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I’ve been a huge advocate of 3D printing in the photographic industry for years. I think that’s vital in the world of vintage cameras and accessories. Unfortunately, many camera manufacturers no longer want to support this part of their history. The only thing that really works is Leica, and it should be praised for that. Canon, Zeiss, Nikon, Pentax and others have been around for many years. If you were to take a Canon F1 for repair, Canon wouldn’t. Instead, you’d have to go to a vintage specialist. In my opinion, this is backward.
If I should still draw a parallel, then it should be with the world of watches. Many watch manufacturers repair very old products. You saved the blueprints, parts, etc. And today, 3D printing these parts is easier than ever. I know workshops that have considered doing it themselves. So I don’t understand why a camera manufacturer can’t do this and seize a new market opportunity. There is a clear demand for these vintage items. Why not support it?
This is a big problem as things get out of date after a while. Camera manufacturers discontinue products and don’t want to spend time fixing many of them. But cameras are different from other electronics industries. In cameras, all parts and parts can be used together. A vintage lens can be adapted to a modern camera. A vintage camera can deliver a look that a modern one cannot. And no matter what, it will continue to take pictures that can be edited and observed today. This is very different from most other technical devices.
Computers can no longer be used after a long time because they take far too many breaks. Plus there are far too many parts. However, these parts can be changed or replaced.
Televisions can no longer be used after a while if they have not been properly maintained.
Certain electronics, like air conditioners, make no sense to replace them. Some of them actually just use more electricity and are not that good for the environment.
But a camera is not one of those things. I have praised ideas that have emerged over time. For example, I’m a big fan of the way Funleader shoots old Contax 35mm f2 lenses and reformats them for Leica. More than that happens, however. Some people take old Polaroid cameras and convert them to include other formats. That gives new life to the cameras. Others tend to be restored. Photography is an entirely different type of technique that has an artistic side to it. And these artists’ tools can be repaired for sure.
Before proceeding, I am not advocating repairs and renovations of everything as it was. I understand that some things just don’t make sense. For example, Leica can’t get the CCD for the M9 anymore, so they put a brand new one in. And if a Canon 5D Mk II’s motherboard fails, I’d expect to have to pay for some overhauls to update it. But some things just make more sense to fix. For example, lenses are mostly just made of glass, plastic, metal, motors and maybe a chipset inside: parts that can be replaced and renewed fairly easily. And there isn’t much of an excuse not to endorse these products.