Oil on blades (55mm 2.8)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_oster, May 14, 2009.

  1. I have recently purchased a 55mm 2.8 on the auction site. The lens is in wonderful condition except for the smallest bit of oil on the aperture blades. This is a known issue with this lens, but it doesn't seem too bad with my copy. The blades are not gunky, just the hint of sheen on every other blade.
    I have tested the exposure at all apertures, and have tested it stopped down at fast shutter speeds at 4.5 frames/sec. Exposures are accurate and consistent throughout the range.
    Question: Is it inevitable for the oil on the blades to get worse? Or is there a possibility that it will be fine for years?
    I suppose that once the lubricant separates, it can only get worse?
  2. The 55/2.8 AIS "Micro" is particularly susceptible to this problem (along with the 50/1.4 AIS). Oil on the diaphram will make the action sluggish at best and eventually non-responsive. You need to get a CLA for this lens if you wish to rely on it, which will cost about $100 at an authorized Nikon service center. The new grease used by Nikon appears to be silicone based instead of the traditional mixture of oil and soap. I have had no problems in the ten years since my last CLA.
  3. Steven,
    Firstly your lens. If you intend to use all the available apertures (down to f/32) then I strongly suggest a service. The blades move so fast that they are able to run 8-10 times per second from wide open to tight closed (motor driven camera) and even if you cannot see the sluggishness, the exposure will likely be affacted. If you are a 'wide open' user, then you will likely see no effect. I suggest a service.
    Secondly, that auction site. I thought it was just me getting bad items recently, but there are other reports. Two of the three items I recently won have gone in the bin. I am afraid to say that I have lost faith in the site and the sellers that dwell within its musty chambers. From now on, I insist on trying an item before paying.
    Good luck. Ian
  4. Ian.... Use a reputable Seller and you won't have problems. What you are saying is akin to never using B&H or Adorama because there are bad "bait-and-switch" stores in NYC. Blanket statements are never a good idea.
  5. My old 105 2.5 was notorious for this. I used to dissasemble the lens and remove and clean all the blades myself. I got so good at it, I could do the whole thing in 15-20 minutes. Hopefully with the new lube Edward mentions, you'll be spared a similar nuisance.
  6. I bought my 55mm f2.8 Micro-Nikkor new in 1980 when it first came out. A very sharp lens and my most used one for several years. It's had the disease twice and I had it cleaned and re-lubed. It again needs service. Next time I'll send it to Nikon Service. I remember reading that it's the internal design that allows grease and oil to migrate to the aperture blades. I've never had another Nikkor with this problem.
  7. I wouldn't normally suggest do-it-yourself servicing (some Olympus OM-system Zuikos are very difficult) but for anyone who's reasonably handy and has some basic tools the 55mm Micro-Nikkors are among the easiest lenses to disassemble, clean and reassemble. Fellow photo.netter Rick Oleson has some illustrated tips on his site .
    Once all the optical elements have been separated you can safely bathe the delicate iris blades with a quick evaporating solvent. I used ordinary Ronson lighter fluid but some folks believe this may leave a slight residue. I haven't seen this problem and my shutters and irises cleaned this way have lasted for years without problem. But if it's a concern you can still find oil-free solvents designed for the electronics industry. The stuff used to be sold by Birchwood-Casey as "Gun Scrubber", just an aerosol spray solvent that evaporates quickly and cleanly. Be careful to avoid direct blasts to the delicate iris blades.
    To relube the focusing helical I used a red gel paste lubricant to regrease my 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor. It's a very stiff grease, so don't overdo it. My tub was sold by Beeman Precision Airgun and might not still be available from them, but I've seen the same lube sold online by other vendors under various names. It's highly resistant to migrating due to age or heat, making it ideal for spring piston airgun springs. But, again, it is exceptionally stiff so use it sparingly.

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