Author Topic: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?  (Read 1361 times)

Zang

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Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« on: January 29, 2019, 17:01:30 »
Hello all,

I used to use C/Y Zeiss lenses a while ago and I found they were mechanically perfect. The focus rings were smooth and had exactly same turning resistance. That experience became my reference when it comes to manual lenses.

Recently, I started buying Nikon manual lenses and ended up with 5 items, 55mm f2.8, 35mm f2.8, 28mm f3.5, 80-200 f4.5 and 24mm f2.8 AI. They all have different focusing experience :) 55mm is looser than Zeiss, but it is totally fine. 35mm is looser than 55mm. Zoom is very loose. I can hear its barrel banging by shaking the lens. 28mm has inconsistent resistance. It changes between being tighter and looser through out the full turn (the pattern is consistent, though). 24mm is surprisingly stiff :)

24mm is much stiffer than what I consider to be normal but remains pretty smooth end to end. At some point I was thinking about taking it apart for re-greasing. The question goes to those who have gone through that hassle (of fun) if it is worth it to open the lens up? What would be the decision point for doing so or in another word, what level of stiffness is considered to be an issue? I know this is very much down to personal experience but I want to hear your opinions and stories :)

Cheers,
Zang

rosko

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 18:06:39 »
These lenses were probably never maintained/re-greased.

I have some among mine like that.

The grease is sure dried or very old, hence the stiffness of focusing ring.

There are not many ways to solve this issue, but just one : disassembling the lens until you put the helicoids apart. Then use acetone to clean and put new grease. you can take this opportunity to blow any dust/specs from glasses.

I would advice to mark the helicoids before unscrew each other apart, otherwise is a nightmare to engage the threads when you reassemble the lens. Have a look at this link
https://richardhaw.com/2018/02/04/repair-nikkor-28mm-f-2-8-ai-s/.

Richard is a member and post here many repairs with pictures and explanations. Section : ''what the nerd do''


I also have a contax/yashica Zeiss 85mm F/2.8 converted to Nikon mount. I love its ''buttery'' focussing !

Good luck !
Francis Devrainne

Ian Watson

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 19:16:30 »
As Rosko says, your lenses have seen a varied service history. It might also be that there are differences in feel between AI and AIS, in case you have a mixture.

My modest collection is entirely AI and they all feel similar. They either arrived in good condition or I had them serviced. If you need a good technician in Toronto then I can recommend one.

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 19:37:17 »
The perceived sloppiness of the focusing/zooming collar of the 80-200/4.5 is quite typical for that lens. The others should ideally focus smoothly. In particular your 24 appears to need relubrication -- it should focus very smooth during its long focusing travel.

Be aware of the tendency for the 55/2.8 Micro to get lubrication seepage onto the aperture blades making them sticky. If this occurs a major strip-down and cleaning would be required.

Zang

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 19:40:16 »
Although they were paid $40 - $150, all the samples are rather in perfect shape with pristine glass and body with virtually no signs of use. I paid attention to screws, inside and I do not think they were ever opened for services. They all take fine pictures as I expected. My only concern is the tight focus ring of 24 mm. I like fixing things but I am a bit concerned about ability (or rather inability) to align the optic correctly. @Ian, If I decide to delegate the job to an expert, I'll take your recommendation for sure, thank you!

Cheers,
Zang

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 19:43:27 »
The focusing helicoids of lenses do "dry out" or clog over time in particular if the lens is just stood on a shelf and not subject to regular use. The lens otherwise might be in pristine shape. Always a risk associated with purchasing second-hand.

Zang

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 19:46:35 »
@Birna, 55 mm is the only one I have had since 2005-ish. All the rest I bought in the last 2 months. 55 mm, although has seen very different "workload" and unused periods, is performing fine. As the all take fine pictures and only the focusing is bothering me, I may try living with them for a while.

Cheers,
Zang

Ian Watson

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 19:58:36 »
If the grease dries out then it can act more like a grinding paste :o Do think about having that 24mm serviced; it is a great little lens.

This place has serviced my D3 and a couple of lenses. I am very happy with both the work and the service. English is not their first language but a little patience will see you through. If the technician is not sure what your concern is then he will call you.

http://www.torontocameraservice.com

Jack Dahlgren

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 20:01:37 »
@Birna, 55 mm is the only one I have had since 2005-ish. All the rest I bought in the last 2 months. 55 mm, although has seen very different "workload" and unused periods, is performing fine. As the all take fine pictures and only the focusing is bothering me, I may try living with them for a while.

Cheers,
Zang
Stiff grease sometimes can be mitigated a bit by working back and forth. If you have to force the lens into focus, then you really should re-lubricate it. I had to do that with a micro 105mm which took a strong twist of the wrist.

Zang

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 20:17:53 »
Awesome reference, Ian! I used to walk to that area for food (I love the Japanese restaurant on Atlantic Ave and the Mexican on Jefferson) and I never noticed the camera shop. No worries about English, it is not even my second language LOL. Thanks again!

Cheers,
Zang

Zang

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2019, 20:23:01 »
Hey Jack, I definitely do not need to use my wrist to focus the lens :) I can probably still focus the lens using one finger but let say it is not a pleasant thing to do like with my other manual lenses. I do not hear any grinding or any weird sound at all, just smooth but tight sliding.

Cheers,
Zang

richardHaw

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2019, 02:07:48 »
i grease my lenses according to my preferences. if i think a lens would benefit from a light grease then i would repack the thing  :o :o :o

a lens thats too stiff isnt normal and is a sure sign that it needs to be worked on. normal torque is OK but too much torque isnt. too much is when your putting too much effort to turn that thing. i have relubed a monster 360-1200 f/11 bazooka last year and that thing turns so smooth you can do it with one finger.

Zang

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 02:33:05 »
Hey Rick, let say I disassemble the lens, put things back in correct order and tighten them correctly, are there chances the lens gets dis-aligned? What is the trick to keep the lens aligned after reassembly?

FGAng

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2019, 15:21:56 »
Following up on Rick's reply there are different grades of optical grease, he introduced me to two types.  I use the lighter grease on my 135mm and the heavier grease on my 50mm - the eventual feel of the two lenses are wonderfully similar, so what I did was essentially making the 135mm lighter and the 50mm stiffer.

I will be re-greasing my 35mm f/2 Nikkor-O and my 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor-S soon, using Rick's blue-print on how to disassemble the lenses.

Rick taught me a lot about the art of lens service, although I am still struggling with zooms and things like CRC (floating elements).  But do visit my blog: https://diediemustdive.wordpress.com/.

Matthew Currie

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Re: Manual lenses, how stiff is stiff?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2019, 22:17:00 »
Just a note on the 24/2.8 AI.  I have one of those, bought in bargain grade from KEH over a decade ago.  It is still smooth as butter. This is a CRC lens, I think, which means it's a bit more complicated than a single helicoid, so I'd definitely have it fixed or fix it if it doesn't free right up with use.