45mm 2.8P Focus Ring Stiffness

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ben_hutcherson, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. I have recently received an example of this little oddball, weirdly expensive lens that I'm unnaturally attracted to.

    The lens is everything I expected-soft corners wide open, minimal distortion, incredible contrast, and of course tiny and lightweight.

    With that said, the focusing ring is NOT what I'm use to on manual focus Nikkors. I'm use to being able to move the ring with a light touch with one finger, and on my example of this lens that's definitely not the case. It takes two finger to move comfortably, and given how small the focusing ring is that's a bit of an issue. I have the 45 2.8 GN also, and the focus feel is nothing like that lens(even with the GN tab engaged).

    I'd give the lens a pass if it were older, as I've also had many AI-S lenses in particular that got stiff. I don't think this is much over 10 years old, though, and doesn't appear to have been used much.

    Any thoughts on this? Are they all like this, or do I have a bad example?
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I think Nikon discontinued the 45mm/f2.8 P a decade ago. Did you buy a used one? Perhaps it has some impact damage??
  3. I am not familiar with that lens, but dry grease is my suspicion.
    My old manual focus Nikkors are as you said "smooth."
  4. Thanks guys.

    Yes, the lens was bought used. I don't buy new lenses as a general rule. In fact, I think the only one I've bought at least recently was the 35mm 1.8 DX, and that was mostly because one new in the box with the hood was only about $20 more than a nice used one at the same store without a hood(these little gems seem to hold their value well, but then I guess they're good enough that there's not a lot of room to drop off the $200 retail price).

    I REALLY don't think it's been dropped. The filter ring and the HN-35 cone hood are in perfect shape, and there are no other scuffs or really any issues on the body of the lens that would indicate it being dropped. I've checked it on my D800 wide open at the closest focus distance, and although it does show corner softness like all Tessars, it doesn't seem to have any issues that would indicate a mis-alignment.

    This one is black, and although they aren't uncommon the black ones are a decent bit harder to find than chrome(and as I mentioned I do have the hood and the front cap, both of which are unique to this lens). I've wanted one of these for a while, and rather than return it or try to exchange it I may just bite the bullet and send it to Nikon for a service.

    Still, I'd be interested in hearing from any other owners of this lens on the focusing ring on theirs. It seems strange that a 10 year old lens would get stiff when I have 40+ year old ones that are smooth as butter, but then I know a lot of variables go into that.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  5. My copy can be focused with one finger touch. The hydro feel is not perfect anymore, but certainly rather good still.
  6. My advice, before doing anything more invasive, would be to simply "nurse" the lens for a while to get it warmed up, and then work the focus to see if it softens up.

    Many years ago I bought a "used" 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor that had been sitting in its box unused for ages - maybe since new. The focus was stiff as h*ll, but after gently warming the lens and working it, it loosened up and has been fine ever since.

    WRT Tessars or "pancake" lenses. Never seen the attraction. They're OK on larger formats, but too soft for miniature film or sensors IME. And if you've got a full-frame DSLR, sticking a tiny lens on the front of it doesn't make it any smaller, lighter or inconspicuous - especially if the lens has a silver finish.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Since you bought it used recently, can you return it?
  8. Bought mine direct from Nikon.ca over a decade ago as a demo unit. Focus is smooth but less fluid than older manual lenses, due in part to the very short focus throw. Suspect a degree of stiffness was baked-in to make precise focusing easier.

    A very sweet lens. Love it on an old FE body. Great on a D7200.
  9. If it makes you feel any better, I picked up a "poor man's pancake" 50mm f/1.8 E-series (not quite as small as the 45mm, but without the preposterous recessed front element of the AF versions that makes the lens twice as long) a couple of years ago, from the auction site, as a way of making my D810 easier to carry in a bag in minimal configuration. It works fine, but the noise made when I focus is probably best described as "crunch". I hope it doesn't drop any sand inside my mirror box...

    It doesn't need much force to rotate, though.
  10. That's certainly an option. KEH has a great return policy. My problem is that I'd really prefer an exchange and the only other in stock at the moment doesn't have the lens hood.
  11. It sounds like you may have a "sandy" lens. My series E 50mm is buttery smooth.

    I know Joe has stated his dislike of pancake lenses before, but we'll have to agree to disagree on them. I'm weirdly attracted to them, and now have all three that Nikon made(50mm 1.8 Series E, 45mm 2.8 GN, 45mm 2.8P). They all have their attraction to me. The 50mm is probably optically the best, but it's also my least used one as the 50mm 1.8 AI-S is only slightly heavier and much better, and I think the AF 50mm 1.8 is lighter although heavier. I have used the "GN" function of the 45mm GN and it has an interesting look on something like an F2 or, especially, an FM. The AI-P version is nice in that it saves having to punch in non-CPU data on a modern camera and the combination of a simple design+multicoating should make it a very high contrast lens. Also, I have the black version of the AI-P lens, not the chrome one. It does have a chrome(or probably matte aluminum) "grab" ring with the DOF scale like most AI/AI-s lenses, but that's it.
  12. Optically I'm not all that fussed by the 45mm, and I do have a Sigma Art 50mm, but the E series (mine's a fully plastic black one) does share the advantage that it reduces the camera thickness roughly to that of the grip, which is as portable as Nikon are going to get anything ergonomic unless they start taking my suggestion of hinging the grip so it'll lie flat...

    The AF-D is nice and light and relatively small (I've been known to keep it in a pouch that originally belonged to a Sigma EF-mount teleconverter), and I retain it for that reason despite having the AF-S, but - like the old 90mm Tamron - it's got a deeply recessed front element that makes it twice as thick as it needs to be optically. The AF-S is even bigger, which is more frustrating because it comes with a perfectly usable hood.
  13. IF I wanted a "pancake" lens then the very first one I'd be looking at would be the Voigtlander 40mm f/2 SLII Ultron.
  14. I bought that 45P brand new together with an FM3a. It always had a slightly stiff focus. The focus is smooth enough, but has an oddly short throw and requires more effort than I'm used to on the more full bodied manual focus Nikkors.
    I dig that lens, and use it today on a Df for a compact walk around full frame set up.
  15. Since you bought it from KEH, you might ask whether their service department could handle the work, possibly even for free under their guarantee.
  16. That might work indeed..

    ..And I thought the same of a €75 105/2.8 MF micro that I bought some time ago .. I ended up reviving the stiff-focusing lens for another €180 by a professional repair shop.. Good lens, love it, had it (already, so: didn't really need it..), worth it ..probably more so than the 45mm pancake.. ..but not what I had in mind when NAS kicked in and urged me to that impulse acquisition..

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