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Why checking infinity (and servicing lenses) is worth it
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:17 pm    Post subject: Why checking infinity (and servicing lenses) is worth it Reply with quote

These are all exposed at f/1.2 and 1/8000s with lens focused turned to infinity stop, shot with three different copies of the same lens, using a sturdy tripod with exposure delay (to rule out mirror slap) and triggered in self timer mode.

1978 Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai
1982 Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S
2009 Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S

Images shown here are 100% crops, same WB and moderate sharpening.



The centre Nikkor 50/1.2 Ai-S had a loose focusing helicoid, and it was serviced by a serviceman I consider one of the most skilled in Finland. For a measily 40 EUR he transformed it into the sharpest 50mm f/1.2 that I have. Needless to say, the other two copies of this lens will be dropped off at http://www.kamera-apu.fi first thing Monday morning, I'm going to let him calibrate infinity on them as well. First class service well worth the price.


Last edited by Esox lucius on Sun May 15, 2011 5:48 pm; edited 3 times in total


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erm I don't understand (maybe it's because I use film cameras Wink ) in that I focus when subject looks sharp, and sometimes it's at infinity (i.e. at focus lens stop) and sometimes it's not Question


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many AF lens designs allow manual focusing past infinity point. This lens is not such, focus turn stops at infinity.

The Nikkor 50/1.2 Ai/Ai-S are manual focus lenses, designed so that the lens focuses by moving the whole lens assembly inside the lens. They are easy to calibrate for infinity thanks to this design, and they should be given this service about every 10 years, because with time wear and dried lube can change the infinity calibration.


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it a true infinity stop design? I mean if calibrated at normal room temperature, will it still be correct at freezing temperature wintertime or in the sunny desert?

Will not some mechanical assemblies needs the little extra past infinity possibility for this reason and perhaps also to cope with tolerances in camera house (mount to sensor plane distance)?

/T


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

its useful to have infinity point at the end of the ring rotation - thats the thing I understand, you cannot focus below the infinity. but I dont think its a thing you cannot live without - how often you focus by marks on the ring? and how often to infinity? i can imagine situations, where its useful to have the focusing ring marks in right position (f.e. setting the focus to hyperfocal distance) but these are possible to solve.

I agree that servicing is worth it - rotating is smoother and not stiff or too loose, lenses are in right positions etc. but I dont think that setting focusing ring in precise position with focus marks is the most important thing. imho:)


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With my shooting style and methods, I find it very useful that lenses stop correctly at infinity, for example stitched panoramas. I've also memorized depth of field values for most focal lengths and apertures that I use regularly, and sample values are built on infinity.

torbod wrote:
Is it a true infinity stop design? I mean if calibrated at normal room temperature, will it still be correct at freezing temperature wintertime or in the sunny desert?


Glass and metal does indeed shrink and expand from hot to warm, but not enough to change infinity focus point. At least my lenses don't, and every year they see use from -30C Finnish winter to +40C tropical temperatures. The two that are not correct at infinity are recent eBay auction wins and they clearly require adjustment. Not entirely impossible the very reason for selling them was owner disappointed with infinity performance.


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esox lucius wrote:
With my shooting style and methods, I find it very useful that lenses stop correctly at infinity, for example stitched panoramas.


I agree, I'd also like all my lenses to stop at infinity, mainly because the only safe way to have perfect focus on a camera with a small VF as 450D has, is by LiveView and 10x magnification.

btw. Is anyone here using micro adjustment (if your camera has it) to confront this issue with some of their lenses? (I hope I got the right impression of that feature and that it's possible to correct infinity focus on MF lenses with it)


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long teles are usually deliberately adjusted by lens makera to allow a tiny bit beyond infinity focusing due to thermal effects (very hot vs very cold). Take that into account please...


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not an easy solution here. Depends on relatives of lens speed, focal length, and value of the convenience, whether to calibrate for infinity focus at end of focus ring travel.

Temperature coefficients of expansion of lens mechanics and lens elements, both add to change exact focus point with changes in temperature. Mechanics expansion and contraction move positions of lens elements. Lens elements change specifications with expansion and contraction. There is greater effect in lenses with larger lens elements, lenses with more lens elements, and larger lenses i.e. fast lens, large/long lens, zooms.

Calibration movement effect is greater in shorter focal length lenses than in longer focal length lenses. Temperature changes in some wide lenses can move the calibration point for more effect than in some long lenses, i.e. a fast wide angle may be more out of focus than a fast telephoto with changes from calibration temperature.

Or, maybe it is an easy solution: depend on the viewfinder to focus, calibrate infinity stop with the lens at the temperature where ring must be fully turned against stop, so at other temperatures the lens can be focused to infinity with ring turned somewhat less than against stop.

For many lenses, changes in focus with temperature changes is probably indiscernible. I would propose an experiment. Calibrate the lens in cold temperature, maybe at outside at night, then check calibration in warm temperature, maybe next sunny day. I think the 50/1.2 will show any significant differences. Maybe there is no problem! Very Happy


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I calibrate my lenses, it is helpful if the lens cannot reach infinite
http://forum.mflenses.com/infinity-tune-for-contax-lens-t7011.html
but I don't often use the infinite mark, even a 40m target is less than infinite

Quote:
btw. Is anyone here using micro adjustment (if your camera has it) to confront this issue with some of their lenses?

this could help if the lens focus past infinite but if the lens cannot mechanically reach infinite, only calibration help


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vilhelm - superb examples

Tuning infinity on lenses such as 50 f1.2 is extremely important

I have done several conversions of FD xx with initial aperture f1.2 and I always do infinity in 100 per cent..

High speed lenses really behave differently when infinity is NOT SPOT ON even at shorter distances.

All checks are being done via LiveView on 5DMkII (21 mpx) and then RAW developed ...

50 f1.2 ? Playing with infinity is absolutely essential

tf


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

****High speed lenses really behave differently when infinity is NOT SPOT ON even at shorter distances.****

If I see the subject sharp at 5' away (and it could also show appx 5' on lens barrel), why does it matter if the lens doesn't/does stop at infinity. Confused


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Stan

trifox wrote:
High speed lenses really behave differently when infinity is NOT SPOT ON even at shorter distances.


I whole-heartedly agree.

The 1982 copy of the 50/1.2 Ai-S which received infinity calibration service now vignettes less and shows less CA than the other two also in the close up tests I shot today. This was not the case before I had it calibrated. It was not cleaned as it did not need it, the only thing done to it was adjustment of the helicoid that moves the whole lens assembly.

I didn't believe it would make that big a difference. I have in fact been using the 2009 copy since I bought it new in Japan, all the time not knowing that my lens was not performing up to factory standards. In other words, I found my first "lemon" (ie. a lens bought new with wrong adjustments)

Needless to add but nevertheless, I'm going to have the other two calibrated by the same repairman.


Last edited by Esox lucius on Sun May 15, 2011 11:18 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excalibur wrote:
****High speed lenses really behave differently when infinity is NOT SPOT ON even at shorter distances.****

If I see the subject sharp at 5' away (and it could also show appx 5' on lens barrel), why does it matter if the lens doesn't/does stop at infinity. Confused


Excalibur - you're missing the point.

Try to tune i.e. FD 55 f1.2, FD 85 f1.2 or FD 50 f1.2 or FD 50 f1.2 L

- all these lenses gone through my hands and believe or not all aberrations are different even at 50 cm focusing distance

If you have a different opinion - get 5DMkII and one of those mentioned above and have a try - you'll see what is a tuning 'infinity' about.. Confused

tf


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esox lucius wrote:
Thank you Stan

trifox wrote:
High speed lenses really behave differently when infinity is NOT SPOT ON even at shorter distances.


I whole-heartedly agree.

The 1982 copy of the 50/1.2 Ai-S which received infinity calibration service now vignettes less, shows less CA and more detail than the other two also in the close up tests I shot today. (Yes, I used live view, even tiny bracketing of focus, tripod, sandbag, self timer trigger, exposure delay mode to rule out mirror slap, same white balance, same RAW postprocessing). This was not the case before I had it calibrated. It was not cleaned as it did not need it, the only thing done to it was adjustment of the helicoid that moves the whole lens assembly.

I didn't believe it would make that big a difference. I have in fact been using the 2009 copy since I bought it new in Japan, all the time not knowing that my lens was not performing up to factory standards. In other words, I found my first "lemon" (ie. a lens bought new with wrong adjustments)

Needless to add but nevertheless, I'm going to have the other two calibrated by the same repairman.



erm maybe it's a digital thing as if the mirror is set correctly on a film camera (and the camera hasn't been abused) then when the subject is sharp in the viewfinder then it must be sharp on the film (at any distance and lens overshoots the stop at infinity)....can't see what's wrong with that logic. Confused


PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is not a film vs. digital issue. It's a focusing issue.

None of us is so skilled that we can every time nail exact correct focus with an f/1.2 lens at close distances, DoF is only a few millimeters max. Viewfinder focusing is not accurate enough method to produce academically validated and comparable sample photo series, when study goal is to detect and define differences in three different copies of the same lens. Which is the very reason I quadruple-verified focus using live view.

The sample shot before calibration service evidently also revealed to the repairman exactly how to adjust the lens, speeding up the process of adjusting it (ie. making price lower). I'm guessing he could see from the sample photo's abnormal amount of vignetting and CA and loss of detail that the lens brought for service actually focused past infinity (as opposed to the two others which in those photos revealed they don't reach infinity). He is a very experienced Nikkor repairman, now retired and running a small photo business. Likely the most qualified person in Finland who fixes older Nikkor lenses, I trust him due to many good experiences.


PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh! I see now...for some lenses, setting infinity focus when focus ring stops is essential.

I imagine for these lenses the focus ring turns multiple helicoids, that by setting infinity focus with ring at stop, the differential movements between helicoids begin at a common point. Setting infinity focus before the focus ring stops causes the helicoid differential at closer focus distances to be off, hence the CA and increase in other aberrations.


PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esox lucius wrote:
He is a very experienced Nikkor repairman, now retired and running a small photo business. Likely the most qualified person in Finland who fixes older Nikkor lenses, I trust him due to many good experiences.


Hi,
Esox, could you be so kind and share the name of the repairman or a link to his shop? Thanks.


PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.kamera-apu.fi/yhteystiedot.php

tel is +358 9 685 3813

I honestly don't know if the gentleman speaks English but I will be happy to help you should you need translation. Just let me know what should be fixed (pm me for skype details) and I can relay the info to him, his shop is 5 blocks from my studio and I often walk past it.