I’m addicted to finding decrepit film cameras and trying to breathe life back into them. My most recent venture took me to a nearby suburb where I agreed to pay 5 bucks for an SLR I’d never heard of – the Revueflex AC2 (aka Chinon CE-4). The seller claimed it was her grandpa’s and had no idea if it worked. I googled the camera and saw it had my preferred type of automation (aperture priority – it would choose the shutter speed based on what you chose for the aperture), and I thought, if I couldn’t repair it, at least it would be a pretty paper weight.
While I was on the train ride out, the seller contacted me saying she’d found a small bag full of lenses and other accessories and would sell it all to me for 25 bucks. I felt like rolling the dice and agreed to it. When I got to the seller’s front door a young woman came out and handed me a brown plastic bag that looked and smelled like it had all been camping out in a cellar for 30+ years.
I checked the contents and found a 135mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.7, 28mm f/2.8, stinky leather case, blocky flash gun, and the Revueflex AC2 body with a smattering of corrosion coming out of the battery casing. I reckoned if it all turned out a bust, at least I could learn a bit by taking it all apart, so I coughed up the 25 bucks.
I got home and emptied out the contents of the bag. Surprisingly, there were no scratches or fungus on the lenses. In fact, with a bit of cleaning, they were ready for action. The camera, however, needed a bit more love. I cleaned out the corrosion with vinegar and cotton swabs then loaded in some new batteries to check the electronics. They seemed to be in working order but I still needed to replace the gooey old light seals and mirror cushion. After that tedious and messy work, I loaded in a roll of Fujicolor C200 and attached the 50mm f/1.7 lens.
I got reacquainted with the dual-prism manual focusing system and worked through the roll. Everything had a good, solid, classic SLR feel to it. Even the mirror slap sounded healthy with my replacement cushion. I dropped off the film at the local lab for development and scans. Two days later the results came back and I was happy to see the camera had performed perfectly. Also, the 50mm f/1.7 lens, even wide open, was gorgeous and sharp.
Hope you enjoyed reading this; stay healthy and take more photos!