Repair: Nikkor 35mm f/2 Ai

Hello, everybody! Tokyo’s heat wave was declared a national disaster by the government and the typhoon that we have now makes everthing a lot cooler. This makes me crave for some nice sushi! I just had a nice bowl of sushi yesterday but I just can’t have enough! It’s a nice and nourishing meal but it can get boring at times so I had a different style and it’s called “chirashizushi” where all the bits and seafood are all scattered on top of vinegared rice. You can think of it as deconstructed sushi if you want. This allows me to enjoy sushi in a different way, think of it as repackaging a classic in order to make it appeal to other people who wanted something new. Speaking of changing the presentation of a classic to make it appear “new” again I would like to show you something similar today.


Today’s featured lens is the awesome Nikkor 35mm f/2 Ai lens! I love this lens so much, it is part of my regular kit when I want something practical to bring with me. The 35/2 line of lenses had a long production run which spanned from the 1960s up until about 2005. I can only imagine how much money Nikon made from these because I don’t think that the optical formula changed much throughout the decades. This is just a testament to how it was designed back then for something like this to stand the test of time.

The Nikkor 35mm f/2 Ai is the successor of the amazing Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 Auto lens. The optical design wasn’t revised as far as I can tell but I am guessing that Nikon made a few small corrections to the design such as curvature and spacing. Nikon does this sometimes in the middle of production without telling anybody.

IMG_2986This is a very beautiful lens. Its simple lines are elegant and the rubber grip is useful for people who wear gloves or when shooting in cold weather. An all-metal focusing ring is going be uncomfortable to hold when it gets cold. Take it from me, I used to shoot in the winter a lot. The size is just right and it makes it easy to hold, the lens also feels dense so it reeks of quality. It’s true what they say, they don’t make lenses like this these days. More

Repair: Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series E

Hello, everybody! I’m currenly saving money for the upcoming Nikon mirrorless camera and also for the school fees of my child. It’s not cheap sending a kid to school here so I’m going to save money whenever I can. This means that I only have a rice ball for lunch or a banana for breakfast. While it’s healthy for me, I would prefer to eat something that is more substantial. People who can’t afford stuff usually save money so they can buy what they’ve always wanted or settle for the next-best. In this articel, I am going to talk about something along the lines of economy and austerity and how you can make the most out of your money by buying something that has a high cost-performance ratio.


Let me introduce to you the Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series E! This lens was made with economy in mind and just like the Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E, there were some cost-cutting and a lot of clever decisions made just to make this lens sell for a lower price and at the same time have acceptable performance. This lens has become quite popular lately because of the perceived value of this lens. They go from $50-90 in the used market and the optical performance is also more than decent. What many people don’t see is the lens was made using plastic and other materials that aren’t typically used in a Nikkor. This is the reason why the Series E (for economy) lenses were never slapped with the Nikkor tradename. It was sold as a product that’s below their top-shelf line because Nikon was pressured and felt the need to make products for the lower-end of the market mainly targetted at young amateurs, students and women. While this thing won’t fly these days because of political correctness and maturing social atmosphere, that was the case several decades ago. The product line along with the Nikon EM it was developed for revolves around ease-of-use, economy, compact size/weight and “good value”. The competition made a killing selling a lot of plastic cameras and lenses to this market segment and it’s big enough to get noticed by the senpai so something had to be done. At that time, Nikon products were perceived to be tough, expensive, heavy, professional equipment and while Nikon had to maintain this standard they also need to cater to the people with less buying power so the Series E line was born.

IMG_5199The lens is compact and feels nice despite being mostly good-quality plastic. It’s light and it balances really well with smaller cameras. The focusing scale is pathetic because it has a really short focus throw of just about 90 degrees or so. I would love this lens to have a slightly longer focus throw because I usually focus using the scale and not through the finder. The red dot is for infrared photography and this is where you should focus when taking infrared photos. I am not sure how good this lens is in IR, Bjørn Rørslett will be a better person to ask for this at Nikon Gear. More

Repair: W-Nikkor•C 3.5cm f/2.5

Hello, everybody! It’s the middle of summer here in Tokyo and it’s getting too hot for me to go out or even sit at my workshop! On the other end of the spectrum, it can be too cold during winter and I don’t want to do anything but just sleep. The perfect weather for me is a happy balance between winter and summer. While we’re on the topic of balance, I’ll be talking about something that’s considered to be one of the best lenses made by Nikon during the early days due to how good it was balanced in terms of performance and the price point it was sold under. Sometimes, the best option doesn’t really have to be the top product in the catalog. The key to success is following the middle path!


The W-Nikkor•C 3.5cm f/2.5 is one of Nikon’s best-sellers during the rangefinder days, it was a huge hit and there are still many samples of this lens that survive to this day but it is worth noting that these lenses should be treated with the utmost respect because we’ll not going to have enough of these in the decades to come due to the demand. It was also sold in Leica-fit (looking for one myself) for the screw-mounted cameras and it became a classic combination for many people up to this day. The reasonably-fast f/2.5 aperture is more than adequate for most tasks and this was considered to be a fast lens when it was sold new. Most wide lenses were sold with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 to f/5.6 so the fast f/2.5 (back then) maximum aperture made more things possible and made it practical for everyday use in almost every lighting condition. One very useful feature of this lens is it’s minimum aperture size is f/22 so you can stop it down to get maximum depth-of-field.

IMG_4541The W-Nikkor•C 3.5cm f/2.5 is a nice and compact lens. It’s made from heavy brass and I love how it feels in my hands. The chrome and nickel plating helps protect the substrate and it also gives the lens barrel a nice finish. This was made during a time when chrome was liberally used for an equipment’s aesthetics. The drawback to this is it’s hard to look at the engravings and understand what’s going on during a sunny day. The barrel had a make-over near the mid-1950s and was painted black and the aperture numbers are now engraved on the outer rim of the aperture ring which made it handle a lot better. A hood is shown in this picture but I rarely use this with one because it can get in the way when I want to change the aperture so I never use this lens with a hood at all (just a lens cap). More

Repair: Nikon S (Part 2)

Hello, everybody! We’ll continue with our series on the Nikon I/M/S and I’ll show you the techniques that I use when working on these cameras. Part 1 was all about removing the external parts and how to work on the rangefinder. In this part, I will show you the more difficult scenarios when repairing this camera. While this is Nikon’s first 35mm camera it sure is complicated enough to provide an experienced repairman with a challenge. This is not a camera for the beginner to play with, buy a cheap FED to play around first before you try your hands on this. The Nikon S is much too precious to be a practice camera! It’s important to note that these are great cameras to use on a daily basis for fun and they’re going to work for decades after a good overhaul so make sure that you keep it working.

IMG_8649I love my Nikon S. They’re really reliable cameras and I hope that people will appreciate them more instead of being merely collectible items. With proper love and maintenance, these cameras will last for decades after a good overhaul.


Shopping: Arrow Camera / Garakuteya (Yotsuya)

Hello, everybody! I’m dedicating this article to Peggy Marsh, she is one of my readers ánd she is currently here at Tokyo doing her own junk raids and I would like to introduce her to some of the shops that only an insider would know of. Let me present to you this shop that is run by a father and son team called Arrow Camera (アロー・カメラ) / Garakuteya (我楽多屋). Arrow Camera is the original establishment and is involved with buying used gear while Garakuteya is in charge of selling them. For the sake of convenience I’ll refer to both shops as Arrow Camera. The shop is an institution for used camera gear, the old man who started the business is well-known in the used camera business and a familiar to people who see him in older Japanese camera magazines, that is his claim-to-fame. I’m sure many people outside of Japan have never heard of him and his shop so I am hoping that this article will help you get there.

IMG_8816This is the front of their shop. You go up the short flight of stairs to get to the 2nd floor. It can be difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the place because it’s at the side-streets on one of Shinjuku’s less-exciting districts for tourists. The place is boring to say the least and the surroundings consists of residential and office buildings. I’d get crazy living here and the only thing that would keep me sane is this shop! More

Shopping: Osawa Camera (Ebisu)

Hello, everybody! I am going to introduce to you Osawa Camera (大沢カメラ) in Ebisu! It’s a lovely little shop that I used to walk-past almost on a daily basis a couple of years ago. I used to live near this shop and I would check their inventory at times. If you just happen to be near Shibuya then please give them a visit, their shop may not look like much from the outside but I promise you that they have a decent inventory.

IMG_8681This is the scene that will greet you once arrive at the shop. The staff there are all nice, it is always nice to have a chit-chat with them. They also offer film processing but I haven’t used their services yet. They have a pretty well-stocked film inventory and the prices are competitive by Tokyo standards. They also have a nice parts box for small camera parts, I would sometimes check to see if I can find something that I need there but I’m yet to find something useful there. Go dig into the parts box and see if you can find something you’ll need in you’re repairs, that spare screw that you have been looking for might be there! More

Repair: Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED Ai-S

Hello, everybody! How are you today? It’s Summer here and my head is painful from the walk this afternoon under the sun. I feel dizzy as I write this article but I really wanted to finish this one for you tonight. It feels like my vision is blurred, it feels like I was looking-through a fast telephoto lens! A fast telephoto is great for many things such as nice bokeh and subject isolation. Today, we are going to see a very important Nikkor that people can agree with me as being one of the best lenses produced in the 1980’s.


The subject of this article is no other than the legendary Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED Ai-S! It’s a very good lens and it is the successor to the excellent Nikkor-P.C 180mm f/2.8 Auto. This lens had a rather big task, to out-perform its excellent predecessor which is considered to be quite an excellent lens even by today’s standards and this lens did just that. The optics were designed from scratch and the then-new E.D. glass technology was implemented to the optics to give it better performance. It did improve the slight color-fringing that you can sometimes see while using the older lens design but sharpness and rendering were left nearly the same as far as I can tell. I am not a technical photographer shooting plants or bricks and masturbating to the results at my monitor so you will probably get concise answers elsewhere. I use my lenses and enjoy them as-is, taking notes on my impression while using them and remembering details that matter in real-world use. With that said, I will say that this lens will still give you a big smile each time you use it because it’s just that good and I can guaranty this to you unless you got a lemon for a lens.

It was built tough with all the metal parts in-and-out of the lens, you can feel the quality just by holding it in the hands. It is quite hefty because of the big glass so it’s going to be a very stable setup no matter what camera it’s mated to. This is very important, the long 180mm focal length will be a bit tricky to steady when you are shooting this hand-held since the weight is going to help you stabilize it to some extent. You will also want to shoot it with a shutter speed that is no-lower than 1/200s to prevent blurry results or so they say. This is not a rule but a guideline that many people follow. It just means you shouldn’t use a speed that is lower than the focal length of your lens. This is more relevant for the SLR because the mirror is going to add some vibration to your setup. I skip this guideline when I shoot with a rangefinder because there’s no mirror to shake my setup. This lens also comes with a built-in hood, it is very useful and convenient since you won’t need to carry a separate shade for this.