pack, I accidentally "tripped" it and it didn't lign up with the "loading" mechanics that would wind up the springs of the shutter. So I fixed that and aaaaagain: screws, solder, screws... AND THE SHUTTER NOW WORKS!

But now there is some collateral damage to be fixed. I actually managed to snap off two smaller flexprints in the process and one of them seems to cause the flash not to load anymore - at least it was connected to the high-voltage print and I was sure I soldered it back on... must have fallen off again during assembly.

The second issue is that the gearbox doesn't seem to drive the film winder anymore. I need to take a look at that, probably there's a gear out of place again - that happened with the mirror release before.

But still, it looks as if I actually might recover that camera... now where does this left over screw go to???

Picture: the origami I was talking about



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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
c_eagle
May. 12th, 2012 09:20 am (UTC)
I'm kinda shocked.. in several ways....
I'm so glad you were able to fix it!

Then again, I'm saddened when things assumed to be high quality, especially from Canon this time, could disintegrate without abuse.
I'm a really big fan of things built to last, and I've seen a few cameras that had bad design flaws, but I wouldn't have expected it from Canon.

My original Nikon F has only had to be in the shop one time really, since my dad got it in the early 1960s!

Congrats though :>
atkelar
May. 12th, 2012 10:05 am (UTC)
Thanks!

I also was a bit irritated when I learned that this thing happens with some of the models... then again, soft plastic - i.e. anything that's "rubbery" - will age because it requires certain chemicals which will ooze out eventually. Also my room is not the "coolest" one in the house so I bet that added to the speed in which it disintegrated. Anyhow, I'm going to develop that test film soon to see if it just clicks or actually works ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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