52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 45: repairing an old camera

Before I get to my project, I need to say that I'm walking a walk of shame for my recent lackadaisical approach to 52 Projects. I'd like to come up with some magnificent excuse but suffice to say, life happens sometimes when you're making plans. So I can only strive to do better. My goal for this coming week's project (week 46) is to have it completed and posted by Sunday morning. No excuses. Now on to this week's project...

How do I even begin to adequately explain this week's project? It is another joint effort between Breen and me. As you know from last week's project, we've taken a liking to old duaflex cameras. Actually, it's more like a crack addiction. We are now the proud owners of 4 duaflex and 1 brownie hawkeye cameras, of which 3 have arrived.

Here's the challenge of buying old cameras on line: You don't always know the condition of the lens. There are two schools of thought here. Some people like the look of the picture with some dust and debris and others like a totally clean image. I like a little dust on my images. But when I received cameras 2 and 3, there were brown stains on the lens and it was gross. It's typical to get an old camera with dust on the lens and inside of it because, after all, its been sitting in someones basement for 50 years. We now had a decision to make. Do we live with the gross brown stains on our images or do we take apart the cameras and clean the lens? Of course you already know that two project oriented people would choose to take them apart.

On Saturday night, Breen took camera number two apart. There are tutorials on line but it is a fairly straightforward process of taking out six tiny little screws.

Once we had all the pieces in front of us, we realized that the offensive stains were on the piece of mirror inside the camera. To further complicate the issue, the stains had creeped in to the back of the mirror and were incapable of being cleaned off.

Now we had three more options in front of us:

1. Play mad scientists and mix up a concoction to re-silver the little piece of mirror.

2. Go to a glass/mirror shop and have them cut us a few pieces.

3. Find a piece of mirror and cut it ourselves.

Option #1 was way too complicated for a few pieces of small mirror. Option #2 seemed really good but how would our inquisitive minds learn about cutting mirror if we paid someone else to do it for us? So off we went Sunday morning to buy a cheap hand mirror and a glass cutter.

Breen got to work removing the mirror from the plastic frame. By the time the mirror was free it was in several pieces. Breen managed to salvage a piece of it. The actual cutting was initially a pain in the ass. The Youtube video made it look so easy. Although it was challenging, Breen says that the next camera mirror he has to cut will be much easier.

After replacing the old discolored mirror, Breen cleaned the other lens and put the camera back together again.

Here is a shot before the cleaning of the lens:

Here is a shot after new mirror was cut and the lens were cleaned:

Here is a shot taken with camera #3 when I took it out of the box. This camera hasn't been taken apart yet but you can see just how much dirt and dust settles inside of these old cameras after decades:

I'm still a fan of a little dust and dirt on the mirror. I'm not quite sure that I love the total clarity of the repaired camera. Still, it was a great project for us to learn how things work by taking it apart. The glass cutter was inexpensive at $4.99. The camera is a lot of fun to play with and is relatively inexpensive as well. If you decide to give TTV photography a try, there are lots of duaflex cameras for sale on Ebay. I wouldn't spend more than $10 for one. You may also luck out and find one in person at a thrift store or yard sale. And that's even better because you can look through the viewfinder and get a sense of the quality of the lens before you buy it.

What did you do this week?


  1. That is just amazing, Jane. I am so intrigued. I'm not handy at all and couldn't fix anything if my life depended on it. How do you develop the pictures? Are these the same as "toy cameras"? I'll bet you could fix them up and sell them for a lot more than $10 because people like me would buy them. You post implies that they can be developed quickly, so I don't know how that works...xoO

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  3. Hi Jane!
    Thank you for sharing. I love this project of yours. Don't you love when you have everything on hand to create something? I always was a big fan of POLAROID. Your photos look like POLAROID.