Most online resellers of analogue cameras today check their cameras by firing the shutter and visually seeing if it looks fine. To ensure that the cameras you buy from us will be a good experience to use, we, at our office in Tampere, Finland, check all cameras to professional standards using professional machines built for the purpose. If something isn’t up to spec we either fix it or if it’s minor, state the problem in the online listing. The cameras that are beyond repair, we store for use as spare parts.
First, we test that the buttons and levers operate as they should, that the camera winds properly and that functions such as the self timer and flash sync work properly. Additionally, mechanical functions on lenses, such as focus, zoom and the diaphragm move smoothly and without resistance.
The shutter speeds are checked using machines like the one in the picture. These tell us exactly how accurate the shutter is and how well it operates by accurately measuring the light coming through. By firing it repeatedly on several different shutter speeds, we also learn if the accuracy holds up over several exposures and on all the shutter speeds. If, for example, only the fastest shutter speed is slow, the item is noted as such in the description online so that the buyer knows about it. If a shutter, overall, is outside the industry standard tolerances (about 25% +/- deviation), the camera is put in the repair queue.
Light meters and Automatic Exposure (AE) testing
As with shutter speeds, light meters can also fall out of adjustment. This is particularly important for AE cameras because the camera has full control over exposure. Therefore, these are also tested with a similar machine that reads the amount of light coming through the camera.
Rangefinder alignment and infinity focusing
Next we test that the focus. On a rangefinder we check if it’s properly aligned by focusing it on a target in a special tube that simulates ‘infinity’ (extreme distance). If it is out of alignment the rangefinder is adjusted so that what is in focus on the rangefinder is actually in focus on the image. A similar procedure is done on lenses for all types of cameras to make sure they focus properly to infinity.
Light seals, on most models, are small strips of black foam that ensure that your camera is light tight. Most cameras that haven’t had their light seals replaced in the last 10 years have crumbling, sticky light seals that will, at some point, let light pass through and ruin your pictures. We check these and make sure they are in good condition before we sell the camera.
Checking lens optics
For a lens to take a good, contrasty and sharp picture its glass surfaces need to be clear of defects. While a tiny bit of dust and some small scratches have little impact, the quality of your pictures can be impacted by haze, fungus and major dust. Shining a strong light through all our lenses reveals any defects and allows us to judge if something will affect image quality. If a lens doesn’t pass the test, it’s either sent for cleaning, or if irreparable, is saved for spare parts.
Once we are satisfied that the item is in good condition and can be sold, it is cleaned well from sand, dust and grime to make sure the buyer has a nice experience receiving the item.