“Scalpel… rib spreader … TORX screwdriver…”

It was early last August, and I knew something was wrong the moment the heartbeat stopped.

A quick check.  Nothing.

I tried other options.  Nothing.

Not a sound.

Not a beat.

God, no.

Please Lord, no.

With all the horrible things in my life that have turned 2016 into a big mucky mess… this can’t add to the pain.  I can’t have this happen.

And this isn’t even covered by my health insurance.  Thanks, Obama…

So if this really IS happening…

I need a specialist to save this patient.

A quick phone call.




Come on, pick up… pick up…


Good.  Allen Wade is there.  Allen is my camera tech, he’s cleaned the sensors for my Nikon digital equipment, and he’s tuned all my film cameras, from Kodak Red to Raskolnikov.

“Al,” I said… “I think my Nikon Df is dead.”

A few days later – CameraWorks is only open to the public three days a week – I dropped the Df off at CameraWorks’ Latham-based repair shop.

Allen called me later with the news.  “You’ve got a busted shutter blade.”

That's what a broken shutter blade looks like. Ugh.
That’s what a broken shutter blade looks like. Ugh.

Now this sounds serious… but it could be worse.  Although shutter blades are difficult to repair, especially on digital cameras, one can replace the mechanism with a new shutter assembly.  Allen would need to remove the entire shutter assembly inside the Df, and replace it with a new shutter component.  It would need to be a Df shutter; Nikon camera gear isn’t as interchangeable as Eli Whitney’s rifle assembly line.

All Allen needs to do is acquire the replacement shutter assembly.

Which … unfortunately … brings up another issue.

Prior to 2013, independent camera repair shops could purchase repair parts directly from Nikon.  That changed in 2013, when Nikon stopped selling a la carte camera repair parts, choosing instead to license Nikon repair work to less than two dozen “Nikon Certified” shops around the country.  Yeah, that’s like being told you cannot replace your car’s transmission at an AAMCO shop; you would need to bring it back to your dealer or to one of fifteen specialty transmission shops around the nation.

Luckily for me, Allen is a very resourceful camera repair technician.  At first, he tried to contact any of the other camera repair shops or outlets to see if they had a Nikon Df that was in a “parts only” status, that he could maybe cannibalize the shutter assembly from that camera and place it in mine.  Essentially, a shutter transplant.

No dice.

“Unless I can find that shutter for you, Chuck,” he said, “I don’t think I can repair your camera.”

And then… when all hope seemed lost…

I started puttering through eBay auction sites.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s a junked Nikon Df whose shutter assembly is still functional.

No dice.

But I did find this instead – an eBay auction for, of all things, “Original DF Shutter Group with Blade Unit component for Nikon DF.”  The repair part, new-old stock, from China.

I called Allen and told him about the shutter.  He said if I could send him the eBay link, he would order the part.

Listen, I don’t care if my Japanese camera has a Chinese shutter inside.  Have you seen the camera equipment in my possession?  I’ve got a freakin’ United Nations of photography in my apartment.  Cameras from Ukraine and from Germany and from Rochester and from Binghamton.  Interchangeable lenses from Russia and from Japan and from South Korea.  Film from Austria and from Vietnam and from Canada and from God knows where.  And if I can operate a camera that hails from the People’s Republic of Binghamton…

Now I wait.  The part had to arrive from China.  Then, once Allen got the part, he had to take my Nikon Df apart, remove the broken shutter, install the new shutter, reassemble everything, and test the results.

Oh yeah.  That sounds simple.  Now describe the infield fly rule.

Last Wednesday, Allen called me.  “Hey Chuck.”

“Please tell me you have good news,” I replied.

“We got a problem.”

Oh great.

“I took your camera apart, and I can’t put it back together again.”

Oh, just great.

“Just kidding with you, Chuck, she’s all back together and better than ever.”

Oh.  Great!

Yesterday, I picked up the camera.  Allen had it all back together again, he demonstrated a few shots to confirm that yes the camera was functioning up to spec, and he even threw in a free sensor cleaning.  “A mechanic shouldn’t put an engine in a car without at least cleaning the engine,” he said.

And THIS is why I trust CameraWorks with my camera repair work.  And so should you.

FTC DISCLAIMER: At no time did I receive any discount or additional benefit for mentioning CameraWorks or its services in this blog.  This is an unsolicited, unbiased and independent report of using CameraWorks’ services with regard to my camera equipment.  I have no material relationship to any brand or person mentioned in this post.