5 Frames with a Revueflex AC2
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
I’m addicted to finding decrepit film cameras and trying to breathe life back into them. My most recent venture took me to a nearby suburb where I agreed to pay 5 bucks for an SLR I’d never heard of – the Revueflex AC2 (aka Chinon CE-4). The seller claimed it was her grandpa’s and had no idea if it worked. I googled the camera and saw it had my preferred type of automation (it would choose the shutter speed based on what you chose for the aperture), and I thought, if I couldn’t repair it, at least it would be a pretty paper weight.
While I was on the train ride out, the seller contacted me saying she’d found a small bag full of lenses and other accessories and would sell it all to me for 25 bucks. I felt like rolling the dice and agreed to it. When I got to the seller’s front door a young woman came out and handed me a brown plastic bag that looked and smelled like it had all been camping out in a cellar for 30+ years. I checked the contents and found a 135mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.7, 28mm f/2.8, stinky leather case, blocky flash gun, and the Revueflex AC2 body with a smattering of corrosion coming out of the battery casing. I reckoned if it all turned out a bust, at least I could learn a bit by taking it all apart, so I coughed up the €25.
I got home and emptied out the contents of the bag. Surprisingly, there were no scratches or fungus on the lenses. In fact, with a bit of cleaning, they were ready for action. The camera, however, needed a bit more love. I cleaned out the corrosion with vinegar and cotton swabs then loaded in some new batteries to check the electronics. They seemed to be in working order but I still needed to replace the gooey old light seals and mirror cushion. After that tedious and messy work, I loaded in a roll of Fujicolor C200 and attached the 50mm f/1.7 lens.
I got reacquainted with the dual-prism manual focusing system and worked through the roll. Everything had a good, solid, classic SLR feel to it. Even the mirror slap sounded healthy with my replacement cushion. I dropped off the film at the local lab for development and scans. Two days later the results came back and I was happy to see the camera had performed perfectly. Also, the lens even wide open was gorgeous and sharp.
Out of my recent film camera acquisitions, this one would be hardest to part with. It's the first SLR I resuscitated, and there's something just right about operating it: the weight and size, the dials, the sounds; it's like driving a classic car. Should I sell it to make some money for more film photography adventures? Yes. Will I? Probably not.