Do Lenses Ever Need Re-allignment?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by snegron, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Has anyone here ever had to send a lens back to the manufacturer for re-allignment purposes? In other words, has anyone ever had a problem knocking a lens element out of place after dropping or banging the lens against a hard object by mistake? Any idea if newer autofocus lenses are more susceptible (probably mispelled that) than their older counterparts to become out of allignment due to more use of plastics?

    On that same note, would it be possible to damage or alter a lenses element allignment if the lens were left in a vehicle on a hot day? I would be curious to know if the heat would deform the lens on a very small scale so that it won't be noticeable at first but in time would get worse. Any experiences with this?
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Enough abuse can cause misalignment in lenses. I only returned one (a 50mm M mount Summicron) to the manufacturer for repair after the camera was dropped, and retired a 105mm Nikkor that may have become misaligned. The Nikkor had traveled extensively, and vibration isn't good for lenses.
     
  3. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I hadn't even considered vibrations! I wonder if lenses come out of alignment with age as well?
     
  4. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I probably wouldn't leave a "kit lens" in an uncovered car during the summer. I would expect the heat to possibly liquify the helical grease, which would then end up on the elements. Also, I might think that enough heat might damage the plastic lens elements and/or possibly misshape other plastic components.

    I don't know what temperature would be required to damage a consumer lens. I would hope that it's higher than what I say here. It probably is.

    And then there's the whole issue of the film.

    A hard knock shouldn't damage a quality lens. And as long as the barrel isn't pinched, it should be OK. And it might still be OK, depending on where the damage is.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I had a Vivitar Series 1 200/3 repaired because one of the interior groups unscrewed during a 4000km motorcycle tour, but with knocks, barring gross damage, a top-flight lens shouldn't ever present any problems and a cheap one wouldn't be worth repairing. Cheapo 500/8 lenses were notorious for fragility.

    It's quite hard for a lens element to go out of alignment sideways, though, if you think about it. Where is it going to go, if it's in a strong circular cell mount, screwed in? It has to be poorly packed, or in a very thin cell, to go sideways.

    On the other hand, lenses can need all kinds of repairs with age. Sooner or later I'll be sending Balham Optical Instruments a 90/2.5 Vivitar Series 1 Macro (sloppy mount), PC-Nikkor 35/2.8 (sloppy mount), Voigtlander 28/1.9 (stiff grease) and Voigtlander 50/2.5 (focusing finger-spur coming loose). I had the last problem once with a 35/1.4 Summilux too.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  6. snegron

    snegron Member

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    As far as the stiff grease issue is concerned, is the grease inside a lens more prone to going bad with extreme temperature changes? Typical scenario for me would be one of these two:

    1) I place my camera in a small padded camera bag and throw it either in the trunk or inside my vehicle on a hot (98 degree farenheit) day for 4 hours. Temperatures reach 120 or more inside the vehicle. Sometimes I have to drive quickly and don't have enough time to either get the camera out of the trunk or open the camera bag to let the camera air out.

    2) I place my camera in my vehicle without the camera bag so as to have it handy for a shot, but due to traffic or other obsticals the camera rolls around inside my car from the front seat to the floor, then rolls around again a few times.

    In the first scenario I presented above, would lens grease be affected?
    In the second scenario, would vibrations cause misalignment of the lens elements?


    The lenses I usually carry are all either manual focus Nikon prime lenses (24, 35, 50, 105) or autofocus lenses (35, 50, 85, 180, 80-200, 17-55, 28-105).
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I've never really figured out what causes lubrication problems. Yes, heat can melt or even distil out greases, but I see no pattern in drying-up in any lenses I've owned. I'd suspect dust, but the 28/1.9 had had an extremely easy life (as our lenses go) and I've used other lenses for far longer in dusty conditions. Lack of use seems important, too -- the grease hardens -- but again the 28/1.9 has had a reasonable amount of use.

    The best lenses -- Leica and German-made Zeiss (I don't know about Zeiss-under-licence) have hand-lapped focusing mounts for maximum smoothness and minimum wear; the cheapest (the aforementioned 500/8 cheapos) use great dollops of long-molecule grease to fill the gaps between quite crudely machined focusing threads.

    Autofocus lenses have to be made a lot lighter in order for the motors to be able to move the cells -- you can feel this when you focus them manually -- so it seems likely that most are more susceptible to damage than manual focus, but once again, I don't know.

    Falling from seat to carpeted floor shouldn't affect a top-quality camera or lens, but equally, I wouldn't make a habit of it. Put the neck-strap over the seat back (that's what I do) and the seat makes an excellent vibration damper. I'd not worry too much about vibration, even on the floor: the drop would worry me more. But three or four times I've dropped high-quality manual focus lenses onto stone, from 2 feet or more, and I'm still using all of them.

    With vibration, I'm taking about many, many hours of marked vibration: 4000km on the single-cylinder Enfield (touring South India) was probably 100 hours or more. A few minutes here and there shouldn't hurt.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful but in its nature camera abuse tends to be irreproducible and to take place over a long period.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It depends on your budget. My impression is that high-end cine lenses are recollimated and even recoated not infrequently. If you've got a $100,000 lens and you're spending millions on production, then these things that are exotic repairs for most still photographers all become trivial expenses.
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear David,

    Very true -- though recoating is all but unheard-of, relatively frequent recollimation is normal. But these are normally very big, very complex lenses (I saw some being produced when I was in Oberkochen a few weeks ago). A lens that's a foot long and (more importantly still) not the photographer's personal property does tend to get knocked about.

    The latter point -- personal property -- is also why Manfrotto makes the 'Avenger' line for studios and rental: bigger, stronger and heavier, though the latter doesn't matter so much when people are being paid to carry it...

    Cheers,

    Roger

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2007
  10. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Roger's method is a good one.

    For myself, when driving with the camera "at the ready", I place it on the floor to begin with - rather than wait for motion and gravity to put it there for me! If I'm alone, I put it on the passenger side floor - if I'm traveling with my wife, I put it on the back seat floor behind the driver's seat (I usually am the driver) so it is readily accessible as I exit the car.

    As to driving with several additional lenses - that's what cupholders and that cloth pouch on the back of the driver's seat are for! :wink:
     
  11. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    When I send in a Hasselblad lens for shutter/aperture job (repairing or CLA), which happens on an average of about 4 to 5 years for each lens, there is always a (minor) post on the invoice for the realignment on the collimator.
    I wonder why C.Z. did not designed their lenses as they could be dismantled for sevicing without causing a problem for the alignment of the elements, perhaps it is undoable for a decent prize.

    Philippe
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Phillippe,

    I don't think it's doable at any price. I mean, the lens has to be collimated when it is assembled -- and reassembly after disassembly is much like the initial assembly...

    Cheers,

    Roger