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Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 -- won't focus to infinity
Old 01-09-2020   #1
KoNickon
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Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 -- won't focus to infinity

Just got one of these with a Nikkormat FTn and Vivitar macro flash for dirt cheap. The lens worked fine when I first got it but now it won't focus all the way to infinity -- stops at around 10 feet, and seems like a pretty hard stop. Weird. Briefly it also wouldn't focus close either, like under 3 feet, but that seems to be working OK, albeit with a noticeable catch when I hit that spot on the helical.

It was very cold here yesterday and I initially put all this down to old and congealed helical grease after it sat in the car all afternoon, but the lens has since warmed up enough for that to presumably no longer be the problem.

Thoughts? I really don't want to engage in a teardown of this lens, since I think that's beyond my capabilities. The good news is that the macro capacity is unaffected, which of course is the lens's main function. But not being able to focus past 10 feet is annoying.
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Old 01-09-2020   #2
awilder
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It's a good lens so I would send it to a photo repair tech for service. The helicoids probably just need a cleaning and re-lube.
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Old 01-09-2020   #3
KoNickon
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You're right that sending it to a tech (who are the go-to folks in the USA these days?) is the right thing to do -- but that would be many times what I paid for the lens. So I'm curious to know whether there's a way I can get at the helicals, at least partially, to see what if anything I can do -- cleaning, relubing. Maybe a half-*ssed approach, but so be it.
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Old 01-09-2020   #4
peterm1
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When you say its a "pretty hard stop" can you elaborate more please? Is it more or less a "clunk" and stop or is it a slightly progressive "screech" and stop. What I am trying to get an idea of is how sudden the stop is - whether the focusing kind of stiffens even momentarily before it stops (screech) or if it just stops without warning (clunk). If the latter this kind of suggests something mechanical that has come loose and is impeding movement at a certain point. If the stop is less sudden, this could as others suggest (and you thought), be congealed grease though I am at a loss as to why this should work fine initially then lock up.I would expect the onset of that issue to be more gradual. In either event a service is in order.

I am put in mind of the fact that the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 AF lens (the original one from maybe 7-8 years back) has a fault where something would cause its zoom (not focus) to become very tight at some point. It was and is easily fixed by a CLA. In that case it was definitely a lube issue but its symptoms were more consistent with that diagnosis (a screech not a clunk if I can use that description once more). Point is such thing happen - especially to old lenses such as yours.
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Old 01-09-2020   #5
awilder
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It may be cheaper to buy another on eBay but make sure the seller states the focusing is without issue. The only advantage of having your lens serviced is that the lubricant is new. I would think any Vivitar Series 1 lens that's at least 40 years old without re-lube service will have some issues with stiff lubrication.
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Old 01-09-2020   #6
Huss
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I had the same thing happen to a Nikon GN 45mm lens. All of a sudden it has a hard stop way before infinity. The shop that fixed it said a tiny internal screw had backed out and got stuck in the helicoils.
They put it back and locktighted it so it cant back out again.
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Old 01-09-2020   #7
dtcls100
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I have this lens too, although mine is thankfully in excellent shape. Agree with the above advice to send the lens to a qualified repair person. Trying to fix a problem like this yourself, when you don't have repair training, is a good way to ruin a wonderful lens. The tolerances of this lens are very precise and it would be a shame to ruin it.
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Old 01-09-2020   #8
Beemermark
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Having the lens serviced will typically run around $75 plus postage both ways. If you really want the lens this is the way I would go. They're not that cheap on eBay and those are 40 year old lenses that haven't been serviced either. The Nikkormats are great cameras so if nothing else it sounds like you got a nice camera cheap. 90 macro lens are the tops though.
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Old 01-09-2020   #9
BernardL
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Quote:
but that would be many times what I paid for the lens
Owner A paid $100 originally; is happy to pay $50 for repair; total $150
Owner B got a deal for $20; will not pay $50 for repair (total would be $70)
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Old 01-10-2020   #10
KoNickon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
When you say its a "pretty hard stop" can you elaborate more please? Is it more or less a "clunk" and stop or is it a slightly progressive "screech" and stop. What I am trying to get an idea of is how sudden the stop is - whether the focusing kind of stiffens even momentarily before it stops (screech) or if it just stops without warning (clunk). If the latter this kind of suggests something mechanical that has come loose and is impeding movement at a certain point. If the stop is less sudden, this could as others suggest (and you thought), be congealed grease though I am at a loss as to why this should work fine initially then lock up.I would expect the onset of that issue to be more gradual. In either event a service is in order.

I am put in mind of the fact that the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 AF lens (the original one from maybe 7-8 years back) has a fault where something would cause its zoom (not focus) to become very tight at some point. It was and is easily fixed by a CLA. In that case it was definitely a lube issue but its symptoms were more consistent with that diagnosis (a screech not a clunk if I can use that description once more). Point is such thing happen - especially to old lenses such as yours.
Not a "clunk" but a firm stop. It stops pretty much exactly at 10 feet. I will tell you that it did stop a little farther from infinity initially but I was able to get it to move some. But I'm inclined to think it's mechanical, as you suggest.

Last night I took the lens mount and aperture ring off and peered down into the lens more -- couldn't see anything, including the helical at all. I may have another "reconnaissance" to give it a more thorough review.

Economics: The FTn, the lens and the ring flash (Vivitar Macro 5000; haven't tested it yet but it looks good), plus a +1 closeup lens and stepdown ring, came to $40. The Nikkormat itself, very clean, is worth that by itself. Sending the lens out is the best thing to do, but makes things more expensive of course. (I know; "first world" problems.) Suggestions on a good lens repairer?
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Old 01-10-2020   #11
KoNickon
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I should have added -- at worst, I have a working macro and close portrait lens as is. A bit of haze on an internal surface but quite acceptable. I should keep all that in mind.
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