35mm Ai Nikkor F2.8 Rattles at Focusing Ring.

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by ericphelps, Dec 26, 2019.

  1. I just bought this lens and the focusing seems ring fine as far as the action, but it has a distinct rattle when handling the lens off the camera, and when looking closely I can see the focusing ring move side to side against the barrel when working it back and forth.

    This must be a well worn lens, but wondering if this rattle will affect its use?
  2. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    Hi Eric,

    This is the lens I sold Eric.

    As far as the rattle is concerned, many of my Nikkors rattle when shaken. It's pretty common, so I doubt if it is a defect in the lens.

    You lost me when you say you can see the focusing ring move side to side when working it back and forth. Can you explain that?

    also, the lens is in excellent shape, so I don't see how it's possible to be well worn.


  3. Vincent, it's your choice to involve yourself in this, I only wanted information about the dismaying amount of rattle the lens makes. The slight side to side movement can be seen when observing the the edge of the focusing ring against the barrel of the lens. My other Nikkor lenses, a 50mm, a 105mm, and a 135mm don't rattle as this one does.

    I'm only concerned with performance issues down the road and whether this rattle is a concern.
  4. Just a guess, but the lube has probably dried out. Still enough "stuff" in there so it operates fine, but not enough to provide the damping and fill it used to. A CLA would likely fix it, or just ignore it.
  5. Thanks conrad, that helps. I'll check a few CLA places/prices but likely just make the effort to ignore it. Thanks again!
  6. I should mention that I discovered that the aperture ring wobbles side to side as does the focusing ring, so a CLA is going to happen.
  7. All of these annoying symptoms are common to many of the smaller/lighter manual focus Nikkor primes. I've owned a similar 35/2.8 AI, 28/3.5 AI, and several generations of 50/2 and 50/1.8 that feel "sloppy" in the same manner (focus ring rattles or clinks when handled, aperture ring and focus ring appear to wobble, etc).

    While disappointing, as conrad_hoffman noted its almost entirely due to the pathetic so-called "lube" Nikon used in the '70s-'80s era. It tended to completely evaporate within a few years, leaving the focus ring with no damping, allowing a loose dry metal-sliding-on-metal feel (with accompanying noises). Fortunately the lenses are otherwise very well made, and function perfectly fine without the lube: they just feel cheap and crummy during operation. I guess we should be grateful the lube was so volatile it literally evaporated OUT of the lenses, as opposed to coalescing as haze on the inner elements (or completely seizing the helicals, cough, Zeiss Contarex, cough).

    Its your call whether you want to spend the money to have any particular Nikkor re-lubed. I personally would not bother for the 35mm f/2.8: most techs will charge near what the lens is worth to CLA. Its a nice small light lens, with decent performance if you get the earlier AI optical formula. If you really like it, and the rattles/wobbles really bug you, get estimates from several techs: some will do it for $50, others will charge much more. At the lower fee range, it makes economic sense, otherwise just live with it. You're bound to end up with another one or two dried-out Nikkors anyway (we all do).
    NHSN likes this.
  8. Over time I have owned four Nikkor 35mm f2.8's in different versions; the Auto-S (later Ai'd), the short lived "New" Nikkor 35/2.8 (non Ai) introduced in 1975, and two samples of the 35/2.8 Ai(S) - (of which one was lost and replaced).
    With the exception of the old Auto-S, they all had rather dry and loose/un-damped focus when compared to my other lenses of different focal lengths, that includes both Nikkors other manual focus brands.

    Despite the dryness, they have worked fine, but I tend to favour the old Auto-S - because it just feels better.
  9. Thanks orsetto for this wonderfully complete explanation. I do feel better now understanding that the rattle of these lenses is a rite of passage for a photographer in these times. As long as I can get good images out of it I'll learn to ignore the rest. Almost done with the first roll of FP4 out of it so I'll soon see.

    Thanks again!
    NHSN likes this.
  10. Thanks Neils, I've wanted this 35mm focal length for some time and very glad to have it. I'm still quite new to photography, so much to learn, particularly about equipment.
    NHSN likes this.
  11. [​IMG]
    They are all lovely and relatively inexpensive lenses - otherwise I wouldn't own 3. From left to right: Nikkor-S Auto (Ai'd), NEW Nikkor (non Ai) and Nikkor Ai.
    chulster and orsetto like this.
  12. I've owned all three, and agree with most reviewers that the pick of the litter is the middle version (Type K pre-AI thru early AI). The Auto-S was utterly blah: I really wanted to like it because 35mm is my favorite focal length and it looks cool on a Nikon F body, but pictorially its a non-starter. Nikon acknowledged as much with the very improved mid-period version: this was nearly as good as the popular 35mm f/2.0, but a stop slower, much lighter , less expensive, and vastly better resistance to internal ghosting. Unfortunately it didn't sell in profitable volume, so Nikon dumbed it down optically in an attempt to make the AIS version more profitable in lower quantities (like many of Nikon's inexplicably stupid ideas, of course that one failed spectacularly).

    Upon switching over to digital, I found the 35/2 to be noticeably better (to my taste) in terms of straight-out-of-camera color, contrast and sharpness. I always preferred the f/2 anyway, but had problems with it in the film era due to its excessive internal ghosting (made night streetscape shooting almost impossible). Digital allowed me to "spot retouch" the little streetlight ghosts in Photoshop, breathing new life into my beloved Nikkor-OC 35/2. Last year I finally tried the once-prohibitively-expensive 35/1.4 AIS, and its now become glued to my DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Very strange, unpredictable, but wonderful lens once you hit your groove with it. Sort of an SLR version of Leica M '70s-era 35mm Summilux.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
    chulster and NHSN like this.
  13. The middle version is without doubt the better of the 3. But I must admit that I no longer care much about the small stuff when I use these on a film cameras. It is more about process and less about results.
    To my eyes, the cross section of the middle version is quite unusual when compared with the earlier versions (link to source: https://imaging.nikon.com/history/story/0038/index.htm) I haven't succeded in finding a cross section of the most recent version.
    Source: Nikon | Imaging Products | NIKKOR - The Thousand and One Nights No.38
  14. For several years in the Ai-S era, all of Nikon's lenses came packed with an 'instruction' leaflet that showed the optical construction. Find one of those and it should have the optical diagram in it.
    NHSN likes this.
  15. Final five-element late AI (and all AIS) version:

    Nikkor 35mmf28opticn.jpg
    NHSN likes this.
  16. To be fair, Nikon really did put in an unusual amount of effort to perfect what was essentially their cheapest optional consumer-oriented lens of the manual-focus era (aside from 135mm f/3.5).

    Nobody really had good SLR wides in 1959, Nikon with its overly-deep F mount had even more difficulty than other brands. The first pre-AI (marked 3.5cm) version was some sort of perverted 7-element Tessar formula, not very good at all and prone to flare. The second pre-AI Auto-S (marked 35mm) had a more modern (for the time) retrofocus 7-element formula: slightly better than the first, but still mediocre. Despite its overall blah rendering, like all the early pre-AI Nikkors it does have a certain delicate character that can be exploited by photographers who "get it". Didn't do a thing for me, but if you lean toward a vintage low contrast quasi-pastel rendering they can be interesting. (I think the early seven element 5cm f/2 Auto-S does that trick better than any of the early wides.)

    The first major overhaul was the Type K "New Nikkor" 35mm (pre- AI, then briefly became AI right before it was dropped in 1977). Nikon put a lot of thought into making it the best possible "slow" 35mm SLR lens without getting unduly expensive. NHSN posted a nice big schematic of the six-element optics above: one can see its a fairly sophisticated design for a budget lens. Of the four versions, this is arguably the best balanced in terms of field flatness, edge-to-edge resolution vs contrast vs vignetting, distortion, CA and coma control. It remains the best manual focus 35mm Nikkor for architecture due to the minimal distortion and ghosting compared to the 35/2 and 35/1.4. It is easily identified via serial number range of 77xxxx thru 87xxxx. Somewhat hard to find now, because it was only made for three years and was never very popular.

    The fourth and final iteration was the late AI thru AIS version: made for a decade, this is the most common version by far. Looks very similar to the previous incarnation, the only sure way to identify is via serial number range (35xxxx thru 59xxxx). The optical formula was simplified to five elements down from six, partly to cut costs and partly because Nikon sincerely thought they could wring some improvements that way. Depending on your priorities you may or may not agree the five element is superior: it is somewhat sharper in the center, but softer at the edges/corners than its predecessor. Vignetting is improved, and the bokeh is distinctly less busy than the more highly corrected six element design. These differences aren't huge, but most perfectionistas will give the nod to the six element version for its overall performance balance. The five element sacrifices a small degree of correction in favor of a slightly more pleasant, smoother pictorialism.

    For use with digital, I don't consider any of the f/2.8 35mm Nikkors ideal. The elderly silver barrels really show their age, the later ones don't exhibit as much life and pizazz as they did on slide film. The 35/2, for all its faults, still draws better on a sensor than the 35/2.8. And the 35/1.4 is a bucking bull ride that astonishes more often than it disappoints. Pick yer poison, I suppose: even the 35/2.5 E and 35/2 AFD have their adherents.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
    chulster likes this.
  17. Huh? Aren't you forgetting the 35mm PC-Nikkors?

    The early single coated 35mm f/2.8 PC was very flarey and its contrast dropped like a stone when a light source approached anywhere near the frame. The MC (green coated) version is far, far better. Although I don't think the optics were re-formulated, just the coatings.

    All PC versions sacrifice ultimate sharpness to coverage, but they're definitely the 35s to use for architecture.

    Yes, you can correct keystoning with an image editor, but keeping the proportions right in the process is almost pure guesswork.
  18. I'd considered mentioning the PC Nikkors but then thought they didn't really fit in with the gist of this thread, which is more about general-purpose 35s. (I knew the second I left them out, though, someone would probably jump in to ask if I'd forgotten them anyway.) Agreed, of course, a PC Nikkor will be the best choice for dedicated precision architecture. I was just remarking in the context of these budget small lightweight f/2.8 Nikkor 35s, the mid-period six element version would be the best-corrected option for casual travel/street architecture.

    The old 35mm PC Nikkor (multicoated version, as you noted) is an excellent lens, a real sleeper among fixed focal length 35s. It was a pain to use on DSLR, due to the manual aperture, but mirrorless full frame cameras have given it a second wind. If one can tolerate the larger size/weight and manual aperture, it has a nice performance envelope unshifted and respectable results with moderate shift. Wouldn't necessarily use it for a professional assignment on a 40+ MP Sony A7 or D850, but it holds up pretty good otherwise considering how dated it is.
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  19. If you want, I'll clean and relube your lens for the cost of shipping and your permission to take some test shots with it. I've been considering buying one of these myself, but it would be nice to try it out first. PM me if interested.

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