Who doesn’t love film photography? Its appeal continues to endure and I regularly find myself slipping a film camera into my bag for casual shoots, just in case.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of developing no less than three rolls from my 35mm Olympus OM10 and my medium format Yashica-Mat 124G.
This wasn’t solely for pleasure though. I have been eager to see the results from the Olympus because, in short, I suspect that somewhere down the line I broke it.
When I first acquired the camera I shot a roll and immediately fell in love with it. The OM10 is built like a tank, simple to use and just about the best introduction to 35mm film photography that you could ask for.
But I was disappointed to see that almost every photograph suffered from light leaks. Not to be put off and inspired by clips on YouTube, I set about on a DIY repair job.
I removed the old, gunky foam seals and carefully replaced them – which is an extremely fiddly task that requires a steady hand and good deal of patience. Pleased with the result I decided to take things further and give the whole camera a good clean.
Replacing one problem for another
And this is where things went wrong.
Full of misplaced confidence, I thought I would clean the focusing screen. This means getting into the heart of the camera and handling tiny and extremely sensitive parts.
Removing it was tricky enough but I was satisfied that I didn’t do any damage and set about carefully cleaning it.
I then put everything back but, unknown to me, I must have replaced it incorrectly. And by this I mean it must have been sitting out of place by a millimetre – this is the kind of margin of error you are dealing with.
When I developed the next roll I was delighted to see that the light leaks were no more, but instead I had replaced it with a far more serious problem: every single photo was out of focus.
Refusing to admit defeat and determined to give one last go of correcting my own mistake I took the OM10 apart once more and went about replacing the focusing screen again, this time using slightly more force than I would have liked.
Three test rolls of film later...
I completed a roll of Kodak Ektar in January and the had the film developed last month. I’ve never been more nervous about seeing the results.
But I am delighted to report that everything is working fine once again! No light leaks and all perfectly focused.
Why go to so much trouble you may well ask? After all, a used OM10 on eBay can be bought for around £50 these days.
Well when I said that I “acquired” the camera what I neglected to say was that it was my father’s. It was the camera that he used to take family photos with for two decades. The camera I vividly remember being in front of hundreds of times for holiday snaps. The first camera I ever recall holding and winding on.
Call it sentimentality or just plain pride but I couldn’t have it break on my watch after all these years of loyal and faultless service. I am delighted that the OM10 works again but more important than that is knowing that the legacy of this simple, cheap camera which holds so many precious memories continues to live. And that is why I love film photography.