Friday, 20 May 2016

Repairing my camera's scuffed paintwork

It's been four weeks since I slipped on wet rocks and crashed my Panasonic LX100 camera - still only nine months old even now - into a rock ledge in an attempt to save myself from injury. I had to replace the battery (which fell out into a salt-water pool), but after cleaning-up the camera has - luckily - functioned perfectly. But the scuff-marks on the baseplate and lens barrel, exposing the shiny aluminium under the matt black paint, have been a niggle. It was time to fix that, and restore a nearly-new appearance.

Dad had been something of an amateur artist, and his collection of suitably fine paintbrushes was still up in my attic. I needed only a small pot of matt black enamel paint, plus a jamjar and white spirit, to get started.

Getting hold of the paint was the thing that held me up. There were no nearby model shops. Then when in Canterbury two days ago with my cousin Rosemary, we went into Fenwick, the big department store there. She wanted a very lightweight weekend bag. It turned out that the luggage department was next to the toy department, and lo and behold, there was a display of little paint pots for model-makers. Aha! A pot of matt black enamel paint! And only £1.70.

I needed to be in the right frame of mind for this job. It might be quick, simple and very successful. Or it might turn out to be a nightmare, ruining my lovely camera's appearance. Would a pot of modeller's paint really match the original factory-applied paint? Well, this evening I decided to have a go, and find out. I assembled my equipment:

The screwdriver was for prizing off the paint-pot cap. I also had some newspaper to work on.

Aluminium was exposed at various points around the front of the lens barrel, including a place that would require me to remove the front lens ring to get at it properly. Aluminium was exposed also on the baseplate, at the end closest in the above shot. It seemed to me that a lightly-laden brush, gently stroked over the various areas needing a touch-up, would do the trick. And I had steady hands. But I really had no idea how thick or thin the paint would be, or whether it would be the right shade of black, neither shinier or duller than the original paint when dry.

Oh well. Here goes. Victory or ruin.

Phew! It was OK. I was very careful not to overload the brush, and the paint went on smoothly, and so far as I could tell, evenly. There were actually more scuff marks than I'd hitherto noticed - what punishment my camera had taken! When I had treated them all, I stopped - resisting the temptation to apply a second coat. Let the first dry, and then decide.

But if today's effort has been mostly successful, I think I'll do no more. No need to push my luck too far. A slight slip of the brush could be a disaster. The intention is not perfection, but merely to restore a nearly-new appearance, sufficiently good to fool the casual eye. And so far as I can judge, the eye will be fooled.

I'll leave the camera undisturbed overnight, so that by tomorrow morning the paint will be not only touch-dry but somewhat hardened. Then we shall see.

Next morning
It worked. If you're looking for it, you can see where I applied some paint. But it's quite a neat job, and this is matt black on matt black. It's really not noticeable.

Well, that's a little but constant reminder of a foolhardy and potentially brain-damaging accident - for I bumped my head as well as the camera - out of the way. Though not forgotten.

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