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04-01-2024, 01:20 AM - 16 Likes   #1
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Not all service engineers are created equal

When I started my film journey I was shooting with a spotmatic but dreamed of an MX. Thanks to eBay, that dream soon became a reality as I handed over my 43 and took delivery of a really nice silver model. All seemed fine bar the fact that it hated the cold and wouldn't shoot when the temperature dropped below 5c.So I did my research and selected an engineer with great Pentax credentials. 135 for a service seemed a lot but it is what it is. When the camera came back it wasn't noticeably different but to be fair, it was pretty good when it went away. The cold issues persisted so it went back. It was never resolved but I just assumed it was one of those things. Twelve months later it started capping! I contacted the engineer who said it wasn't part of the service and would cost a further 75 so it got dispatched to the back of a cupboard in disgrace and was replaced buy a very good KX that I paid 25 for. Twelve months down the line, I now had several nice cameras, but it still annoyed me that my most expensive one was unusable. I decided to bite the bullet, then I saw an advert on eBay of all places for an MX service for 67.99. I contacted the guy and told him what had gone before. He said he replaces all foam and resets the camera, including the shutter as part of the service. I had fallen out of love with the camera so didn't see it as much of a gamble so I sent it off. A couple of days later he called me to tell me that in his opinion it looked like nothing had been done to the camera for years. The foam inside was sludge, and there was grease and detritus in the camera. As for the shutter, it was a mile out!


I couldn't believe the engineer was going into such detail and taking such care, given how little he was charging. As we talked I was more and more impressed. He loves Olympus but works on all makes and is especially fond of the MX. He also is one of the few engineers that is happy to work on an LX. The MX came home last week and is absolutely beautiful. When I got it back from the first engineer I couldn't see a difference but I really can this time. While I can't prove what engineer #1 did or didn't do, I am delighted with the work of engineer #2. The MX is just fabulous and I feel supremely confident that it will now outlive me. As for the good engineer, he has faith in his work, gives a twelve month warranty and gets really angry with people who have a different opinion as to what constitutes a service! I have deliberately avoided naming names because I cannot prove what was or wasn't done by engineer #1 for my 135, but am more than happy to pass on details for the good engineer if you send me a DM


UN54+ in 510pyro


Last edited by Cerebum; 04-01-2024 at 01:40 AM.
04-01-2024, 05:19 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to make it as camera repair techs. The profession is not the same as it was 40 years ago. And I think there are two main factors.

One, cameras are, relatively speaking, a lot cheaper. Not many people are going to spend 135 to service a 43 camera. But back in the day, those numbers were flipped. You were paying 25 to service a 200 camera. It made sense to spend a little money in upkeep costs to keep your very expensive appliance running. But even then, I don't feel like your average family photographer was talking their camera in for routine service.

The second point isn't mentioned as much. But cameras these days need a lot more service. When cameras were only five years old or so, they really did just need a "CLA" or a tune up. Check the speeds. Check the meter. Tweak the adjustment screws. A couple drops of oil on the critical points and you're done. But most cameras these days need a complete overhaul, not just a tune up. They need to have all the old foam stripped and replaced, which requires a lot of disassembly. They need lot's of individual parts removed and cleaned. And sometimes they even need significant disassembly of the shutter. This kind of stuff takes hours. I don't know what the wages are like in the UK but I feel like your tech charging 68 for a complete teardown was significantly underbilling you. Maybe it's a side hustle. Maybe they are semi retired. But I don't think they're raising a family by charging 10 an hour for skilled labor.

But that's the rub. Most cameras need a complete tear down by a skilled technician that could take 6-10 hours depending on the camera. And they also need to charge a reasonable rate for their labor which should be considered highly skilled. It's a tough needle to thread.

On a separate note, you really should share the name of your tech if they work on the LX. Folks are always looking for places to get them serviced. Thanks for sharing your experience!
04-01-2024, 06:41 AM   #3
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You might add into snot the good engineer to this thread: Sources for information about the LX, please add your knowledge to this thread - Page 5 - PentaxForums.com
04-01-2024, 06:51 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by vandergus Quote
I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to make it as camera repair techs. The profession is not the same as it was 40 years ago. And I think there are two main factors.

One, cameras are, relatively speaking, a lot cheaper. Not many people are going to spend 135 to service a 43 camera. But back in the day, those numbers were flipped. You were paying 25 to service a 200 camera. It made sense to spend a little money in upkeep costs to keep your very expensive appliance running. But even then, I don't feel like your average family photographer was talking their camera in for routine service.

The second point isn't mentioned as much. But cameras these days need a lot more service. When cameras were only five years old or so, they really did just need a "CLA" or a tune up. Check the speeds. Check the meter. Tweak the adjustment screws. A couple drops of oil on the critical points and you're done. But most cameras these days need a complete overhaul, not just a tune up. They need to have all the old foam stripped and replaced, which requires a lot of disassembly. They need lot's of individual parts removed and cleaned. And sometimes they even need significant disassembly of the shutter. This kind of stuff takes hours. I don't know what the wages are like in the UK but I feel like your tech charging 68 for a complete teardown was significantly underbilling you. Maybe it's a side hustle. Maybe they are semi retired. But I don't think they're raising a family by charging 10 an hour for skilled labor.

But that's the rub. Most cameras need a complete tear down by a skilled technician that could take 6-10 hours depending on the camera. And they also need to charge a reasonable rate for their labor which should be considered highly skilled. It's a tough needle to thread.

On a separate note, you really should share the name of your tech if they work on the LX. Folks are always looking for places to get them serviced. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I think you are 100% on the money. The job Rob did was what I would have expected from a 135 service. In truth, he went beyond even that. He said he can do an MX service in 5-6hrs. Given the job he does, 20ph would not be excessive & actually cheaper than your average plumber! I have another good engineer who also charges a similar price. He serviced my Minoltina, Yashica Mat, Kodak Retina iic and sp1000 and did a lovely job on each. Sadly Dave is 70 and will be retiring later this year. There are two reasons why I didn't add rob's details to my post are 1) he honestly reported his findings on a camera that had been in the hands of another engineer and i didn't want to start engineer wars & 2) he is busy with contract work so didn't need recommendations per se. He is still taking work on though, hence DMing me for details

04-01-2024, 08:05 AM   #5
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I spent money on a CLA of an SP1000, one of my very first film SLRs, around ten years ago and within no time it was giving problems, so I have never gone back to that place.

If I were you I would make sure to add a very poor review online of the first guy to prevent others from being ripped off.

As for technician #2, I'd be interested in his contact info as I have three MXs, one of which is playing up, and I would mind having all three serviced to make sure they work at their best.
04-01-2024, 08:27 AM   #6
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Add the contact info for the good one to this thread:

Pentax Repair Facilities (Wordwide listing) - PentaxForums.com
04-01-2024, 09:00 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
Add the contact info for the good one to this thread:

Pentax Repair Facilities (Wordwide listing) - PentaxForums.com
Will do


Last edited by Cerebum; 04-01-2024 at 09:11 AM.
04-08-2024, 01:25 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Sadly an only-too-common tale these days.

I started out repairing cameras and lenses back almost 50 years ago since I had difficulty even then of finding anyone reliable. Plus it was a way of getting hold of otherwise unobtainable ,but faulty, equipment , doing it myself, and having the satisfaction of learning as I went along. I have worked for camera dealers both in the past and now, but have never agreed set up a business since this has always been a 'hobby', and I'm able to pick and choose what I do.

These days I still do the same thing, and also work for a limited number of people who I've known for decades, but I don't advertise because I do it for pleasure rather than a business-it keeps the grey cells going! In fact I've just passed on having my name added to the PCCGB list of approved repairers since I do not want to be inundated with work, and although I charge very little for what I do, it is still enjoyable. Too much work and it would no longer be attractive.

However I'm lucky in that I don't have to do this for the money, and I can sympathise with anyone who tries to make a living doing the work, which is very time-consuming, as well as being occasionally frustrating given the lack of spare parts available for both vintage and modern equipment these days-most of mine come from 'dead' cameras and lenses. Plus I will not touch anything electronic , above sorting out metering issues and the occasional electro-mechanical problem-usually modern equipment is just not made to be repaired or serviced, and if it is, specialist equipment and parts are needed. parts which are often restricted by the manufacturers willingness to make them available outside of 'approved' ( i.e. expensive) repairers.

So if you get frustrated in finding a reliable repairer, have a go yourself. There are a number of helpful books out there that will start you off, and with a modicum of care you may surprise yourself as to what you can achieve. Plus there are also a number of camera-specific repair articles on this forum which are invaluable. You will also have the satisfaction of having done it yourself,as well as knowing it HAS actually been done as well. Plus it won't cost you anything but the cost of a set of relatively simple tools, and your own time. Just be prepared for some failures, learn from them-and anything that can't be repaired may well prove a source of parts for a future project! Go-on, have a go.....
04-08-2024, 03:40 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
When I started my film journey I was shooting with a spotmatic but dreamed of an MX. Thanks to eBay, that dream soon became a reality as I handed over my 43 and took delivery of a really nice silver model. All seemed fine bar the fact that it hated the cold and wouldn't shoot when the temperature dropped below 5c.So I did my research and selected an engineer with great Pentax credentials. 135 for a service seemed a lot but it is what it is. When the camera came back it wasn't noticeably different but to be fair, it was pretty good when it went away. The cold issues persisted so it went back. It was never resolved but I just assumed it was one of those things. Twelve months later it started capping! I contacted the engineer who said it wasn't part of the service and would cost a further 75 so it got dispatched to the back of a cupboard in disgrace and was replaced buy a very good KX that I paid 25 for. Twelve months down the line, I now had several nice cameras, but it still annoyed me that my most expensive one was unusable. I decided to bite the bullet, then I saw an advert on eBay of all places for an MX service for 67.99. I contacted the guy and told him what had gone before. He said he replaces all foam and resets the camera, including the shutter as part of the service. I had fallen out of love with the camera so didn't see it as much of a gamble so I sent it off. A couple of days later he called me to tell me that in his opinion it looked like nothing had been done to the camera for years. The foam inside was sludge, and there was grease and detritus in the camera. As for the shutter, it was a mile out!


I couldn't believe the engineer was going into such detail and taking such care, given how little he was charging. As we talked I was more and more impressed. He loves Olympus but works on all makes and is especially fond of the MX. He also is one of the few engineers that is happy to work on an LX. The MX came home last week and is absolutely beautiful. When I got it back from the first engineer I couldn't see a difference but I really can this time. While I can't prove what engineer #1 did or didn't do, I am delighted with the work of engineer #2. The MX is just fabulous and I feel supremely confident that it will now outlive me. As for the good engineer, he has faith in his work, gives a twelve month warranty and gets really angry with people who have a different opinion as to what constitutes a service! I have deliberately avoided naming names because I cannot prove what was or wasn't done by engineer #1 for my 135, but am more than happy to pass on details for the good engineer if you send me a DM


UN54+ in 510pyro
I have an MX. Its shutter stopped working before this century, when the lever stopped like something in the internal gears was blocked. Lovely machine, I miss it. But I have had an other one which had no problem, which I gave to my then girlfriend. Later, I bought a second hand KM in a shop in Portobello road, which is likely much older, and it still works beautifully.
All the other Pentax I had worked with no problem, maybe it was they wen too far with miniaturisation. My MX was smaller and lighter of anything else my friends were carrying. But also had a huge view in the viewfinder.
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