The two most common 'squeakers' in the camera world are the Canon 'A' series cameras (A1, AE-1, etc..), and auto focus lens motors (mostly Nikon brand). Neither one is quite detrimental to the equipment, but it can cause issues with the operation and will surely annoy you and anyone else around.
On the Canon 'A' series of cameras, most people think that the squeak comes from the shutter, since you hear the squeak when you fire the camera. I thought this for quite a long time also, but this is not the case. The squeak that occurs in these cameras actually comes from the mirror governor/mirror dampening gear train/aperture control unit. This is caused by a dry bearing in the mechanism (also sometimes called the side plate). While there is no physical harm that comes from this item drying out, it can cause a delay in the execution of the shutter. The system is set up to make sure the shutter doesn't open until the aperture is opened correctly. If you are hearing the squeak, you may miss a shot if it throws your timing off, or the mirror may obstruct your images. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by re-lubricating the bearing.
The more annoying of the two squeaks has to be from the auto focus motors in Nikon lenses. The high-pitched squeak is not the best way to get candid shots or go unnoticed at a wedding or while photographing on the street. At one point, the preferred method for fixing this issue was to replace the entire AF motor. This expense however, is not really required. A competent repair shop should be able to go in and repair/polish the AF motor, which will completely take care of the issue.
If you start hearing squeaks or other odd sounds coming from your photo equipment, it is never a bad idea to have your camera repair shop check your equipment. Often if you start hearing squeaks, there might also be other things that need maintenance at the same time. On the Canon 'A' cameras for example, if the oil has dried out, it's likely that the cameras foam (light seals) have also deteriorated and needs to be replaced.
If you're hearing squeaks and would like a repair quote from the KEH Camera Repair Center, click here or call 770-333-4210.
- Sean McCreery