- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2016

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - Just inside the United Camera Repair shop in Rock Island sits an older film camera on a poster board that looks frozen in a state of constant explosion. It’s a testament to the complexity of even this older camera, with well over 100 tiny screws, springs, latches and levers, rivaling any watch mechanism.

To United Camera Repair owner, Eric Pohl, the camera’s a three dimensional puzzle of sorts.

“No two repairs are ever alike,” the 47-year-old said. “Each one is unique, each one a puzzle you have to solve.”

Doug Nelson started the business in his basement in 1955. Tom De Winter and Denny Timmerman took over the company and moved it to its current spot at 3830 14th Ave, Rock Island, in 1967. United Camera Repair has been fixing film cameras and equipment for the past 61 years.

Mr. Pohl was born in Muncie, Ind., but has lived in Rock Island for 22 years now.

“I was going to school at Hamilton Tech, and my last year they sent out a request looking for part-time work,” he said. “It turned out they had enough work for full-time, but I was still going to school so I couldn’t take it. At that time, they said to give them a call when I graduated, and as it turned out, they called me a week before I graduated. I started after I graduated, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Mr. Pohl’s grandfather was a camera repairman, passing away when Mr. Pohl was just 11, but he remembers helping his grandfather at his workbench when Mr. Pohl was just a child.

“I never really thought about it until I started here,” Mr. Pohl said. “Add that into the mix, and I guess you can say I’ve been working on cameras for almost 40 years.”

From older film cameras to modern DSLRs, the shop fixes them all, along with camera accessories like flashes, lenses, projectors and enlargers. They also work on game systems like Xbox and PlayStation as well as repair iPads, Kindles and touch pads as well as smart phones.

“The basics of photography haven’t really changed for over 100 years,” Mr. Pohl said. “The only thing that’s really changed is what’s recording the image. We went from film to an electronic sensor. The shutter, the mirror box, these things haven’t really changed.

“The electronics have become more complicated,” he said. “Now, you can look at a camera and think of it as a network of different computers - one in the lens, one in the flash and one in the camera - that all have to talk to each other. A problem in any of them can lead to major headaches.”

Mr. Pohl also shoots pictures. His work, mostly wildlife and landscapes, hangs on the walls around the office.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I’ve been shooting for about 10 years, and I want to do more of it.”

One of his most recent puzzles came in form of a DeVry projector from the 1900s that came to the shop in pieces. The 16-mm, hand-cranked projector was created by Herman A. DeVry and was so popular the sales funded the beginnings of what would become DeVry University.

Some of his repairs on older cameras require him to make a piece because the manufacturer is no longer around.

“There’s a real challenge to some of that,” he said. “Seeing how a piece was intended to work, what it’s function was, how it’s all interconnected.”


Source: The Rock Island Argus, https://bit.ly/1Qemk0o


Information from: The Rock Island Argus, https://www.qconline.com/index.shtml

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