Ever since I started my venture in to photography I have dreamed about owning certain lenses.
First, was to own the Nikon AF-S 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens, which is one serious piece of kit. It is legendary for its handling and sharpness. At the time I could not afford to buy one, so I settled on a Sigma HSM 70-200 f/2.8 lens, while having great image quality was just not in the same league as the Nikon.
My second dream lens was the Nikkor AFS 500 f/4, which I actually purchased couple of years back which totally blew my budget for any other exotic lenses. This 500/4 is a serious dream lens and a pleasure to use and abuse.
Recently, I started having them recurring dreams about the Nikkor 70-200 and my search for a good secondhand example begun. I was lucky to stumble upon a eBay auction for an physically damaged lens, which seemed to still be working fine.
After some bidding I managed to pick the lens up for less than 40% of the going secondhand value. The lens itself was clean and came boxed with the hood, soft case and unused strap. I tested it out on my D200 and it performed as expected and the test images were sharp beyond believe.
The damage was not that visible, it appeared that the lens had been dropped on to its side causing a crack to the top housing and distorting the filter threads. I managed to track down a service manual just to see how easy it would be to replace the damaged components.
The procedure would be easy – unscrew the front beauty ring and then unscrew the front protector ring, followed by removing the top housing. So simple I was on the phone to Nikon parts department ordering up the parts, $85 (£45) later I had the parts winging their way to me.
Using a modified verneir I attempted to remove the front beauty ring – this idea failed. Next I thought well the beauty ring is mounted on the protector ring which needs to be unscrewed anyway, so skip that and remove the protector ring first. That was not happening either!
Quick look at the service manual revelled something I missed, the protector ring appeared to be installed using some screwlocking compound (which probably explains why it was not moving at all). Also I think the fact that the protector ring had been distorted was not going to be easy as just unscrewing it.
My plan of action was to remove the gold beauty ring (which was already cracked, so it just came off), then using a small hack saw to cut through the top housing till I got to the protector ring threads.
So to protect the lens from debris I taped the front up with masking tape, and also taped a plastic bag to the rest of the lens below my cut line. I started the cutting – slowly working my way round. The hack saw was making easy work of the plastic and after a minute or so I had done it.
A gentle pull and the front came away with the protector ring and beauty ring still attached to it. I could now see the 6 screws which attach the top housing to the lens.
So I started to fit the replacement parts. First I installed the top housing – making sure the 6 screws where well tightened. I had to transfer the focus distance window from the old housing to the new one, which was very simple.
Next I smeared some screw locking compound on to the thread of the protector ring before screwing that down. To tighten it I attached a cheap UV filter to the front and used that to get more leverage, I had to wait for the screw locking compound to set before trying to remove the UV filter otherwise the protector ring would have unscrewed with it!!
Finally I was able to re-install the beauty ring using my vernier calapers. This part is probably the scariest as a small slip could mean damage to the front glass.
The Finished Product
So here is my lens looking factory new. I purchased the lens not really worried about the damage but after discovering the price of the parts and the fitting procedure it was a repair well worth doing…..
Disclaimer : Due to the world of litigation and general stupidity, I need to warn you that everything you read is for information only – if you decide attempt anything because of what you have read here then you do so at your own risk. You have been WARNED !!