I am again starting to service and repair (and of course use!) Minolta SR, SRT, XE (perhaps also XD) and definitely my old favourite, the XK/XM/X1 cameras as well as the screw-thread Leitz and since recently, the Leica R3 and R4 cameras (similar mechanics to the XE and XD Minoltas).
I shall be doing the normal cleaning, servicing and replacing light-gaskets, lubricating and other small adjustments as well as replacing cloth shutters and the like, + returning cameras generally from the dead. Problems with prisms and viewfinders, fog, mist and dirt and separation I will also have a go at, though the latter is not always possible without an ‘exchange’ prism.
Here is an SRT 303b I recently obtained for some parts, which turned out to be a bit of a lemon with a huge bash on the corner which caused even parts of the prism to chip off! Luckily, that is not what I needed to repair the broken one that I had 🙂
I keep a modest amount of spares (i.e. dead cameras to gut!) and will only charge for actual work done and the parts that I use. I don’t always have the part in stock, so to speak, so might have to buy another similar camera to slaughter, but that is part of the rules of the game.
I don’t have any experience with many other cameras (except maybe some of the Russian Leica copies and imitators) and so will stay with the ones I like working on and using. To be honest, I would be using the Leicas more, if it were not for the horrendous price of lenses – and sometimes without any advantage over the sheer quality of the more financially accessible Minolta glass (with a few exceptions, of course!). Many of the lenses in the SLR era that I play with, the cooperation between Leica and Minolta was at a high, and quite a lot of the lenses are actually optically identical, even if the Cameras do have their differences – primarily in the electronics.
Tinkering with these models is still great fun and very rewarding, as is using them, of course – at least as much as ‘back then’, if slightly more difficult to get decent film and proper development and printing. Personally, for colour prints, the Kodak Portra 160 and 400 cannot be beaten for natural colour rendition and fine grain. I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the Portra 800 ASA, but I daresay that will come. I am still looking for a ‘lab’ that will scan my negatives at an adequate resolution…
For Black and White, I am all at sea. Do I look for something like the old Ilford film I loved and self-develop (back then using ‘Emofin’ for fine grain!) or go for a C-41 developed ‘hybrid’? I have no idea. I haven’t done any real B&W photography for years and am really missing it. 🙁
FLASH, I hear you say? Only do repairs on Leica bulb-flash-units made of metal, which are the ones I still use myself.