So, What Did We Learn Today?See the entire illustrated disassmbly here.
First, like every law, Roger’s Law that Zooms Are Never as Good as Primes has at least one very expensive exception. At one of its focal lengths. This zoom is ‘prime good’ at 300mm.
Second, we learned that the Nikkor AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8 lens is spectacularly good optically, particularly at the long end, which is probably the most important place to be spectacularly good optically.
Third, we learned that Nikon F lenses, at least at this point in time, are not incorporating the new electrical and mechanical designs of the Z lenses. This probably matters to Nikon F shooters not at all since this is the same technology their other lenses use. It matters a bit to us, who will work on them. At no time during this teardown were the words “Elegant Engineering” ever spoken.
What does it mean, though? That’s just speculation. Creating a lens takes several years, so this is a look at what Nikon was doing a few years ago. I don’t know, and neither do you (unless you’re reading this post from Nikon Corporate HQ, in which case feel free to leave a comment).
Perhaps Nikon will merge lens technologies in the future. Maybe they will maintain separate design and manufacturing teams for as long as they continue to make F-mount lenses.
As you can probably tell from our struggles doing this disassembly, the Nikon Z lenses are very different than their legacy lenses. They’re also different than what we’ve seen from other manufacturers. That suggests Nikon Z lenses, like Canon R lenses, are a completely new optomechanical design, probably done entirely in-house.Check out the full Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens Teardown.
The engineering itself is incredible in most ways. The neatly laid out and solidly adhered flexes reflect the careful design. The taping of every possible point that Loctite or anything else could get in the lens does, too. The design is logical and clean; the difficulties in the tear-down were ours. Now that we know our way around, disassembly won’t be bad at all.
This is a very well made lens. It IS built like a tank with robust magnesium alloy barrels, lots of long thick screws holding things together and nothing flimsy to be seen. The electromagnetic focusing motors, which were a weakness a few years ago, are now built like you could pull trucks out of ditches with them.LensRentals takes great care in ensuring your rental arrives in tip-top condition. Be sure to keep them in mind for your rental needs.
The more subtle stuff, things like the neatly laid out flexes and reassembly markers, indicate to me that a lot of care was taken in designing this lens. Nothing has that ‘we can stuff that in this nook over here’ look.
It’s a great lens optically that is very well built.
So what did we learn today? Really, not a lot. The Sony 400mm f/2.8 G is exactly what we expected; a very solidly built lens that is everything construction-wise you would hope for in a big beast of a super telephoto that costs $12,000. It has excellent weather sealing, heavy-duty engineering between the barrel segments, a very solid chassis, and components that all appear up to the task.Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Retailers - B&H | Adorama
This is not marketing department weather resistance. This is engineering department weather resistance. Anything that can be sealed has been sealed. I’m impressed, and I will say for future cut-and-paste blurbs: this is as robustly weather sealed a camera as we’ve ever disassembled.B&H carries the Nikon Z 7.
I don’t believe in weather resistance myself. I believe like life; water will find a way. I believe in plastic baggies and rubber bands. I am, however, a great believer in the idea that if you claim to do something, then [you'd better] do it right. This is done right.
I’m impressed by the very solid construction of the chassis and IBIS unit. I’m impressed with the neat, modern engineering of the electrical connections. Yes, I’m aware that soldered wires carry electricity just fine, but to me, there’s something reassuring about seeing neat, well thought out, 2018 level engineering.
I’m not here to tell you which camera is best to use or has the best performance. I’m just here to say this is a [very] well-built camera, the best built mirrorless full-frame camera we’ve taken apart. (For the record, I haven’t torn down a Leica SL.)
by Roger CicalaSee the LensRentals Canon EOS R Teardown for more information.
I’ve wanted to look inside the new Canon and Nikon mirrorless cameras since the moment they were announced, so I’m probably more excited about this than you guys are. I’m really not sure what to expect. Early on, when we took apart a Sony A7R, we were struck by how clean and straightforward mirrorless cameras were compared to DSLRs. Later, we took apart an A7RIII and found that increased capabilities led to increased complexity, although still not as complex inside as a DSLR.
So we expected things not to be too complicated – no mirror box, optical prisms, off-sensor AF system, etc. We know Canon cameras to have clean, even elegant, engineering; like the 5D IV teardown shows. We haven’t done a Nikon SLR teardown in quite a while (the D7000 was the last one), but their camera engineering is pretty similar to Canon’s, although being Nikon they still like to leave some soldered-wire connections here and there. So we figured that the new Canon and Nikon mirrorless full-frame cameras would be more straightforward than their SLR cameras, and perhaps Nikon set down the soldering gun and slowly stepped away.
But really we had no idea how things would look inside, if we might see some cool new engineering, what the weather resistance would be like, etc. So we took apart both a Canon EOS-R and a Nikon Z7 just to have a look around. (The Z will get written up as soon as I can get to it.)
Canon ‘refreshed’ the ever-so-popular 70-200mm f/2.8 lens from a ‘II’ to a ‘III’ with new optical coatings and paint, but no major changes. While the price is higher than the current II, it actually is the same price as the II was sold at for most of its life. A meh moment for almost everyone except those who scooped up the ‘II’ at reduced prices.See the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
I did wonder if perhaps there might be a bit more under the hood than what Canon had announced. These are arguably the most popular lenses Lensrentals.com stocks; hundreds of copies with constant turnover. Since we do in-house repairs, over the years we’ve noticed some minor upgrades that have taken place; an internal ring and some gears have changed, etc. Internally, the 70-200mm f/2.8 is also one of the ugliest bits of engineering in the Canon fleet. We can understand why it had to be that way; it’s an incredibly complex lens. But we figure this bothered Canon’s optomechanical engineers as much as it did us, so maybe they snuck some changes in.
The Sony A7R III has been out for quite a while. Generally, it’s a superbly popular camera with excellent reviews. We were busy moving to a bigger office, and then catching up from moving when it was released, so doing a teardown wasn’t high on our list of things that needed doing. And the good folks at Kolarivision did an excellent teardown, so we didn’t feel any need to rush.See the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
We’ve dealt with a number of water damaged A7 cameras in the past and have a bit more knowledge of where the leaks have occurred, so we wanted to look for ourselves. Plus, we wanted just see all the complicated goodness inside. Now that things have slowed down we decided to take a look.
This will end up being a useful post for those of you who need to venture out into the elements with your camera. Sony has, as they said, markedly improved the weather resistance on this camera. They also left a screaming ‘leak here’ gap in the sealing that you can probably address yourself.
We’ve been impressed with the Sigma Cine lenses. We weren’t surprised that they’re generally sharper than classic Cine primes; that’s what we’ve come to expect from Sigma. We were pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of focusing and aperture and the apparent build quality. Since we’d previously done teardowns of the Zeiss 85mm T1.5 CP.2 and Rokinon Xeen 85mm T1.5 lenses, and recently done a teardown of the Zeiss 85mm T1.5 CP.3 lens, we thought taking apart the Sigma Cine 85mm T1.5 would provide a nice comparison.Read the entire fully illustrated article on the LensRentals Blog.
As part of that Holy Quest, we wanted to take a look inside the FE 70-200 f/2.8, because, well, that’s what we do. They’ve been in such short supply, though, we just haven’t been able to take one apart. But a customer was kind enough to drop one of ours, jamming the focusing system. We decided the opportunity to do a repair/teardown was too good to pass up.See the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Teardown (Part 1) on the LensRentals Blog.
It’s not the first time we’ve made a bad decision, and it probably won’t be the last. It ended up being the longest and most complex (6 hours) teardown we’ve ever done. If you’re interested, read along and come feast your eyes on one of the oddest lenses we’ve ever looked into. But it’s going to be a fairly long read. (Poof! There went 90% of the blog viewers.)
I’ll warn you now, I’m going to use words like different, odd, and weird when describing the inside of this lens, especially in the second part of this two-part teardown. Don’t misread that to mean I’m saying ‘bad’ because I’m not. Sony is the one manufacturer these days that’s trying all kinds of new and different things. I love that. Sometimes new things are better, sometimes not. But it does make them different.
As with most new lenses, a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II made it’s way back to the repair department for an initial tear-down. I know there’s some randomness as to what we tear down, but we have some reasons for doing these. Sometimes, like with this new Canon, it’s simply because we know Lensrentals is going to stock a lot of them and we need to take a look inside to see what is likely to break and what parts we may want to order. And other times, like with this new Canon, it’s because there’s some new technology inside we want to take a look at.See the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
And, of course, almost all the time these days, there’s some aphasic marketing terminology that leaves Aaron and I looking at each other wondering “what are they trying to say that is.” This time it was “NANO USM technology.” Did that mean there were little nanobots in there focusing the motors? Or that the focus group only had to move nanometers? The problem seemed to have been compounded because some retail and review sites were claiming it had a stepper motor, a ring USM, or both. That’s what happens, marketing department, when you make up words, nobody understands without explaining what you mean.
Looking inside seemed a good way to clarify that. Though Canon did tell what they meant a little bit, but nobody read it. The NANO USM focusing motor made its debut in the Canon 18-135 f/3.5–5.6 IS NANO USM lens last year, but not many people talked about it. It’s also discussed in Canon’s Knowledge Base NANO USM Article, but not many people read that. The NANO USM motor is a different focusing system for Canon, although manufacturers have used similar linear piezo systems.
And, as always, we wanted to see what engineering goodness Canon had inside that polycarbonate lens shell. We’re geeks. Sweet design pushes our buttons, and Canon lenses have had a lot of sweet engineering lately. Even though this is a consumer price range lens, the new digital focusing meter was cool, and we wanted to see if some of the impressive engineering Canon had put in their new L series lenses was drifting down to the consumer grade models.
So let’s tear up, I mean let’s carefully dissect, the new Canon 70-300mm IS. But first, let’s take a quick look at that nice digital readout. I can’t say it’s all that useful, but the depth-of-field-by-aperture display is a nice touch.