Repair: Nikkor-Q 135mm f/2.8

Hello, everybody! I was busy with so many things lately so it took me awhile to update this blog but don’t worry, we are going back to our regular schedule in the following weeks.

Introduction:

There are very few Nikkors that can match The Nikkor-Q 135mm f/2.8 when it comes to the cost/performance ratio. These lenses can be had for as little as $10 these days for a worn junker and may fetch as high as $100 for a mint ai-converted sample.

IMG_1285This lens only has 4 elements, hence the Q in Nikkor-Q. This means that there is less glass to filter out the light coming from outside and this translates into rich saturated colours as well as the 3-dimentional look that many of today’s overly corrected optics lack. Just take a look at my sample picture below to see what I mean.

(Click on the thumbnails to enlarge)

The lens is also built like a hammer! There is just not enough words to describe the feel of this thing in your hands and it makes you wonder why you are paying so much money for the plastic lenses that come out these days. The lens also has a built-in lens hood, a very nice touch. Everything about this lens hints that this is what a pro lens should be back in the days.

The fast f/2.8 is great for focusing as well as shooting in lowlight environments. From the 2 samples that I have, the lens looks decently sharp wide-open but is razor sharp once you stop it down to f/4. The relatively long 135mm focal length also helps isolate your subjects from the background and is capable of giving you a very nice and silky bokeh transition.

Having mentioned the above traits of this lens, it is only natural to conclude that this will make a very good lens for portraiture and candid shots. Manual focusing this lens is easy because of the smooth helicoid but can be difficult to use on a moving subject. I do not see this being a problem in a studio setting since you have a cooperative subject in front of you anyway so the lack of auto-focus is never going to be an issue.

Enough with the introduction, I am sure that you are here to see the insides of this lens so let’s begin with the lens mutilation!

Before We Begin:

If this is the first attempt at opening a lens then I suggest that you read my previous posts regarding screws & driversgrease and other things. Also read regarding the tools that you will need in order to fix your Nikkors.

I highly suggest that you read these primers before you begin (for beginners):

Reading these primers should lessen the chance of ruining your lens if you are a beginner. Also before opening up any lens, always look for other people who have done so in Youtube and the internet. Information is scarce, vague and scattered (that is why I started this) but you can still find some information if you search carefully.

I highly recommend that you also read my working with helicoids post because this is very important and getting it wrong can ruin your day. If I can force you to read this, I would. It is that important!

For more advanced topics, you can read my fungus removal post as a start. This post has a lot of useful information here and there and it will be beneficial for you to read this.

About Me:

I am a photographer based in Tokyo who scours the junk section of the camera shops here on a regular basis. I started this hobby of fixing old lenses and cameras because I kept on getting scammed before when I purchase online. This turned out to be a blessing because I now buy junk lenses for a fraction of the price and then fix them to add to my growing now collection. This allowed me to buy gear that were otherwise off-limits to me if I were to get them in better condition.

I was a scale modeller before who built models for other collectors for a very longtime, got an education as a dental prosthodontist (but didn’t pursue dentistry) and growing up in a watch repair shop gave me the useful skills that would help me in this craft. Fixing my car also contributed some know-how.

Having mentioned the above, I will tell you now that I am not a professional repairman! So please take what I do with a grain of salt and I will never be held responsible for anything wrong that will happen to you and your project. I hope that the pros would guide and teach us but nobody is writing anything.

As my collection of repair notes grew, I get requests from people with similar interests and from professionals who just needed some notes just in case. Now, I am sharing my library with you for your entertainment and reference. I hope that you find my work useful.

Disassembly (Lens Barrel):

This lens is probably one of the easiest Nikkor to take apart since the construction is very straight forward. I would even suggest this lens to people who just want to have something relaxing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Overhauling this thing should not even take you 2 hours max.

Let’s start!

IMG_1267Remove the screws on the bayonet (if yours have them) and you can remove the aperture ring from the rest of the lens. The aperture ring for my lens is not Ai-compatible so I had to convert this myself. To see how I do it, please read my Ai Conversion blog and by the way, some samples will have the factory Ai conversion kit already installed on it so you do not need to convert it (lucky you if you got that one!).

IMG_1268The bayonet mount should come off as well. Do not force it if something felt stuck, just go about doing this step slowly.

IMG_1270Remove all of the screws on the focusing ring and you should be able to pull it apart easily. Just take a look at that old grease, yuck!

IMG_1271.JPGRemove all of the screws from the chrome grip and pull it up to reveal the helicoid key. In order to remove the helicoid key you should focus the lens to a certain point so that these screws can be accessed. Remove the 2 screws and set them aside. You will definitely want to clean the helicoid key. Just take a look at that caked gunk! Looks like toe jam! Yuck!

IMG_1272With the helicoid key out of the way, you can go about separating the helicoids. the main helicoid on my lens separated at this point. Be sure to mark where they separate!

IMG_1273.JPGNow, separate the inner helicoid. Just looking at that grime in this picture just makes me want to scrub these until they are clean!

Smart readers will notice a pattern in this lens by this point. The helicoids and some parts of the lens have hints in them to indicate where they should separate or mate. This is very convenient and I hope that more and more lenses were made like this.

IMG_1269.JPGPull out the built-in hood and carefully unscrew this large screw holding the front barrel in place. Please disregard the fact that the focusing ring is in the picture.

IMG_1274.JPGNow you should be able to unscrew the front barrel from the lens. If the front barrel won’t budge, simply apply some acetone or solvent into the screw hole to dissolve whatever they used to lock it down.

IMG_1275.JPGThis lens has the number 107 written on it. I find this interesting since these were usually cleaned during assembly. Maybe somebody might have forgot?

IMG_1277.JPGCarefully get rid of this tint set screw. Set is aside so that you won’t lose or damage it.

IMG_1278.JPGWith the set screw gone, you can now unscrew this collar to access the objective. That ring made of brass in the picture is what Nikon uses to calibrate the infinity focus of this lens.

IMG_1279.JPGMake sure that you don’t drop the objective. It is quite heavy on this lens and gravity alone is more than enough to cause this to separate from it’s helicoid!

IMG_1281.JPGFor a thorough cleaning, remove the aperture claw from the outer helicoid. To remove it you have to unscrew it’s metal retention. I will lubricate these parts later as I put the lens together again for smooth operation.

IMG_1280.JPGYou should have something close to this at this point.

Disassembly (Objective):

Disassembling the objective doesn’t take a long time since you only have 4 glass elements to think about. It is pretty straight forward so long as you have the proper tools for it.

I am not going to clean the aperture blades on this one since they are still good so for those people who need to clean theirs, this guide will not be very helpful on that matter.

IMG_1661Put some acetone or solvent on this hole to dissolve whatever is holding this collar. Notice that the plate below it is also wet from fresh solvent, that thing comes off as well. The rear element can be easily accessed once these are taken apart.

IMG_1663You have to remove this retention ring with the beautiful engraved characters before we move on. Use a lens spanner for this and be careful not to scratch the glass.

The serial number ends in “888” and this is one of the reasons why I got this lens. Nice!

IMG_1662Remove this ring to access the front elements. As with the rear element, drop acetone into this hole to dissolve the glue, wait for a few minutes and unscrew this with your hands.

IMG_1282.JPGThe front elements should come off easily. Four elements in four groups, I like simplicity and it cant get any simpler than this (except for the Nikkor-T). Obviously, the rear glass element is not in the picture. Be careful not to drop any of these, they are heavy and may slip of your hand!

 Conclusion:

As you can see, this lens sure is pretty straight forward. The only annoying step that I can think of when I was working with this thing was the part where you reassemble your lens and you need to put the objective back to the lens barrel. While the inside diameter of the lens barrel is pretty wide, the objective itself is pretty big as well so there is not a lot of room for you to manoeuvre. The trick here is to go slowly while aligning the aperture lever and the aperture claw to their respective tabs in the objective. It may take awhile for you to get it right so do not fret.

IMG_1283The main reason why I wanted to clean the objective is to remove one mild fungal growth on this spot. The seller (wchinazz2007 / hanamaru / ハナマル) in Yahoo! Auctions Japan is a liar and cannot be trusted. He posted that this lens is in great condition with “dirt” in the middle element, some dirt that is…

As you can see from the photo above, the fungus is now gone and the lens functions like it is new. The helicoid is now silky smooth and the glass is clear. It should have been like this in the first place specially considering the price that I paid for it.

I remember having a lot of fun working on this lens and I hope that you have fun working with yours as well! Until next time, enjoy your lenses and keep shooting! Love, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my paypal.com account (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hernlund2014
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 13:31:01

    Nice article. I’ve seen these for sale in Tokyo for pennies. They made them so well that a ton of good copies are still floating around the used market over 40 years later! I never bought one since I have a 135mm/2.8 Ai lens, which is very similar optically but more compact.

    Also, wchinazz2007 sounded familiar, and I checked my e-mail history. I bought a 39mm Nikon orange drop-in filter for my 300/4 lens from that guy, actually he stated that it had scratches on the surface but it was so cheap I figured I’d give it a try anyways. There was some crud on the surface when I got it, but after some careful cleaning with alcohol the filter is basically in perfect condition. In any case, I only use it when I mount the big lens on my film bodies with B&W film (I also keep a red filter in this size).

    Reply

    • richardhaw
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 13:37:56

      Thanks hernlund!!! yes, these are built like VW beetles. i can smash this into a mugger’s face for self defence! the Ai one I believe has a different optical design, or was it the Ai-S?

      that wchinazz2007 guy is such an annoying son of a bitch. i lodged a complaint against this guy and he even would not bother to respond to my messages properly. that rat owns a shop.

      Reply

      • hernlund2014
        Apr 26, 2016 @ 11:49:04

        Not sure but I think all the pre-Ai 135 lenses had 4 elements, while the Ai and Ai-s had the same 5 element formula. They are all great lenses, just different packages. On the Ai version the bokeh is nice but I’ve found that I have to really nail focus wide open to get sharp results and good subject separation. The green dot doesn’t always do me right with this lens.

        I’ll watch out for that wchinazz2007 jerk in the future…thanks for letting me know!

      • richardhaw
        Apr 30, 2016 @ 14:37:38

        I see. the later Ai and Ai-s ones are superb. the green dot works for me, i have poor eyesight and even a focusing screen is not helpful.

  2. Jeremy Hardy
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 11:50:14

    G’day Richard,

    This article looks awesome ;]

    I have a 135mm f/2.8 non-Ai copy of this lens that has had an AI conversion done to the rear end by a previous owner.

    I’ve recently noticed that it doesn’t focus to infinity correctly ;[

    Some research and discussion with others has come to the conclusion/suggestion that it appears to have been reassembled wrongly at some point in the past.

    So, I’m guessing I need to disassemble the lens and then adjust one or both of the helicoils and retest.

    Just wondering if you could suggest which helicoil to tweak (or both?) and in which direction to tweak it?

    Thanks, Jeremy.

    Reply

    • richardhaw
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 16:47:14

      Hello, Jeremy and thank you. I can write a guide for you next weekend if you can wait. It can be easily adjusted so long as the helicoids are not involved

      Reply

      • Jeremy Hardy
        Jun 28, 2016 @ 20:30:38

        Thanks mate, that’d be really awesome ;]

      • richardhaw
        Jun 28, 2016 @ 23:13:41

        Hello, Jeremy. You are missing the infinity mark by how many mm in the focusing scale? Ric

      • Jeremy Hardy
        Jun 30, 2016 @ 10:24:12

        G’day mate, sorry for the delay in getting back to you, work has been demanding a lot of my time this week.

        I’ve just got the lens out again and had a look.

        With the focus ring turned all the way to close focus, the 1.5M lines up dead centre on the black focus mark on the silver section of the lens.

        With the focus ring turned all the way towards infinity, the infinity mark is centered over the black focus mark in the silver section.

        So, it seems to have a full range of motion.

        I’ll try and set up the lens on tripod and measure how far from the sensor plane is in focus at a few points on the focus range.

      • Jeremy Hardy
        Jun 30, 2016 @ 11:48:49

        Ok, testing reveals the following:

        With lens focused at “1.5M”
        Distance to in focus subject = 1330mm

        With lens focused at “4M”
        Distance to subject in focus = 2870mm

        With lens focused at “10M
        Distance to subject in focus = 4650mm

        With lens focused to 20M
        Distance to subject in focus = 6310mm

        With lens focused to “Infinity”
        Distance to subject in focus = 7835mm

      • richardhaw
        Jul 01, 2016 @ 00:10:35

        Hello, Jeremy. looks like the helicoids were improperly set. If it was properly set then you will be off by less 10cm or so and it can be adjusted through the focusing ring adjustments. Wait for my article and pay attention to where my helicoids separated. Ric.

      • Jeremy Hardy
        Jul 01, 2016 @ 10:18:07

        Awesome ;]

        I did wonder if that might have been the case.

        We’re heading off on holidays after the weekend for a week. I’ll keep an eye out for your article and attack the lens when we get home.

        Thanks heaps for the help. I really appreciate it ;]

  3. Trackback: Repair: Nikkor 135mm f/2.8K/Ai/Ai-S | Richard Haw's Classic Nikkor Maintenance Site
  4. Andy MacDougall
    Aug 21, 2016 @ 12:15:03

    Hey Richard, I’m trying to strip and rebuild the 135 f2 AI, I have removed the rear plate and the 3 screws on the focus ring so it is now loose but now I’m stuck ! Can you help? Thanks.

    Reply

    • richardhaw
      Aug 21, 2016 @ 14:01:36

      Hi, Andy! That sucks. If you can post the problem with accompanying pictures on the facebook page maybe me and some other people can help you. Rick

      Reply

  5. Trackback: Repair: Nikkor-Q 135mm f/3.5 | Richard Haw's Classic Nikkor Maintenance Site
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