On Via Paolo Lomazzo, in Milan, sits an unassuming shopfront. On the window are the words “Riparazioni Macchine Fotografiche” (“Camera Repair”) printed in simple bold letters. This is the workshop of 76 year old Gian Luigi Carminati, a man who has spent his entire working life repairing cameras.
Armed with little more than a set of screwdrivers and a lot of patience, Carminati has repaired countless cameras in his time. A technician more than a photographer, he has made some interesting observations on photography over the years. In this two minute short Master of Camera, from filmmaker David Drills, he talks about some of those insights.
While not everybody will agree with Carminati’s thoughts on film vs digital, I can see where he’s coming from. For me, for personal work, I prefer to shoot film sometimes for similar reasons. I stop worrying about the minuscule details. I quit trying to tweak a little more of a scene to perfection each time I hit the shutter. If I screw up, I don’t know about it until I’ve developed the film a few days later. After that, there are rarely second chances. So, it forces me to be more proactive in pushing myself to improve.
The analog is always fascinating, because we all want the surprise.
With digital, there is no surprise left, you know immediately if it’s good or not.
Of course, sometimes one may need the instant feedback that digital offers. One needs to know whether or not they’ve got the shot or not. While learning, shooting in tricky conditions, or at the behest of a client, knowing you’ve got the shot is vital. It all boils down to motive. Why are you shooting? Who are you shooting for?
The analogue cameras of the past are simple by today’s digital standards. Many components of digital cameras aren’t even possible to easily fix yourself today. You have to send it back to the manufacturer, or try to acquire some impossible-to-source circuit board or component. Or, hope you get lucky with a “Spares or Repair” auction on eBay for an identical camera that may have the part you need.
Although mechanical cameras still aren’t always that simple. Every camera has its own unique internals. Every part of a camera also has its own mechanisms. The shutter, the film advance, the metering system, almost all are unique.
Carminati says that if he could speak to a camera, he would thank her. Photography has played a big role in his life.
Do you still shoot analogue cameras? What do you do when they need repair? Do you resign them to decorating a shelf and buy another? Do you repair them yourself? Or do you take them to somebody like Gian Luigi Carminati? Let us know in the comments.