Recommended Tools

As a camera repair technichian, you'll need a variety of tools. Over a long career, you'll collect a large number of specialized tools and you may even find yourself making tools or modifying existing ones. This list is not ment to be a listing of EVERY tool that you may someday need; instead, it is a list of basic tools that you will need to begin with.

 

Screwdrivers

For camera repair, you'll need small precision screwdrivers in a variety of sizes and types. Professional-level screwdrivers are sold as a handle with interchangeable 'blades' (tips).

 

JIS Crosspoint Screwdrivers

Although to the untrained eye, the screwheads on Japanese cameras look like phillips-head screws, they are NOT. Using a phillips screwdriver on them will damage the screw head! Japanese cameras use JIS Crosspoint screw heads. If you work on any Japanese-made photo gear, you MUST buy aset of JIS drivers.

NIWA Blades and Handles used to be the industry standard, they were unavailable for a few years as the camera repair industry evolved. These blades are once again available in the USA from The Society of Photo-Technologists and in the UK from GRES. GRES has very high quality tools and their prices when you figure out the exchange rate are less expensive than in the US. I recently emailed them with regard to shipping and was pleasantly surprised to find it isn’t that expensive. I recently purchased a Moody Tools JIS Kit which consists of a handle and assorted bits; it seems to be of decent quality.

 

NIWA screwdriver handles and blades.

1.4mm and 1.7mm NIWA Blades with Handles.

 

 

Flat-Head and Phillips Drivers

Flat Head drivers are somewhat expensive from jewelry supply companies like CAS-KERCO. Many types and styles abound online.

AS HARD AS THIS IS TO BELIEVE, for some jobs I'm using some cheap flat head drivers and hex drivers that come in those cheap plastic cases. I've had to file down the tips to fit the screws commonly encountered, but I've been using the same drivers for 47 years! They were $1.99 back in the day for a set, the set includes Phillips drivers have only been useful when encountering American made photographic equipment like a Graphic. The hex drivers only have one size I've ever used, and that is for the Minolta SRT galvanometer cord pulley post. If money isn’t an issue by all means buy high quality tools from the get-go, you”ll never be sorry...until you have to modify one for a special purpose...and you will!

 

Inexpensive flat and hex screwdrivers.

Cheap Flat Head Srewdrivers and a Hex Driver. Total Investment: $3.98 plus tax!

 

 

Tweezers

Tweezers are very useful for holding, removing, and positioning tiny parts in a camera.

You can buy expensive Tweezers, I did for a few years until walking a local Flea Market and found the same ones (close anyway) for a few dollars each, I always pick up spares, in fact I have spare tools for almost every tool I use. Stainless Steel tweezers are the best, as they are resistant to oils and greases used in cameras.

 

Stainless Steel Tweezers.

Stainless Steel Tweezers.

 

 

Spanner Wrenches

A spanner is one of the most important tools for camera repair. It is the primary tool for disassembling the optical componants of a lens, and spanners are used for removing a lot of parts on camera bodies as well.

The best spanners in the past had interchangeable tips, with a variety of flat and pointed tips in different sizes available. These seem to be gone now, but spanners with fixed tips are still sold. Ebay is a good source. Unless you can find a good used spanner set, you will probably need several spanners with different sized tips.

 

Spanner wrench with interchangeable tips.

A Spanner Wrench With Interchangeable Tips.

 

 

Pliers

I have collected a large assortment of pliers over the years. Smooth-jaw needle-nose pliers, snap-ring pliers, and side cutters are the bare essentials.

 

Several pliers used for camera repair.

Side-cutters, snap-ring pliers, and needle-nose pliers.

 

 

Soldering Iron and Supplies

While an inexpensive 15 watt soldering iron will suffice, you can spend a bit more and get a soldering station. Buy extra tips, solder, flux and solder wick for removing solder.

 

Elenco SL-30A Soldering Station.

Elenco SL-30A Soldering Station.

 

 

Flexi-Clamps

Flexi-Clamps are very nice to have as they enable one to remove small circular capscrews and rangefinder lenses without marring the finish. They're made in different sizes.

 

Chinese Flexi-clamps from Ebay.

Flexi-clamps.

 

 

Voltmeter

A voltmeter is needed for doing any repairs to electronic componants of a camera, like the lightmeter and electronic shutters. Digital and analogue meters are available at prices ranging from a few dollars to several hundred depending on features. You need one that can measure voltages and electrical resistance (Ohm meter).

 

 

Ultrasonic Cleaner

An Ultrasonic Cleaner or a Jewelry Cleaner will make life easier. Ultrasonic cleaning is the best way to remove old, dried lubricants from shutter escapements and other mechanical parts. An ultrasonic cleaner can be purchased expensively at tool suppliers like Harbor Freight Tools.

 

 

Blowers

A lot of repairmen use blower brushes to clean. I've been using a small air compressor set at a low pressure.

 

 

Lubricants and Chemicals

  • Shutter oil
  • Pliobond 25 glue
  • Molybendum Disulfide (Dry-Moly Powder)
  • Instrument Grease (make your own with shutter oil and dry-moly powder)
  • 91% or higher Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Clear Fingernail Polish. Used as a screw-locker. Also used to add glossy finish to small details that have been painted on, like the red lens-alignment dot on a Minolta SRT camra.

 

Lubricants and chemicals used in camera repair.

Shutter oil, Pliobond glue, and Xacto knife.

 

 

Alcohol Dispenser

An alcohol dispenser holds Isopropyl Alcohol and prevents it from evaporating, while dispensing small amounts of it to a Q-Tip or cleaning cloth. Alcohol is a solvent used to clean lenses and to remove oil and grease from mechanical parts.

 

Alcohol dispenser.

Alcohol dispenser.

 

 

Miscellaneous Tools

  • KimWipes
  • Oiler w/Needle Applicator
  • Xacto-Knife with extra blades
  • Small Metal Ruler (straight edge for cutting cushions/seals)
  • 10X Loupe
  • Rubber Stoppers for lens ring removal
  • Rubber Sheet for gripping
  • Pin Vise and small drills
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Work Mat. If you intend to repair electronically operated cameras, invest in a anti-static work mat with a ground strap
  • Magnifying Lamp
  • Q-Tips
  • Toothpicks
  • Toothbrushes. Used for scrubbing dirt and grease
  • Small brushes for removing dust
  • Micro-Fiber Lens Cleaning Cloths

 

 

Final Thoughts

I've tried to make this a basic tools list; but the truth is after 47 years of doing camera repair, photography, restoring cars, motorcycles, airplanes and boats, remodeling a few houses, building workbenches, and collecting cameras I don’t have enough tools. I've got a tool collection that puts most to shame, and the reason for that is I've always felt the need to learn more, do a better job and give all I have to life.

 

Camera repair work space.

If I put shelves up, I can get more stuff in this little room... don’t tell my wife!

 

 

"I’ve Been Doing So Much For So Long With So Little, I Can Do Almost Anything With Nothing..."

-written on the back-room wall of the first job I had. (I lied about my age to get the job at 14).

 

There will be additions to this list, no doubt; any suggestions are welcome...

 

 

 

 

 

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