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Film Camera Maintenance

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 11 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Film Analogue Camera Maintenance

The number of photographers who continue to exclusively use film cameras is continuing to fall. This is due in part to the increased convenience and lower costs of digital storage, and is partly as a result of the perceived complexities of film cameras. One of the ways in which analogue photography is deemed to be complex is the maintenance of the camera; there is a common misconception that digital cameras require little or no maintenance. While this is far from the truth, it is certainly the case that good maintenance of film cameras is necessary to ensure images of optimum quality and longevity of your equipment.

Mechanical Parts

Film cameras, by definition, have considerably more moving parts than their digital equivalent. This can make maintenance a difficult task, as the working of the camera itself relies on each of these mechanical elements performing their function smoothly. A number of these parts, however, will simply wear out over time. While efficient maintenance can increase their usage, it is highly likely that at some point in your camera's lifetime you may have to replace a non-repairable part such as the film loading spool or the internal mechanism of the wind-on arm. If a part becomes stuck, it is very important that you do not force it. Instead, it is generally best to take the camera to a good repair shop and have them perform the job professionally.

There are, however, a number of important cleaning and maintenance tasks that you can perform yourself. A vital investment for any photographer is a good cleaning kit. These are very cheap, and will generally consist of at least a blow-brush, cloth and cleaning fluid. These are multi-purpose tools; all three should be used to keep your lenses clean, while the blow-brush can be used to remove dust particles from the camera body.

When cleaning lenses, you should remove dust particles with the blow-brush frequently. In addition, you should regularly clean the glass surfaces with cleaning fluid and a dust-free lens cloth. You should place the fluid on the cloth, rather than directly onto the lens, and clean the glass in a circular motion. Ensure that you do not leave excess fluid on the lens, as this will cloud your images.

Film Maintenance

It is also important that your film is stored in a suitable way. Film should never be exposed to heat or direct sunlight, even in its case. Rather, where possible you should keep film in a refrigerator. This helps to ensure that the colours remain accurate and the film itself does not warp. When you have finished a roll of film, it is important that you do not attempt to continue to roll it on. This can snap the film in the camera or, perhaps more worryingly, can snap the wind-on mechanism. Finally, you should always ensure that the film is wound completely back into the canister before opening the camera back. If you fail to do this, you are likely to expose the film to light and destroy your images.

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