Dan's Film Camera Repair Journey: 7 Years of Passion and Precision

By Paul McKay

In March 2023 I received an email introduction from one of our suppliers, recommending I speak to someone who was in the process of moving from Hong Kong to Edinburgh. Apparently this person - Dan Ho - is an avid analogue shooter and a highly talented camera repair person. Fast forward a year and Dan has established a strong reputation for quality repairs - he brought my Canon AE1 back to life! - and is ready to set up a more formal business.

We are delighted to support Dan in this endeavour - you can enquire about repairs directly through our site via this link: Film Camera Repairs. And now let's hear a bit more from Dan!

 


 

Dan - welcome! You’ve recently moved to the UK, where were you before and what were you doing?

 

Before moving to the UK, I was living in Hong Kong, where I was deeply involved in the film photography community, both as a photographer and a camera repair technician in a local film camera store called SHOWA, spending several years repairing vintage cameras and helping fellow analogue enthusiasts keep their film cameras in good shape.

 

Film camera Parts on red background

 

It took my tools an extra year to arrive - thanks to a combination of strange shipping routes and extended custom delays - but we're now happily reunited.

 


 

You now live in Edinburgh. How do you rate the city as a home, and also as a photography spot?

 

Edinburgh is an incredible city with rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking landscapes. The vibrant culture and friendly community have made my transition here very smooth. While the ever-changing weather can be a bit challenging 🥺 it also provides endless opportunities for capturing great photos.

 

Photo near Edinburgh by camera repair man Dan Ho

 


 

How long have you been repairing cameras?

 

I have been repairing film cameras for 7 years now. It started as a hobby and gradually turned into a full-time passion and profession. The classic path!

 


 

How did you learn to repair cameras?

 

I was lucky to start learning from a skilled technician in Hong Kong, which gave me a solid foundation. Overtime, I combined hands-on experience with self-study, reading service manuals, watching tutorials, and practising on my own collection.

 

Dan Repairing a film camera lens

 

However, the most crucial part of my learning process has been the hands-on experience. There is no shortcut or substitute for working on different cameras, and learning which models need what kind of care.

 


 

What is your favourite type of repair?

 

My favourite type of repair is working on mechanical film cameras from the mid-20th century. These cameras are well engineered and built, making them a joy to work on. There’s something incredibly satisfying about bringing these beautiful cameras back to life.

Every film camera has its own personality and beauty, making the process of restoring them to their former glory rewarding.

 

Film camera being repaired in black and white

 


 

What is your least favourite?! Or are there any repairs that you would turn down?

 

My least favourite repairs involve film cameras that weren't designed with ease of maintenance in mind, particularly cheaply built plastic cameras and cameras with few adjustment points. While I rarely turn down a repair, in cases where the camera is beyond feasible restoration or where parts are completely unobtainable, I might have to decline.

I'm super excited about the Pentax 17 news - not only what it means for photographers having a new film camera to use - but also what it might mean for Pentax's analogue division and the support/spare parts they might be able to offer.

 


 

What have you noticed about the UK film camera community versus Hong Kong?

 

The UK film camera community is very passionate and engaged, with a strong sense of community and support among photographers. There’s a vibrant culture of collaboration, with lots of meetups, photowalks, and workshops. There are fantastic labs - including of course the WonderLab!

 

Photo taken by Dan Ho - camera repair person

A traditional UK scene, shot on Adox Color Mission

In comparison, Hong Kong also has many passionate and talented photographers, but the community there feels more niche, possibly related to population and cultural differences.

 


 

What is your favourite camera in your personal collection?

 

No doubt, it is the Leica M3. Introduced in 1954, it's a precision instrument meticulously crafted with a fully mechanical rangefinder system. Its exceptional build quality provides incredible durability and a solid feel in hand. The bright, clear viewfinder makes focusing a pleasure.

As someone who loves street photography, the Leica M series has always been the top choice for street photographers. Its quiet shutter, compact, and low-profile design make it perfect for capturing decisive moments. It’s a uniquely satisfying experience using it!

 

scottish landscape with car - shot on colour film by camera repair man Dan Ho

 


 

Do you have a ‘dream’ camera that you’d love to own?

 

My dream camera is the Rolleiflex. Renowned for its iconic twin-lens reflex design and exceptional build quality. Its medium format capabilities produce stunningly detailed images with beautiful depth of field. The craftsmanship of the Rolleiflex makes it a joy to use, and its classic design has made it a favourite among photographers for generations.

Fan Ho, a legendary street photographer from Hong Kong, primarily used the Rolleiflex, which adds to its allure for me. Owning a Rolleiflex would be a dream come true for its blend of history, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.

 


 

What is your favourite film to shoot with and why?

 

My favourite film to shoot with is Kodak Tri-X 400. It offers wide exposure latitude, allowing me to shoot in various lighting conditions and recover highlights and shadows effectively.

 

beach photo on Kodak Trix film

 

Additionally, its ability to handle push processing enables me to achieve different grain sizes and contrast levels. Whether I'm shooting street photography, portraits, or landscapes, Tri-X 400 consistently delivers incredible images, making it my go-to choice!

 


 

What is your hope for your camera repair business?

 

I hope to build a trusted repair service in the UK that photographers can rely on, helping them keep their beloved cameras in top shape and fostering a love for film photography. I aim to expand my services and perhaps offer workshops to teach others about camera repair and maintenance.

I'm excited to bring my skills and passion for camera repair to the UK community. I look forward to building strong relationships with local photographers and contributing to the film photography community here. You can follow me on my Instagram @hh.dept. If anyone has a camera in need of some love, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


4 Comments

  • Welcome to the UK Dan Ho, I hope all goes well for you here. My camera collection contains an Olympus OM2,my favourite camera, 2xCanon EOS.an Agfa Silette a Zeiss Ikon and finally a Rollieflex TLR and they are just the film cameras. I also have 2 Digital cameras, a Canon EOS and an Olympus OMD. I love my Rolleiflex TLR it is a wonderful camera and sometimes take it out of the cupboard just to admire it.
    When I can afford it I might ask you to look at the Agfa which is so gummed up I can’t use it anymore and maybe even my Rolleiflex which I suspect may have a small light leak.
    Best Wishes
    John Downing-Gaines

    John Downing-Gaines
  • Welcome to the UK Dan Ho.
    I wish you all the best in your endeavours. Repairing film cameras must be like repairing a watch especially, like you stated Dan , the well engineered and designed cameras.
    I’ve watched a few YouTube videos where they have repaired cameras that look as if it would have been better bining them. The skill involved is truly fascinating.

    Tom Murphy
  • Goodlife luck in the UK and with your business !

    Adrian
  • Dan Ho is so charm 🖤🖤🖤

    Kayley

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