Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Back focus frustration

My Voigtlander Cosina 50mm f1.1 back focus problem continues.

The monster has arrived

The guy at Professional Camera Repair was very nice, but he couldn't find anything wrong with the lens after an outward inspection and didn't want to open the lens because while he is Leica certified, he is not Voigtlander certified. Despite the fact that I assured him the lens had worked fine for months before developing the back focus problem, he still thought it was a factory defect.

I contacted DAG and CameraQuest for info on repair costs. Don at DAG has been very communicative and friendly, but I haven't heard an estimate. Stephen at CameraQuest has been a bit curt and requested a check for $250 + $15 return shipping just to look at the lens with a disclaimer that it will probably be $400 to fix it. (He also threw in a threat of yet another $200 to "reset the helical focusing" if the lens was a "victim of an amateur repair attempt.")

$250+ to fix this lens when I've only owned it for 3.5 months is a real kick in the nuts. I paid $860 for it used even though it was less than a year old. If I had just paid the $1k for it new, I would be covered under warranty. So far my 28mm Voigtlander Ultron hasn't had any problems, but I'm glad I do have a warranty on it.

Most video lenses actually have a back focus adjustment. It's basically a section that screws in or out to move the lens elements closer/further to the mounting collar. A very similar solution could be easily fabricated by adding shims under the mounting collar of the Nokton, but I don't know if it would still focus correctly at infinity.

The most educated guess I've heard as to what went wrong with this lens was from one of the moderators at the Leica User Forum. He says Voigtlander lenses have shims for each lens element and that one of the interior shims must have slipped out of place.

I've got a big shoot tomorrow with the specific request for shallow depth of field, so I'm going to try to overcompensate for the back focus and get it done before I send the lens off Thursday.

Whether I go with DAG or CameraQuest, looks like the soonest I can expect to see the lens again is Christmas.

I really need to become a camera tech. There obviously are not enough good ones in the United States.
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