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Thread: Nikon lens repair advice

  1. #1

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    Mars

    Nikon lens repair advice

    Hi again all.
    As you can tell by the title, I'm looking for advice regarding repairing/cleaning a few lenses from the early 80's.
    I'm told there is a little mold in one, some dust in another and so forth. I don't have them in hand yet (someone's bringing them to me in a few weeks) but I'm sure even if I look at them I wouldn't be able to tell.

    Has anyone experienced dealing directly with Nikon themselves with old lenses?
    And I know it's a silly question, but is there anyone out there that would choose a private repair shop over going directly to Nikon?
    I take my car to a local garage with a good reputation vs. directly to the manufacturer. Would this be a similar situation? Or are camera lenses a totally different beast?

  2. #2
    krispix's Avatar
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    Chris

    Re: Nikon lens repair advice

    Hi Mars,
    I'm not sure I can be much help from this distance. Back in the 70's I was a frequent visitor to Nikon in Tokyo and found their repair workshop very friendly, helpful, competent and good value. By contrast I have recently found Nikon UK to be the complete polar opposite. So, on that basis I would recommend you find a small private repair shop.
    Finally, you might like to think carefully whether these lenses are worth spending money on. If they're 80's lenses they should fit modern digital cameras, but may not have AF and certainly won't have any of the latest sophisticated vibration reduction technology etc. Even if they do have AF, it may not work with the body that you have. Old lenses designed for film are slightly different to those designed for digital, but most people would never notice the difference, so probably not an issue.

  3. #3

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    Re: Nikon lens repair advice

    Thanks for the reply Krispix,
    You're definitely right about being worth the cost or not. I'm hoping that it's more of a "cleaning" than a repair.
    Another part of it is actually getting it to Nikon just to be looked at vs. something "local". The closest Nikon shop is almost 3 hours away.

  4. #4
    krispix's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon lens repair advice

    Yes Mars, it is just a cleaning job, but requires dismantling the lens groups to do it. The lenses then need to be re-calibrated when re-assembled. It is a skilled job, but I'm sure there will be plenty of 'locals' capable of doing it.
    As I said, I don't know what Nikon charge in Japan but in UK it works out at about GBP100/hour.
    Why not describe the problem in an email to Nikon and they'll quote you for the work. Make sure you tell them exactly what lenses they are, as the older lenses are simpler in construction than modern ones.
    Good luck

  5. #5
    inkista's Avatar
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    Kathy Li

    Re: Nikon lens repair advice

    BTW, fungus CAN be more problematic than a simple cleaning. If the fungus has been alive on the glass for long enough, their waste tends to be acidic, which can then etch through the coatings on the glass element. Getting an element polished and recoated would probably cost more than the lens is worth, so most folks wouldn't touch fungus-infected lenses with a 10' pole.

    Go google "fungus lenses" to see what bad cases of lens fungus look like. It's kind of like frost patterns.

    Dust in the lens probably won't affect image quality in most cases, so it's less of an issue, and maybe you can just live with it, depending on how severe the problem is. Ditto small scratches or cleaning marks.

    The other big "no-can-repair" issue to look for with older lenses is element separation. That's when elements that have been cemented together start to separate because the "glue" used is coming apart. The problem is cleaning the old glue off safely and then using a new adhesive with the right properties. Again, this issue tends to cost more to repair than the lens is generally worth.

    Other obvious issues to look for would be that the aperture and focus rings work smoothly, and that the aperture leaves achieve the correct setting quickly with a "snappy" action. If anything feels sticky, chances are the lens will definitely need to be disassembled, the old grease cleaned out, and new grease applied. If the aperture leaves stick, there could be grease there that also needs to be cleaned.

    When going with vintage glass, you do need to have some knowledge of how to evaluate a lens. If you don't, I'd recommend sticking to reputable dealers with known grading scales, good descriptions, and decent return policies. Here in the US, I tend to shop from keh.com, B&H, and Adorama for used gear, even though it will cost me more. I've never had an issue returning a used lens for the full purchase price to any of them.

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