How to check the health of a vintage camera

This post attempts to answer the question ‘Is my vintage camera still working’?

I started to write it as an answer to a comment when a reader asked for help to determine if a camera she owned was working properly. However, after a few minutes it became apparent that it is too complex a question to answer as a simple comment reply so I thought I’d instead write a full post with some guidance and details of the sort of tests I do to see if my camera’s are working correctly.

Of course, as soon as I started to add details, it became obvious that I still couldn’t cover everything in a single post without it becoming unmanageable so I’ve decided to start a new section and make this the entry point. This page will be the index page with links to a full series of posts covering, I hope, a comprehensive set of tests which cover a variety of aspects of camera functionality.

Over time I intend to add links from the individual camera reviews on the site to point to the correct post within this section, which can be used to check the particular camera models. As I add individual cameras I’ll update these entries so it will work with a wide variety of different camera models, adding sections to show how to test different aspects of major camera functionality.

Who is this post for? Well, anyone who has an interest in collecting vintage cameras will I hope find something in here to read even if they don’t need the guidelines because they have the experience to test cameras themselves. Another group of users who may be interested are people, similar the the original commenter on my post perhaps, who have inherited cameras and want to know if they are still working. It could also be of use to people selling cameras on ebay.


Testing a manual camera aperture – this section deals with test to check if the aperture of your camera lens is working correctly.

Testing a manual slr camera with a focal plane shutter – this section details tests you can carry out on your manual slr camera to check the shutter operation.

Testing an uncoupled exposure meter – this section details tests you can make on a camera with an uncoupled exposure or light meter

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