Repair: W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 (LTM)

Hello, everybody! Nikon just announced the Nikon Z50, it is a small camera that’s equivalent to the Nikon D7500 just without the mirror. Nikon sure has earned back the money spent on developing that sensor several times over, Nikon loves to repurpose older flagship sensors and use them on lower-end cameras after a few months or years. Nikon has been doing this thing since the start of their rebirth after the war. Repurposing isn’t a bad idea and I’m an advocate of it when I am designing studio workflows at work. It saves a lot of money but it also ensures repeatability which is important. Speaking of repurposing, our topic for this article is a lens that was sold in 2 different lens mounts, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel but you sure can modify it to fit different needs, so to speak. Please enjoy this article.

Introduction:

The W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 was a game-changer when it came out. It used to be the fastest lens of its type when it debuted in 1952. It was based on an old Nikkor that was used during the war for taking aerial spy photos, it has high resolution and a low distortion profile. It was miniaturized and it ended up being this lens. I have covered the W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 (S-mount) before so read that article if you want to know more about this lens. The lens that’s featured in this article the W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 (Leica Thread Mount). It’s similar to the W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 (S-mount) optically and that’s all. Many people debate to this day on which version came out first. Some say that it’s the Leica Thread Mount version came out earlier as Nikon wanted to get the Leica market which was bigger back then. There’s a lot of merit to it, I think that this lens was aimed at that market where there’s nothing equivalent to it for some time. It was the fastest wide-angle lens when all the competition (Germans) had were f/6.3 to f/8 ones. You can now buy a faster, cheaper lens at the loss of some prestige. This mattered to some people while some folks didn’t even care.

The lens arrived in this state. It was dirty, the paint’s worn and the inside of the objective was oily. I now it looks small in the picture but the lens is a big one as far as slower W-Nikkors are concerned. It’s dense and it reminds you of a hockey puck.

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Repair: Nikkor-UD 20mm f/3.5 Auto

Hello, everybody! I was talking with a colleague of mine about how the old, original iPhone changed how we look at mobile phones these days. It got all the right features and it pushed the limits of miniaturization, enabling it to add as many features as possible within a small housing. It was smart, cute, reliable and responsive for its time, it is one of the high-points of industrial engineering and design that’s being studied to this day by people who make and design tools and software such as me. I’m not an “iZombie” but nobody (I assume) will object to my statement from an engineering perspective. It’s a great design that spawned copycats as a testament to its success. Today, I’ll show you one such game-changing design from Nikon. This lens made a big difference back then and it brought the F-mount to newer heights. Just like the original iPhone, it was expensive when it debuted because it broke new grounds and it pushed the limit of optical engineering back then. Let’s now see what this lens is all about.

Introduction:

The Nikkor-UD 20mm f/3.5 Auto debuted in 1968, it’s the first lens of its class and it was a game-changer. Back when the Nikon F was introduced up until the unveiling of this lens you only have the choice of using your Nikon F in mirror-up configuration since most of the lenses’ optics have to be inside of the mirror-box. You frame with an external viewfinder and focus using the distance and depth-of-field scales. The Nikkor-UD 20mm f/3.5 Auto did away with all those inconveniences and that changed everything for Nikon users since. This is an interesting lens from a historical and technological point of view and is one of the high-points in optical engineering in the past century.

The front element is the largest of all the classic 20mm Nikkors and a 72mm filter size is a must. People who are invested in 52mm filters need to get the bigger 72mm equivalents or just get a step-up ring and adapt their existing 77mm filters. This is the reason why buying bigger filters makes more sense for landscape photographers and adapting larger ones will prevent any sort of mechanical vignetting.

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Repair: Nikkor-S•C 5cm f/1.4 (LTM)

Hello, everybody! Do you remember “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan? But do you know that it was originally by Prince? Many people thought that Prince covered this song (and many more) but he’s actually the one who wrote the song in the first place! It’s important that we find out more about the things that we like, this will give us a better connection to them and appreciate the origins that they came from. I will show you today a Nikkor that many don’t know much about and even confuse it as something else since information about it is kind of scarce online. Like the Chaka Khan song, this is a variant of an existing Nikkor.

Introduction:

The Nikkor S•C 5cm f/1.4 is one of Nikon’s best during the post-war years, it’s basically an improved Nikkor S•C 5cm f/1.5 which is a copy of the Carl Zeiss Sonnar 5cm f/1.5 but with better performance at closer distances. This was a very popular lens and Nikon made plenty of these. Many professionals had them in their bags including the recently-deceased Robert Frank. It’s sharp, durable and cheaper than the German equivalents so it became a success. It remained generally the same optically for a long time until Nikon decided to stop rangefinder camera production.

The Nikkor S•C 5cm f/1.4 was made in different mounts, the native Nikon S-mount version and an LTM (Leica Thread Mount) version which we’re going to talk about in this article. Both share the same optical formula but this one is special because it can do something special – focus really close. It does this by extending the barrel further but it gets decoupled from the rangefinder. If you think this sounds familiar, it’s the same trick that the Nikkor-H•C 5cm f/2 (LTM) employs to achieve the same thing. This is a clever gimmick which many Leica users can exploit, I do not know any native Leica lens that does the same thing.

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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.

Introduction:

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.

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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.

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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 (with 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 and websites began to use more and more animation to make them look more exciting and look less like digital newspaper. While we are 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.

Introduction:

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 trick for the Nikkor-S 5cm f/2 Auto as well according to Mr. Oshita, I remember 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 are not 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.

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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.

Introduction:

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.

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