Repair: Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Do you love Genesis? I am a big fan of Phil Collins and he is the better frontman for the group if you ask me. Not that Peter is bad but Phil just took the band and its music into a higher level. He defined Genesis’ sound as we know it today and most of the band’s best songs were sung by him. I could not think of Genesis without thinking about him, I was shocked when he left the group to pursue his solo career which he did very well. Life is like Genesis’ story, sometimes you find yourself replacing an old favorite and you eventually mature into your own style and start walking your own path. Today, I will show you a Nikkor that out-performed an old favorite. It’s so-good that it eventually got its own fanbase and defined a lens family. It is now not only a little brother to the one that it’s supposed to compliment.


The Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 Ai-S debuted in 1981 and was sold until 2005. It was the fastest lens of its type and is a high-mark of optical engineering. It has a 5-elements-in-5-groups design of the Xenotar-type compared to the common Gauss-type which would have resulted in a lens with typically 7 elements so this was a remarkable feat. One of my lens heroes, Sato Haruo-san said that this was not an easy task according to his excellent essay. The lens designer stretched the limit of this design and came-up with a masterpiece to say the least. If you think that you have seen this somewhere then that’s because it was made to complement the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S so they look alike. The 2 lenses were sold as offerings for the then-new Nikon F3 that was released a year earlier, the most beautiful Nikon ever made (to me).

The barrel is fat as it is wide making it a nice lens to pair with a bigger body. I love how it handles despite being huge. The construction is typical of Ai-S lenses which is good but not as tough as the Ai and earlier lenses. The shade can be deployed rather easily but it’s too-shallow in my opinion. It handles similarly to the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S because that’s also a fat lens. This is a great lens to pair with that when you need speed.


Repair: Fabricating Iris Blades

Hello, everybody! We will tackle something different today, I would like to show you how to fabricate iris blades so you’ll know how these things were made. This is a delicate task that is best left to the advanced amateur or the professional repairman because it requires several special tools and a lot of practical know-how to achieve acceptable results. This is very troublesome, I would rather salvage parts from another lens than do this but this lens is a very valuable one and it’s a historic lens, too. It deserves to be restored and I will give it my best effort just to have it working perfectly again.

This is something you don’t see everyday, an article that teaches you how to fabricate intricate parts! It’s best to have the right tools to do this properly, I don’t want to invest too much money on this because all I wanted to make is a single blade. If I were to fabricate several ones then I would buy a press, a punch and some die-making tools so I can make accurate replicas.


Repair: Nikkor-S 3.5cm f/2.8 Auto (Tick-Mark)

Hello, everybody! Do you remember the early days of the internet? I was at a website yesterday, searching for information about the Leotax G. It seems like it hasn’t been updated for 2 decades and it really felt like a time capsule with its tacky animated buttons and flashing gifs. I was designing websites a long time ago (using the notepad) around 1998 and that look was considered old back in 1998. The internet and how websites looked was in transition to the more familiar look that we’re used to seeing until recently. Flash was really popular so sites began to use more and more animation to make them look cooler and look less like online newspaper. While we’re on the topic of transitions, we will look at a Nikkor that was caught in-transition in the days when Nikon was beginning to shift towards the SLR with their new (then) Nikon F. It still retains some traits that are mostly found in their older rangefinder lenses and is considered by many to be novelties.


The Nikkor-S 3.5cm f/2.8 Auto was sold shortly after the Nikon F debuted in 1959. It’s the first in a long line of 35/2.8 lenses for the F-mount and it uses a simple optical design which is basically just a Tessar-type lens that has two extra elements at the front to help it achieve the wide-angle of 35mm. Nikon used this solution for the Nikkor-S 5cm f/2 Auto as well according to Mr. Oshita, I remembered him talking about this when we were at Shinagawa. This clever trick was necessary because the Nikon F has a flapping mirror and the rear element has to clear it. This was something new for lens designers and they had find ways in order to get the desired focal length. This is easy for longer lenses but not so much for lenses that are 50mm and wider.

It’s one of the first batch of F-mount Nikkors which many people today call “Tick-Mark” lenses, they’re given that name because these lenses have small lines engraved on the aperture ring and focusing ring so you can turn them precisely to the value that you want. This is a throw-back to the days when Nikon was still mainly making rangefinder lenses and you’ll also see other similar traits of rangefinder lenses in this series like the 9-sided iris blades that are curved and other “legacy” features. These Tick-Mark lenses aren’t cheap due to their rarity, they were only made for a few years. Nikon had to find a way to simplify their lens-making pipeline in order to meet demands from professionals and distributors. I’ll point-out some of the features that makes these lenses “premium” compared to their successors later.


Repair: Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Unknown to many, I used to be a fan of the NBA. A player that I idolized as a youth was Larry Bird. His moves were ahead of his time, and I love how he gives his teammates the chance to score. This influences me to this day because I don’t want to take all the credits as a team leader. I make sure that my mates also get their share of glory. I am no super-man so I needed their help to finish big, daunting tasks at work. Larry is a legend, it is fair to say that he brought the sport to greater heights and he will always be remembered for this. Today, I’ll show you a lens that was such a big deal back then, it’s a big game-changer and it was considered as one of the best lenses by news magazine some years ago. Like Larry, this lens will remain a legend despite being replaced by a new-comer and it will still give you lots of enjoyment when you shoot with it.


The Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 Ai-S is a legendary lens from the film days. It started out as the Nikkor-N 35mm f/1.4 Auto of 1970 but that lens is a bit different, it uses radioactive glass which turns yellowish after a couple of decades. That was replaced after a couple of iterations and the optical design was revised a bit to reflect this change. That lens was the fastest wide-angle lens during its time and it’s one of the most important lenses made in recent decades. It has CRC (Close-Range Correction) employed which helps a lot when you use it at closer distances. What that does is it moves an optical block as you turn the focusing ring, varying the spacing of the optical blocks to give you better performance at closer distances compared to conventional rack-focus ones. The optical design was considered a masterpiece and it endures to this day in the form of this lens. This lens debuted in 1981 and is still made today. It’s now nearing its 40th year of production and it seems like this will stay for a long time in Nikon’s inventory.

This is Nikon’s smallest 35/1.4 lens, it has a 9-elements-in-7 groups design. It is a real classic lens in terms of build and rendering. For a long time, Nikon users only had this as the fastest 35mm F-mount lens. It was only succeeded recently in 2011 by the monster AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G which has AF. It took Nikon more than 30 years to replace this one because it’s a hard act to follow. The newer lens is an optical masterpiece, it is not as sharp or fast as the off-brand alternatives but it certainly renders better, and by that I mean it captures pictures that look more refined. It’s a worthy successor to such a legendary optic and it honors it by keeping what made it special intact.


Repair: Nikon S2 part 4

Hello, everybody! It’s now time to wrap-up our Nikon S2 repair series. This one took me a whole month to prepare since I wanted to show every part of the camera to you. I will admit that I am exhausted by now and I’m relieved that this series in almost done. Please enjoy the last part of this series.


The Nikon S2 is “primitive” compared to later manual Nikons but it’s still an amazing camera to work with. It’s fun to work on this because of its simple and well thought-out design. It’s a big departure from the Nikon S but it has lots of similarities with that camera. This camera represents Japan’s revival during the post-war years and what it would become after just a few years of further development. It laid the foundation in design, engineering and a lot of other things that would eventually give us the Nikon SP and later, the Nikon F which many people consider to be one of the best cameras made in the past decades. This is how important this camera is and it’s fitting that it should be memorialized here in our blog with its own repair series.

I juxtaposed my Nikon S2 beside Nikon’s new mirrorless camera setup here in this picture to show how small both cameras are. The Nikon Z7 is a great camera but I prefer the simplicity of the Nikon S2. I don’t need the autofocus and other modern conveniences to have a good time taking photos. Maybe I will want this for paid shoots but I don’t do that these days.