Getting Your Gear Serviced

When the weather is cold and brides simply don’t want a 15-degree wedding, most photographers find their bookings start to slow. While we are currently in said slow season, we have a suggestion for you that will get you prepared for when things pick up again: Get your camera serviced.

Nothing is better than hitting the pavement running, knowing all your camera gear is working and up to par. We recommend getting all of your gear serviced at least once a year. We’re talking body, inserts/backs, lenses – the whole kit. These film cameras we are using can be decades old and even if nothing is wrong with it, a good cleaning will be worth it in the end. Cleaning and servicing your camera should be a preventative step, but here are some examples for when you know you have a camera malfunction.

Light leak – Light leaks are caused by light passing through cracks in your camera when your film back is not closing as tightly as it should.

Lenny Kaholo | Cinestill 800T +2 | Nikonos V + 80mm

Shutter issues – Your shutter curtain may being wearing out. Typically, many of the frames on the roll will have this same issue when shutter speeds are faster than a certain speed, but that’s not always the case.

Belinda Olsen | Ektar 100 | Mamiya 645 Pro TL

Tension issues – Are you getting a tilt-shift effect and you’re not using a TS lens? This means there are tension issues, either with the tension plate on your insert or when advancing the roll.

Stephanie Hunter | Fuji 400H | Contax 645

Scratches – Sometimes dust or dirt can lodge its way in to cause scratches, but other times it’s a piece of equipment that has misaligned itself and is literally scratching the emulsion off the film to reveal the cyan layer.

Jillian Gorman | Portra 400 | Contax 645

Fungus or Haze – Fungus and haze grow in hot, humid climates when lenses aren’t stored properly. If all your images are coming out with a hazy look, remove your camera from your lens and turn down the light. Shine a light through and you’ll be able to see soft fuzzy spots if it’s fungus or an oily surface if it’s haze. If the fungus is so bad that it’s eaten away your lens coating, sometimes it’s beyond repair.

Justin Brown | Mark iii + 50mm 1.2

Katie Nesbitt | Portra 400 | Canon AE-1

Most of these issues can be fixed without a hitch and we can help point you in the right direction to do so. Here are a few places we would recommend:

Steve Kews of Kew’s in Provo, UT.

Bill Moretz of Pro Camera in Charlottesville, VA.

Rollei Repairs by Harry Fleenor in Manhattan Beach, CA.

This is also a great time to get a bright screen if you were considering it. Bill Maxwell of Maxwell Precision Optics will give you a brighter view screen to help you see a brighter images in your view finder.

Sending your camera in can be like losing a limb, so plan accordingly. Think through whether you want to send in your work horse and then your back up, or both in at the same time. Also make sure you keep open communication with your repair person to take out the guess work and get your camera back faster.