Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Failure Mode

Way back when I was still working at the 1-hour photo lab, call it 1989 or 90, we carried a few of the usual cheap blister-pack point & shoot cameras, as well as some more expensive Kodaks and a few Olympus cameras.

The most expensive thing in our department was the Olympus IS-1. It was a single-lens reflex camera, but the 35-135mm power zoom lens was built-in and non-interchangeable. Olympus called it a "zoom lens reflex" and it was yet another attempt by a camera maker to solve the saturated market for SLRs in the last decade or so of the previous millennium. (Basically, everybody who wanted an SLR had one, and now they had to figure out a way to separate people who were scared of knobs and dials from their money.)

Anyhow, the IS-1 was pretty spendy, several hundred dollars, which was more than I'd given for the '75 Ford Granada I was driving at the time.

A few years ago, when I was in the throes of the film camera bug, I spotted one for sale on eBay for next to nothing, and bought it.

When it arrived, I put a piece of tape over the film window on the back (those are almost invariably a source of light leaks), tossed a roll of film in the camera and put it on the shelf, pulling it down every so often to shoot a couple of exposures.

The other day, with fresh snow on the ground, I figured it would be an excellent time to finish off the test roll and see what kind of pictures the camera took.

When I pulled it off the shelf, the flash was in the raised position. I pushed it down, but it wouldn't latch.

The camera rattled a little and so I turned it upside down, with a hand cupped under it to catch whatever fell out...

See that teeny black object atop the lens barrel? That's the hook portion of the latch that retains the flash in the lowered position. The external release is the button along the lower right edge of the photo.

Apparently, over time the constant strain of the spring that raises the flash combined with embrittlement of the latch's plastic until the catch finally failed, just sitting there on the shelf, allowing the flash to *sproing* into the raised position.

It's probably not fixable, and certainly not worth fixing. The time and effort spent trying to bodge a repair would be be more efficiently spent buying a ~$20 replacement camera. (Or not. Olympus glass or no, a 35-135mm f/4.5-5.6 lens just doesn't sound as exciting as it once did.)

I'll finish out the roll that's in it and likely bin the camera, while pondering the disposable nature of consumer commodity goods...