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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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.

Continued:

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.

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Repair: Nikon S2 part 3

Hello, everybody! We’re going to continue with part 3 of our Nikon S2 series and we’re going to tackle the more complex mechanisms in this article. I’m going to make-up names and terms for the parts here so don’t treat this as a definitive guide. This is designed more as a walk-through to educate you on how the Nikon S2 works. If you missed part 1 and part 2 then read them and come back after so you won’t get lost. This series is proving to be one of my more popular camera repair series so I hope that you’ll enjoy this.

Continued:

The Nikon S2 is Nikon’s 2nd consumer camera design. The Nikon I/M/S series is merely an evolution of the Leica Barnack cameras and is the best attempt by any Japanese company in making one. The Nikon S2 is more advanced, it laid the foundations for Nikon’s best rangefinder camera, the Nikon SP. This is such a big departure from the Nikon I/M/S and it has features that you can even find on the Nikon F. This is a very important camera for the Japanese, I see it as an attempt by the Japanese camera industry to distance itself from its reputation of being a copy-cat and Nikon did it after just one model. This was the best that Japan had to offer back then.

What a handsome camera! I love the Nikon S2 so much that I own 2. These 2 cameras were bought as junks, sold for parts and were restored by me. This is how my collection grew and repairing my own gear saves me money and I am also assured that my cameras will work properly. I use my cameras all the time and they don’t sit inside the cabinet collecting dust.

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Repair: New-Nikkor 135mm f/2

Hello, everybody! I love Prince’s song “Purple Rain“. It’s long, full of soul and a true masterpiece in its time and even to this day. You can’t find something today that can match this song since they’re mostly made with the help of a single algorithm that record labels use. This is the reason why songs today sound “generic”, as if they were made from a single template. Today, we are going to talk about a lens that’s still amazing to this day since it was made as an artists’ tool, focusing on the “feel” rather than on chart scores that many lenses today seem to fall victim to. And just like “Purple Rain“, this lens has a reputation for purple fringing but we’ll see how that works with the scheme of this lens.

Introduction:

The New-Nikkor 135mm f/2 debuted in 1975, it was the fastest 135mm Nikon has ever made at that point and is a high-point in lens design. It’s big, heavy and impressive with its big front element. People will pay attention to you if you point this to their faces. It’s also the first lens in the 135/2 class which is still being made today in the form of the AI AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2D. This lens is the expensive alternative to the New-Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 which is an exquisite lens but Nikon thought that they could make something better and so this lens was designed. The benefit you get from the faster aperture of f/2 is a brighter viewfinder, extra light-gathering capabilities, thinner depth-of-field and smoother blur as a result of the latter. This was a game-changer, it enabled photographers to take pictures that they weren’t able to before.

The impressive front element of this lens is huge and clear. You will want to deploy the built-in hood when using this to protect the front element and to shield it from stray light hitting it from an angle which can cause flares and ghosts to appear in your photos. The built-in hood is a nice touch, it is a big help despite being prone to being knocked out of position because it doesn’t click-into place which is a shame.

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Repair: Nikon S2 part2

Hello, everybody! I saw that part 1 is quite popular with my readers and so I made some time to write this part before I take the weekend off. It’s been a crazy week at work as we’re laying the foundations for the next project and I don’t even have enough time for sleep these days. I hope you’ll enjoy this.

Continued:

I showed you how to work on the exterior in part 1 so we will talk about the inner parts of the camera in this article. It’s been easy so far but it’s going to get much more difficult from now as we dismantle the camera down to the bare chassis. Never attempt repairing your camera yourself and just send it to a qualified repairer. You may be thinking about saving a few dollars but I will tell you that you’ll spend much more than that on tools and time. You’re also going to need the right skills that can only be learned through years of experience. Just make sure that you send your camera to a trusted shop. It’s common to find people who will say that they can do the job but the truth is they don’t even know where to start.

The Nikon S2 is one of the most beautiful cameras Nikon has ever made. The lines and curves are clean and the layout is basic, making this camera great for studying the basics of photography because it will slow you down. Your clicks will be more deliberate because you will have the time to think about your shot instead of the instant gratification of modern cameras.

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