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Repair: AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D

Hello, everybody! How are you today? I’m currently enjoying a few days of vacation. I’m going to start working for a new studio so I need some time to prepare. I now have more free-time to do things and look through old stuff. There are things that I sold many years ago which I regretted and so for the sake of nostalgia, I bought a copy back. Today, we’re going to see one of those things that I regret selling and that is the topic of our article!

Introduction:

Today, we are going to talk about the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D lens! It’s a very good lens so its popularity hasn’t really changed much throughout the years. I had one almost a decade ago and sold it for an AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D so that I will have a better working distance between me and my usual subjects for macrophotography (bugs). That was a big mistake because this lens is so good that I began to miss it and after a long time looking for a junk, I finally got suckered into buying a real junk advertised as having few fungi inside the lens but it turned out to be more than that. Let’s see what’s special about this lens that has people buying this lens for nearly 3 decades (since 1989) now.

IMG_6658The AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D is a very compact lens. It feels solid but in reality it has plenty of plastic parts. Despite that, it was built solidly and it will take a beating. This is a very handy lens for macro photography but you will have to get really close to your bugs and at 1:1 magnification, the end of the lens is just about 2 inches away from the subject! This will make lighting your subject difficult and in the case of natural lighting, you will have to position yourself very well in order for your subject to be properly illuminated.

IMG_2326.JPGThese are all of the of Micro-Nikkors belonging to the 55/3.5 family of lenses. They are all very good. The AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D is descendant of this lens family and it had detached from it by having a 60mm focal length. I am not sure why this was done but I’m suspecting that the new formula had to be a bit longer in order to make the lens extend a bit less when you get to 1:1 magnification. The AF Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 (far right) is a very good autofocus macro lens and is considered to be one of the sharpest Nikkor made. The problem is it feels like a toy because of the liberal use of plastic. To address this issue the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D was made with higher standards when it comes to the barrel’s construction and design, making use of rubber and metal to make it feel solid.

The AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D has been made since 1989 to the present. This is a good testament to this lens’ design and while it was replaced in 2008 by the current (as of now) AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED lens the older 60mm is still being made. I suspect that some people who still shoot with a film camera that needs an aperture ring still buys the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D or some photographers just need the aperture ring for the very technical job of using bellows for photography. The current Micro-Nikkor has a new autofocus motor and it doesn’t have a proper aperture ring so you change the aperture with the dials of your camera. I know it sounds archaic nowadays to rotate the aperture ring just to change the aperture of your iris but it’s still useful to have a mechanical ring to turn when you don’t have any means to couple the electronics from the camera to the lens. This is the case when using bellow or when you reverse the lens for extreme macro photography. I personally like to use the aperture ring because it feels more natural.

HAW_9962The lens renders beautiful and sharp images when used as a normal lens though 60mm is going to be a bit long it can still count as a normal lens. The bokeh is a bit busy when it is used to shoot objects that are further away in the frame as you can see here. This was shot wide-open and I want to see how it renders foliage in the background.

HAW_9967The AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D can be soft around the corners when shot with things that are further away in the frame. I guess this lens was calculated to perform best in 1:1 magnification or close to it. Besides, this was shot wide-open. Maybe I’m asking too much from this lens for wanting it to have sharp corners wide-open!

HAW_9982The AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D lens is reasonably flare-resistant but this doesn’t mean that it will not exhibit any flares and ghosts when given the right variables. This was shot at f/8 so you can see the pretty sunstar. Stopping the lens down will also “solidify” the big blue blobs so we can see them easier. A hood is unnecessary because the front element is deeply-recessed within the lens. The corners have now improved at f/8 and is now sharp!

HAW_9981Here is the same framing as the image above but I moved a bit so the sun is positioned in a slightly different way in the frame. You can obviously see a huge difference and ghosts are nowhere to be found within the frame so I suspect that “angle of incidence” is at work here. Ghosts are reflections of the individual lens elements anyway so this makes sense.

HAW_9979Even at f/5.6, the corners look decent enough. I love the saturated images that I get using this lens. Foliage is a difficult thing for many lenses but this lens does it beautifully. Even some sensors fail in this like the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor wherein things like pine needles may end up looking “smeared”. Just do a search on the net to see what I’m talking about.

HAW_9996Of course, the lens is a great performer at 1:1 magnification! This was shot stopped-down at around f/8. Just look at the amazing detail! I expect no less from a Macro-Nikkor!

HAW_9994This was shot at around f/5.6 but I’m really sure. My trusty Nikon Df seem to get fooled by this lens because it changes its effective aperture as you focus really close and doesn’t go back or report the proper aperture when you rotate the aperture ring, weird. Not sure if this is just happening on my setup. This is annoying because it can make the Nikon Df’s meter reading off by as much as 1-2 stops and give you wrong aperture readings! I didn’t remember this happening with my Nikon D90 many years ago because you do not have the option to change the aperture directly using the aperture ring. Maybe this is a bug?

(Click to enlarge)

The sets of pictures above were shot at f/2.8, f/5.6 and f/8 in that order from left to right. I must stress again that the effective aperture of this lens changes as you focus in or out so f/5.6 may show up as f/8 in the exif data in the camera. At f/2.8, the center is already very sharp as expected from a macro lens. The resolution is very high but the DOF is shallow at 1;1 magnification. Stop it down a bit and the center gets even sharper, peaking at f/8 to f/11. I recall that diffraction starts to degrade the center of this lens at about f/16 when it’s used for taking pictures of insects or other smaller objects. When shooting small objects that aren’t flat, you will want to stop-down to gain some DOF. I usually shoot bugs from a starting point of f/8 and moving up to f/16 when I really need it to get deeper DOF. It also has a flat field so using this lens for slide or document copying is very good.

That’s it for the introduction! This lens is very popular and there are many good reviews on the internet so just go around and look for them if you want more information on the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D lens. Now, let’s begin with the repair article!

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 now-growing 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 Elements):

The lens elements of this lens can easily be serviced and cleaned if you have the proper tools. If you don’t then I would suggest that you just send this to a repairman. As with all or most autofocus Nikkors, you really don’t want to open-up the lens more than what you need to access the elements. Autofocus lenses are more intricate mechanically and aren’t as tough as the all-metal manual focus lenses of old. The electronics are also delicate and a small mistake can brick your lens! This is the reason why you don’t see a lot of people who open up electronics lenses just to clean or service it until it is absolutely necessary. I wouldn’t trust a beginner to do this due to the delicate electronics and the need for tools.

IMG_6659Begin by removing the innermost cup by using a rubber cup or stopper. Be careful while you remove this so you won’t damage the delicate threads. This isn’t glued in-place as far as I recall so you don’t have to use some alcohol on this part.

IMG_6660The cup comes off just like this. Be careful not to scratch the front element.

IMG_6661See those slots? If you have been reading my blog then you know that you’ll be needing a slotted spanner for this. There is a burr at the front element and it came from the cup.

IMG_6663The front elements assembly comes off just like this. The front elements assembly can be opened by unscrewing the collar at the rear and thankfully I don’t have to open this. It is clean so opening it is just a waste of time and I might introduce some dirt in it.

IMG_6662Oops, I forgot to show you that the second cup can be removed just like the first one. Just remove it in case you really want to thoroughly clean this because dirt can get under it.

IMG_6664Now it is time to remove the rear and inner elements. On this particular lens, you do not have to remove the bayonet mount from the lens to access the inner elements, I am just removing this so I can open the lens up and access the focusing mechanism and AF drive.

That screw on inside the green square is optional. That thing secures the inner ring and I didn’t remove it until much later. You will see what I mean later and decide for yourself.

IMG_6665Just like most AF lenses with a contact block, you will need to remove the rear baffles off from the bayonet mount in order to remove the bayonet. To remove the baffles, just get a small screwdriver and carefully remove all of the small screws you see on the throat of the bayonet mount. There are 3 bigger screws that secure the baffle. The smaller screws secure the contact block and they should be removed, too.

If all you want to do is clean the lens elements then just remove the screws for the baffle and the contact block so you don’t need to remove more parts than what’s necessary. You just need to get the baffle out of the way because the rear element is bigger than the hole.

IMG_6666The rear baffle can be tight so you should be careful when removing it or you may harm the delicate contact block! If you damaged it then your lens is bricked and goodbye, AF!

Look at the rear element, you can now access it and there’s no need to disassemble more things than what’s needed for the job. Skip the next few steps if all you want is to clean it.

IMG_6667The aperture ring assembly comes off just like this. You will have to be careful when you remove this because the post for the stop-down lever can get caught on something inside the lens so you will need to wiggle it just to get it free. At this point, the very sensitive and delicate electronic parts are exposed such as the contact block and its ribbon and the IC. I will advise you to discharge any static electricity before you touch this just in case. If you removed the screw inside the green square a few steps back then you can totally open up the aperture ring assembly and remove the AF drive spindle. Thoroughly clean it and use a very small amount of high-quality watch oil to lubricate it. There is a tiny brass washer under it and be very careful not to loose it. It can be easily misplaced because it is small.

IMG_6668To remove the rear element, simply use a spanner to unscrew it. It should come-off easily but be careful not to slip or you will damage the rear element!

IMG_6669The rear element can then be extracted by using your fingertips. If you didn’t remove the bayonet then use a lens sucker to extract it. Never drop this part to your hand!

IMG_6672The inner lens elements assembly can be removed with a thin slotted spanner. The slots are very shallow so this can be challenging to remove if you don’t have the proper tools.

IMG_6673This is what I use for things like this. I used a Dremel to grind some material off from the tips of one of my spanners. I rarely use this but it’s very handy when I need it.

IMG_6674Carefully extract it with a lens sucker. This thing holds the innermost elements so please don’t invert the lens or you may drop what’s inside! Again, never drop this in your palm!

IMG_6675The inner most elements is a doublet, a cemented group consisting of 2 separate lenses. I used a lens sucker to extract it from the iris assembly’s housing. The fit can be a bit snug.

That’s it for the lens elements. This is a very simple lens to clean if all you need to do is to remove some dirt on the glass. It may take me less than 30 minutes to do this. If you are new to this thing then it may take you a bit longer. Putting it back together can take some time because there isn’t a lot of space for you to move your tools if you didn’t remove the bayonet. Still, it’s not really very difficult and I am sure that you can pull this thing off.

Disassembly (Barrel):

Just like what I said in the previous section, you don’t want to do this unless it’s necessary to fix something wrong with the lens. Mine was focusing a bit rough and quite frankly, I can live with that but I just wanted to be sure so I opened mine. The vast majority of the people reading my blog (you) will never have to do this but in case you need to then this is how I serviced mine. This is a junk anyway so I don’t have much to lose.

IMG_6677Never remove this screw! This screw secures the spring for the A/M button!

IMG_6671Here is the “clutch” for the AF drive. Mine was dirty so it’s not turning smoothly. It’s a bit gritty when you turn it and while it really doesn’t affect the lens’ focusing, I would want it to be as smooth as possible so the AF motor on my camera won’t be stressed.

IMG_6676If you want to flush it with naphtha without removing it, cover the insides with a piece of  lintless tissue. You will also want to protect the electronics with something like 3M Magic Tape. Put a couple of drops of naphtha and exercise the cog to dislodge any hardened dirt and then gently blow it with some air. If you really want to make a clean job then you’ll need to remove the clutch assembly and flush it thoroughly and lightly lubricate it with a very small amount of high-quality watch oil. Only oil the spindle and not the teeth!

IMG_6670To remove the barrel housing, you will have to remove these 3 screws. There is a way to remove the housing easily but it involves removing the window of the focusing scale. It’s a very delicate operation so I didn’t want to risk it and so I did it the hard way. There is a small screw that is in the way and you can remove that screw by accessing it on the open window of the focusing scale. The window is made of acrylic (?) and it can be brittle. It is delicate and if I cracked it then I will end up with a cracked window and an ugly lens.

IMG_6679The clutch mechanism is on the way so you will have to remove it by unscrewing these 2.

IMG_6680The yoke is attached to the clutch mechanism and the A/M mechanism’s inner ring. You’ll have to remove the clutch mechanism in order to get any further, there’s no other way.

IMG_6688Here is the clutch mechanism. You see that brass collet at the center? That thing mates to the yoke. The collet couples to the cog below when you set the lens to A and decouples it when you set it to M, very smart. The collet moves up and down when you switch it back and forth between A and M. Flush this thoroughly with naphtha and blow some air with a bulb blower to make sure that all of the naphtha is gone. Lightly oil the spindles with a very small amount of high-quality watch oil and just like what I said earlier, never ever oil the teeth. See the old grease on the mechanism? That has to go!

IMG_6681Once the clutch mechanism is out of the way, you can now carefully remove the housing just like this. Again, be very careful with this because you can damage the delicate brush under this. They are made of very thin copper and if you damaged it then say good bye to your electronics! The collar of the A/M ring can be removed by unscrewing the 3 tiny set screws and unscrewing it. Remember, be very gentle with this step!

To put this thing back, remove the clear window from the housing and then reassemble the housing and the A/M ring mechanism. Remove a screw on the focusing scale then put everything back together. Remember that the yoke should be coupled to the brass collet. After you’ve everything back together, manually focus your lens so that the screw hole for the scale is accessible via the open window of the focusing scale and the reinstall the screw. This screw acts like a guard so you can’t pull the lens off into 2 separate parts. The clear plastic window can then be reattached by bending it slightly so the tabs will go into the slots of the window. I know that this is too much to for you to imagine so I am sorry for the lack of pictures, I was too busy doing this and I forgot to take pictures for you.

IMG_6682And here is the delicate electronics. Never touch anything here with your barehands. I’m very careful with electronics because I was traumatized some decades ago when I fixed a Betamax head! If you really have to clean the contacts, use Q-tips moistened with alcohol to very gently wipe contacts. Make sure that the Q-tip is not dripping wet while you do it!

IMG_6683This step is optional and is only required when you need to remove any dirt under this. A grub screw is used to secure the front barrel and you should carefully remove it. See the ugly damage on the collar? The damn seller from Yahoo! Auctions Japan didn’t show this in the pictures! Damn cunt is a cheat and I would not have bought this if he showed this in the first place. This indicates that the lens has either been dropped or the owned had a slip and this thing scraped the pavement. What a loser! That bastard from Osaka should be banned. I gave him a very negative feedback for this. Be careful when shopping from Ebay or Yahoo! Auctions Japan because filth like this are all over the place! To his defense this lens was sold as junk but he never indicated this or shown this in the pictures, Cibai.

IMG_6684The front barrel can now be safely unscrewed. Please disregard the fact that the rubber is missing. I removed it so that I can clean it. You don’t need to remove yours by the way.

IMG_6685The front collar can be removed by loosening these 3 grub screws.

IMG_6686Once the grub screws are loosened or removed, you can now unscrew it off.

IMG_6687The collar holds the focusing ring in-place. Simple pull the focusing ring off just like this. You don’t need to remember how the focusing ring was attached because it really doesn’t matter, it clicks back in place which every orientation you put it back.

At this point, the access holes for the rollers is visible and you can further disassemble it by removing the rollers and pulling the cam off. I did not do this because there wasn’t a need for me to do this and I doubt that any will ever have to do this as well. Leave it be.

Conclusion:

Having seen all this, I hope that you don’t get too confident and do this yourselves. I will advise you to bring this to an experienced camera repair professional if you are new to this because you will need special tools to achieve even the simpler tasks like cleaning an element or 2. Without the tools and experience, this will just become a potential risk for you and the lens. For those who have no interest in repairing this themselves, I hope that this will help you determine whether the repairman you sent your lens to is competent or not. You can judge his work with my article and see if he’s lying to you when he said that he cleaned this or not or he can’t open this or that. I plan to weed-out these people so we only have the legit repairers in business. We should support these honest repairers as much as we can because they aren’t really earning much and as you can see from all the posts that I made, repairing lenses is never an easy task.

IMG_6691In order for the lens to extend like this, a series of telescoping cam was used instead of a set of helicoids. Helicoids can be stiff and that will strain the motor of your camera. This is the smarter way to achieve the same thing with minimal resistance for the motor. It is a very clever design and doing this also enables the lens to extend in a non-linear fashion so the front, middle and rear elements can be spaced in a non-linear way as this extends or retracts. A helicoid is linear so this is impossible with helicoids. In case you are asking yourself how I got to this, this is a set of spares from my spares box.

IMG_6692These are the teeth for the AF drive. The cogs on the clutch mechanism engages these so this cam turns. This is very different from what you guys are used to seeing here in this blog so I hope you learned something new in this article. Do not bother to grease this, it’s lubricated with a special grease and using regular grease may make this stiff.

Here it is right now. It now focuses a bit smoother! I would like to point your attention to the notch near the bottom edge of the focusing scale’s window. This is how it looks when the clear window is gone. That notch is where you can access a tiny screw so you can do a cleaner job when removing the housing of the lens. You will still have to remove the big clutch mechanism but at least this will save you a couple of steps. I didn’t do it like this so I can be sure that I will not crack the clear window. Do this at your own risk.

IMG_6707.jpgHere it is with my Nikon Df. It balances really well on many cameras big or small. Despite the plastics used on this lens, it is tough and will tolerate a lot of abuse. Just look at it now on my Nikon Df. Despite the lens being damaged on the outside, I got it to work properly after the repair and I’m enjoying this lens as I should! I’m really loving this old lens a lot.

Here we are at the end of another article! Did you guys enjoy this? I hope that this will be of help to anybody since I found nothing on the internet about the repair of this lens. The repair manual floating about on the net is really of no use because it’s more for the parts numbers and service center-related guide. This article will be very useful for people who need to clean their AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D because this lens is very susceptible to dust and dirt getting into the inner elements. The rear of this lens is also prone to fungus and I have seen many lenses with the same problem. I don’t know why but that seems to be the pattern. Maybe the coatings there are more nutritious? Whatever the cause is, this is something common and you will sometimes see a badly-damaged element sitting next to a lens element with no spec of fungi damage at all. Your guess is as good as mine.

Thank you very much for your patronage. In the spirit of transparency, I will disclose to you what I do with the money you’re donating to my blog. I use it to pay for hosting and storage. As for how I use it personally, I use the money to but e-liquids for my vaping and occasionally, a pack of cigarettes! So donating to my blog not only help keep this alive but you are also doing me a nice favor for keeping me out of “the habit”. I also sometimes use it to buy film but that rarely happens now because it’s too cold to develop anything. This blog is my baby and I take good care of it and your support help make this feel less of a chore because I see you all as friends and art of a wider community. Thank you again! I will see you guys again soon in another article. Until next time, 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.

Buy me a roll of film or cigarettes?

Thank you very much for your continued support!

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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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  1. Trackback: World of F-mount Nikkors (2/3) | Richard Haw's Nikon Maintenance Site

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