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  1. #1
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Micro Nikkor 55 mm F2.8 AIS - known problems?

    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. #2
    naturephoto1's Avatar
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    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
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naturephoto1 View Post
    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
    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. #4

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    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. #5
    Curt's Avatar
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    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. #6
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    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
    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. #7
    Curt's Avatar
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    That's a tough one but the lens is an especially nice one and worth keeping for sure.

    Curt

  8. #8
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    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. #9
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    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. #10
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    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

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