P:roblem Nikon AF lenses.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by rolleiman, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    Have to say I'm rapidly getting disillusioned with autofocus Nikon lenses, not the optical quality which is excellent, but the "plasticky" materials from which they are constructed, which seems to give them a vulnerability to damage, from the odd knock to inclement weather conditions. My 28-105mm developed "wonky barrel syndrome" after several months use, now my 35mm f2 has developed "sticking diaphragm blades" for the second time, having been "cured" of the same fault by Nikon only a year ago.

    My older all metal Nikon manual focus lenses have never given any kind of mechanical problem despite extensive use in all weather conditions. As an independent repairman once commented on taking apart my 28-105mm AFD lens. "If folk could only see the flimsiness of materials used on the inside of this autofocus stuff, they'd never spend good money on it.
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Member

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    They have to be light to focus quickly--no way the mass of a MF lens could be accelerated that fast. I've found mine to be remarkably tough but if you're sadistic or accident-prone, they will break--big surprise.
    The 35/2AF is notorious for oily blades--no news there. If you're buying hi-mileage, used lenses, then the chance of problems just increases. BTW, MF Nikkors aren't immune to troubles either: dried-out helicoids, sloppy focus, impact damage, loose aperture detents. They all wear out and/or break.
     
  3. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    For the record, my 35mm f2 was purchased new, it was just out of guarantee period. And I'm certainly not sadistic with my lenses. If "oily blades" are a known issue, then why have Nikon apparently not fixed this problem at source? My oldest manual lens; a 55mm 1.2 Nikon, originally designed for the Nikon F, is still performing faultlessly, as is my (now) well used and marked, but extremely sturdy 35mm f2 manual, both purchased new in 1979. A 105mm 2.5 from the same series, still focusses with the silky smooth action typical of lenses of this period.

    Yes, I understand, that if you want lenses that autofocus quickly, then some sacrifice has to be made re. the solidity of construction. I have now decided I prefer the long term reliability of manual focus, over the luxury of autofocus.
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Then you've solved the problem!
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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  6. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Good choice.

    Also, unless your eyes are shot, in most cases you'll get much more accurate focus as well.
     
  7. BobD

    BobD Member

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    I've had to send my AF Nikkor 35/2 in for service on the oily blades. Also, the MF 85/2 is prone to having this problem. And, I have an AF 24/2.8 with a crack in the barrel, also common (but it still works fine).

    But I have lots of other AF and MF Nikkors that have been trouble free for many years.
     
  8. Stephen Prunier

    Stephen Prunier Subscriber

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    My F100 has a light to help with being in focus :cool:
     
  9. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Yes, in near or total darkness with an AF assist light, AF can be a real advantage, which is why I said "in most cases" manual focus will be more accurate (also depends on the viewfinder/focusing screen being used)....
     
  10. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Never had a problem with my 50mm f1.8D yet... I have a very stron opinion that Canon lenses are total crap, as the FD won[t mount on the DSLR/SLR and even some SLR wont mount on SLR and Even some DSLR wont mount on DSLR with Canon. Canon plays the money games, and as far as i'm concerned, investing in optics is yet another short lived Canon investment, as they will someday find another way to introduce incompatibility. I havent found a problem with my 18-55, 55-200, 50mmD or 50mm f1.8, my 50mm f1.4 pre-ai, or even my horrible 43-86 pre-ai super flare nikkor. Try using your FD mounted Boat anchors on a modern/relevant camera :smile:

    Ken Rockwell bitches that the F100 has a brass lens mount... I looked at a Canon SLR of the same year... Plastic lens mount, plastic lens reciever on the camera... Plastic crap.

    The Confederate States of America would be offended to have such poor craftsmanship called a "rebel"...
     
  11. daveandiputra

    daveandiputra Member

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    And I thought the OP was only complaining about nikon AF lenses build quality. :smile:
     
  12. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    I can only comment on the lenses I've actually used, other marques may have similar problems. There seems to be an inconsistancy of build quality throughout the Nikon range. I have other Nikon AF's more solidly made than the 35mm f2, like the 20mm & 180mm. that have given no trouble. Also I have a couple of Tokinas in Nikon mount that are not only equal to my Nikons in quality terms, but seem to be of better build quality, raising the question of whether it is worth paying the often considerable extra cost of the camera makers own lenses.

    A lens like the 35mm f2, is liable to be amongst Nikon's most used lenses, so it's surprising there should be build quality and sticky diaphram issues with it...I shall be returning to manual focus lenses in the main from now on.
     
  13. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    FOr the record, I have cleaned oily blades from a number of nikon pre-AI, Ai, and AIS lenses.
    The problem with oily blades is that once the helical grease/oil breaksdown or starts travelling from the helical, just cleaning the blades does not solve the problem. The oil will just seep back into the blades. You have to dissasemble everything and clean the old lubricant off completely with a solvent. Then add fresh lubricant and reassemble.

    It is possible that when your lens was serviced, they only cleaned the blades. But depending on the design of the lens, some will be more prone to problems like this anyway. Is the 35mm f2 a fairly compact lens?
     
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  15. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    Yes, the 35mm f2 AFD is compact considering its speed, and certainly compared to the much heavier manual 35mm f2AI which I've used for some 25 years with no problem.
     
  16. Thingy

    Thingy Member

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    I use an F4 camera (lovely but heavy) and an excellent, silky smooth, 55mm Micro-Nikkor lens that has suffered none of the problems I was warned it was prone to. I am only thinking of buying two AF lenses, the 300mm f4 & 16mm full-frame fisheye - everything else is & will be manual. I do hope those lenses prove to be a bit more robust and reliable than the one you are describing. :confused:
     
  17. huddy

    huddy Member

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    Nikon manual focus lenses are very robust with many are still going strong after 40+ years. My oldest lens is a 28/2 AI that is at least 30 years old and it is still smooth as silk. I have a slew of MF Nikkors because I know that they will probably not wear out in my lifetime if I just do the occasional CLA treatment on them. I've bought rough user lenses that have heavy cosmetic damage, stiff aperture rings, etc., but the glass is still great and they produce great images. The modern plasticky lenses would not fare so well, especially the consumer grade stuff.
     
  18. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    My newest Nikkor lens is ca. 1972, oldest about 1966 or 67. They range from one in 98% condition to well used with lots of shiny aluminium on the focus rings. A couple had to be disassembled for new grease. They are all in 100% functional condition, with silky smooth focus and aperture rings.
    The plastic lenses are cheap crap for people who are willing to throw something away instead of having it serviced - they could have been made of metal, and still work in AF mode, but that would have been expensive.
     
  19. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    My own experience is that in situations where you could really benefit from autofocus (i.e. very fast moving subjects), it's liable to let you down anyway with imprecise focus. I've now gone back to manually focussing everything....it's how we always used to do it!....with better results.

    I get the feeling AF systems rely on you shooting at f5.6-f8 where most things are going to be infocus anyway. Once you really test the system with fully open aperture settings, the lack of AF precision begins to show.
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    That's been my experience with AF as well. I have a little Pentax PHD camera, AF/zoom that actually does a pretty good job at parties and so on, it's the only AF I use. I paid $3 for it with a good battery - which is still in it!
     
  21. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    New nikon lenses fell cheap. It's the name of the game now. I shoot with the 24, 35, and 50mm f/1.4G's and they all feel cheap. I was a little dissapointed when the 24mm f/1.4G had a plastic barrel.
     
  22. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Have you actually shot a late generation Nikon AF camera like an F5 or F6 with an AF-S 80-200/2.8 IF-ED? Asking since your comments and others here suggest unfamiliarity with the some of the better film cameras and lenses Nikon made.
     
  23. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    The German photmagazine, Colorfoto, ran a test in their September 2011 issue comparing the autofocus accuracy of 6 current DSLR and mirrorless cameras, including the Nikon D7000 (strictly OT, but it is definitely a very recent implementation of Nikon's AF technology).

    Each camera was tested with about a dozen lenses each, at different FLs and distances. The method was to carefully focus manually and then shoot many AF shots with the AF sensors on the same target. The AF results were compared to the MF results.

    So, using AF, the Nikon D7000 had 35.2% sharp images, 40% acceptably sharp images and 24.8% "out of focus" images. Among the lenses used was the Nikkor VR 2.8 70-200 IIG ED, whose AF samples hardly ever reached the sharpness of the MF samples.

    Other DSLRs using phase detection AF did similarly poorly. The only camera which did very well, (almost 99% at least "acceptably focused") used contrast detection AF, but I won't mention which as that company never built a film camera (I highly recommend looking up the test!).

    These results fit my own extensive real life experience, using both MF & AF cameras of many brands. There are particular situations where AF can have a focusing advantage as well as an undoubted production advantage, but for most photographic uses, it does *not* result in more accurate focusing, even when the sensor does try to focus on the right spot.
    Remember, in the Nikon example only 35.2% of the shots were as sharp as a carefully focused MF image.

    People who get their "information" mainly by reading marketing brochures may disagree...
    :wink:
     
  24. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Care to post a URL reference to this test? Simply giving a summary with no opportunity for examination doesn't help your case at all. There's no science in this now tiresome approach.

    Funny how there doesn't appear to be a large number of historically widespread negative reports on Nikon or Canon AF accuracy that I'm aware of, nor do friends who've shot both brands professionally with film and digital SLRs complain of AF anomalies attributable to the equipment. Maybe you could show where and how both makers have disappointed consumers for years with sub-standard products?

    Private opinions are one thing. It's the private "facts" that are misleading.
     
  25. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    My newer 1 series Canons rarely miss focus.
    Even in poorly lit conference/event halls.


    The 1v is a bit better than the 1n.
    The 1D2 rarely misses ever.
    5D has issues but not nearly as bad as the rep it has.
     
  26. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    => Colorfoto Magazine, September 2011.

    Or if it isn't online, it doesn't exist according to you?

    It's not about "anomalies", but about technological limits and about what gives more consistently accurate results. If your standards are low enough, you might not even notice a difference...