Repair: Nikkor-H 50mm f/2 Auto

Hello, everybody! I was listening to the Air Supply this afternoon. While I liked the duo in my younger years I got tired of listening to them after buying their “Goodbye” album. It’s an OK album with a catchy song in it but it was played-to-death by DJs so you could hear the song everywhere you went. It got so annoying that listening to somebody singing in a falsetto voice made me want to act violent. After some 27 years after “Goodbye”,  I finally decided to make my peace with Air Supply and began to enjoy their music again. It looks like I just need some time-off from them in order to re-kindle my love for their music. It’s now fun again to listen to their music and re-live your younger days when you dedicated a song to a girl that you liked and had the DJ play it. Today, I am going to show you a lens that was so popular that people began to treat it as a mere lens cap despite the fact that it is a nice lens with more-than-decent performance.


The Nikkor-H 50mm f/2 Auto is probably Nikon’s most prolific 50/2 lens and it’s certainly the most successful if you consider the longevity of its optical design. It was sold in 1964 as the Nikkor-H 5cm f/2 Auto and it was revised as the lens in this article and later as the multi-coated Nikkor-H•C 50mm f/2 Auto. A huge re-design effort by Nikon in the 1970s or the late 1960s turned it into the New-Nikkor 50mm f/2 and the lens arrived at its last form as the Nikkor 50mm f/2 Ai in the late 1970s. All of the lenses that I mentioned above used the same basic lens formula and was modified in small ways to improve its performance or to give it a new feature such as the ability to focus a bit closer. The reason why it was so successful is because its performance is great for its time and so the need to develop a better design wasn’t so urgent. This earned a lot of money for Nikon as the same design was used for almost 15 years spanning several model changes! This is the dream of many accountants and the optical designer must’ve been really proud of his work! The key to it is the simplicity of the design which makes manufacturing easier and cheaper. Lenses of this type are usually sold together with cameras as “kit-lenses” as they will be called later in the new millennium and they should have a more-than-decent degree of performance and they should also be able to be manufactured cheaply. This lens fulfilled them all and so it became one of Nikon’s most successful “kit-lenses” of all time.

IMG_8382Many consider this to be amongst Nikon’s best 50mm lens designs that can still compete with many modern lenses. This lens was so successful that it stayed in production until 1979 (from 1964) in the form of the Nikkor 50mm f/2 Ai which is simply the New-Nikkor 50mm f/2 with a few modifications. It’s a very good lens if you ask me but it’s also why I don’t like it as much as the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto because I like lenses with quirks.



Mod: Converting Gadgets to Use 1.5v Batteries

Hello, everybody! I am in the process of fixing the pipeline of our studio at the moment. I am spending many hours evaluating and creating new tools for our artists and throwing away what the previous guy did. He basically made everything too-complicated and now he can’t fix it himself and so he had to quit! Making something more complicated so that only you know how to fix it can backfire, too. Instead of giving him job security, it made things more difficult for him and everybody else so the company is losing millions of yen in wasted time and missed-schedules. Being a tinker, I am used to seeing what others did and how and where things can be improved or fixed. Today, I’m going to show you a little mod that you can do to save yourself some money.


Many useful photography gadgets like light meters, cameras, etc that were made several decades ago all share something in common that limits their use today – the use of an old battery type that has a different size, voltage and chemistry to mainstream batteries that you can buy today. These are the old mercury-type cells that went out-of-fashion around the late 1980s. It was a very good battery type because the power drop-off is steep so this will allow it to function near its nominal voltage for longer until it exhausts itself. Newer ones that use different chemistry has a smoother fall-off curve so they’ll emit lower and lower voltage gradually until they die. This leads to erratic operation like inaccurate and intermitent operation. The call for greener batteries resulted in the end for this because it has a scary-sounding name and so these batteries are now scarce. Sure, you can buy a few alternatives like the Wein cell but they’re not cheap at all and they usually die within a few months whether you use it or not. Hearing aid batteries share similar dimensions but the voltage is different and they can be hard-to-obtain in an emergency. The best way I know of is use the common and cheap 1.5v batteries and modify your gadget so they’ll work with them with as little fuss as possible. This is a popular mod that any people do, I am sure that you have seen or heard this done somewhere, I personally learned about it some time ago in the 1990s when these batteries are beginning to become scarce.

img_1116You will have to open your gadget just like what you see in this picture. It looks scary but it’s one of the easiest things you can do if you’re an intermediate-level repairer. This is an old Sekonic Apex light meter, it’s one of my favorite meters because it’s easy-to-use and it is still reasonably-accurate in everything but poor lighting conditions where light ratios and other things may affect its performance. The only thing that I hate about it is it uses the older 625/MR-9 mercury-cells. Somebody stole my trusty Sekonic L-308 that I’ve been using for many years and so I had to bring this old meter back from retirement.


Repair: Nikkorex F part 2

Hello, everybody! How are you today? I am busy today and my head is painful but I have to write something for you today. I am currently busy with work so I cannot maintain the blog like how I used to and it doesn’t make any sense for me to do so I will be writing less than usual from now on but I will keep this blog online as much as I can. Now, for more light-hearted news, I will continue with our Nikkorex F series today in this article so read it to know more aout what’s going on inside this little camera.


In part 1, we talked about how to clean the camera inside-and-out. While we will only do minimal cleaning and lubrication, it’s enough to make this camera work again and it’s a good exercise for those who wanted to get into camera repair as these cameras are cheap and simple to take-apart. In this part, we’ll go deeper and work on the mirror box. This is a common problem with many older cameras because the lubricants may have dried up or the wrong type of oil or grease was used by anybody who opened the camera before. I had to dig-deep into this camera to extract the mirror box in order to clean and oil it but it’s still relatively easy compared to the Nikkormat series of cameras.

img_5243Here’s the camera with the Nikkor-P 10.5cm f/1.25 Auto, it’s the “tick-mark” version of this lens and it makes a good partner for the Nikkorex F because both of them represent early Nikon F-mount products. While the lens is certainly of a slightly-older vintage this combo is still representative of that exciting era in 35mm photography history when the Nikon F showed the world what’s possible with the “small” format. More

Repair: Nikkorex F part 1

Hello, everybody! I don’t know if all of my readers are aware that I work for the Japanese animation industry. I am currently working on the latest season of “Ghost in the Shell” so I am currently busy with so many things that I cannot publish a lot these days. It’s a show with characters who had their consciousness “downloaded” to synthetic / robotic bodies. While they’re actually “people”, they’re not “humans” in the true sense of the word. This makes us question what it really means to be “human”. If you ask people who grew up in the New Wave era like me, my answer will be The Human League song and its lyrics! This may sound too simplistic but the chorus goes like “I’m only human, of flesh and blood I’m made.” and then it goes “Human. Born to make mistakes…” – this is where things get more profound. The last line of the female part goes “While we were apart, I was human, too.“, this line is the most powerful line in the song, it cements the idea that making mistakes is part of the whole package of being “human”. Before I get carried-away and sound like an old man contemplating about life I’ll show you something today that makes you question what it means to be a “Nikon” and how mistakes from its marketing and experience gave Nikon a lot of valuable lessons that they used to make one of their best cameras, read on.


Today, I will talk about the Nikkorex F, it’s a camera that’s not being talked much about in many photography circles and many people are even ignorant of this camera. This is not a rare camera at all so its vagueness cannot come from its rarity, the reason probably lie in the fact that many people don’t consider this to be a real “Nikon” at all! Yes, this wasn’t made by Nikon but it carries the Nippon Kogaku brand so who made this and why? Well, the answer to the first question is Mamiya made it, the answer to the next question is the need to make a cheaper F-mount camera to sell along with the expensive Nikon F so that people will buy more Nikkors to use with their new “budget F“. Who proposed this idea is not really clear but one thing is sure, the late Joe Ehrenreich distributed both Nikon and Mamiya in America so he probably had a hand in this decision and so the Nikkorex F was unveiled in 1962, the 2nd F-mount camera to be ever sold!

img_3464The Nikkorex F is a solid camera despite feeling “hollow” in your hands and not as dense as true Nikons tend to be. This is due to the numerous cost-cutting decisions so materials and assembly had to be compromised in some ways. It actually feels much like a Canon 7 or a Yashica to be honest, solid cameras that feel like a tin toys due to cheaper materials and simpler construction. You’ll definitely feel that this isn’t a “Nikon” right away. More

Repair: Nikkormat FTn part 2

Hello, everybody! It’s getting cold now and the walls can get moist at times due to water droplets forming due to precipitation. While the air is generally dry around this time, it’s easy for fungus to form because of the said water droplets. You won’t know what’s there until you remove the furniture and see what’s under it. The same thing goes for cameras and clocks and I will show you once such camera today.


We’ll continue with our Nikkormat FTn series with this article. In part 1, we saw how the steps on how to remove the top cover properly. In this part, I’ll show you around what is inside of the top cover. Most, if not all Nikkormats require some work here so this is very important. There are a few articles online outlining what’s going on here but here’s what I do and I hope that I will make a better article.

IMG_1197Yuck, this is not my idea of a white Christmas! The good thing is it’s localized to this thing only and the other important things seem OK. More

Repair: Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! It’s going to be Christmas in a few days and I still haven’t received any fruitcakes! I used to get these back home and while many people don’t want one because they’re boring, I enjoy my fruitcakes for what they are. They are gifts that were given by friends and they last very long, too. A good fruitcake tastes just as good as any expensive and fancy cake from the fancy bakers and this just goes to show that they are not bad at all and can prove to be very enjoyable specially if they’re still moist. Still talking about fruitcakes and how many people find it boring, I will show you a Nikkor that many find boring but it has a certain appeal to it for people who love it and just like real fruitcakes, this lens is tough and will last a long time when serviced well. Read my article to see what this is.


The Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai-S is an update of the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai and it retains the old lens’ optical design of 5-in-5 (5 elements/5 groups). The barrel has been updated to give it a new look as well as making it Ai-S compatible. It has a decent run from 1981-1989 so it’s considered a moderate success. It’s price made it popular for students and people who’s budget dictates what they buy. It’s great for most things and being Ai-S, it can work in all automatic modes with newer Nikons that provide the standard PSAM exposure modes. It also has a more modern construction so less materials were used to make it and it uses a more clever construction so some parts were optimized. This makes it less rugged when you compare it to the older lenses in its family but it’s still a solid lens compared to what we’re used to seeing these days.

IMG_8920The lens is the last iteration of the 35/2.8 lens family that began in 1959 when the Nikon F was introduced. It carried-on the spirit of this lens family to the ’80s and made it relevant in a time when people were used to faster 35mm lenses. Its light and compact design is a good selling-point for photographers who don’t want to bring anything heavy and f/2.8 is still decently-fast and should be adequate for most jobs. What ultimately killed this lens is probably the introduction of the AF-Nikkor 35mm f/2 which is just as small but is much faster at f/2 and it can also autofocus. Some will prefer manual focus lenses (like me) but the rage in those days was autofocus, very much the same way as VR today.


Repair: Nikkormat FTn part 1

Hello, everybody! I was window-shopping at the watch section of the mall and something caught my eyes – a Seiko-5. The Seiko-5 movement is reliable and tough, it’s easy to fix so it’s not hard to see decades-old samples still working like they were new. It’s familiar to a lot of watch repairers because it sold very well and parts are easy to obtain. The bad side of this if you can call it that is they don’t hold value very well unless it’s special or rare. It is easy to find one for less than $100 used (and new!) so they’re popular for people who’s budget dictates what they wear. While we’re on the tangeant of cheap and reliable, I will share with you a camera that I believe has the same qualities as the Seiko-5 and it is one of the classic Nikons that every collector or Nikon user should have – the Nikkormat FTn.


The Nikkormat FTn is the most common Nikkormat variant you will ever encounter. This is probably the most successful one in terms of units produced and it’s not hard to figure out why because the Nikkormat FTn is a wel-rounded camera that’s still relevant today. It was developed from the earlier Nikkormat FT which is a good camera but it added things that made the original camera even better in terms of handling. Both models have built-in TTL meters that have an average 60/40 metering pattern that’s standard with Nikons. I also love how you can the meter’s needle without looking-through the eyepiece since it’s also visible at the top part of the camera. This makes it easy to measure your exposure so you don’t have to look like a creep pointing your camera at your subjects just to see if the exposure is right. It also has a handy mirror-up switch so you don’t have to waste a single exposure (like on the Nikon F) just to flip the damn mirror up. A self-time is also standard and you also have a useful DOF preview plunger for stop-down metering and checking if the DOF is right. You even get an auto-resetting film counter! I know that all these sound trivial today but they were considered to be premium back then.

IMG_1167The Nikkormat FTn’s are the cheapest Nikkormats you can get these days because they’re the most common type and as a consequence their value is highly depreciated. They also use the old 1.35v mercury cell batteries that are not made anymore these days and this is also another factor for their cheap price. The ones that were sold domestically (Japan) all use the Nikomat trade-name instead of Nikkormat but they’re basically the same. More

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