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Repair: Testing and Cleaning Junk Cameras (Nikon FE2)

Hello, everybody! How are you today? I got 2 days off from my work so I have a little bit of time for myself and my family. I used my free time to clean and work on some of my new junk acquisitions. I have been getting questions and requests to do a series on this and so I took the time to make on this morning. I hope that you will like this.

Introduction:

Many of my readers are also in the same habit of “recycling” old and junk gear. This is a very good habit because you are not only saving money by buying used/junk gear but it’s also sustainable. Old or junk doesn’t always mean bad; in fact, with the right techniques you can restore these back to decent operation! This is what I do with my junk cameras.

IMG_55662Our specimen for this article is going to be the amazing Nikon FE2 camera. If you look at the picture-in-picture, you will see that the camera is filthy! I don’t know what these are but they look like some fungi/dust to me. It has scratches here and there but no big dings that are serious enough to prevent the camera from operating properly. The 6000 yen tag is not cheap by Japanese standards when it comes to junk cameras of this kind but I got it from a brick-and-mortar shop so I’m OK with this. They need to pay the rent and salaries, too! Buying from online sellers is generally cheaper because the overhead is cheaper.

Buying from a real shop is also better when it comes to cameras because you will have to check its operations thoroughly and there are many things to check! Manual lenses are a lot easier because all you need to see is the condition of the glass and also check the state of the manual controls like the aperture ring, focusing ring and the zoom ring. Cosmetic condition can easily be judged from the pictures uploaded online in the ad.

Having mentioned all of the above, you will also need some common sense if you really want to get into this because this is basically like gambling in a way in the sense that it involves considerable risks. Unlike gambling, the risks are not as high if you are dealing with an honest seller. Determining wether a seller is a cheat or not is out of the scope of this article and it is something best learned through experience.

Before I bore you with philosophical non-sense and gibberish, let’s now begin with our article! Wait, hold on. I will have a shot of “Bombay” first to help me get into the mood.

Before We Begin:

If this is the first attempt at opening a lens then I suggest that you read my previous posts regarding screws & driversgrease and other things. Also read regarding the tools that you will need in order to fix your Nikkors.

I highly suggest that you read these primers before you begin (for beginners):

Reading these primers should lessen the chance of ruining your lens if you are a beginner. Also before opening up any lens, always look for other people who have done so in Youtube and the internet. Information is scarce, vague and scattered (that is why I started this) but you can still find some information if you search carefully.

I highly recommend that you also read my working with helicoids post because this is very important and getting it wrong can ruin your day. If I can force you to read this, I would. It is that important!

For more advanced topics, you can read my fungus removal post as a start. This post has a lot of useful information here and there and it will be beneficial for you to read this.

About Me:

I am a photographer based in Tokyo who scours the junk section of the camera shops here on a regular basis. I started this hobby of fixing old lenses and cameras because I kept on getting scammed before when I purchase online. This turned out to be a blessing because I now buy junk lenses for a fraction of the price and then fix them to add to my growing now collection. This allowed me to buy gear that were otherwise off-limits to me if I were to get them in better condition.

I was a scale modeller before who built models for other collectors for a very longtime, got an education as a dental prosthodontist (but didn’t pursue dentistry) and growing up in a watch repair shop gave me the useful skills that would help me in this craft. Fixing my car also contributed some know-how.

Having mentioned the above, I will tell you now that I am not a professional repairman! So please take what I do with a grain of salt and I will never be held responsible for anything wrong that will happen to you and your project. I hope that the pros would guide and teach us but nobody is writing anything.

As my collection of repair notes grew, I get requests from people with similar interests and from professionals who just needed some notes just in case. Now, I am sharing my library with you for your entertainment and reference. I hope that you find my work useful.

Testing and Cleaning:

The first thing that you will want to do is test the camera at the shop before you purchase it or in the case of an online purchase, as soon as you got the item. There are many things that you should consider. These variables will depend on the model, state, age and brand of the camera but for the Nikon FE2, we will only focus on the important aspects of this camera. It has some known problems like FRE failure and the delicate shutter curtains getting damaged by a careless poke from a finger but this is generally a tough camera.

I forgot to mention in the video but you will have to test the camera’s meter. Use a good set of batteries and then see if the needle is responding to changes in lighting conditions or when you change the lens’ aperture or the camera’s shutter speed and ISO dial. If it is moving and the needle is not erratic at all then you can safely say that the light meter has passed the first test. The next test would be to check for the meter’s accuracy and with a 35mm or a 50mm lens mounted to the camera, get some meter readings from a couple of lighting scenarios. Remember the values and with a hand-held meter or a camera with a good meter, check and see if the readings are close. It should be within 1/2 stop’s worth of difference because you will need to take into account the different technologies used on the meters, the view coverage of the meters and other small things like TTL. If you are convinced that the readings are reasonably accurate then the meter has passed the test!

Here is another video and we are just picking up from where we left. I forgot to mention that you will want to give the camera a good sniffing,too! If the previous owner smokes like a chimney then your camera will stink of nicotine. If he spent plenty of time in the discotheques then it will smell of Drakkar Noir. Smelling a camera will tell you plenty of things. In fact, if it has a serious case of fungi inside of it then it will smell of old cheese or the stench of an old Holy Bible or phone directory. My Nikon FE2 smell of old furniture (the camera back) and I will take care of it in the future after I shot a roll. I would slather some wood glue on the rubber parts and let it dry. After a day of curing, you can peel off the glue with your fingers. There will be times when the smell would go away and there are also times when you are left with a hint of the “old camera aroma”. That trick with the wood glue (white glue) is also handy for removing fine dirt. You will find yellowish or brownish stains on the peeled glue and this is probably residual sweat from the previous owner. The wood glue trick is not what I would advocate universally because there are risks associated with using it so use your common sense to judge where and when to use this trick. I will not be held responsible for any damage to your camera!

Here is the last video. The camera is visibly a lot cleaner than when we started! Just look at the opening picture and compare it with what you see now! I can sell this online on an auction site for almost 2x the price if I wanted to! Do you feel good seeing it this clean?

Conclusion:

I hope that you have picked up some useful things with this article. If you guys are happy with reading commentaries along with some pictures then I apologize. A video is going to be easier for me to do and some of the mechanical things just have to be seen working on a video to make sense. I was speaking softly on the video so please bear with me.

IMG_5572Here it is now with my Nikon FM! These 2 cameras were part of my kit today and I think that they complement each other very well. The Nikon FE2 looks gorgeous and nobody’ll think that I got this literally from a junk box! Money saved is money earned.

Thank you guys for supporting my blog! If you guys liked this, please share this to your friends over at social media or mail this to a friend! My goal is to have 30,000 views per month by the end of this year. We are currently sitting at around 13-18k views and I was told that it isn’t shabby at all for a small blog but I want it to be better! I will do a similar article next time on lenses so please check my blog again to see that. Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my paypal.com account (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

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