Monday, February 27, 2006

The Camera District?





There used to be a bunch of photography related businesses along Biscayne Blvd. in Miami from downtown up to Browne's Photo Center at 82nd. St. One by one they've dissapeared. World Wide Photo at about 50th St. is still there, and that nice looking young lady will gladly sell you film as well as paper, chemicals, and other supplies, but they're no longer a Leica dealer and their once overflowing selection of enlargers, both new and used, is no more. Behind her is a large selection of film. Even sheet film and pro-packs, with the color stored in a refrigerator. Still, it's the last "pro" shop at this end of the county where you can find everything from studio lighting to rolls of background paper to negative sleeves. Even the digital shooters need background paper and lights!

Until the end of December Dan's Camera Clinic was located in a little strip mall a few blocks to the north. Manfred and his wife were always there ready for the next customer to walk in. Manfred was usually in the back at his work bench. They both had thick German Swiss accents. He knew his Leicas, Rolleiflexes, Hasselblads, and about anything else, inside out and backwards! If the problem was a simple fix he'd do it right then and there, often while standing at the counter chatting with you, and hand it back "no charge". Other time it would be more serious and he'd tell you to come back in two or three days. On rare occasions he'd tell you that he needed to order parts, or worse, that the part was no longer available, but he usually knew a work-around, and although your camera no longer matched factory specs it would be perfectly functional.

Behind the counter was a glass showcase full of used and reconditioned cameras. He was always the first place I'd go to look for something in the way of used equipment, and I sold him a lot too, including my Leicaflex, Hasselblad, and view camera kits. The last time I was in there back in October he adjusted the rangefinder of an M2 body I'd just gotten and told me the bad news. He was shutting the doors come the end of December. He said people were buying more and more digital and not bothering to fix them anyway when they broke. They'd rather just buy the latest! Toss the old one! I heard that he's still doing a bit of repair work at home these days.

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