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COMMON

CAMERA
REPAIR TIPS

Courtesy of UserFriendlyCDs

GENERAL TOPICS
I Decision To Fix Your Camera
II Un-jamming a Jammed Camera
III Things NEVER to do
IV Tools needed to fix cameras (and lens)
V Acquiring Camera parts
VI Common camera problems

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I. Decision To Fix Your Camera
If you have never repaired cameras before, the answer is: No, if the
camera is expensive and you need 100% reliability.
Yes, if the camera is not worth sending to a shop and the camera is
useless otherwise.
The rest of this document will address the latter situation. Cameras
that have been salt-water damaged are generally beyond repair. You
may find that you can get a shop to work on one if you agree to pay for
their attempt with no guarantee of success. Repair shops and
technicians charge $50 if you're very lucky and the problem is very
minor, but more realistically, the cost will be $100 and up to repair
most cameras.
If your camera isn't worth this expense, then an alternative may be to
try to fix it yourself. After all, that's why you're reading this, right? :-)

II. Un-jamming a jammed camera (the shutter


won't release and the film won't advance).

IIa. Un-jamming a jammed electronic camera


- Check the battery contacts and the batteries. If mercury batteries are
specified, use them, not alkaline or lithium (these batteries give lower
voltages and will affect your camera's meter accuracy). There are
alternative solutions to mercury batteries which are generally not
available due to their mercury content and U.S. laws.
- Try resetting the camera by taking the batteries out for several
minutes
to several hours or more and putting them back in.
- Verify that you aren't at the end of a roll of film.
- Press the rewind button and rewind the film into the cartridge. You
will be able to save your film, and hopefully, the camera may un-jam.
- If the jam is caused by an electronic problem (either weak batteries
or something else), you might unjam the shutter by switching it to a
manual (non-electronic) speed (i.e., M90 on the Nikon FE, 1/60 on the
Olympus OM-2 and OM-4).

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IIb. Mechanical cameras
- Slam the camera down moderately hard onto the palm of your
hand. (It works with some cameras!)
- On other cameras, very gently pulling up on the mirror (to move it
toward the closed, upright position) while applying gentle pressure
on the film advance lever.
- Setting off the self-timer may work.
- If all else fails, remove the bottom plate of the camera and see if
you can trip the shutter or unlock the film advance. Don't force
anything; you're looking for a latch that is just on the verge of
tripping.

III. Things NEVER To Do


- Never force anything; parts are easy to break. If something looks
like it should unscrew, but won't come off, it may be left-hand
threaded.
- Never use tools (pliers, screwdrivers, etc.) that are not suited to
the job.
If you use unsuitable tools, you will leave tool marks on the camera
or do severe damage to the camera! If you strip the head of a
Phillips screw, you will probably never get it out! Use a screwdriver
that fits very well, or make one by re-grinding as needed.
- Never spray or squirt lubricants or cleaning solutions into a camera
or a lens. Use liquids only when you can control where they are
going. The correct way to apply oil is with a toothpick, needle or pin.
- Never disassemble a mechanism if you're not sure you can get it
back together.

IV. Tools Needed to Fix Cameras (and Lens)


A lens or camera toolkit may contain the following: A good set of
jeweler type Phillips screw drivers (they come assorted, 4 to 8 in a
small box in

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most hardware stores), cross-x screwdrivers (some screws are cross-x
and not Phillips!), a small set of flat blade screwdrivers (less often
needed), a good pair of tweezers - Dumont #7's (practically the industry
standard), a small pair of pliers, a small pair of needle nosed pliers, a
small spanner, a small wire-cutter and a good magnifying glass (or
jeweler's eye piece). In addition, a box of lint free wipes, lint-free cloth
(see Lens Cleaning below), some cotton-tipped swabs (wooden shafts, if
possible), a container of denatured alcohol [or residual free lighter fluid,
automotive carburetor cleaner, electrical cleaner, ROR (Residual Oil
Remover - The Best!) The key is to make sure that you get a cleaner
that will not leave any residue when it dries!], powdered graphite, very
light oil (preferably jeweler's watch oil or sewing machine oil!), wooden
toothpicks, a film developing tray (or any 12" X 12" container with short
sided walls to work over/in so as not to lose those invaluable
screws/springs, etc. which have a tendency to fall off the camera/lens
that you're working on!), whiteout or white paint (to mark the position
of screws/lens/parts, that are removed or changed), Window cleaner and
a can of air or CO2 are invaluable. Plus, a magnet to magnetize the
screwdriver will make a big difference.

V. Acquiring Camera Parts


From the manufacturer; from suppliers locally or on the internet; and
from junked cameras. By far the cheapest way to get common parts such
as screws, etc. is to collect junked cameras (which people will sometimes
give you for free). If your camera is 10 years or older, most likely the
only way you can get replacement parts is thru the purchase of another
camera of the same make and model and stripping the parts from that
camera.

VI. Common Camera Problems


VIa. Electronic Problems
Sometimes all that's wrong is that one wire is broken, a printed circuit
board is cracked, or the edge connector that joins two printed circuit
boards is making poor contact. The edge connector is the easiest to fix:
just undo it, clean the contacts, and reassemble. If you are good at
miniature soldering, cracked boards and broken wires are easy to fix
using standard techniques.

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VIb. Corroded Batteries

If you're lucky, the damage is confined to the battery compartment


and all you'll have to do is clean contacts. Use a liquid contact
cleaner if possible, applying it with a cotton swab, foam pad, or eye
dropper, and then wiping it off. Abrasive cleaning methods (wire
brush, sandpaper, etc.) work, but the surface is likely to tarnish
again soon. Do NOT let liquids or dust get into unknown parts of
the camera.
VIc. Dust on the Upper Side of the Focusing Screen

Remove the top cover and see if you can use compressed air to blow
it away.

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