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In digital world, man spends half a century repairing film cameras in Saigon

Sunday, May 31, 2020, 10:21 GMT+7
In digital world, man spends half a century repairing film cameras in Saigon
Nguyen Van Tan is seen working on film cameras at his ‘repair shop,’ which is a table inside a digital camera shop in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A Vietnamese man has spent nearly half of the past century on repairing film cameras in Saigon.

Nguyen Van Tan, now 68, started his job in 1973 and have followed it since then.

Since digital cameras were introduced, film cameras have become less favored and used, resulting in a reduction in the number of Tan’s customers.

According to Tan, his job requires patience and passion.

Many people had come to him and asked to learn the skill, but they eventually quit after a while.

As Tan does not have money to open his own repair shop, he has asked for a spot at a digital camera shop where he could put a table and receive orders to repair film cameras.

The sign of Tan’s ‘shop’ is a small name card stick at his table inside a digital camera shop in District 1. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

The sign of Nguyen Van Tan’s ‘shop’ is a small business card stuck at his table inside a digital camera shop in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A normal working day starting at 9:00 every morning at a camera shop on Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1 can help Tan earn around VND250,000-300,000 (US$11-13) from repairing two cameras.

“The difficulty of repairing film cameras is that many models are no longer produced so I cannot find components to repair them,” Tan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper.

“I have to buy old cameras and take the components I need to repair my customers’ equipment,” he added.

Every day, Nguyen Van Tan travels from his home in District 10 to a camera shop in District 1 to do his job. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Every day, Nguyen Van Tan travels from his home in District 10 to a camera shop in District 1 to do his job. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Customers coming to Tan only need to tell him the 'symptoms' of their cameras, then the repairer will know what is problematic inside and how to fix it.  

Tan’s customers come from all ages, from beginners to long-time film photography lovers.

Sometimes Tan even shows his customers who are new to film photography how to use their cameras.

“My customers often joke with me, telling me not to die because they would not know where to bring their cameras for repair then,” Tan said.

The film photography scene in Vietnam has recently turned bustling again, with many young people showing an interest, he added.

Dao Tu Uyen, 23, is one of them. The woman from Binh Thanh District said she has been into film photography for around a year and was recommended by her friends to bring her cameras to Tan for repair.

“It only takes him a short time to repair a camera, plus he is very friendly. I’ve become his regular patron,” Uyen shared.

Dao Tu Uyen, 23, a regular customer who said she’s always feel safe when bring her cameras to Tan. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Dao Tu Uyen, 23, a regular customer who says she has always feel safe when bringing her cameras to Nguyen Van Tan. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tan poses with two film cameras at his work. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan poses with two film cameras at work. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan (left) discusses while repairing a camera for his customer. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan (left) gestures while repairing a camera for his customer. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tan is seen working on the cameras at his ‘repair shop’ which is a table inside a digital camera shop in District 1. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan is seen working on film cameras at his ‘repair shop,’ which is a table inside a digital camera shop in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tan checks if a camera is ok. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan checks if a camera is working properly. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tan said film cameras are now back on the rails as more and more people prefer the vintage sense they bring, as well as enjoy the ‘click’ sound of film cameras. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tan says film cameras are now back on the rails as more and more people prefer the sense of vintage they bring, while enjoying their ‘click’ sound. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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