Repair: Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Are you a Vim fanatic or an Emacs supremacist? I personally don’t use both much but I Vim is something that I used a lot when I was still working on a Linux environment. It’s small, nimble and easy to use. It doesn’t have the power of Emacs but it gets the job done. I like simplicity, it makes me more productive because I don’t have to deal with any clutter. Today, I am going to show you something simple. It doesn’t have the bells-and-whistles of newer lenses but it gets the job done due to its simplicity.


The Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S was sold from 1981 to 1988. It was made to complement the Nikon F3 and this replaced the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 Ai (N). The former is an amazing lens that many people felt an attachment to and for a good reason because it’s a great performer. It was tough for Nikon to exceed it but this lens marginally improved upon it. The production ended because autofocus lenses were the fad, the Nikon F4 was introduced and that soon became the end of the manual Nikkor era.


It has a huge barrel for both zooming and focusing. I call these “pumper-zooms”, it allows me to operate this with a single hand. This is handy for shooting action. The size of the barrel is just-right and it feels great to use it. Handling is quite nice but it’s a bit heavy, it will strain your neck.


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! Some people couldn’t seem to appreciate things that are considered “obsolete”, “vintage” and simplistic. I understand that they want something that is state-of-the-art and near-perfect in nearly everything. It’s not a bad thing to always want the best, however, it’s not good to put-down something just because it was of an older standard. Vintage equipment is a lot of fun to work with, it can also how if the person using it is skilled. New equipment can only take you so far but fundamentals mean everything. It’s what separates the good artists from the talented ones. Today, I am going to one such vintage lens that still has its place today. I will show you that gear means nothing much when you know how to use it correctly.


The Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto was sold from 1962 to 1974. This was made in order to provide Nikon F users with a 50/1.4 lens, something that Nikon had for their rangefinder system. It was difficult to make since optical engineers back then hadn’t perfected the techniques required to calculate such a lens. What made it difficult was the then-new SLR systems need lenses that could provide sufficient clearance at the rear to avoid the flapping mirror. It was such a difficult feat, Nikon and the others used a slightly-longer focal length to compensate for it and that resulted in the Nikkor-S 5.8cm f/1.4 Auto being designed as a stop-gap in Nikon’s case.


It took Nikon a few years to get it right and that resulted in this lens. It was a big hit and it continued to be in production with the last version coming out in 1974 as the New-Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 (version 1) and was sold until 1976. It is a nice lens to use and I enjoy using it with my Nikon Df.


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 was watching “Airplane” a while back. It is a silly movie with an equally-silly doctor played by late Leslie Nielsen. It’s a great movie, I found myself laughing at most of the jokes but what really them so funny is how the actors delivered their lines. They appeared serious, they delivered their lines with a straight-face despite all the nonsense. The subtlety, timing and execution was brilliant. I haven’t seen a funnier movie these days. This level of comedy could only be rivaled by Mel Brooks. If you like subtlety and smoothness of delivery then you will love today’s featured lens but there is nothing funny about its delivery, it’s one of Nikon’s better portrait lenses.


The Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S was sold from 1981 to 1995, it’s an update of the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai from which it inherited its optical design. The barrel is new, it now has a linear aperture and it’s now able to shoot in PSAM modes with Nikons that allowed it such as a Nikon FA. It’s a bit lighter due to better engineering. Its well-regarded as a great lens but people are polarized by it. Like the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai that preceded it, the maximum aperture is just f/2 unlike the older New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 which is marginally brighter. It’s not really an issue, I suspect that the better coatings may have even made it better at gathering light wide-open.

Its coating has a different hue compared to the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai, it means that the coatings aren’t identical. That will affect its optical performance to an extent. The bright f/2 maximum aperture means that this is easy to focus specially if you have a split-screen installed. Your view through the prism is clear and it’s easier to focus due to the thin depth-of-field. A faster lens may be more difficult to focus since the depth-of-field is even shallower.


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.