Can Lens Wobble be Repaired?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by snegron, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I have a Nikon 50mm 1.4 manal focus AIS lens in almost new condition except for a bit of wobble when I focus. It seems like the focusing ring is not as tight as it should be. When I turn the focus ring and aquire a perfect focus, I notice a bit of wobble that shifts the front focusing ring/element and takes the image out of focus.

    I have other lenses that have similar issues to a smaller degree. I was wondering if there is an easy repair for this. Replacing these lenses is not a smart idea at this time because the glass elements are near perfect. The lenses are almost new except for that little wobble issue.
     
  2. Kino

    Kino Member

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    The oldest trick in the book is to put really stiff grease on the helical focus gears.
     
  3. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    but not too stiff, otherwise you'll need a strap wrench to focus it.


    erie
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I've had a similar problem repaired professionally once or twice, and right now I have two lenses that I keep meaning to send in for the same repair, a 35/2,8 PC-Nikkor and a 90/2,5 Vivitar Series 1 Macro. If you like the lenses, the repairs aren't too expensive.
     
  5. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Did your repair technician indicate what the problem was? Was it something that could be corrected with thicker grease as Kino mentioned? I wonder if a track on the focusing is worn and in need of replacement?
     
  6. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Sure, that is probably the problem.

    The grease is an old 'Grapes of Wrath' cure; cheap and it works... for a while.

    If you plan on using the lens for a few more decades and parts are still available, I'd send it in for a proper repair.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    No, he didn't say. As far as I can see, having most recently seen it in a damaged Biogon, it seems to be related to mechanical damage and one of the internal mount components coming loose. Some are held in place with three screws; my suspicion is that this sort of ring is jarred loose. With the Biogon in particular, it was definitely not lubricant-related, nor should that be possible in a top-quality lens (cheaper ones are another matter).
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Unless, as Roger suggested there was some physical damage or a loose screw what you're looking at its old grease having dried up or migrated somewhere & the lens needs a cla.
    If, as Kino suggested it's worn to the point of sloppiness, replace it with another lens. It'll be less expensive.
    For what it's worth the helicals in the Nikkors are aluminum & brass so it is possible that it's worn out, but not likely.
     
  9. spb854

    spb854 Member

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    Same here

    Ironically, I had the exact same thing happen to me.

    The very first SLR I bought was a Nikon F2S with the same lens.
    Before I even had a chance to use it, I noticed the wabble.

    I ended up exchanging it for another new one.

    Noticed that all the lenses mentioned, except one, are Nikkor.
    Wonder if it's a problem with them.
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear John,

    I second your advice to replace a lens that is so worn as to have become sloppy, but I'm not so sure about the likelihood of migratory grease. I've been taking pictures seriously for 40+, using cameras up to about 100 years old, including a good number from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. ABout 25 years ago I wrote a book called A History of the 35mm Still Camera (Focal Press 1984) and I actually pulled a few cameras apart for that.

    Dried-up lubricants make for stiffness, but it needs to be a pretty cheap, nasty lens (such as a generic 500/6,3 refractor) before you can get a wobble on the focusing mount.

    The focusing mounts on the very best lenses (Leica, Zeiss, and a few others) are hand-lapped, and most good lenses use dissimilar metals in the helicals because these bind a lot less than pairs of similar metals. A hard (possibly anodised) light alloy and brass should not wear significantly in anything like normal use, but if both components are made of soft light alloy (East German lenses from the 40s and 50s, cheap Japanese lenses from the 60s) it's possible that they used LOTS of grease to disguise sloppiness from new.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  11. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Not true; I've seen plenty well made lenses in junk drawers of used camera stores that had wobbly lens mounts and barrels.

    Some people beat the hell out of their cameras, throw them in the floorboards of jeeps, bounce all over Hell and back, and literally shake the screws out of the lens.

    Its all relative; no lens can withstand everything...
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Sorry: I meant wobbles from dried up lubricants in the focusing mounts alone. I completely agree about wobbles in battered lenses. I should have made myself clearer.
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Not too long ago I too had a "Nikon 50mm 1.4 manual focus AIS lens in almost new condition except for a bit of..."

    I wouldn't call what my lens was doing a 'wobble' but more of a dry sounding, looseness. After a good professional serviceing (which cost about $75 if I can remember correctly) by an Authorized Nikon Repair shop it was really 'like new'. Damping grease is used in the focussing threads by the manufacturer and need to be renewed occasionally.
     
  14. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I have an older Nikkor S C manual focus Non Ai 50mm 1.4 that has a dry focus fealing to it but no wobble like my 50mm 1.4 AIS. I don't mind the dry feeling as much as I do the wobble. It is next to impossible to achieve accurate focus with a wobbly lens. As soon as I focus on something, I let go or even slightly move the focusing ring, the picture shifts or is out of focus. Sadly I have only had this lens several months, purchased it from KEH.
     
  15. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Roger
    The amount of grease in a helical to dry up certainly is dependent on the amount of use that lens has had. Grease is forced up & down the helical(migration) to one end of the range or the other or both.

    Granted the Leitz & Zeiss lenses are hand lapped but you're not suggesting they're not lubed at all are you?

    I think the reason for the wobble is simply a well used, not abused lens.

    Note:A heavy grease isn't needed to take up the wobble, the proper grease is spread up & down the helical(appx 1" or less in most cases) by the rotation of the focusing ring.
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear John,

    Of course they're lubricated but I'm suggesting that in order to get an actual wobble, as distinct from stiffness, the focusing mount needs to be either damaged or of very poor quality, not merely poorly lubricated.

    Cheers,

    Roger