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28 March 2016 / leggypeggy

My new hero—Ric in Fairbanks

Ric Thompson, camera repairer in Fairbanks

Ric Thompson, my hero of 2016

I found a new hero in Fairbanks. But before you go thinking I’ve ditched Poor John, you need to know that Poor John found this hero for me. He even egged me on.

Here’s what happened.

My camera, actually the lens, had a meltdown on our last morning in Coldfoot. The victim was my deluxe EFS 15–85mm Canon lens—the only lens I brought on this trip.

In reality, the meltdown was inevitable. The lens had been playing up for at least six months, but I had been able to work around its quirks, so thought I could continue to get by on this trip.

Besides it can cost a fortune to send a lens off for repair. And sometimes you get charged $100 for them to open it up and then say Sorry it’s dead, really dead.

But that last day in Coldfoot, I went to photograph the amazing buffet set-up in the camp restaurant, and the lens would only focus on infinity. Same problem when I tried auto or manual focus.

Infinity is fine if you want to photograph the Northern Lights or something two blocks away, but it’s never going to be good for anything closer.

Now this blow wasn’t a complete end of the world. I brought a second camera, a small, new Lumix that I am still getting used to. But the Canon is my workhorse: a lens I really know and a camera body that feels right in my hands.

When we returned to Fairbanks, Poor John asked at the visitor’s centre if there was a camera repair place in town, and the gal thought there was but that it had moved. She wasn’t sure where and had no idea what it was called.

The next day as we walked in downtown Fairbanks, there is was. Poor John spotted it first—a sign for a camera repair shop and it was almost directly opposite our hotel.

I was sceptical. After all, this was Alaska. But Poor John insisted that we check it out. So up the stairs we went and met Ric Thompson, surrounded by camera equipment.

We learned that Ric has a long and amazing camera history, working in a first-class repair shop in Portland Oregon and rising to head technician. Some years ago he decided to move to Fairbanks and be a sole operator.

When we walked in, he put down the lens he was working on and took a quick look at mine. After a brief chat, he said Come back tomorrow about lunchtime.

Suddenly it dawned on me that photographers from around the world come to Alaska to photograph the snow and, more importantly, the Northern Lights. Of course, this place needs someone talented who repaired cameras. And there he was sitting in front of me.

Bet you can already guess how it turned out.

The next day Ric said one screw in the lens was completely out of place. Two more were loose. He fixed them all and charged me about half of what Canon in Australia would have charged. Plus he did it overnight.

Last time I sent a lens away for repair in Australia, I begged for it to be done within eight weeks so I could take it to Papua New Guinea. It arrived two weeks after I left the country—so 10 weeks in all.

Ric, you are my hero of 2016. The lens is working perfectly. My heartfelt thanks. And I’d still like to know if you have a clone in Australia. Two more of my lenses need attention.

And if anyone out there ever needs to find Ric, here’s how.
Ric Thompson
Tel. 907 452 8819
551 2nd Ave., Room 221
Fairbanks, Alaska 99707

51 Comments

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  1. luckyjc007 / Mar 28 2016 2:29 pm

    How fortunate to find someone like him! I’m glad you were able to get the lens problem taken care of.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2016 2:32 pm

      It was an absolute miracle. I feel so lucky! 🙂

      Like

  2. heidi ruckriegel / Mar 28 2016 3:14 pm

    Seriously, you should send those other two lenses right on over to Rick. It’ll be quicker and probably cheaper!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2016 11:15 pm

      Scroll down the comments! Turns out there’s a Ric clone in Dubbo, Australia. I am a very happy girl indeed. I thought I was going to have to fly back to Alaska. 🙂

      Like

  3. Fiona / Mar 28 2016 3:42 pm

    One of the perks of living in the country is the service and the talent. We thought, when we moved out here, that we’d be in the desert, so to speak. No. We are still constantly blown away by the things that we can get done in McGregor and in Robertson the town 20km away. There’s a “proper” cobbler there….hadn’t come across one since Mr Koen in Grahamstown in the ’70s.

    Glad your camera’s sorted. Happy travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2016 11:17 pm

      Thanks for making that point. There’s hidden talent all over the bush. One of the world’s only glass lantern dealers/repairers lives 25 minutes from us. And a fine cobbler in town.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Joanne T Ferguson / Mar 28 2016 3:50 pm

    Well done Rick and thanks Peggy for reinforcing there still are a lot of thoughtful, caring people in the world, just like Poor John and you! Don’t get me started re Canon! LOVE the 600D with lens and 700D is even better with lens. I had a REALLY BIG food event to cover exclusively when my 600D had problems about a month before. Sent it off and was SHOCKED when they could not get it back to me for what seemed like months. I would LOVE to see the repair shop as I swear they must work on one camera a day IF that! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 12:04 am

      Joanne, let’s be in contact when I get home. Turns out the Ric’s clone lives in Dubbo and I know him. Happy to pass on details.

      Like

  5. Rhonda / Mar 28 2016 4:04 pm

    Ummm. You do realise that you KNOW a first class Canon repair agent who lives in Dubbo, don’t you? And he is speedy, and honest, reliable, and bloody good at repairing cameras. And he knows Ric.
    Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2016 11:13 pm

      I’m gobsmacked. How did this never come up in our conversations. I have three or four lens that need attention. So glad I wrote this post!

      Like

      • Rhonda / Mar 29 2016 7:29 am

        And now that I’ve picked myself up from the floor, I’m glad that you wrote it, too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sy S. / Mar 29 2016 10:41 am

      LeggyPeggy,

      How come Rhonde stoled my name “Sigh”,d signed her post…. LOL.

      Your are very fortunate to find Rich Thompson in a small city like Fairbanks and even across the street from your hotel. And more amazing is that he was able to fix your lens overnight. If you had needed a camera part… forget it. And smart move to have a second camera with you. Taking photos of your adventures is extremely important, along with your commentary.

      You took a nice portrait of Rice and I can see his office is well organized LOL, a typical camera technician.

      Sigh, Sighing Away Now

      Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 12 2016 3:20 am

        Oh Sigh, how was Rhonda to know that you go by Sigh and Sy? And your eye is good. Ric’s office is typical for a camera repairman—full to the gills.

        Like

  6. Vicki / Mar 28 2016 4:50 pm

    How wonderful to find Ric and that he could repair it overnight.

    What a priceless ‘gem’ to find at short notice.

    Cost me $88 to send my Sony a6000 to be ‘looked’ at over Christmas, and once I gave the go-ahead, the total bill was $313 at Michaels Camera Store in Melbourne. I can’t complain after all the many ‘freebies’ I’ve got since I bought my first DSLR in December 2010 there. Up until I moved house, I would often stop in to ask the sales staff (who are all either professional photographers working part-time or highly skilled photographers) questions. Many of them embarrassingly mundane questions too.

    Right from the beginning I chose to buy all my cameras and lenses in the one highly respected store so I could drop in for ‘chats’. The repair desk upstairs have also given me free advice and a quick lens clean too. The first (and still the best) salesman talked me out of a more expensive camera after a lengthy chat on what I wanted to photograph (and me adding that I couldn’t see well enough to focus manually).

    I still like my Canon DSLR best. My 2 Canon bodies are simple to use and the menus easy to navigate.

    I might add, Michaels camera store got my Sony a6000 in and back from Sony in about 3 weeks (I think it was). The salesmen have no end of patience when they’ve let me try several lenses inshore over the years….more than once…..before I’ve decided which one to buy. I went in about 6 times over 12 months before I bought my Sigma 150-500mm lens.

    I can highly recommend Michaels Camera Store if you’re ever in Melbourne and need Camera help or purchases.

    PS I dropped my Sony again on a concrete surface a few weeks ago and I think it’s been ‘limping’ along with focusing ability. If it dies, I think I’ll just replace my Canon 18-200mm lens that died and use my Canon DSLRs in the future. Can’t afford another Sony a6000 or big repair bills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 12:07 am

      Vicki, check the comment above. There’s a great camera repairman in Dubbo. Not sure that he does Sony, but he does Canon. I can send you contact details or maybe you can send a message to Rhonda in the message above.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vicki / Mar 29 2016 12:17 am

        Dubbo’s a bit too far away for me, but thanks for the thought Peggy.

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 12:29 am

        Every now and then Dubbo comes to Canberra. Maybe you know someone who comes to Canberra too.

        Like

  7. blondieaka / Mar 28 2016 4:58 pm

    Doesn’t it just ” warm the cockles of your heart” when you find just what you are looking for in what you think is the most unlikely spot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. gerard oosterman / Mar 28 2016 5:51 pm

    What a fantastic man. Does he fix Windows 10? Right now you are probably in Cuba dancing a wild and tempestuous tango with poor John, while here in Canberra we make do with a handshake with the Reverend, and with luck, a Pride of Erin during arvo at the seniors club.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 12:08 am

      Poor John on the dance floor in any country is an impossibility. I may have to find a dancing hero in Cuba.

      Like

  9. derrickjknight / Mar 28 2016 8:30 pm

    Great story. Wonderful find.I think you might be able to identify with this: http://derrickjknight.com/2013/03/20/something-old-something-new-something-borrowed-something-blue/

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 12:13 am

      Great tale of almost woe. Luckily, you pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 28 2016 9:47 pm

    Great service is hard to find these days. Thanks for promoting someone dedicated to their craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lynz Real Cooking / Mar 29 2016 12:51 am

    So glad things worked out dear Peggy YEAH!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Derrick / Mar 29 2016 2:32 am

    Had the same problem, (well nearly) the display LCD screen got busted on my trip in Africa, couldn’t get it fixed, but it never stopped me taking pictures with it, got home found a little shop that could fix it, but meanwhile I bought a Nikon 5300 which turned out too much for me, unless I had it on auto
    (I need someone to show me how to get the best out of it)
    The majority of my picture’s were taken on a little Fiju Z1

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2016 3:36 am

      One of our travelling companions in Africa had the LCD screen on his video camera conk out. Saved us once in the Congo when he was accused of filming in the port, Luckily the play back was blank, indicating that he’d just been playing around with his camera. Too funny!

      Like

  13. Curious to the Max / Mar 29 2016 7:03 am

    I was relieved that “one screw . . . was completely out of place” and it was in the lens not in Poor Johns egging you on find “your hero of a man”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 11 2016 4:24 am

      Poor John is a pretty good egger-on, and Ric is an amazing repairman. Wow, am I lucky.

      Like

  14. Carol Ferenc / Mar 29 2016 1:20 pm

    Yay, Ric! So glad you got your workhorse working again, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Louise Terranova / Mar 29 2016 2:34 pm

    Glad you got your favourite camera working.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. spearfruit / Mar 29 2016 8:41 pm

    Yea, Rick for saving the day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Rashminotes / Mar 30 2016 2:54 am

    So nice when you find someone like Ric; seems like a stroke of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 11 2016 4:31 am

      Best of all, that stroke of luck has also led me to a ‘Ric’ equivalent in Australia.

      Like

  18. Alexander Lautsyus / Mar 30 2016 5:31 am

    It worth to send any lens for repair to Ric. I think it is going to be faster, less expencive and more professional service than brand name repair facilities do.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sheryl / Mar 31 2016 1:49 pm

    What a heartwarming story! It’s always wonderful to find a skilled repair person who takes pride in doing a job well at a reasonable price.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 11 2016 4:34 am

      I love to support small business, so this discovery was especially pleasing.

      Like

  20. simpletravelourway / Mar 31 2016 3:13 pm

    So happy for you! We had our own great luck to have some great techs at Apple take care with servicing my huge photo hard drive. We were so grateful and happy. How can we get more Ricks and Apple techs (like the ones who helped us) in this world? It would make a big difference in everyone’s lives for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 11 2016 4:36 am

      So glad you found great service for your hard drive. Apple helped out Poor John big time in France when his iPad had problems.

      Like

  21. tomorrowdefinitely / Apr 1 2016 9:33 am

    Good to know there are people like Ric out there. Peggy, kudos to you, you even manage to make a post about camera and lense repair exciting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. judyinalaska / Apr 1 2016 7:46 pm

    This guy fixed a camera for me a few months ago. It’s amazing we even have someone as skilled in camera repair as him in Fairbanks. Digital camera repair, at that. He is a one of a kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 12 2016 4:10 am

      Hi Judy. It is so great to have you stop by. Sorry it too me so long to reply, but I’ve been on a ship and also in Cuba, where internet is almost non-existent. Ric is amazing and you are so lucky to have him in Fairbanks. I was so lucky too.

      Thanks for being interesting in my blog. Yours is great and I’m following it now.

      Like

  23. Stephanae V. McCoy / Apr 11 2016 12:26 am

    So glad that things worked out for you Peggy and it’s so nice of you to give Ric a shout out here.

    Liked by 1 person

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