About a year ago, I bought a fancy digital camera from eBay, and when it came, the damn thing didn’t work. So I stopped in at AP-T Camera Repair, a store I’d never before visited, but could only assume repaired cameras. The woman I met that day, Vicki Dean Mayhew, quickly assessed my situation, listing the many faults of my new purchase. Rather than charge me a boatload of money to fix a worthless camera, Mayhew told me exactly how to get my money back from the chump on eBay.
Finding a good camera repair shop isn’t easy these days. Hell, finding a place that sells film isn’t easy these days. Now located at 4503 Menaul NE, AP-T is a small storefront packed with spin racks full of photography books and display cases full of cameras. One case is taller than I am, stacked full of black and silver cameras, the majority of which seem to be older than me. To one side of this case are rows of camera cases hanging on hooks; to the other side are piles of tripods leaning in the corner.
Mayhew and her husband, Michael K. Mayhew, originally got into the camera business as wholesalers, opening their first shop just south of UNM in 1986. They have since shifted to retail and now focus primarily on repair work.
“Oh, I think camera shops are a dying breed,” Mayhew says. But advances in technology mean it’s all the more important to stay well-versed in all the latest gear.
“For example,” she explains, “we are an official service and repair center for Nikon.” When you bring your expensive Nikon camera in for repair, Mayhew doesn’t send it out. She and her husband have the training to repair your camera right there. Only 22 stores in the entire country can make that claim. Mayhew also knows how important it is for her customers to stay up to speed on their cameras. She offers one-on-one photography classes to teach you about every button and setting.
Along with repairing cameras, AP-T also works on binoculars, flashes, light meters, tripods and other photography equipment. Instead of throwing out your gear to buy something new, AP-T encourages people to simply refurbish what they already have.
In a society overrun by chain stores and strip malls, it’s nice to find an old-fashioned repair shop run by two people who actually care about their customers. AP-T will remind photographers why they picked up a camera in the first place.