How to Revive and Give New Life to Old Film Cameras

Film photography has made a comeback! Some would argue that just like Dre, its been here the whole time. But over the past few years, the aesthetic and cache of film photography has made a strong presence in the zeitgeist of contemporary digital photography. In this entertaining short film by Maison Carnot called "Disassembly," we see how to take an old non-functioning film camera and bring it back to life through a complete disassembly and repurposing of the old gear.

The video itself is very well done, and even those not looking to actually take on the daunting task of taking apart every element of a film camera's lens and body, will find it interesting and educational. Being a professional photographer and full time photography professor, I am surrounded by film and digital cameras every day and I have never seen anything like this. Seeing the camera and lens completely taken apart is equally demystifying and intimidating. I think anyone coming into photography as either a hobby or profession, can find value in this video. I don't believe anyone will find me in a dark room with a blindfold mechanically disassembling and reassembling my photography gear, but I definitely find this video enlightening.

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13 Comments

My first thought was: "Well that's a sure way of not remembering where what went and in what order...".

Then the final product appeared... worth it (if the camera doesn't have any spare parts anymore.)

Interesting video, but as long as my film cameras still work and film is available, I just can't do that. My first 35mm SLR, the Canon A-1, is 35 years old and still works. The F-1N that I bought used is built like a tank. If it's repairable, I'll fix it. I've been thinking of getting a non-functioning F-1N to use at work as a paper weight.

Check flea markets and garage sale.

My friend pickup an Olympus rangefinder for 2$CAD. Still works and everything.

You'll have to pry my Pentax K-1000 out of my cold dead hands to take it apart. I'm fairly certain it is older than me. It makes a curious noise on certain exposure times but it works so I'm going to leave it alone. However, my ex husband left behind his Minolta that has an issue somewhere between the shutter and advancing the film. I wouldn't mind taking it apart, I didn't pay anything for the camera and it's basically decorating a bookshelf.

Brandon Ericksen's picture

Hmm I'm pretty happy with my EOS 1N if it broke however I'd get it professionally fixed *laughs*

I picked one up for $80. I don't think you can break them.

Brandon Ericksen's picture

Paid a cool C note for mine. My photography teacher at the time was amazed how cheap they are now, he wanted one for years. I eyed the EOS 1V but realized I would pretty much only use it for landscapes and portraits, with my manual lenses, so went with the N.

I shot weddings with four of them, at over $1k each. But now I have over a dozen of Canon's finest lenses for it.

Tam Nguyen's picture

That looks like it would take me days to finish ha!

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

Now let's put it all back together...

Tom Lew's picture

Totes thought he was going to clean it and put it back together. What a twist!

Jeff Colburn's picture

Taking a camera apart, no problem. Putting it back together, no way. It's a good video, and entertaining. Interestingly, this is the third article I've seen this month that is saying that film is coming back. This makes me feel good. I shot film for 30 years before going digital, and I do miss film. A friend in Australia said the pro photographers there are dumping their digital cameras in droves and going back to film. I would love to see film make a big comeback.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Having worked in a camera repair shop I saw this happening daily.
However, the smarter repair person does not do a complete disassembly, not needed is the answer.
You repair, clean, and lubricate as needed. And most cameras are made in modular components. You remove the modules as needed.
But it is amazing to watch a skilled repairman put together a camera he has never seen.
The most skilled of the service people where I worked received a Leica that had been dismantled. The person who dismantled it had gone home that night and died.
The owner was desperate to have it rebuilt.
The camera came, in a box of all the items on the repair desk, the service person at the shop where I Worked at poked through the parts, announced that there was enough to work with, made new shutter curtains and had the camera working the next day.