Pentax ME 

Not the ME Super, but perhaps the ME Better!

Pentax ME

I think I struck lucky with this one. Found, by chance, when searching for a Pentax-M 50mm lens, the description of this item detailed the lens only and was priced at about the same as the lens alone would go for. But all the pics showed the camera too, so I asked the seller to confirm what was included in the sale. The answer: everything! I snapped it up even though I wasn’t sure I’d need the lens (see previous post) because the camera looked so clean. No knowing whether or not it would work, though, so it was another cheap punt.

This is the camera that led to the later, and much more popular, ME Super. The latter has many refinements but, as I have discovered, also involved some cost and weight reduction by replacing some of the metals with plastics. One of the reasons I prefer the look of the plain ME is the metal top cover with the ASAHI stamp; the Super has a top cover which is mostly plastic but plated with a metallic outer and, as such, has a slightly different appearance. There are no buttons near the shutter dial on the ME because it’s not possible to set manual shutter speeds on this model; it’s aperture priority only apart from a purely mechanical speed of 1/100s (x-synch for flash) and B. The shutter dial itself is more robust on the ME, compared with the all-plastic affair of the Super, and I prefer it even though it results in a more fiddly process to remove the top cover. Most of the remaining differences between the ME and the Super are inside.

So, upon arrival, the lens seemed fine apart from the fact that it was very dusty inside. No fungus (unlike the one that had arrived just prior to this) and mechanics were fine. This was a simple, half-hour job to dis-assemble, separate the main groups either side of the aperture blades and blow out the vast majority of the dust that had settled onto the two surfaces there.

I noticed immediately that the camera’s wind-on lever was loose when near the end of its travel and it didn’t click closed. The shutter, though, seemed fine as did the electronics and meter display. I knew what this meant: the “click spring” had broken off inside. The purpose of this spring is to secure the wind-on lever close to the camera body to, firstly, switch off the meter and, secondly, prevent accidental partial wind-on. Easily overlooked but should not be; the broken-off bit of metal can travel down into the workings or even shutter and seriously jam or permanently break something. I decided to resist the temptation to check shutter speeds any further and see if I could fish out the broken spring. Luckily, after removing the camera base plate, a few short shakes resulted in the piece in this picture falling out.

Broken click spring
Broken-off click spring. Better out than in!

Safe now to carry on testing, I figured all seemed well apart from the usual need to replace the mirror buffer and light traps.

I ended up harvesting a click spring from a parts-only ME Super (the springs are identical) and installed it into the ME. The Super has a refinement, though, where a second, coiled spring is used to strengthen the main click spring and presumably make it less likely to break off. The coiled spring is held around a post and is sprung against a second post, neither of which are present in the ME. I discovered that both posts are direct replacements for plain screws in the ME and so I gave the ME the Super’s full click spring refinement job! Perfect.

With the top cover still off, all that was left was to remove and replace some crumbling old foam which was meant to cover the open area where the meter LEDs go, leading straight into the area between prism and top surface of the screen. This was a very fiddly job and resulted in more cruddy bits than I wanted to see when looking through the viewfinder, so when all was sealed again I removed the prism and cleaned the underside, the viewfinder side, the back of the viewfinder lens and the top surface of the screen. The prism itself is held in by two tiny screws – one on each side – and removal requires the electronic boards to be carefully lifted away from the top surfaces first of all. After loosening the two prism screws the entire prism will then lift out. It’s the same situation in the ME Super and it’s the only way to remove debris that has found its way into the space between prism and screen, since screens are not user-removable in these cameras. The eventual replacement for the ME Super – the Super A (Super Program in the U.S.A.) – does have user-changeable screens which, if nothing else, makes cleaning much easier.

I have renewed the mirror buffer now and will soon replace the light traps in and around the rear door so that I can run some film through. I love the mirror/shutter sound and feel of this camera; there’s something very reassuringly 1970s about it and that’s only meant in a good way. It’s ever so slightly less dampened in movement compared with the Super but it’s certainly no Spotmatic in terms of noise or vibration. And that’s not to say that the Spotmatics are bad, either – far from it.

Something worth mentioning is that I get the distinct impression that the ME suffers much less from the very common shutter and wind-on issues that many Supers will suffer from now, if not serviced. Perhaps because it’s slightly less refined internally, with fewer plastic parts. My Super had the wind-on issue (film winds but shutter won’t charge), which I appear to have fixed without the need for a full service, and my (much more shabby) parts body has the same issue which can’t be fixed in the same, relatively simple, way.

So, is the ME better than the ME Super? Purely in terms of functionality, not really, and yet I prefer it. If you’re on the lookout for a fully working ME Super and don’t care much about manual shutter speeds, give the ME a go.

Hassy

How did this happen?

I blame it partly on my discovery of Vivian Maier a year or two ago but, if I’m to be honest, medium format has been in the back of my mind for many years. I’ve seen the odd Hasselblad when scouring various camera shops over time but admiration was really as far as it went. The desire to try a larger format than 35mm never went away and it seems the Maier effect must have accelerated the inevitable. Drawn more to 6×6 than any other (645 too much like 35mm, 6×7 too bulky) I purchased a TLR* quite cheaply, restored it and love the results on film. Square format it would be, then, so a Hassy was bound to happen eventually.

This is a 501CM which was made in 1997 and came as a boxed kit with A12 film back, 80mm Zeiss Planar T* “new-C” f/2.8 lens, Acute-Matte-D crosshair screen and waist-level finder. It was less expensive than expected, partly due to the lens and partly the external condition. The lens is essentially a CF with the F bit removed (to distinguish from the original C-type), introduced to cut costs at the expense of a feature that not many would apparently need. Both body and lens were coated in a layer of grime which, thankfully, I was able to remove thanks to my OCD-fuelled cleaning but, unfortunately, years of filth has caused some pitting in the chrome. There’s nothing much I can do about that but I’m satisfied that both body and lens are now clean (the lens looks almost new now).

Of course, no auction-site purchase would be complete without an issue or two (OK, perhaps I exaggerate) and the first of these was immediately apparent: the screen was distractingly grubby and no attempt at cleaning would make it good. After some research I discovered that the shockingly-expensive AM-D screens are made of two layers, and it became clear that the dirt was in between. “Don’t ever take the screens apart or you’ll ruin them” was the message I was reading over and over, so I took it apart and very gently but thoroughly cleaned both layers. Whatever it was has actually permanently etched the top glass layer, sadly, although I was able to drastically improve things. I can only imagine that the screen had become wet at some point and some glass-etching fungus had grown in-between, where it had stayed damp for some time. Anyway, re-assembly was much more difficult; it can be done as long as swearing is permitted.

Issue #2 was more tricky because I was still getting a feel for how the camera operated as a unit. I put the occasional wind-on jam and A12 winder looseness down to my inexperience but more research indicated that there could be problems with sticky old grease in the back’s mechanics. Off came the cover (with this latest A12 the dark slide holder needs to be removed first: four screws hold it on to the rear of the magazine casing) to reveal no sticky grease but one gear wheel with two missing teeth! Said teeth were floating around inside but hadn’t caused any mischief themselves; the problems were down to the gap in the gear, resulting in it sometimes catching and sometimes another cog free-wheeling inside the gap. No idea how two teeth were sheared off without causing damage to another cog as well, but that was the situation and I can understand why the seller had missed it. I actually managed to glue the teeth back on – talk about intricate – and everything worked perfectly, but it didn’t last, of course. And, because I’d taken the back apart to check and fix what was meant to be a common issue, I couldn’t return the kit even if I’d felt inclined to. I couldn’t find any A12 parts here and the alternative seemed to be to pay for a full service and repair.

Whilst away on holiday I managed to find a service manual, the cog part number and a nice chap in the U.S. who happened to have one new. The part was waiting for me when we returned home a few days ago. I used SPG to lubricate the teeth of the new wheel, because the description is similar to that of the grease specified in the service manual (and I already have SPG!) and spent an hour or so fitting it and making sure all the bits were working properly. Success!

I’ve fixed the light trap (temporarily: it needs a new foil part but don’t have that yet, so I trimmed a small breakage to stop it catching on the dark slide) and I’ve adjusted the film progress indicator because its rotation was slightly off. This indicator should be red when no film is in, white when it’s freshly loaded, and should gradually turn to red as the film is used up; mine was slightly off and fixing it was more difficult than it sounds. Not essential, but since it’s there I want it working properly.

One last thing has been done prior to the imminent film test. I bought an extra screen (pre- Acute-Matte as I’m not made of money!) with a split prism. This confirmed my suspicion, when using the AM-D screen, that infinity focus (and, therefore, everything else) was ever so slightly off. At the lens infinity stop a distant image was still not quite aligned. I’ve corrected for this with a tiny adjustment of the mirror stop (right side whilst facing front of body).  I’m aware of the factors which can contribute to focus alignment in Hasselblads and have confirmed that focus is correct across the whole screen, so I’m quite confident. Aside from impact damage (no sign of that) the mirror stop is the most likely factor following hundreds or thousands of shots and there are, thankfully, no foam pads to deteriorate under the gliding mirror of this model. Testing will confirm. If something such as body length needs adjustment, I’ll send it to a specialist. If it’s instead the lens, I’ll soon find out. Optimistically, though, I think this mechanical marvel is all good to go now.

*TLR = Twin Lens Reflex. Eg., Vivian’s Rolleiflex or, in my case, a Yashica Mat.

A return to M42

I started with 35mm SLRs when I was 11 years old. The first was a Zenith (or Zenit) EM, followed by a Praktica MTL3 for which I traded the Zenith (I wish I hadn’t but I had no choice). At the time I looked longingly at cameras I couldn’t possibly afford – the Fujicas, the Olympuses (Olympi?), the Pentaxes – but it wasn’t until a few years later, and well into the 1980s, that I moved to a Japanese brand. By then it was Minolta and their budget X300 model; a good camera but with fairly typical 1980s-style replacement of some metals with plastics.

For a while now I’ve been trying to find an excuse to return to those early cameras with their screw-thread M42 lenses, for no other reason than what is presumably the result of a mid-life crisis. For me, as a youngster, the arrival of the Zenith, which had followed some fairly dodgy instamatic-types, was a revelation and I remember the excitement, the heft of the thing and even the smell of the leather case. I could change lenses (the ones I had were terrible, apart from the Helios 58mm) and I could actually view through the lens that was going to take the picture! Changing lenses was a bit of a faff – they were prone to fall if the thread hadn’t taken on the first twist – and stop-down metering was awkward. I loved it. And now I wanted some of that back.

Zenith EMs don’t appear to have aged well, it seems, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy into a camera that I’d be unlikely to run a film though anyway. One day, maybe, if I see a mint one for a reasonable price, but in the meantime my attention turned to Pentax. I started initially looking just for a lens or two to use with digital, but found that many of the Takumars were attached to Spotmatic bodies. Those cameras looked really nice and so the decision was made: this would be my re-entry into the land of M42.

After some research, the Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8 was to be the lens of choice (to begin with!) and I managed to find a SMC version attached to a Spotmatic F for not much more than the lenses alone typically go for. The body looked dusty but was described as fully-functional; the lens was described as optically good but with an aperture ring that was somewhat stiff to move. At the asking price (the body was practically free!) I took a chance but then I saw another SP F which looked nice and was very cheap, and so I thought I’d have that as well, just in case the first one turned out to be bad. And then I saw a SP500 at a ridiculously cheap price. It would have been rude not to.

So, here are the latest arrivals in various sates of restoration. Some details are below but in summary: these are real beauties that are built to last. They are such fine pieces of precision engineering that they are a joy to use, with a reassuringly heavy heft and refined controls. With very few exceptions, cameras aren’t made like this any more; even the SP500 (1971-1973), the first budget SP model, feels every bit as solid and well-engineered as the SP F. I’m looking forward to running some film though these.

img_0153 (1)
L-R: SP F w. SMC Takumar 1:1.8/55; SP500; SP F

Spotmatic F with SMC Takumar 1:1.8/55  (picture left)

Arrival state: dusty and grubby camera body. Lens cosmetically better but the aperture ring was very difficult to move, then jammed completely.

Work done on body: cleaned the outside of the camera body only for now. Meter tested and all correct. Shutter tested and fires without any problems. Needs a total clean plus all light seals and mirror bumper changed, which I shall do myself.

Work done on lens: dis-assembled after the aperture ring totally jammed. I expected to find a broken/bent lever or something inside, but upon inspection it became clear that the lens had been dropped and the impact had bent the aperture ring ever so slightly in a 1 cm portion, as well as affecting internal aperture mechanics. I milled the aperture ring so that it was no longer grating hard against the lens body underneath. An internal ring which is driven by the external aperture ring was also grating badly on the inside, so was bent a tiny amount using a vernier calliper as a guide. Ultimately, I cannot get the lower part of the body totally back into as-new shape, which would be ideal since smooth operation requires tiny tolerances. img_0152 (1)I made it the best I could and re-greased the inner and outer components. Re-assembled (checking to make sure I had infinity focus set correctly before the final steps) and now have a lens which is quite usable. It’s still not ideal – the aperture ring needs more force than usual to rotate, especially at the extreme values – but it does now rotate all the way from 1.8 to 16. Unlike many Nikon lenses, some of which I’ve fixed before, these have to be taken apart from the front. Here it is with name ring, filter ring and focus ring removed. I got some tips from this article which was good enough, even though mine is the newer SMC version.

Spotmatic SP500 (picture middle)

Arrival state: sorry.

Work done: I thought this was a goner. Outside it was superficially nice except for the base plate, which had clearly been the victim of a leaked battery in the past, although to be fair the worst of the damage had been cleared up. Meter tested and found to be working in reverse! The needle went up (+) for under-exposure and down (-) for over. This was easy: the battery had been installed the wrong way around by the previous owner/seller, so I reversed it. Outer body cleaned up nicely. Moving inside, the mirror was absolutely filthy and the focus screen had crud on it, so both were cleaned (the mirror using sensor swabs and sensor cleaning fluid with next to no pressure applied; the focus screen using a dry sensor swab). Someone had done a bad job of replacing the mirror bumper foam which contributed to some of the crud inside; I have cleaned it all up, including an unidentified deposit on one side of the mirror box – no idea what it was and it was a pig of a job to remove. The meter then stopped responding altogether, so I removed the base plate and cleaned the contacts underneath the battery chamber. All OK now.

This one needs a bit more work, to remove the old door seals and replace.  Also (maybe) to fix the aperture actuator at the bottom inside the mount which doesn’t spring back as it should. That’s not a major problem, though. What I thought would end up as spare parts is now a clean and functional camera.

Spotmatic F (picture right)

Arrival state: nice! Needs new seals but apart from that, cosmetically the best of the lot.

Work done: Nothing much so far. This one very occasionally sticks with the mirror up but I can only reproduce that at 1/60th. Winding-on and taking another frame cures it until the next time. The wind-on feels slightly rougher than on the other two bodies, so it could do with a full CLA (clean, lubricate, adjust) service, I think. Meter checks out fine. This one will probably be sent off for the proper treatment.

 

Cyrus dAD3 repair – part 3

Not surprisingly, running the CD mechanism dry didn’t last forever. In part 2 I mentioned that the original CDM 12.4 was back in the player with all the old grease removed; since I didn’t have any replacement grease at the time, this is how it has stayed for the last couple of years. Has it really been that long? I’m surprised the player ran without a problem for all that time with lubricant stripped from the laser drive mechanism.

About a month ago it started muting again for a second or two at a time – usually twice, seemingly within the same timeframe regardless of disc, and to a much lesser extent than when the problem first occurred. I needed to get some proper grease for the job.

SPG (Special Plastics Grease) from Electrolube is what I went for as it seems to be aimed towards exactly what I was trying to achieve. It was time to strip the player down again, remove the CDM 12.4 and then totally strip that down into parts. A bit fiddly, but not too difficult a job. There was still a tiny bit of old grease in places and so I totally removed all traces using a small micro fibre cloth and cocktail sticks. Nothing escaped; gear teeth, laser rail, everything was dry. With SPG carefully applied and everything put back together, the time came to test by playing a few discs right through.

Flawless.

And I have enough SPG left to fix a few hundred more.

Cyrus dAD3 repair – part 2

Following on from the previous post, it’s worth pointing out that the original CDM12.4 is back inside the CD player and is working perfectly. The laser diode had not failed, after all.

A few weeks after the surgery to replace the CDM12.4 inside the player, it started to mute in places and, once again, fail to read discs. In the meantime I had stripped down the original CDM12.4 and simply wiped away all the old grease, some of which had hardened. A swap back to the original unit (notably Philips branded, whereas the replacement CDM12.4 is not) and it’s been playing fine for a few months now. It may or may not last because it’s effectively running dry; it probably needs a proper re-grease with the right compound, which is something I can do when required. Nevertheless, it’s been perfect for about three months and counting, and I have spare parts should they ever be needed.

Cyrus dAD3Q CD player repair – part 1

I’ve had my Cyrus dAD3 (later updated with Q module) since 1997. It’s still a very decent player even by today’s standards and it’s been fault-free for many years. Recently, though, CDs started to periodically mute and, before long, failed to play or even be recognised. Realising there was something seriously wrong, I was not a jovial rabbit. I remembered having a warranty repair soon after I’d first bought it, since it failed to recognise a handful of my CDs, yet was fine with all others. It came back unchanged so I sent a couple of the affected CDs off to Cyrus, together with the player again, and this time it came back totally fixed. I remember being vaguely aware at the time that the dAD3 was built around a Philips CD transport/laser mechanism that others – many with different players using the same mechanism – had mentioned they were having trouble with. I assumed the mechanism had been replaced and I soon forgot about it, until the other day. So what to do? Send it to Cyrus to repair (about £300), upgrade to something new (equivalent player now is about £1200) or attempt to fix it myself. I’ve been on a bit of a make-do-and-mend roll lately so I decided on the latter option, based on the assumption that the Philips mechanism (possibly the laser diode) was failing. So the Philips unit in question is the CDM12.4 – this I found out quickly from t’internet. This small unit houses the spinning motor, laser and laser drive motor. It sits within the larger Cyrus tray drive assembly and it is a little fiddly to get out but, with a little coaxing and a few expletives, out it came. There’s a certain order in which things need to be taken out and there are some very small wires and fragile flex cables which need some care, but patience paid off in the end. Firstly, the entire tray drive assembly needs to be taken out and it’s not going to be possible to do that without first pushing the tray out and unclipping the Cyrus tray front piece, then pushing the door closed again. Careful removal of cables and two boards will then allow the drive to be removed. It’s then a case of unhooking wires, carefully pushing out the rubber mounts, opening the drive again and sliding out the Philips unit. This will still have the Cyrus spiring-loaded clamp attached; this is detached from the back, leaving the bare CDM12.4.

Tray drive seen from underneath; boards and cables removed

Replacement CDM12.4 units can be had for £15 on eBay, which all seem to be advertised as being new even though they clearly are not. I didn’t like the sound of some of the feedback comments so I decided to try a reputable electronic spares company instead. OK, twice the price, but no misleading descriptions and I’d like to think that a company such as this would test such things before selling with guarantee. Still, at a tenth of the likely repair cost, had I decided to send the dAD3 away, it had to be worth a shot.

CDM12.4 is lower middle, still with Cyrus clamp attached

So, this morning I began the reverse surgery. After a careful couple of hours the result was… nothing. To cut a long story short, I had mounted the tray drive assembly slightly too far back, so whereas the door closed, it hadn’t properly engaged at the front. Naturally I assumed the Philips unit was another duff one, but by process of elimination I found it simply wasn’t being allowed to engage fully. Once I’d fixed that I powered up, loaded a CD and… the display looked good and I could see tracks playing through. Finally it was done – or so I thought. Hooked back up to the system, I waited for the first CD to play. Nothing. Not a sausage. Although the display was running through properly there was no audio output. Two possibilities: the CDM12.4 was duff after all, or it was fine but something had gone wrong in the analogue stage. A quick check showed that the digital optical out was fine going into an external DAC, so that ruled out the CDM12.4. Oh dear. Had I screwed up the DAC or analogue stage in the player? My unjovial rabbit status had been resumed. I took the Q module out and flipped the connectors to STD from UPG. This meant that the original DAC, which the Q replaces, was put back into service. I had audio! Phew. So, at worst, I’d damaged the Q module but after flipping back to UPG and re-installing the Q, it worked! I guess I must have nudged it somehow, during surgery. So, for £30, a few hours of my time and a little bit of grumpiness, I have my player back. Not long ago I’d have seen this as an excuse to upgrade, but I actually feel much better having fixed what I consider to be all the CD player I’ll ever need. I have, therefore, saved £1170 on the cost of the current model. What shall I buy?

Nikon Coolpix 5200 battery door fix

http://jrhughes.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/nikon-lens-repair-af-s-dx-18-55-f3-5-5-6-vr/

Recently my father broke the battery door of his Coolpix 5200. He can be a little heavy-handed at times but I don’t believe it’s an uncommon problem for this door to break (or so I’ve read). The main part of the door is plastic and it’s held on by lugs which slide over corresponding lugs on the body; once the door lugs break – probably too much downward pressure instead of sliding to open/close – the door no longer fastens shut.

He took it into a camera shop and asked them how much it would be to repair: they quoted £60 just to look at it and said he may as well buy a new camera. No surprise there, then. So he stuck a small piece of gaffer tape to the door and affixed to the camera body; a bodge solution which looked horrible and wasn’t even very effective. 

Remembering the shop on a certain well-known auction site which I’d used to get parts to repair my father-in-law’s lens, I wondered if they’d have a replacement door. Sure enough, they did, so I ordered one. 

Recently my father broke the battery door of his Coolpix 5200. He can be a little heavy-handed at times but I don’t believe it’s an uncommon problem for this door to break (or so I’ve read). The main part of the door is plastic and it’s held on by lugs which slide over corresponding lugs on the body; once the door lugs break – probably too much downward pressure instead of sliding to open/close – the door no longer fastens shut.

He took it into a camera shop and asked them how much it would be to repair: they quoted £60 just to look at it and said he may as well buy a new camera. No surprise there, then. So he stuck a small piece of gaffer tape to the door and affixed to the camera body; a bodge solution which looked horrible and wasn’t even very effective.

Remembering the shop on a certain well-known auction site which I’d used to get parts to repair my father-in-law’s lens (see earlier post), I wondered if they’d have a replacement door. Sure enough, they did, so I ordered one. It cost me just £14 to get it shipped from the U.S. The shop is called Procamerarepair.

They dispatched pretty much immediately but it took a week or two to arrive. No problem, as it arrived in time for a meet-up with my parents and so I was able to replace the plastic door in about two minutes. Good as new! As ordered, the door comes with the metal hinge assembly but this is not required unless the hinge itself is also broken (in which case it would be a slightly more involved repair). He’s happy and I don’t have to think of his camera (which I bought him, incidentally) held together with a bit of gaffer tape.

Nikon lens repair: AF-S DX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 VR

Here’s the background story: my Father-in-law had his Nikon D60, with 18-55 VR kit lens attached, on his shoulder when he dropped the lens cap. The cap rolled away and was about to disappear out of reach, so he ran to get it. Unfortunately his Nikon slammed against a metal railing, lens first; the lens came away, would not re-attach and there was no knowing how much damage to lens and camera had been caused.

When it came to me I could see that the whole mount was badly warped and that bits of it had broken off. The electronic connector block was hanging out and the surface which is supposed be flat to mate with the camera throat looked like a tiny roller-coaster track. My F-i-l was going to dump the lens but what he really wanted me to check was the camera, to see if it had been damaged by the impact. My first thought, though, was to save the lens from going to landfill.

It helps that I have taken a few of my own Nikkors apart before, for minor servicing/repair, and so I went straight to remove the whole mount assembly. I found the cause of the severe warp: a tiny lug had broken off inside and was lodged underneath the shims that it had previously been holding in place. I determined that I could get by without this lug, since it was too small for a reliable fix and the shims had one remaining lug to hold them in place before the main mount screws secured them. I re-assembled everything as best I could (the electronic connector block was still a bit loose as one of the screw housings had also broken away) and tested the lens. I had to hold it against the camera body, since two of three mount catches were missing, whilst testing AF, aperture and VR. All seemed to work fine – which was good news because that meant the camera was probably OK too. I feel sure that, had the lens mount been the usual metal instead of plastic, there would have been some significant damage or mis-alignment inside the camera. As it was, the mount absorbed the impact, breaking and warping, thereby saving the camera from any serious damage.

OK, so everything worked, but I wasn’t sure where exactly to get a new mount. I looked for similar lenses on a well-known auction site, being sold for parts, but found none. Thankfully I found a company in the U.S. which sells parts for camera repairs and they had the correct mount for about a tenner. So I ordered it and it arrived a couple of days ago.

The repair itself is quite straightforward. The three main screws are removed, as well as three much smaller screws holding the central sleeve in place. There are two more tiny (but different) screws which hold the electronic connector block in place. There will be a number of shims, which will be specific to each lens and they are to adjust the distance between main mount and optics (i.e., sensor to lens distance). The image below shows the lens barrel, the broken mount to the left, the electronic connector block and, in the background, the inner mount sleeve and shims. Click on any image for a larger version.

Two things need to be done before the main mount can be replaced: the sprung aperture guide is removed to be attached to the new mount as is the small connector with sprung pin, shown near the centre of the image above. Now we’re ready to prepare the new mount.

The aperture guide slots into the underside of the mount and the spring is attached:

The sprung pin is attached:

Then the shims are returned. Notice the guide lug at the top right; there should be another on the bottom left next to a screw hole but it’s missing, so the shims can shift around a bit. This gets fiddly when finally putting it all together as the aperture guide needs to be carefully placed on the correct side of the aperture pin in the lens, otherwise the aperture won’t work at all, but getting the correct positioning can move the shims so that screw holes don’t line up.

With the aperture guide in the correct position and the main screws loosely in place, all that remains is for the inner sleeve to return to its rightful place. Care must be taken with the five tiny screws: two of them have slightly larger heads and a finer thread pitch. It is these two which hold the connector block in place, whereas the other three secure the inner sleeve to the main mount.

After tightening all screws (not too tight – this is a plastic mount, after all), a good clean and mount to camera body, all is well. Focus is accurate and VR works as it should. One more saved Nikon lens to add to my count (OK, that makes two in all – but hey).

One final thought: those shims are thin. Some of them are extremely thin. They are of different thicknesses and will have been put together in that combination for this particular lens and its original mount, so it could be argued that they are no longer an accurate set for this lens. Since all my testing shows focus to be spot-on, though, they appear to be good enough.