Micro Nikkor 55 mm F2.8 AIS - known problems?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David H. Bebbington, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Recently bought a Micro Nikkor 55 mm F2.8 AIS in apparently very clean condition. The focusing mount was little stiff, I though it just needed CLA so negotiated a small discount with the seller and sent it to my usual repairman. He called me today to say that with the old thick grease removed and correct grease applied, the mount is too sloppy, i.e. it has in the past deliberately been lubed with too-thick grease to compensate for wear. To put it another way, I have bought the Nikon equivalent of a second-hand car with sawdust in the transmission.

    I am very surprised that it is possible to wear out the focusing mount on a macro lens in this way. Has anyone else who has used this lens experienced this problem?

    Regards,

    David
     
  2. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,819
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Location:
    Breinigsvill
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi David,

    Sorry to hear about that. I can be of no help since I do not shoot Nikon. However, now that you have the new Leica R3 you may want to find a Leica 60mm f2.8 Macro Elmarit. As you are familiar with the Leica M lenses, the self lubricating brass on aluminum helixes only require very light oil. Mine bought used about 20? years ago is super smooth and is extremely sharp as is my f 4.0 Macro Bellows R lens.

    Rich
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Leica lenses are of course very well built, but I really did think Nikon was as tough, if not quite as smooth. I could well consider a Macro Elmarit in the future, as an immediate substitute I have bought a Pentax 100 mm f4 bellows lens (manual diaphragm), an example of which I used when doing scientific photography at Imperial College London a long time ago and which is one of my all-time favorite macro lenses. I have also bought some cheap Chinese Pentax extension tubes - when I have taken the thinnest one of these, removed the back end and internals and glued it to a Nikon T mount, the Pentax lens will fit great on my Nikon bellows unit!

    Regards,

    David
     
  4. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    On some of the AIS lenses, there are moveable tension pieces inside the mounting area that can make focus a bit more snug. However, this is more of a slight adjustment for snugness. I the lens moves forward on its own when pointed downwards, then it is worn out. Another possibility was that the tolerances on assemby decades ago were not that good on your lens, so it might have been somewhat sloppy from the factory.

    I have seen AF lenses that were worn out, but I have never seen an AI nor AIS lens that was worn out. Many Nikon 50mm f1.4 lenses seem to feel a little loose, though the tightening tabs on the AIS models solve that easily. I don't know whether the 55mm f2.8 has that feature.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  5. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,560
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Gee David I have one and it is OK but I haven't heard of anyone doing this. Was the repair person able to do anything or is it totally worn out? What about parts or is it just not worthwhile replacing.

    Curt
     
  6. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Spoke to the guy today (yesterday I just had a voice mail), He reckons he can fix it by using a different grease from normal but was not looking forward to having to strip the lens down again as it apparently has a double helical arrangement!

    Regards,

    David
     
  7. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,560
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's a tough one but the lens is an especially nice one and worth keeping for sure.

    Curt
     
  8. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,117
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    David, don't be in too much of a hurry to rid yourself of the lens.

    I have a 2.8 AIS Micro Nikkor, which I purchased new, serial number 433037.

    It was always sort of stiff to use, almost like a tight Leica lens which take years to wear in. The FE2 came out in 1983, I bought one, then I bought this lens just after that. So it's a late 83 or early 84 build, at the very least.

    I have used it almost anywhere and for all sorts of things, in fact it was my only Nikkor lens for a while. Last summer on a very, very hot day I used this lens in direct sunlight for about 3 hours, the internal lubrication started to melt and weeped onto the aperture blades.

    As a result of this I had to get it serviced. I didn't take it to the authorised Nikon place, but to a small husband and wife team, who, between themselves know quite a lot about this type of equipment.

    As soon as he looked at the lens and felt it, he figured it was an early Nikkor that had been manufactured with a type of grease that is no longer used, and hasn't been used for about 20 years.

    The old type of grease is super thick and terrific for most climates, but useless for super cold climates. As a result, Nikon changed the type of grease used from a thicker more natural type, to a thinner more man made type.

    I have my lens back, cleaned, collimated, lubed with a thinner more synthetic grease.

    It now spins quite freely, seems to have slight slack as one focuses back and forth, but works far better than it did for at least the last 2 years. It didn't seem to have any slack before I took it in for repair and service. In fact as I rock the focus back and forth, I can hear and feel, a slight metallic sound, which presumably, comes from the very long helices that are a part of this unique lens.

    Negatives and prints are superior to before the lens had been rejuvenated.

    It is a cracker of a lens and I would, if I were you, test it before passing it on, or binning it.

    I have done almost anything you would wish to do with this lens. Film duping, photo copying, copying art works, photographing jewellery and super small pieces of plants, insects.

    Mick.
    As well as travelling around the world on and in motorcycles, which is incredibly hard on photo equipment.
     
  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,117
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    David, I just read your latest post which you would have done while I was writing my previous post.

    One of the more particular things this lens should have done is to have it collimated. My previous experience in a studio/lab situation, where we had about 10 of these lenses doing work all day and night, was that if a service was performed, then the lens should be re-collimated, not just put back together by eye.

    My camera mechanic/technician was quite insistent that my lens should be collimated, as the tolerances for a flat field, which this lens is very good at, require this to be carried out.

    Mick.
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for responses. guys, particularly Mick - very interesting to hear from someone with so much experience with this lens. Fear not, I shall not bin this lens, I think we're on top of the problem, after all if the focusing is too stiff with grease A and too loose with grease B, we just have to find grease C somewhere in the middle! I've been trying to remember what kind of SAE numbers greases have - 140 or so?

    Regards to all,

    David
     
  11. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    Mississauga,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    David
    Any material after sliding wears out. It is true and with your shoes. Lens is no different. Leica lenses are not exception. In average, after use (focusing) Summicron R50 mm, around 10000 times you can notice wear. Many just do not pay attention (and do not need) so they think no wear.

    If you think about the best lenses Nikon produced, Micro 2.8/55 will be around. This Nikkor, Leica 60mm, or Canon, no visible difference on photographs. Even Nikkor is with floating element that rearanges glasses in order to hold performances and at far and at near. I have that lens around 6 years and I am very pleased with. It found its permanent place on one of my F6 Nikon. I just did something bad to that lens so even it works very well I am thinking to get a new one. Even new Zeiss Macro 50 mm F2 is in play I just cannot find what Zeiss could better over Nikkor. Even engraving on Nikkor is so nice that nor Leica nor Zeiss can come even and close.

    Nikkor 2.8/55 Micro is a must if you intend to make techically high end photographs from 35 mm. The only problem some reports is that apperture blades gets oil. I think this moment it is due to careless storage, will examine, and if it is up to user I will not think twice to get a new Nikkor before a new Zeiss.
    www.Leica-R.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2006
  12. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    Norfolk, UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi David

    Sorry to hear about your problems. I have an elderly AI'd f3.5 version which is ultra sharp and focusses just fine. As I bought it new about 30+ years ago I know its history – and it has worked hard for its living for at least half the intervening years with no sign of wear in the focussing. God knows what sort of grease it has inside, but it works...



    Richard
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks Richard. On reflection, I think the problem is that the original grease was not HMP (high melting point) type, so could overheat on a hot day and change its molecular structure for the worse! An understandable error, since you really wouldn't think that a lens mount could get as hot as a wheel bearing! Just an example of how a technical problem can bite you when you least expect it - in my workshop I have had the same tube of Castrol HMP lithium-based grease SAE 140 for years and have used every time I needed grease (which is not often).

    Regards,

    David
     
  14. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    Years a go. I purposely purchased one , brand new, with extremely stiff focusing. I was using Forox, Marron and Oxberry cameras at the time which autofocused using a cam. It was a very bad thing if the the lens' focus ring slipped from vibration while shooting or moving the head.
    Today I use the lens for general shooting and it is a pita to turn the ring but at least I know that it won't shift once I get it focused.
     
  15. Confusion Circle

    Confusion Circle Member

    Messages:
    129
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2006
    Location:
    Vancouver, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I too have this lens, and I would never get rid of it. The focusing ring is a little stiff, but as Flotsam mentioned, that would prevent any shifting. It is one of the sharpest lenses I own...
     
  16. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Stiffness is of course a matter of degree - with my lens the way it was before it went for CLA, the amount of effort necessary to focus it would probably have been enough to fracture the locking pin on the lens mount!
     
  17. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,117
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well I can tell you, mine is as smooth as silk!

    Mick.
     
  18. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Just to record that this lens came back from Newton Ellis in Liverpool today working great and with just the right amount of stiffness to stop it moving by itself when pointing vertically down. Thanks to all for comments.

    Regards,

    David