venerdì 3 ottobre 2014

Gigi Carminati 60 years of cine-photo repairs in Milano

I've already published this story in my other blog: Graffiti a Milano on february, 22th 2014, but since I've started this new blog dedicated to the traditional photography, I thought it could be a good idea edit also here one of the most read article, because I will keep a monthly appointment with him to tell you about which were the best vintage cameras and to give you a few tips to keep in good shape your photographic gear.

Gigi at work 

Gianluigi Carminati was born in Sesto San Giovanni, near Milan, in 1940, where he still lives.
At 14 years old, as it was once, goes to work in the shop and finds himself in the employ of a "magician" repair optical and mechanical precision, Mario Vitali, who in 1954 had the workshop in Via Arbe. After 6 months, Vitali approximately 55 years died as a result of a very serious disease.
The young Gigi, in 1955, he moved to the Zeiss that was then in Piazza Borromeo, close to the Bank of Italy, a few steps from the Duomo.
In those years, almost all cameras and optical equipment of quality were made in Germany, Japanese manufacturers began to come forward timidly on world markets, but their equipment was not yet as reliable as those of Central Europe.
Mr. Butti, the holder of Zeiss Italy understands that the photographic market is about to explode and also opened the first store of wholesale of photographic material: the SMAF and the Daf .
After 6 years of work for Gigi comes the moment to perform compulsory military service, in 1961, so he was enrolled in the armored cavalry, or, in the tank drivers.
In 1962, he returned to Milan and Gigi, along with Sergio Saccani, opened a workshop to repair all kinds of photomechanical in Via Paolo Lomazzo n. 45. Behind a work table, you can find him again today, ready to take care of our cameras in need of maintenance or any type of intervention.

Repairing a curtain shutter

Objectives, photo-cameras, cine-cameras, projectors, binoculars, there is nothing that passing through the hands of Gigi has not been resurrected to new life.
The profession of photo-repairman is not a simple task and can not be improvised, today in Milan only a very few people are able to solve the myriad problems that may arise at a precision instrument, but no one has the experience and expertise of Gigi.
Unfortunately, I realized that there are people who boast about repairers, but they have many other "passions". In a moment of madness I decided to do a test with a character who attends the world of flea markets, to give my camera for repair to him. The fact that there was not a public place in charge of his business already had put me on alert, then when I heard him say, in his absence to leave my camera at the concierge about where he lived, I was horrified and ran away at great speed.
For me, a precision engineer is a man who carries out a mission that requires infinite patience, a steady hand and lots of intelligence more than a job to everyone.
Being able to put together the pieces of a tool, at times, better than it was out of the factory is not a joke and only those involved in photographic tools for many years have been able to collect old broken machines to be able to disassemble the parts to be replace the cameras out of production for decades, or find pieces that have become stock funds.
In its heyday, Gigi worked a lot for the professionals and merchants who brought a whole range of material to arrange, especially before the summer, when everyone wanted to be sure you do not then misfired on vacation. A workshop with him was his partner and another friend, but despite this, I remember that the waiting times for delivery were quite long.
In the 1980s it was introduced a lot of electronic components on the cameras, so you had to proceed with several replacements of electronic circuitry, magnets and spare parts are not always readily available or cheap.
While I was with him for the interview, I happened to see one of the rare cases in which no steps were taken to recover the use of a camera, it was a Leica R4 Mot, model who suffered from a problem that the time and the limited use have worsened. Now, certain models of camera film that were very prestigious quotations are so low that you do before buying a camera that running a repair complicated.
There are more resistant cameras and cameras that have the inherent problems never well resolved, or maybe that require periodic replacement of seals or other items of consumption that make it an occasion purchase of a piece of some kind of debt. I, before buying a traditional camera, always ask to Gigi what des he think of this or that model of facts emerge and sometimes quite surprising that just would not expect much from renowned brands, equipment or super-professional top of the range.
Digital photography has begun to occupy a certain weight in the world of still image from around 1995 and since then many things have changed.
Slowly stores are in crisis because photography has shifted to the computing world, and that there was no great demand for print photos on paper.
Little by little disappeared village shops, mini-lab, development labs and printing and, last, even as wholesalers and SMAF or Unionfotomarket closed.
Gigi, however, resists, even if it is already retired. Assures us that for at least another 10 years he will still be in place to fight, to continue the battle of traditional photography and assist all collectors and fans of the film who, like him, still do not want to surrender to digital photography.
Gigi is in fact a man of another age, not using the computer, although it says it is going to buy one, and make things right, as they used to do it once. If you say one thing and that is when the speaker knows what he says.
Gigi's “shop”, although in reality this is not shop here because he's not sellinng anything, but he offers a service, it is a bit a meeting place of unique characters, ranging from the retiree who speaks the most and the less with Gigi, neighbors who occasionally go to ask for something in those who recognize an important presence in the neighborhood, to the various fans who, as in a continuous procession, come in this place with the strangest requests.
To better understand the times we live in, I can simply say that 30 years ago there were photographers who asked Gigi to hurry to repair the cameras, but now he is asking customers to move to withdraw their machines repaired.
Gigi knows how to fix even digital cameras, but as in the case of the rich equipment of electronic components, may not always be cost-effective to repair them.
Gigi is happy because on Friday evening he closes and when the weather is nice, he goes to the mountains for some downhill skiing.
For those who want to go from tuesday to friday to find him, you can search in via Paolo Lomazzo, 45, or call this number: 02.315580, but do not ask him to repair a camera on the phone because he is a serious person and first he must see the trouble to understand what it is the problem. Tony Graffio

Via Paolo Lomazzo, 45 Milano

To repair or not to repair?

Obviously, a precious photo camera is not an old pair of brocken shoes, so it's always better to bring your photographic gear to a good technician and make repair your vintage tresours, until you can find some professionals like Gigi able to do a perfect restauration.

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