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I have a 20mm f/4 AI-s. Personally I do not like the feel of the focus ring. It is not well damped and not silky smooth like my other AI-s lenses. It feels like my older non-AI lenses. I have no idea if this is due to its age or mechanical wear and tear, or if it was an inherent characteristic of the lens.

Does the newer 20mm f/3.5 AI-s NIKKOR perform better in this regard? I am not interested in the 20mm f/2.8 NIKKOR AI-s because it does not take 52mm filters.

3

It's not specific to this lens. The reason for this is usually that the grease on the focusing helicoid had dried out and needs to be replaced. One that's been done, your lens will feel like the others.

Take your lens to a competent repair shop for re-lubing (in this digital and AF age, it might be advisable to ask if they have experience with mechanical cameras and lenses).

Here is some more information: https://richardhaw.com/tag/helicoid-grease/

Or you can do it yourself. There are many tutorials on youtube, here is one as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mwB-_J6OH4

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