UPDATE (13/01/2022) : the Paris workshop is closed for now after successful operation for more than 6 months. This is to give the opportunity to test the concept in Barcelona.
Hello Camera Rescue people!
We think the analog community has suffered enough with irregularly working cameras. It is one thing to buy a camera for a few coins in a thrift store and find out it doesn’t actually produce photos the way you want by shooting a few rolls of film, and a whole another thing buying a camera for hundreds on an online marketplace and the same thing happens.
That is why we are slowly starting to roll out testing services. Because the actual problem is not that there are bandits online lurking to make a quick buck or that the cameras are old and failing because of unuse or too much use, the problem is that there is no adequate testing machines accessible to all the community. I think everyone has understood the importance of accurate testing in the last year worldwide and the security it gives you. With testing machines widely available – you could trust the cameras you buy.
The issue is that film camera testing machines are not widely available. Actually they are not available at all. The biggest and longest standing testing machinery manufacturer in Japan sold their last ever unit to us in 2020. And even that machine had been manufactured already a decade earlier, they just happened to still have one in stock.
So, is it just grim news?
Well no. We want to explore the possibility of doing testing as a service. We have enough old machines for three well equipped testing locations at the moment. Two locations have been setup in Finland for years – Helsinki and Tampere – but the third has waited its launch patently.
So for the Summer of 2021, we are setting up a Camera Rescue Testing Center in the middle of Paris. It is the most central location we could think of for photography in Europe, nested in between Louvre and Centre Pompidou and just next to the central Les Halles train junction. During June and July of 2021 the center there will be exploring if parisians are willing to have their film camera tested. The center will work locally for now, as we are dont want it to overflow with requests and packages from all over Europe.
When would one want to have their camera tested?
For this I would refer to car ownership. When do you actually have your car tested?
When you are buying a new car and want to make sure of what you get.
When you are selling your old car, you know its good and want to get the best price for it by proving it is good.
Or when you think something might be wrong and you want to know what.
For safety reasons most countries have also mandatory yearly checkups on cars, but unless you are really precise in your exposures and/or a professional that wants to be ready for all situations, a yearly checking of cameras might be a thing of the past.
And just like cars, a testing certificate will be the key to convey the results. Who would buy a car that hasn’t passed its last safety test?
What do you test that I cannot do at home?
To learn more about testing camera accurately, there is a full article of the 5 levels of shutter and lightmeter testing here. To summarize, you can do 2 of the 5 levels at home or 3 if you have bought a basic shutter speed tester. The last two require a machine that used to cost tens of thousands back in the day. Now such machines can be found every now and then – but calibrating them and finding spare parts has its challenges.
So if you are in Paris (or planning to pass by) during this summer, come and meet our French team, and give your beloved camera some love by making sure everything is working as it should be. There’s a Nation Photo lab and shop just below our testing center where you can drop your film and get some more. And ofcourse, even if testing and certificates are the main thing of this location, you can always sell your gear to us through it too.
More information available in French at camerarescue.org/FR