Repair: Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S

Hello, everybody. I have published quite a lot in the past few days because I had the time to do so. I initially planned on publishing around a post a week but seeing that more and more people are following my blog I decided to publish more. I’ll try to write around 2-3 posts a week if I can because these take time and being a family man means that I need to spend time with the people I care as well. I will introduce one of the most popular and expensive lenses during the 1980s in this article and I hope that it will impress the newer generation of photographers despite being a manual-only lens.


Today’s subject is none other than the once-amazing Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S. This used to be a very expensive lens, about the same price as a used sedan back then. It can now be bought for very little money and mint-condition examples can be bought for less than $100 these days so it’s a bargain for people who can’t afford these before. This lens is the successor of the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 Auto, a highly-successful design and a legend amongst many generations of photographers before the AF era. It’s so good that it took Nikon many years to design a worthy successor but it’s worth the long wait because the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S surpassed its predecessor in many ways. I said many because the older lens still has some advantage over the new one and I’ll discuss those in the later paragraphs. It was made from 1981 to 1998, a moderately-long span as far as the lenses in this lens category is concerned. Imagine buying this new at a time when people were all raving about the latest AF lenses. Many people still swear by this lens and it has a bit of a following amongst people who used these decades ago.

IMG_1471I got this lens for a really great price because the front elements were in a terrible state, the lens coatings have ugly bald spots and that is an indication of serious fungus damage. The helicoid and zoom mechanisms are still OK but felt dry and un-even. Apart from the problems mentioned, the lens still looks OK for a junk. More

Repair: Lettering Restoration

Hello, on this post we are going to discuss how to restore faded or chipped paint on the engraved lettering on your cameras and lenses. This problem is pretty common amongst users and collectors of classic lenses as the lenses themselves are usually subject to poor handling and abuse by the previous owner and even if the owner was careful enough, the lenses themselves are pretty old and bright paint rarely retain their finish for that long unless they are very well kept and used very rarely.

Fortunately for us, the process is not difficult at all since I would just consider this to be a “spot” repair and you do not need to be a highly skilled craftsman to be able to do this but you do need to have some basic understanding of paints and materials to pull this off. The good thing about being a scale modeler (I quit in 1999) is that we are exposed to the same materials and skills used in restoring older lenses.

Actual cosmetic restoration requires more work such as stripping the metal parts to bare metal and repainting everything with an airbrush but we will not go that far in this post but I may do one in the future if I found a lens that is valuable enough to restore to that extent. I also have a baby at home and I do not want the fumes to affect the health of my family as well because lacquer fumes can get everybody high (glue sniffing as a hobby is not encouraged). More

Study: Diffraction on the 105mm VR

Hello, everybody. We are going to deviate from the classic Nikkors today and talk about a current production lens – the amazing Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR and the effects of diffraction on this lens. (picture from Nikon USA)


Being primarily a bug photographer in the warmer months, this subject is something that I am very much inclined to look into myself so that I know where and when I should stop down. Stopping the aperture down too much is something that most of us bug shooters  are guilty of in the quest for better depth of field. More

Repair: Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto

Hello, everybody! It is a cold morning here in Tokyo so I am not in the mood to go out or do anything outside my cozy room unless I have to. This gave me the time to spend with my daughter and wife as well as to update this blog.


In this post I am going to share my repair notes for the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto. Before this got into my collection I have always hated all of Nikon’s 50/1.4 lenses because of my previous experience with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D. I have used that lens for years and frankly, it’s a lens that I can’t use wide open so I sold it for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art but I am now at peace with the Nikon’s 50/1.4 thanks to the older Nikkors that taught me how a lens should be appreciated. This is one of those lenses and I am going to share with you my experience with this lens. This article is for the mid-production model of this lens but it is also applicable for the later production variants of this lens.

IMG_5990.JPGThe Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 when paired with the Nikon Df makes for a very good setup for general photography. Despite its age the lens is still very capable and enjoyable to use. Its optical design was used in production for some 12 years and the last version to use that is the New-Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 version 1 from 1974-1976. 12 years is considered to be long in those days and this just shows how well-designed this lens is. More

Project: Ai Conversion

Hello, everybody. It has been awhile since I last updated the blog. I have been really busy balancing my time between work, family, leisure and learning. This post is important so I will try my best to illustrate and explain how to manually convert pre-Ai Nikkor lenses so that you can use them with Ai capable bodies and how to make it look like it was done by a professional despite the fact that you are going to do this mostly with common house hold tools and materials.


One of the reasons why I shot Nikon is because they stuck with the F-mount while other companies abandoned their respective original mounts each time there is a major change in lens technology. While this is good from the engineering point of view, it severed the compatibility between their older lens lineup and what they currently have and making the said legacy lenses useless for modern digital bodies (until the advent of mirrorless cameras). I once owned a Canon T60 and sold that camera in 2004 for small change for the simple reason that Canon’s older FD mount at that time was considered unsellable in my homecity. Having this in mind, my next camera purchase was a Nikon D60 and I never looked back. Choosing Nikon gave me the ability to use a roster of lenses from the late 1950’s up to the ones that are currently in production.

While it is true that Nikon did not change the lens mount since it’s debut, it did underwent some changes through the years that will inhibit the use of some lenses on some bodies. One such change is the mount got a bit wider (by 1mm-1.5) in the 1960’s and the change to Ai technology. Dpreview has made a great article on the Nikon F-mount and the different iterations made to it and I suggest that you read it to understand the issues surrounding it. Our main concern in this blog post is how to trim away material from the aperture ring of a pre-Ai lens so that it will not interfere or damage the Ai indexing tab of some of the higher end Nikon bodies (image from

d600 More

Repair: Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! I wrote this article a few years ago and I just updated it now because I wasn’t adding any mini-reviews and introductions back then so to make this in-line with our current standards, I am going to add those now. I will also do the same thing for my other articles when I have the time and I am in the mood. Enjoy my friends!


The Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S is an update of the amazing Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai. They both use the same optical formula but the barrel is a complete re-design. Not only did it gave the lens a linear aperture it also allowed it to be used in ful P,S,A,M modes on bodies that will allow it like the Nikon FA. It’s also a bit lighter due to optimazations in production and so it’s going to be less-stressful to carry all-day, your neck will thank you for that. This lens’ reputation is stellar but it’s polarizing Nikon fans like the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai that came before because it has a mazimum aperture of f/2 instead of f/1.8 like what that the older (but still amazing) New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 has. It doesn’t really matter, I suspect that the better coating technology means that this lens will transmit more light than the older one wide-open. They are different tools for 2 different purposes as far as rendering goes.

img_2435The fast maximum aperture of f/2 is helpful for manual focusing even if you do not have a split screen installed on your camera so manual focusing is so easy. It’s bright and clear when you view through it via the pentaprism. The coatings are better than the older lens and that will affect its performance to some extent. The hue of the glass is different and that’s how you can tell if the coatings are identical or not. More

Fundamentals: Helicoids and Dismantling (3/3)

Now that we have talked about screws and lubrication, we can finally start with the actual skills for repairing classic Nikkors. Most of the things that I’ll mention here are based on common sense. Please refer to my previous blog posts because there are many important things that were mentioned there that will not be repeated here.

Helicoids are simple yet they can be very frustrating to work with, many get stuck here because they don’t know how to service them. Even experienced repairers like me get stuck occasionally if we got a lens that was reinstalled the wrong way or if we slipped.