Buying a used film SLR – Suggestions –

Hey, so I haven’t blogged in like forever, but I was just ten minutes ago feeling the restrictions of the interwebs and I thought to myself, I wish I had a platform where I could post pictures and words together in unlimited space and Facebook not have the rights to it… and I remembered I own a dot-com.  Whoop.  It’s like finding money in your coat pocket, except not as useful.

So here goes.
Jarbon supermix 005 Jarbon supermix 006 Jarbon supermix 007

You just bought a film camera off the Bay, imagine, and when it turns up its less than perfect so you rush to tell the seller you hate him, but wait. All it needs is some TLC.  So take the lens off, and the neck/wrist strap and take the batteries out of the battery compartment and throw them away, unless the seller told you they were new.

Get a duster and lay the camera on it and assess it.  First thing you might check is the leathers.  Not only do these go wrong over time, but they are easy to replace, fun to replace and they make the camera look brand new.  The picture here shows the Minolta leathers have shrunk away from the rim around them – that’s kinda what Minolta leathers do.  So you’re gonna want to check out Rikuo’s website or Morgan’s.  Buy a leather kit and then strip off the old leather which comes away easy.

Now the next picture shows how your light seals might look – basically like a coal miner has sneezed them up.  You basically soak them with lighter fluid with a paintbrush, then use a wooden BBQ skewer with a flat edge that you sharpen yourself, to scratch them off.  Take care here, keep some baby wipes and Q-tips to hand and make sure the miner-snot comes out, and doesn’t drop in.  I think it’s okay to gouge pretty hard, but when stuff drops on your mirror Jarbon supermix 008or viewfinder or shutter curtain you take it out piece by piece carefully.  You gradually soak and remove all the bad stuff like this and if alternatively it looks like nice springy black foam leave it be, someone has already replaced it

Now you ideally need some black foam, but I’ve seen all sorts of household stuff used, like black wool, string, bits of black felt, soft black fabric or rubber.  The foam costs about £3.50 a sheet off ebay though.  Camera will look a bit like this now (below)- be warned with this specific model you’ll need to take the self timer off before you fit the new leather but that’s pretty easy.Jarbon supermix 010Replace the bits of foam which you stripped off, around the door.  Actually, just do the strip along the door hinge where it meets the body, that’s the only bit I redo and I’ve never had a light photo times 002leak.  So you’ve found some black felt and done it with some PVA glue, took five minutes right?  Now the hard bit.

The inside of your camera, behind the lens needs to be amazeballs-clean.  So what you can see in the picture here has a dampener of foam around it, if its sticky you need to replace it with tiny strips of the same black felt. Meh, its not easy.  Keep checking the viewfinder as you go to make sure you’re not obscuring the clear view.  But what is important it needs to look as clean as mine, ahem, yep mines pretty clean and now it has its yellow leather on from Rikuo!! And since my Minolta has film in it now here’s a picture photo times 007of my Ricoh with some new strips of foam on the backdoor, but its overkill really you only need to worry about the hinge strip.

I think the next job is to get a pencil with a clean eraser on the end and give the battery compartment a rub to remove any grease and nasty bits.  Use a Q-tip and some camera cleaning fluid (buy on ebay) to clean the mirror and any fragile parts.  Then I get some baby wipes and wipe down the whole camera, apart from the fragile bits.

photo times 004

So your camera has new leather, new light seals, an internal clean and an external clean.  Avoid using brasso or polish on the steel because it gunks up the dials.  Baby wipes are pretty good at getting it shiny.  Fit your new battery and a film and you’re ready to go.  However if its newly bought off the Bay you might want to check the dials all work before the film goes in.  A fresh battery should get your light meter working, check it against your digital camera.  Shoot a few frames with the back door open and no film in so you can see the curtain opening and the mirror flipping, then adjust the shutter speed and look for the difference.  Lastly check the aperture blades on your lens.  Its a real pain to clean inside a lens, although its possible.  Hopefully your blades are free of oil and smudges and move easily.  Just use a lens cleaning cloth to buff up the glass and then attach it to the camera.  finally get back on eBay and buy the right skylight/UV filter for the end of the lens, and maybe a leather case so your camera is well protected.  Now you’re ready to shoot with film, ask any questions below.





2 thoughts on “Buying a used film SLR – Suggestions –

    • Whoo I love it Alan, spent far too much this year, but thats it now, my collection is complete, for now. I have a sample of the cameras I love. And I found that I love a specific genre – 35mm SLRs from the 1970s, mainly Japanese. I think eBay is brilliant, but mainly for the random things you never knew you wanted, when you want something specific it can be a pain.

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