Jump to content


Photo

Becoming a camera tech


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Mohan Sandhu

Mohan Sandhu
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 23 April 2009 - 11:49 AM

Forgive me if this has been asked before but just how do you become a Camera tech in this day and age? Is there a conventional path into the business?

It's something that I think I'd be very suited to do professionally.

Many Thanks,
  • 0

#2 Simon Wyss

Simon Wyss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1415 posts
  • Other
  • Basel, Switzerland

Posted 23 April 2009 - 11:56 AM

Hi, Mohan

Would you care to give a tiny bit of information about your experience with cameras or any other experience such as in the field of mechanics?
  • 0

#3 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:00 PM

As with any trade these days. . . any way that you can?

Traditionally you start at the bottom and crawl you way up!
  • 0

#4 Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1234 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 23 April 2009 - 01:42 PM

As with any trade these days. . . any way that you can?

Traditionally you start at the bottom and crawl you way up!


I started knowing nothing. Start at the rental houses. Call them and tell them who you are and what you do. You may have to start as a driver but that is how it is normally done. If you have some experience you might be able to skip the driver step. I started at Armistead which is gone, then I went to Otto Nemenz. Then I ventured out to be an AC, operator, DP. Throughout the years I worked and filled in for people and worked at Birns & Sawyer, Keslow Camera, Ultravision. I worked as a Lens Tech for The Camera House and CamTech. Lens teching is skilled work but I got training and I had already worked with lenses in the field and knew what they did and how they worked, I'm pretty mechanically inclined so it was easy for me. It's all a matter of timing and being persistent. It can be done.
  • 0

#5 Mohan Sandhu

Mohan Sandhu
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 23 April 2009 - 01:50 PM

Hi, Mohan

Would you care to give a tiny bit of information about your experience with cameras or any other experience such as in the field of mechanics?


Hi,
I was raised by a jeweler/silversmith and picked up a lot of those skills then studied Engineering at college before falling madly in love with still photography. I tought myself how to repair cameras as a way of picking up nice gear for very little money, I've worked on a fair bunch of Still gear ranging from Rolleiflexes, leicas and a Hasselblad to some really weird and obscure vintage stuff. I don't have the tooling to comfortable do too much with lenses (unless there already junk). My hands on knowledge of motion picture gear goes no further than Rebuilding a K-3, although my dirty secret is that I enjoy reading workshop manuals for gear I've never seen let alone touched. As a sideline I've been building some analogue music gear (effects and then a synth) to brush up on my electronic knowledge.

Oh, I'm 22 and work (not enough) as a commercial photographers assistant.
  • 0

#6 Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1234 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 23 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

Hi,
I was raised by a jeweler/silversmith and picked up a lot of those skills then studied Engineering at college before falling madly in love with still photography. I tought myself how to repair cameras as a way of picking up nice gear for very little money, I've worked on a fair bunch of Still gear ranging from Rolleiflexes, leicas and a Hasselblad to some really weird and obscure vintage stuff. I don't have the tooling to comfortable do too much with lenses (unless there already junk). My hands on knowledge of motion picture gear goes no further than Rebuilding a K-3, although my dirty secret is that I enjoy reading workshop manuals for gear I've never seen let alone touched. As a sideline I've been building some analogue music gear (effects and then a synth) to brush up on my electronic knowledge.

Oh, I'm 22 and work (not enough) as a commercial photographers assistant.


I think you could handle it. You probably have the tools and the skills to be a lens tech or a camera tech. Where do you live and are you planning on making a move to a film city?
  • 0

#7 Saul Rodgar

Saul Rodgar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1682 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

I think you could handle it. You probably have the tools and the skills to be a lens tech or a camera tech. Where do you live and are you planning on making a move to a film city?


Yeah, you may be able to "intern" (even for free at the beginning?) with an older and very experienced camera tech who can show you the ropes and go from there. If I were mechanically and electronically inclined I would really pursue that myself, alas, I can barely even fix my bike . . . :P

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 23 April 2009 - 04:11 PM.

  • 0

#8 Mohan Sandhu

Mohan Sandhu
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:45 PM

I think you could handle it. You probably have the tools and the skills to be a lens tech or a camera tech. Where do you live and are you planning on making a move to a film city?


Thanks! That's reassuring. I'm living in Toronto at the moment (only for another 2 months) then back to my native England, the tentative plan is to make the move to London.

Oh, incidentally I paid for my flight over here by turning over an Arriflex 2C 400ft mag among other stuff.
  • 0

#9 Mohan Sandhu

Mohan Sandhu
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 23 April 2009 - 07:44 PM

Oh, here are some older stills, you might also be able to spot a bit of gear I've worked on or built;
http://www.flickr.co...os/mohansandhu/
  • 0

#10 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 April 2009 - 09:10 PM

engineering and electronics huh - are you interested in motion control for cine ?
  • 0

#11 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 23 April 2009 - 09:19 PM

engineering and electronics huh - are you interested in motion control for cine ?


Yeah, with that combination plus some imagination, there are related companies other than camera houses that would need people like that. Check out some of the cool stuff doggicam makes. All of their stuff started out as a custom solution to a particular problem.
  • 0

#12 Mohan Sandhu

Mohan Sandhu
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 24 April 2009 - 12:47 AM

engineering and electronics huh - are you interested in motion control for cine ?


Very much so, I would imagine it relates closely to programming CNC machine tools, but far more creative and interesting.
  • 0

#13 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 April 2009 - 02:26 AM

Very much so, I would imagine it relates closely to programming CNC machine tools, but far more creative and interesting.


Well, you can do some pretty creative and interesting stuff with CNC also (like build moco rigs) but that is besides the point - yes it relates closely but you have to account for action over time so yeh same same, but different PID/control algorithms.

UK - http://www.mrmoco.co.uk/ among others, to get your imagination going...

Edited by Chris Millar, 24 April 2009 - 02:27 AM.

  • 0

#14 Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1234 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:05 AM

Check out some of the cool stuff Doggicam makes. All of their stuff started out as a custom solution to a particular problem.


It must be good money too since Gary drives a Ferrari.
  • 0

#15 Jean-Louis Seguin

Jean-Louis Seguin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 719 posts
  • Other
  • Montreal, Canada

Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:31 AM

Forgive me if this has been asked before but just how do you become a Camera tech in this day and age? Is there a conventional path into the business?

It's something that I think I'd be very suited to do professionally.

Many Thanks,



Hi Mohan,

I think there are always openings for a motivated individual who is willing to learn and shows dedication to the craft.

I started out as camera repairman in the late 70s as a way to support my filmmaking habit.
I did not have the privilege of apprenticing with anyone at first, so I took the correspondence course offered by National Camera Repair School in Englewood, Colorado. About halfway through the course, I saw an ad in the local paper. Minolta was looking for a tech. I didn't think I would ever be hired but I applied anyway if only to find out what the salary was!

To say that the interview went badly was an understatement The Japanese service manager spoke very broken English and I constantly had to ask him to repeat his questions. He gave me a camera and a screwdriver and asked me to take out some screws. He showed me the "correct" way to pick up screws with a screwdriver.

I went back home thinking that was it: I would never hear from them again.

Two months later, I get a call from the service manager asking if I willing to start! I guess I wasn't that bad after all.
The service manager did not want to admit it, but the National Camera training did make a difference. The last guy they hired before me was also a graduate of NatCam and he turned out to be an outstanding technician.

I learned a lot at Minolta, including how to fix their super8 cameras. It's funny because when they found out I was filmmaker, they gave me all the super8 cameras to fix. The truth was that most of the other techs hated fixing super8 cameras. After two years, I got bored with fixing only one company's models, the low salary and the constant prodding to do more and quicker. Then I was lured away by a former Minolta employee who now ran his own independent repair shop who promised me a substantial salary increase and the chance to work on all kinds of gear. This is where the NatCam training was invaluable. It taught me to
analyze problems in a systematic way even with unfamiliar equipment.

After two years of working for somebody else, I decided I had enough experience, took the plunge and opened my own repair shop. Business grew and at one point, I had 5 employees. Like most general camera repair shops we were servicing primarily photographic equipment with only the occasional super8 movie camera. People who knew me as a filmmaker somehow assumed I would be an expert in movie cameras and I never refused them. Then a local college inquired whether I was capable of fixing their Bolex 16mm cameras and so I started working on Bolex.

A couple of years later, I decided to sell the business. I then went to work for the College that was giving me their Bolexes to fix.
And I've been specialized in motion picture camera repair ever since.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
  • 0


Glidecam

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Opal

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Tai Audio

Opal

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport