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  1. #1

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    Question about a Nikon F/FTN + Nikkor S Auto 50 1.4

    So I just got this GORGEOUS Nikon F with the FTN finder and a Nikkor-S Auto 50 1.4. Aside from a few marks on the back panel, the thing looks, feels, and operates like new. Except the lens...I think. This is where I need your help

    Now most of the manual focus glass in 35mm I've used has been the current Zeiss lenses, so I don't have much in the way of context, but the 50 that came with the F/FTN feels really...not sure how to say this, but "dry" I think would be the most appropriate description.

    Granted, this thing is probably over 40 years old and had a half roll of Kodachrome in it when I picked it up, but are those olde Nikkors supposed to be dry like that? I'm thinking of getting it lubed up to give the lens that buttery-ness that's so typical of of the zeiss and leica glass.


    Also. Is it possible to look up in a database some Serial No.'s? I'm dying to know how old this thing really is.


    Thanks much!!!!

  2. #2
    Jerevan's Avatar
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    If you put your ear close to it, and move the focus a bit forwards and backwards, I guess you can hear it being a bit "crunchy" or dry as metal grates against metal. It's worth getting re-lubed. My 50s (50/2 Nikkors) are a bit dry so they are going to be sent off soon.

    This is a really good place to look for serial numbers and other technical stuff:
    http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html
    “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu

  3. #3
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    I'm betting it needs cleaning and relubed.

    Little bit of CA on these but other than that they are fantastic and one of the better performers wide open IMO.

  4. #4

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    Congrats on the new camera, an excellent purchase.

    Your lens could be dry, but unless there are any grinding noises the old Nikon S lenses could feel 'dry' and somewhat 'loose' when new. They didn't have the same grease damped feel as say a Leica lens, but a fast one finger action which just veers away from being sloppy.

    Steve
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  5. #5

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    1968-72 it looks like! Awesome! Thanks again!!!


    The lens doesn't feel loose and it doesn't grind, it just feels like there's no lubricant at all in the focus helicoid. There's a few repair joints around here, I'll drop it off some time when I'm dong shooting pictures with it!

    I tested it out against the ZF 50mm f/1.4 Planar on a D700 and they look pretty similar as far as sharpness goes wide open, the Zeiss is alot warmer, but I guess the Nikkor was designed to let in more blue light becuase B&W films are more sensitive to the blue channel..so i'm told. Stopped down the Zeiss has a TON more contrast though. As in slap-in-the-face-you'd-think-there's-fungus-in-the-nikkor difference between the two. It was shocking.

  6. #6
    fotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henry finley View Post
    Those Nikkor S lenses that say Nippon Kogaku on the ring were a bit sloppyy in their action, compared to say--a Takumar. And when the old Nikkors are dry, it probably focuses to where a breeze can turn the ring. Remember, in that day and time, Pentax was sill the finest 35 coming out of Japan.
    I never heard that before.
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  7. #7
    fotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henry finley View Post
    Well certainly--It's an opinion widely held by 1--me. The Asahiflex was the first SLR, the Spotmatic was the first TTL meter. Their lens quality was impeccable, and in the early 1960's the Pentax really was Japan's finest, which is not a matter for a lot of debate. Nikon caught fire in popularity because of the size of their product line, the bayonet mount over the screw mount, and from then on, Nikon was off to the races.
    I am not talking about who was first with ......rather, the lens quality, and kind of remember that Miranda was also highly regarded. In any case, the Spotmatic was very popular although I never owned one myself. Although I recall they had a larger varity of lens, and were considered good, nothing comparing to the splash of the later Nikon systems. JMHO on the history.
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  8. #8

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    The build quality on those old Nikkors was great. A couple weeks ago I was given a pretty trashed out 28 f2 from about 1973. The finish is almost completely worn off from decades of newspaper use and abuse. I think it was finally abandoned only because the auto aperture mechanism in the mount was frozen solid (moisture damage I think). I freed up the mechanism and shortened and reconnected the rusted through return spring. Amazingly it works great again even with extensive "cleaning marks" front and rear. The focus is silky smooth like you describe. I don't know the reason Nikon decided to make them this way, but they are less bothered by cold temps and decay of lubes than other lenses.

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotch View Post
    I am not talking about who was first with ......rather, the lens quality, and kind of remember that Miranda was also highly regarded. In any case, the Spotmatic was very popular although I never owned one myself. Although I recall they had a larger varity of lens, and were considered good, nothing comparing to the splash of the later Nikon systems. JMHO on the history.
    The three lenses with the Miranda I used briefly in 1967 were sharp, but the camera body soon developed several problems. In addition to decent lenses, Miranda offered two advantages; an attractive model in their ads and a three year guarantee. Honoring that guarantee on an inferior product may have hastened their demise. Back then Minolta was popular among the Japanese. Pentax made neat cameras. Nikon was the obvious choice for much technical photography with by far the best range of accessories. For example, I don't know of any other maker that produced a Polaroid back for a 35mm camera. Even the Nikkormat was a functional and durable camera, despite a few quirks. However, even Nikon occasionally erred: the Nikkorex, for example. The early Nikon FT finders gave accurate exposures, but made the camera a top-heavy monster in comparison to the svelte Pentax Spotmatic. That was the price Nikon paid for offering several waist-level and eye-level finders for one body. Many brands competed with Nikon for casual photography, but Nikon dominated the market for much specialized work.

  10. #10
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    I just spotted this thread and still have a Miranda Sensorex II with 50mm f:1.4 and 300mm f:5.6 lenses which I bought used. The build quality of both the Soligor made lenses I have is excellent with smooth well damped focussing. Image quality with the 50mm in particular is excellent (I believe it uses rare-earth glass) and overall the Sensorex is an excellent user camera with a precision built feel and a lot of heft. It also has the benefit of interchangeable viewfinders and with metering using finders which were much more compact than the metering finders of Nikon F and F2. They managed this by mounting the meter cells behind the mirror. Oddly the metering has a bottom-weighted pattern. The only fault mine developed was a stuck follower needle in the viewfinder but then rare is the Nikon F Photomic with a working meter now and I prefer a hand-held meter anyway so it isn't a problem. The rest of the camera works perfectly with a quiet shutter and well damped mirror, all speeds being pretty accurate from the results I get. I think these 60s-70s Mirandas are very under-rated and cheap for what they offer - especially the EE models with selectable spot / centre weighted metering. It's a shame that the name was resurrected in the 80s by Cosina and cheapened.
    " ... a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes." - Yoshihisa Maitani

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