Repair: Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! I haven’t updated for weeks and I can see that people are checking my site on the weekends looking for updates. The past few weeks were terrible. I got sick so the rest of the family got ill as well including our precious baby. I am so busy at work and having an idiot in the team doesn’t make things easier so I am left with no time to update this blog and stress levels are very high. Don’t worry, I will make it up to you because we are going to teardown a very special lens this time.


We’re going to feature a legend in this blog post. A lens so steeped in hearsay and fantasy that it’s reputation preceded it. The fact that this lens is rare and out of production is also contributing to the hype. And as a Nikon tinkerbug, this lens ranks very high on my list. It is like hunting down Moby Dick and this lens is no other than the legendary Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S!

img_1658The Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S when coupled with a camera that has a Nikon D4 sensor will enable you to shoot in dim situations like a candle-lit room with ease. The Noct was designed to be used in the low light or night photography and one of its selling points is how it corrects points of light found at the corners of the frame. Usually, large aperture lenses will distort these points of light when shot wide-open but the Noct is corrected to help keep the shape of the lights and prevent these from smearing. It’s not perfect, but it is much better than many lenses for this.

This lens has a long but low-volume production run. It started with an old Ai version and ended being an Ai-S lens that was produced until the mid 1990s. The differences between the earlier one and the later version are the coatings, aperture blade number and shape, weight, different lens barrel and other small details, the formula stayed the same so far. The production count for this lens is low because the front element had to be ground by hand. Scarcity and hype made this lens expensive so I waited for a very long time until I could buy one for a good enough price and I got it for around 60% of the usual price.

Another selling point of the Noct is it’s sharp wide-open at f/1.2. It may not be the best at minimum focus distances wide-open but from 2-3m and further, this lens is sharp at f/1.2 and it won’t disappoint. Couple this with the lovely bokeh that this lens is known for and you get an image with plenty of character and look that’s unique specially when shot at night. Some would even go as far and say that no other lens is designed to do this and as high as that claim is, I am sure that it’s not without basis.

img_1631Look at that front element! That’s an aspherical element and it had to be hand-ground for precision, this is why this costs so much to produce since there’s a person involved in the production of this thing.

But why 58mm? The optics is so large and it is verging on the limits of the F-mount and a shorter focal length with these features can’t be made so a compromise had to be made. So Nikon’s engineers re-used the solution that made the Nikkor-S 5.8cm f/1.4 possible – it’s the first “normal” f/1.4 lens for the F-mount. It is a historically and technically important lens for Nikon because making a fast aperture lens on a normal focal length was difficult then so instead of giving it a 5cm (50mm) focal length the engineers made the decision to make it as a 5.8cm (58mm) to get the proper clearances so that the rear element won’t hit the mirror. This rare Nikkor sold for a short time until the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 was made possible by advances made in the field of lens design. It’s also important to note that the 58mm focal length is the closest focal length to what the human eye sees and that can be tested by shooting a 58mm lens and comparing it to what your eye can see through a big viewfinder with 100% coverage like what the Nikon F has.

In terms of sharpness, I will rank this between my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S and the Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 Ai, which is saying a lot because these lenses are pretty sharp wide-open. You can even say that it has the dreaminess of the Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 Ai and the sharpness of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S in most cases.

(Click to enlarge)

Check out my sample photos and judge them for yourself specially the ones where I was focusing on something close to see what I mean when I said that the lens isn’t really very sharp wide-open at the minimum focusing distance, it’s possible that I got a lemon where the minimum focusing is screwed. My Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S was the same, since I got it new I pestered Nikon to fix it to my satisfaction and after 2 months of bugging them they finally gave me a perfect lens that’s sharp at all distances and at every practical aperture. Some people actually have a sharp copy at the minimum focusing distance and they even use it as a macro lens when mated to an extension ring. Even without the extension ring you are capable of focusing really close with this.

HAW_9658.jpgNot quite minimum focus distance but pretty close. At f/1.2, this is capable of some of the creamiest bokeh you will ever see on a Nikkor lens because the DOF is so thin.

(Click to enlarge)

At f/2, this lens is already very much capable of achieving very sharp results. The details are very good and the subject is very well-separated from the background.

HAW_9664Here’s a picture shot at f/2.8, check out the amazing details on the eye of the unicorn toy! You can literally count the threads on its eyes! You can even see the individual fibers!

HAW_9667Here’s another picture shot at f/2.8.  The subject is very sharp and there is a nice pop to it which adds to the subject-background separation. Imagine using this on real model!

HAW_9676.jpgThe very fast maximum aperture is beneficial for low-light photography. Back in the day, people shoot wide-open for this and not really much for “bokeh”; that’s a recent trend.

HAW_9670And this is what the Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S was designed for. This is a crop from an image that I took (extreme corner). This was designed to minimize coma, a lens artifact found on fast lenses because of field curvature (?). It will show point lights such as this or stars as disfigured blobs. This makes astrophotography or night photography difficult to do perfectly. The aspherical front element helps alleviate this so you only get a minimum effect instead of the ugly “bat symbol” looking blobs. Stopping it down just a bit will help make it even less noticeable. than this. Remember, we are shooting at f/1.2 here!

The following samples were shot with Fujifilm Natura 1600 film. This is my favorite film, I am shooting it like mad now because this is probably the last rolls that I will ever shoot of this stock. TheNoct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S was calculated to be the ultimate night shot lens on film so let’s see what it can do. The pictures here were scanned by a lab and I kid you not, the negatives look even better than the scans in terms of detail!

FH000008.jpgThe very thin plane-of-focus gives this shot a miniature-like effect. I believe this was shot at f/2.8 or maybe even faster. The lens is already exhibiting near-peak sharpness at f/2.8, I am always amazed by the results that I get from this lens when shot at faster apertures.

FH000021-2This picture shows just how sharp the Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S is. The rendering is so organic and there are no words that I can use for it except exquisite. We have Mr. Magoo  here inspecting his lamp and this was shot at about f/2 or so. Notice the nice 3D effect of the whole picture. This is not a lens for street photography because focusing can be hard.

FH000032-2Using a waist-level finder makes me less threatening to my subjects because I look like a geek tinkering with my camera instead of a creep. I can also shoot at a lower angle and it is a nice departure from the usual way I shoot. Focusing can be difficult because the thin sliver of focus is hard to pin-down exactly. You are rewarded with a unique picture when you nailed on in-focus just like this one. I think this was shot at f/1.4 or f/1.8 if I’m correct.

(Click to enlarge)

Here are more samples. Notice that focusing this lens is tough when your taking subjects that are moving. I will admit that I lost a couple of good shots just because of the focus, it is not good for an artist to blame the tools but this is not the way you would want to use this lens. Despite that, I’ll continue using this lens for this kind of shots because they look good (the results). The rendering is so unique and refined you’ll want to use it always.

Let’s now see some samples that were shot during the day! I took these photos using my Nikon F6 and the film that I used is Fujifilm Industrial 100. Many people use this lens for portraiture because of the lovely quality of its bokeh so I am going to shoot some people pictures this time so we can see what the hype is all about.

FH000016This was taken wide-open, see how special the rendering is? The subject is sharp but the background looks smooth like melted cheese on top of a pizza. The quality of the bokeh is astounding, it almost looks like a painting!

FH000004I took this photo at f/2.8 just so you can see how it is stopped-down. The details look very sharp and you get more things focused due to the deeper depth-of-field. The background remains beautifully blurred and smooth. This is probably the best aperture to use if you want to shoot portraits because f/1.2 is too fast so the depth-of-field will be too shallow. It will cause one eye of your model to be in focus while the other one will be blurred if the subject’s eyes aren’t on the same plane as your setup. Blurring is nice but you should use it wisely, there’s a right time and place for that.

FH000002I love how this lens rendered this picture. It looks so natural and the contrast and colors look lovely. The resolution is also amazing considering that this was taken wide-open.

FH000005This is my favorite picture from the whole set. See how sharp her hairpin is? The smooth just compliments the sharpness and clarity of the subject. This lens is great for cinematic use and you can use the shallow depth-of-field to help tell a story.

FH000013This was taken at f/4, I think. The lens achieves near-peak optical performance by f/2.8 so stopping it down to f/4 will make it even better. I do not know which aperture the effects of diffraction will kick-in but I suspect that it should be evident by f/8 or f/11. I rarely take pictures with this lens at those apertures. In fact, I don’t recall stopping this lens down to f/8 at all. Maybe our pixel-peepers in this community can join and share their thoughts.

(Click to enlarge)

It’s going to be difficult to take photos at the minimum focusing distance with this lens. It has razor-thin focus wide-open so your pictures may not appear as sharp. Stop this lens down to f/2 or f2/8 if you plan on doing something like this.

(Click to enlarge)

Here are the rest of the photos from this set. I hope that these pictures can illustrate how special this lens is for portraiture. It’s hard to find a lens that’s going to rival this lens in terms of rendering in both film and digital.

Is this lens worth the money? That is a very hard question to answer. To some, its unique rendition is worth that but for people on a budget, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S is going to you the fast f/1.2 speed minus the special attributes that made this a legend. The old and less sharp Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 Ai series of lenses are also great substitutes most of the time but I can tell you that they are no Noct-Nikkors when shot at night or dimly-lit places. It’s not the best lens for shooting tiny points of lights like stars and twinkling lights. Needless to say, the Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S is a specialty lens that will only be meaningful to a collector or a pro who can earn the money back after a few projects.

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. Please also read what I wrote about 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 novice. Before opening up any lens, always look for other people who have done so in Youtube or 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.

Disassembly (Lens Barrel):

I usually separate my disassembly into 2-3 parts but this lens is simple enough so I’m just going to cram everything into 1 part. Don’t lightly take the fact that I mentioned the word “simple” for this lens – it is anything but as you will soon see.

This lens is best opened from the front like most typical Nikkor primes. Everything else is typical and not noteworthy until you reach the helicoids but do not worry because I’ll be showing you the ins and outs of this lens (literally).

You do not need any special tools if you want to service the helicoids but you will want to be careful with your screwdriver. This is a very valuable lens by all accounts and it is not in production anymore so treat this lens like it belongs to a god who can zap you just for fun. I kiss this lens from time-to-time and I am not joking.

img_1632Begin by removing this screw found on the front barrel. Be careful not to damage these. Mine was sealed with black paint, others may have their’s sealed with a clear varnish or lacquer. Just drop a bit of solvent to soften the paint and work on the screw carefully.

img_1633Simply unscrew the front barrel and it should come off easily. The front barrel is the only thing that holds the objective so do this while the lens is facing up or else you will drop the precious (and heavy) glass that makes this lens so expensive!

img_1634Just look at the size of that thing. I can tell you now that this is very dense and heavy. It is very scary just holding this thing for the picture! The objective can be pulled out from the focusing unit just like this.

img_1635Nikon really put a lot of effort into making this little thing, so many things were cramped into this tiny space just to make it compact. This is one reason why a modern AF version was never made. Lenses back then were designed around the objective while most lenses today have to be designed with autofocus as part of the design.

img_1636Now that the objective is gone we can continue with the lens barrel. Remove these screws to get rid of the bayonet. The older Ai version of this lens has 5 screws and I feel that for a lens this big, heavy and prestigious such cost-cutting measures should not have been implemented. If you are new to lens repair, read my article on how to remove screws so you won’t get stuck because you stripped the head of your screws and get stuck.

img_1637The rear bayonet plate can now be safely removed and cleaned. Resist the itch to remove the aperture ring at this moment and wait for the next few steps.

img_1638The aperture ring won’t come-off because these screws connect it to the aperture fork on the other side. Just unscrew these and be careful not to scar anything with your tools.

img_1639And here is the aperture fork. The slot in the middle mates with a lug / pillar screw found on the side of the objective and it is responsible for opening and closing the iris.

img_1640The aperture ring came-off easily after the fork and screws are out of the way.

img_1641Remove these screws so you can separate the grip from the rest of the barrel. I was really careful with this step as I didn’t want to risk slipping and ruining anything on the grip, if I scarred the beautiful knurling then this lens will get ugly. This is not a cheap lens.

img_1642The chrome grip wasn’t glued in place at all. I was expecting that Nikon may have glued it in place like what they do in some of their lenses. Good thing they didn’t because it is such a pain to do the ritual of applying solvents and waiting for it to work on the glue.

img_1643Lift the rubber grip from the focusing ring by using a toothpick and running it under the whole circumference of the rubber grip to loosen it up and then carefully pull and pick on the grip until it comes off. Go slowly so that you will not rip or tear this part.

img_1644Scotch tape on an expensive lens! Nikon loves using cello-tape on Ai-S lenses for securing the focusing ring to the scale. This is where you calibrate the distance scale of this lens.

img_1645Simply peel off the cello-tape but before doing so please remember how the scale should be aligned with the focusing ring.

img_1646Unscrew the nameplate from the focusing ring by using a rubber or leather pad. This will give you enough friction to turn this part loose.

img_1647This lens has 2 helicoid keys. This is possibly due to the radius of the barrel so it needed 2 keys positioned at opposite ends to make sure that the torque/pressure is even. I am not a mechanical engineer so do not quote me on this.

img_1648Remove these screws to remove the helicoid keys. Interestingly, the screws on either side are not identical and is slightly different. To avoid any mistakes, just screw these back to their respective helicoid key for safe storage. I marked one of the helicoid keys so that I’ll know which key should go to which slot later on reassembly.

img_1649It is time to separate the helicoid key but the stop-down lever is in the way! Simply rotate the helicoids until you get enough clearance and be careful not to separate them.

img_1650The helicoids of this lens is unusual for a Nikkor. Instead of the usual outer-central-inner helicoid order the central helicoid is the one outside and the two other lesser helicoids are positioned at the same place underneath it so the order now is upper-central-lower.

We remove the upper helicoid and mark where it separated from the central helicoid. If you forgot to mark this you will spend plenty of time guessing where these should mate later during reassembly. Read my article on working with helicoids.

img_1651The central helicoid separated at this place. Again, notice the light scratches that I made to remind me where they have separated and where they should mate.

img_1652Here is a clearer view of the inner side of the central helicoid. Notice that there are two threads milled unto it – one for the upper helicoid and another for the lower helicoid.

img_1653Here’s the upper helicoid. Check out the prongs that serve as guides for the helicoid key. Don’t damage these as they are casted as cantilevers and a pressure may snap these off.

That’s all for the main barrel. It’s not an easy lens to repair for beginners and repairmen with experience should be careful with it because of its delicate parts. Clean the threads very well and apply a fresh film of grease. I used a thicker type of grease because of the short focus throw but I regret doing that now because I think I should have used a grease that’s a bit thinner because my focusing ring feels a bit heavy to turn.

Partial Cleaning (Objective):

The glass looks fine except for a few specs of dusts inside. I really don’t want to open this up as much as possible but since I am halfway there I might as well try. I opened up the objective to clean where the iris mechanism is because in my experience this chamber is where dirt seems to accumulate first most of the time due to the openings there and the iris itself moves a lot so some dirt may settle there from the iris blades. After cleaning I actually ended up with more specs inside than when I started. As I closed the objective, some specs of paint came off and settled on the lens. I was not happy and this ruined my mood so I just left it there. The specs won’t affect my pictures and what’s a few of specs of paint inside gonna do? They’re so tiny and you will hardly see them unless you took the time to find them.

img_1654Carefully remove these 3 screws to separate the front assembly from the rear assembly.

img_1655It’s a very tight fit so be careful. Blow some air to remove the junk that has settled on the surface of the glass. Wow, just look at that beautiful iris!

The lesson for today is not to fix anything that’s not broken. If there’s anything wrong but the lens performs normally then it’s sometimes best to just leave that alone. I’m lucky it’s just dust that I have to worry about and not fungus or worse.


Every time I handle this lens I get very nervous because I don’t want to damage this gem so just imagine how careful I was when I was overhauling this thing. I was surprised that this lens took me just under an hour to re-lube. I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner because of the inter-locking helicoids and the delicate nature of the optics. I will advice that you give this lens to a trusted repairer if your lens has to be serviced.

img_1656You are now left with the task of adjusting the focus. It’s simple for this lens, all you need to do is adjust the focusing ring and you’re set. If you want to know more about adjusting a lens’ focus then read my guide on how to adjust the focus of your lens. A lens like this is dependent on accurate focusing since the depth-of-field is so thin so you need to get this right.

Did I scratch a big itch inside your head to see what is inside a Noct? I do not know about you but it sure satisfied me. As far as I know, this is the only information on the net that deals with a Noct’s repair. I tried searching before I began working but I found nothing even on the Japanese sites. With that statement I hope that somebody will find this useful and help them with maintaining a legendary lens. I got this lens from a dead person and I’m sure that this lens meant a lot to him. To honour him, I will take good care of this lens myself. True, it wasn’t given to me as a gift and I had to pay for it with a high sum by my paygrade standards but this can only be justified by a true Nikon fanatic.

Thank you for dropping by my blog and if you liked this, please share this to your friends and “like” the facebook page to get alerts each time something new is posted as well as to interact with other people or to ask questions to me directly. Thanks my supporters, you are the reason why this blog continues to operate. The support that you send goes to the upkeep of the site and it also helps me offset the cost of buying film, developing and then having them scanned at the lab. You are helping me create new, original work so I thank you all for that. This blog is going to be the best because of your help. 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 account ( 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.

34 Comments (+add yours?)

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  2. Garry Watterson
    Feb 18, 2017 @ 11:19:47

    G’day Ric,

    I have an 58mm f1.2 NOCT which has a broken rear lens element. Serial No. is 188180. It appears the clamp/glue gave way, probably from an unknown knock and the rear element fell out when the lens was being put onto my camera during a night time shoot. Found the broken element on the ground after not being able to focus.
    Any chance you or any contacts may have damaged NOCT’s that still have a good rear element? Probably a long shot that one from another lens will work but I used this lens often on night shoots and it is worth repairing!
    Thanks for an interesting article although I’m not about to dismember the lens.

    Kind regards



    • richardhaw
      Feb 18, 2017 @ 11:22:22

      Hi, Garry!
      Junk NOCTs are rare. These lenses are almost always very well taken cared of for obvious reasons. If you can, can you show me the extent of the damage and let’s see if we can glue that thing back together? I believe that the back is a single element and not a doublet. Ric.


      • Garry Watterson
        Mar 30, 2017 @ 06:22:50

        G’day Richard,
        Sincere apologies as I have only just found you reply. Guess I need to tick the ‘notify via email’ box.
        Here’s the image showing the extent of the damage…definitely unrepairable. I’ve looked at the rear elements of the 50 f1.2 and the 55 f1.2, but although they are very close there are differences.
        Still keen to get this repaired if you locate anything or you know anyone at the Japanese Nikon lens factory.

        Kind regards


        ps. Appears I am not able to add the image..anyway the lens broke in half with big chunks knocked off each side.

      • richardhaw
        Mar 31, 2017 @ 05:34:31

        Hello, Garry!

        Glad to hear from you again! I am not very optimistic about the transplant because there is a huge chance that the element will not jive well with the rest. I tried swapping elements on some of my lenses (even with identical models) and most of them simply doesn’t work. Your best option as of this moment is to look for a junk so you can transplant the whole objective. Junk NOCTs are still pricey by the way. Ric.

  3. Steven
    Mar 29, 2017 @ 23:54:16


    I have this lens. It was a gift from my dad. According to him, in his time he’s had to recover it from the bottom of a river. After that, back in 1984, he had it repaired, but he doesn’t know what was repaired exactly. All he knows is that it worked fine for him for years after.

    It’s produced some great pictures for me. It’s a very interesting and a very different style, and I’ve really enjoyed using it. But since I’ve learned more about it and about photography in general, I’ve noticed that I can’t change the aperture. That seems like something I should have noticed right away, but I’m a completely self taught photographer and I didn’t start looking into aperture until I got this lens.

    I’ve had this lens for a while now, and I’ve tried reading about it but there isn’t much out there about it and I end up just getting frustrated and shunning the lens for a while out of defeat. When I took it to our local camera shop, they were able to confirm that the aperture wasn’t changing when turning the aperture ring, but they had never seen this lens before and didn’t know what to tell me other than that.

    I’m definitely not going to attempt disassembling this lens. But I’m also weary of sending it off to have it repaired with as precious of a lens as this is. So I’m not sure what to do about repairing it. I was just curious if you have any experience with dysfunctional aperture rings and what can be done about it? Or if I’m just going to have to live with this lens set at a mystery aperture until I’m experienced and brave enough to attempt disassembly and reassembly?

    Thank you,



    • richardhaw
      Mar 30, 2017 @ 02:43:29

      That’s quite a story, Steve!
      There can be many things that can go wrong with that but the easiest culprit is a lost screw. Look at my teardown and see if there is anything missing amd if the blades are still there. If the bearings are gone then you would need a donor lens. Use a torch and look at it and see. With the correct set of drivers, you can remove some parts of the lens enough for you to make a diagnosis. Ric


  4. Vishal Arora
    Apr 24, 2017 @ 16:14:01

    Richard, I just acquired a NOCT and though the item is absolutely visibly perfect including the aperture ring with no scratches, fungus, haze, etc. I did notice a bit of shake/vibration when I hold ONLY the Focus Ring. If I hold both the focus ring and the outer ring of where the filter screws in, then nothing. Just wondering if there should be a very small amount of rattle? I mean, very small? Thanks.


  5. Vishal Arora
    Apr 24, 2017 @ 16:47:32

    Richard, thank you for confirming. Do you think a lens element could be loose or something of that nature if there is a very small amount of shake/rattle? It is not a grinding kind of sound, but something does move it seem. Thank you.


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  7. Anthony
    Jul 17, 2017 @ 23:48:42

    Hi Richard. Thank you for this blog. I had the courage to purchase a Noct with issues for a very reasonable price. After looking through it and using your blog as a guide I am now inclined to believe that the rear element may have been mounted the wrong way at some point during a repair. As I don’t have another Noct to compare to I was wondering how convex the outer part of the rear element is. The lens I have seems to be almost flat. I am having focus issue in that all shots at 1.2 have too much glow, very little contrast at the focus point. Also, when I tried to adjust the lens for infinity but the entire optical seems to be too far forward when I got the best focus. The ring that keeps the optical block in place is about 2mm too far forward. Thank you.


    • richardhaw
      Jul 18, 2017 @ 00:01:41

      Hello, Anthony. Glad this was useful for you. Check Mr. Mansurov’s png above, the rear element is the only ambiguous one. this part is secured very well to the housing so I doubt the repair guy messed around with this and the rear is also sealed if I remember it correctly. You can try and see if it was indeed tampered. If it’s not then the spacing of the elements are probably off. You will have to collimate this manually. Ric.


  8. Anthony
    Jul 18, 2017 @ 15:38:07

    Hi, Ric. Thank you for the reply. I think the lens was disassembled at some point. The rear element has a nick that was caused by a botched attempt at fixing the lens. From the inside, the retaining ring for the inner elements of the rear optical block seems to be thread-locked. It does seem the rear element is pretty much set with the rear metal housing it being mounted in reverse is a very low possibility. I am now inclined to try to disassemble the rear optical block and try setting everything back in place.


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  14. Martin
    Dec 10, 2017 @ 11:10:10

    Hi Ric, am so glad to have found your wonderful useful blog! Got my NOCT 2 month ago at about 1500US$ here in Germany. Even for an AI this is a good price I thought – the AIS are some 50% higher in price than AI usually.

    But: The focus ring was not smooth running all the way through and even stuck sometimes, so I decided to turn it in to a local Nikon service point for revision. Cost me 180$ on top and ran better afterwards but still with some resistance mostly towards the 30cm focal length. The Nikon guy said “The new grease just has to run in” which I did not really believe. Now a month and a half later I am proved right – has not improved.
    The resistance of the focus ring in the region below 1m is higher when turning to closer than the other direction. Also the resistance is very much orientation related: Portrait position high resistance and landscape orientation of the camera = much lower resistance. Also it is getting slightly better if you keep going back and forth but in the whole not quite easy to describe. But very annoying for sure…

    Do you have any idea?
    Still reluctant to open that lense – never done such thing before.
    Thx Martin


    • richardhaw
      Dec 10, 2017 @ 11:20:02

      Hello, Martin.
      In my experience it can be many things that can cause this. Once is that the helicoid threads needs to be cleaned VERY well. There might be some hardened old grease there that wasn’t removed. When I heard that the focusing is smooth depending on orientation it can only mean that the lens is not within mechanical tolerance. Meaning that the slots for the helicoid keys may not be perfectly straight or a lever inside is causing this and may need to be very lightly lubricated. I can try and fix that for you if you can wait because it’s too cold here now for me to do anything. Ric.


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  22. Frank
    Nov 24, 2019 @ 21:23:10

    Hi Ric,

    I have been looking to buy my own copy of this wonderful lens. I found one for sale recently where the seller describes the focus ring as being a bit stiff, otherwise it looks in good condition. At first I dismissed this lens but then I came across your article in which you describe your focus ring as being “a bit heavy to turn” so now I’m thinking it might still be worth considering. I believe that the lens might have already been serviced so the “stiffness” is probably a feature of this particular example. In your experience with this and other AI-s lenses, do you think a lightly stiff focus ring is anything to worry about? Any information would be greatly appreciated.




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  25. rolfedg
    Jan 29, 2020 @ 13:05:31

    Hi! I got an AI Noct in December but returned it due to external cosmetic is not as descbribed (mint). However, it was very sharp. I bought an AI-S and cosmetic is really good outside however it’s NOT sharp! Do you think adjustments can be done so it will be sharp? I’m inclined to return this one again if there’s no chance this will be fixed 😦 THank you!


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