Interview with a Film Camera Mechanic: Toni Mattila of Kamerastore and Camera Rescue

There's no single path to becoming the master of any trade, however, we like how straightforward Toni Mattila is when it comes to his craft. He chose the traditional way by learning to be a camera mechanic from an old master. For him, it's all about learning the process properly so he can do his absolute best when it comes to camera service and maintenance.

Toni Mattila at his work desk © Toni Mattila

Hi Toni, and welcome to the Magazine! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello, my name is Toni Mattila and I'm a professional film camera mechanic trained by an old master. I'm working for Kamerastore and Camera Rescue here in Finland. I was born in 1989 and my first film camera was an Olympus Mju 1. Nowadays my go-to camera is a Nikon F2.

I have always been tinkering with mechanical things but when I got into film photography again, I started looking for a proper old master to teach me the trade. I wanted to learn the proper principles instead of repairing "garage style."

What do you like about your work?

I love working daily on classic cameras, such as Hasselblads and Mamiyas. They are just such well-made mechanical beasts. I really appreciate a well-built and designed camera that was made to be serviced—which is quite the opposite of what we are used to today. As they say, they just don't make them like they used to.

© Toni Mattila

What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your craft?

The aging gear and lack of spare parts are some of the bigger daily challenges in our work. Most of the cameras in the market are 30 to 50 years old and almost all of them require some love. Also, the lack of trained mechanics is a big issue that has no immediate solution in sight.

Most mechanical cameras can always be serviced or repaired if you have parts, know-how, and proper tools but aging electronics are a big problem. Even the available spare parts are old and can be faulty. For example, there are also no tools available to calibrate compact camera autofocus or exposure.

What are the most used tools in your workshop?

We have both film-era and brand-new testing machines for testing and calibrating shutters, cameras, and lenses before and after servicing. We also have special factory tools for brands such as Hasselblad, Leica, and Mamiya.

© Toni Mattila

Where do you see film photography in the next ten years?

Even though I maintain and repair mostly high-value mechanical cameras, I would hope to see a brand new compact camera in the market to make film photography more accessible. Most electronic cameras will sadly be dead in the coming years, and prices have gone up quite a bit. I’d also like to see the film industry thriving and enough color film for everybody.

How do you train other mechanics? When do you know they're ready to work on their own?

We use a pretty traditional master-apprentice relationship that requires a lot of time and dedication. I’m currently teaching an apprentice of my own. At Kamerastore, people start as technicians, checking the condition of cameras, and doing minor repairs such as lens cleaning and changing of light seals. In time they may become apprentice mechanics. I think communication is the key, and the results usually speak for themselves.

© Toni Mattila

If you weren't a camera mechanic, what would you be?

That is difficult to say since many roads have led me to this point. I have a degree in media studies and have worked in a film lab, but old cameras and mechanics have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I’m just lucky to have received proper training and to be able to do this every day.

What does a perfect day look like for Toni Mattila?

Relaxing with good coffee. Maybe go on a bike ride or take a walk in the woods.

We wish to thank Toni for sharing his story with us. Follow him on Instagram to stay updated with his latest projects.

If you're a camera maker, repairer, or tinkerer and wish to be featured or know someone who would like to be featured, please comment down below or send us an email at

written by cheeo on 2022-12-28 #gear #people #analogue #camera-repair #film-photography #toni-mattila #camera-makers

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