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Repair: Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Spring is officially here and the weather is starting to get warmer. The sakura trees are blooming more than a week earlier than usual and this is a sign that we are going to have a very warm summer this year. I hate summers because it’s hot but the only consolation I get is to enjoy the sight of beautiful girls in their summer attire. This is just one small thing that makes life worth living. I am always infatuated by pretty girls so I got into photography. There are times when I wish I have a lens for portraiture with me all the time but it’s going to be awkward to ask random beautiful women for a snap. The way things work here in Tokyo is very different and I will be viewed as a creep. Maybe if I have an impressive lens with me then that would probably be enough to announce my intention that I am a gentleman with a Nikon and a Nikkor. Maybe the sight of the lens is all it needs to change their opinions. Speaking of lenses that make an impression, I’ll be showing you guys one lens that doesn’t need a calling card and its nick name is bokeh.

Introduction:

Today, we are going to look into the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S lens! This lens’ reputation is the stuff of legends. It’s the first 85/1.4 ever made for 35mm SLR photography. Nikon also made the first 85/1.5 lens for the Nikon rangefinder line in the 1950s and it took decades before we see a lens in this class made for the SLR. During this period when Nikon didn’t have a 85/1.5 for the F-mount, people only have the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S and its earlier sibling – the New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8. While both lenses are great, they lack the extra 0.5% that an 85/1.4 can offer. Since Nikon’s 85mm lenses at the time were so good, it was hard to make an 85/1.4 to top these but Nikon made it happen in 1981 and it didn’t disappoint. There were stories of people shifting over to Nikon just to use this lens and I know a guy who did just that in the ’80s, I think he was shooting with a Pentax back then.

IMG_6288Just look at that glass! The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S is an impressive to look at. It is sure to make people notice it. This lens shook the photography industry when it came out since it’s the fastest 85mm lens in its class for 35mm SLR photography. There were stories that I heard about people switching over to Nikon just so that they can shoot with this lens. It was a very good lens then and it’s certainly still a very good lens now. More

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Review: Voigtländer VC Meters

Hello, everybody! It’s a holiday today so I have time to write and catch up with things. If I didn’t have this holiday then I would not have the time to recuperate from hay fever. It is very important to rest my body and mind but it is also equally important that I maintain this blog. Today, I’ll show you guys a very useful gadget if you’re a film photographer and you want something fast and elegant to use.

Introduction:

Voigtländer made these very beautiful meters and they come in silver or black. The finish is beautiful and the fit and quality is very high. I remember that many people were not happy when Voigtländer announced the VC Meter 1 to the public because it came during the time when almost everybody was migrating to digital and many new photographers just got into photography so they never knew the joy of shooting film. A few rejoiced so it is clear that there is a market for these. Fast-forward a decade or so and you now see lots of people trying-out film and these are now a must-have for people shooting with setups that are so old that they never came with any form of metering or the meter is dead.

The VC Meters are very small. They are the smallest and shoe-mount meters that you can buy today new. The VC Meter 1 is now discontinued and can only be bought used but you can still buy them brand new as “new-old stock”. Similar meters were all made decades ago using selenium so these are very welcome for us film shooters. Other manufacturers gave their own offerings but none were made this small and elegant.

IMG_8217The VC Meter 1 is on the left and the VC Meter 2 is on the right. The dimensions aren’t the same as you can obviously see and the operation is a little bit different for both models. I got both of these because the subtle differences in dimension mean a lot to me when the meters are mounted on my cameras and I will illustrate that to you in more detail later.

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Repair: Infinity Calibration Tools (pt1)

Hello, everybody. I will show you an easy way to calibrate your infinity focus here in this post. This technique is for calibrating via the film aperture/film plane and is mostly used for rangefinder cameras and fixed-lens cameras. The SLR lenses and cameras can also be calibrated this way but it’s easier to do it using a Nikon DSLR, read more about it here in my post about how to calibrate a lens for infinity focusing. This is just one of the ways for you to determine whether your lens or camera body is calibrated properly or not and I’m going to show you more ways in the future.

IMG_8212This method involves using focusing screens with a split-prism. A course-ground matte is OK, too but I prefer the convenience of a split-prism. The trick is to rest your screen with the prism side facing the aperture. Mount your lens on the camera and then focus your lens to infinity. Focus on something REALLY far (the moon is also a good idea) and then check the split-prism using a jeweler’s magnifier loupe. Adjust your lens until the subject is in-focus in the screen. This is how I check my rangefinder lenses because my F-mount lenses are easier to calibrate using the way I showed in this link. Just remember to fix the camera in a tripod and then use your hand to hold the screen flat against the film plane of your camera (the shiny rails). You can tape it if you want but I just use my fingers. You want the screen to be flat against the inner rails which is closest to the actual film plane.  More

Repair: Nikkor-H.C 5cm f/2 (LTM)

Hello, everybody! It’s still hay fever season here in Japan and it makes me wonder why it is not being addressed by the government. They could have replaced the trees with those annoying pollen with another evergreen that doesn’t do this. The cedar trees are the ones that are spewing the most pollen, I am sure that there are other varieties of evergreens that don’t spew allergens. Speaking of evergreens, I will now show you a different type of “evergreen”. It’s a lens that doesn’t seem to go irrelevant and it will continue to be useful for more decades to come. Read the article to know what this lens is.

Introduction:

Today, we are going to talk about the Nikkor-H.C 5cm f/2 lens in Leica thread mount! It’s the same lens as the Nikkor-H.C 5cm f/2 lens but it was adapted for use on cameras with the L39 (M39) lens mount. It has a 39mm thread that you can screw-in to your camera so it doesn’t come with a bayonet. For all intents and purposes, the optical performance of this lens is identical to its Nikon S-mount relative. Both were derivatives of the Sonnar, a venerable Zeiss lens design that offers good resistance to flare and is known to give nice and smooth bokeh. The Sonnar design is a protected under German law so Leica cannot make a copy or derivative of it. When Germany lost the war, the patents were made void outside Germany so other countries like Japan capitalized on this and made Sonnar-type lenses available in other mounts. It must be noted that Zeiss made a few Sonnars in the Leica mount but these are rare and expensive so the only way a Leica shooter can source one for cheap is to buy Russian or Japanese copies or adapt the Contax-mount ones to the mount of their choice. So, what’s unique with the Nikon version of this lens? Read on.

IMG_7501It’s a very compact lens but it feels dense because of the brass/chrome components used on the lens barrel. It’s also noticeably better-built compared to the other Zeiss-clones. The Nikon version feels more refined and the machining looks better than the Russian ones.

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Repair: AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II

Hello, everybody! I am still not feeling well because this is the peak of hay fever season. I will probably be sick until late Spring so please bear with me. Today, I am going to show you a very good lens. It’s very good not because it excels in one thing but it does almost everything quite decently. I almost forgot about this lens until I had to clean one for one of my coworkers and friend. I hope that you will enjoy this article.

Introduction:

The AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II was a real game-changer when it first came out. It was sold as the Nikon D300’s suggested companion lens and many people got one including pros. This was a lens that enabled people to go out and enjoy their trip and not think about bringing more than one lens. It’s still a very nice lens today and they are sold for not a lot of money used. Nikon updated it with a zoom-lock because it has zoom creep but it’s just a small problem compared to the freedom you get when shooting with this lens. You will be assured that you won’t lose a shot because you need to change your lens. I call this lens the “Super Kit-lens” because that’s what it really is. This will be a tour down memory lane and I will give you my assessment of this lens in today’s context.

IMG_2389.JPGThis lens feels kind of big considering that it’s a DX lens but it’s still compact considering all the features that Nikon has incorporated into it. This is the first true walk-around lens for the digital camera age. More

Repair: New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8

Hello, everybody. I would like to apologies for not posting much these days and I also can not answer your questions as fast as I used to because I am suffering from hay fever. It is difficult and it affects everything I do. In fact, I was supposed to cover CP+ for you but it’s too much trouble for me to go there in this state. The medication helps but I get dizzy if I take it and I feel like I am looking-through a large aperture lens. Everything is “bokeh” in my vision and it’s not fun. Speaking of bokeh, I will show you a nice lens for that in this post and it is the type of bokeh that will make you happy. Stay with me and listen.

Introduction:

Today, we will talk about a lens that was considered to be one of Nikon’s “bokeh kings” in the past. They can be had for cheap because many of them doesn’t come with the Ai-ring upgrade and many people poo-poo manual focus lenses in favor of the new autofocus or VR equipped lenses. I will show you why this lens is worth hunting and how it can be of great use to you creatively when you know how to use this lens. Read and enjoy!

IMG_5895The New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 is considered to be a classic. It is a good upgrade to the lens it replaced (Nikkor-H 85mm f/1.8 Auto). It has a new barrel to be consistent with the New-Nikkor theme. Nikon made a masterpiece when they designed this lens and it was a difficult act to top. In fact, it kept its place in many photographer’s bag even if it was replaced by the newer Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai and Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S that came after it. Many people consider that the drop in lens speed is a downgrade and despite the fact that the newer lens is more compact, many people still love this lens a lot because of how well it performs. More