The camera I would not let die

The camera I would not let die

If you have read my article about my first medium format camera then you will be familiar with my love for the Yashica 635. It's a medium format TLR that takes both 120 and 35mm film! So when one of these beautiful cameras came to me in near pristine condition with the original box, manuals and accessories I was very excited. Simply the fact that the owner had kept all of these items in such good condition for over 60 years was amazing.

The camera and all of its accessories

However, what intrigued me more was the small sticker found on the back of the camera which read: “By Appointment to her Majesty the Queen Suppliers of Photographic Equipment”.

Wallace Heaton LTD London

After a bit of research I found out that this was a photographic store based on Bond Street, London and was at the time the sole supplier of photographic equipment for the Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth II was known for her interest in photography, and was seen shooting cameras such as a Gold plated Rollei 35 and a Leica M3. Sadly in 1974 the Wallace Heaton name disappeared after being bought out by Dixons. But I think this makes this little golden sticker  even more precious.

Back to the camera

As with all the items that come in to stock, I began to test the functions of the camera. However, it quickly became apparent it had an issue. Regardless of what I selected, the camera would always fire at the same shutter speed. Often with cameras in pristine condition, as this one was, it means that it was either sat in a display case or stored away for most of its life. For analogue cameras this is not a good thing, they need to be used regularly to prevent them seizing up and developing issues like this. Although I do repair some cameras, I knew this was beyond my knowledge and it was time to contact Pierro. Pierro runs a camera repair shop called PPP Cameras which is the company I use to outsource the repairs that I either cannot do or do not have time to do myself.

Once Pierro received the camera he opened it up and found that it needed some new springs for the shutter mechanism, springs he did not have. Instead he suggested that I contact Aperture UK in London who were more likely to have the parts needed for the repair. However a quick phone call revealed that they didn’t have them either. Back to the drawing board.

Yashica stopped producing this camera, and spare parts for it, years ago. Much is the case with all old cameras that I work with. This means in order to get the parts to repair it you need to find a whole camera that you can scrap for its parts. After a few weeks of searching I came across another Yashica 635 which was in very poor cosmetic condition but had a fully functioning shutter system. Perfect! 


The donor camera

Having sent both the original Yashica 635 and the donor camera to Pierro I just had to wait a couple more weeks for the repair to be completed. As always he did a fantastic job and it was returned back to me in its original, fully functioning state.


The Yashica 635 mid way through its repairs at PPP cameras

It took almost 6 months from when I first received this stunning camera to actually having it working again. After what was quite a journey it was difficult to decide what to do; do I keep it for myself or sell it on? Well as much I would love to, I wouldn’t run a very successful camera shop if I just kept all of the items that I like for myself! Therefore if you would like to own this beautiful camera yourself it is now available here.

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