Russian Communicator

Ever thought that it would be great if your Nikon D40/D90 could meter with an old AI lens?

So far this was only possible using a D200/300 or better. But with the programmable Russian Dandelion chip every Nikon DSLR body will be able to meter with these old lenses.

This is what you’ll need:

These are the instructions for the 2/28 AI-S. While most Nikkors are almost identical, others might differ slightly. I advise you to take a picture before every step you take, this might be a big help when you put things back together…

Step one:

removing three black screws on top.

Remove the three black screws that are marked with a red circle in the image.

If there are no black screws on top, you’ll find three silver screws on the side of the bayonet, holding the black ring. Actually, you’ll find four screws. Three will be identical in size and form and one will be different. The three that are the same are sunk in the bayonet and you need to remove them to get the black ring loose. The fourth screw is smaller and is not sunk in the bayonet. Don’t remove this one, as it holds a spring to pull back the aperture inside the bayonet.

Step two:

Remove the silver screws in the bayonet.

Remove the black ring and the three screws that hold the bayonet.

Step three:

Remove the bayonett, and place the lens cap on the lens.

Remove the bayonet, and place the lens cap on the lens for protection.

Step four:

File as much from the the black ring, in order to properly place the chip on it.

File as much off the the black ring as you need in order to properly place the chip on it. To get an idea where you need to file, have a quick look at the picture of step six.

With some lenses you will need to file a lot. A metal saw might become very handy…

Step five:

Put the black ring with all the screws back on the silver bayonet. Place the white caliper on the bayonet, the yellow dot needs to be over gap.

Step six:

Now you need to glue the chip to the lens. The blue part of the caliper is where the chip goes. It’s not symmetric, and the right side of it will be the side of the chip with only one pin.

If you slightly misplace the caliper, that the flap in the upper red circle is a bit closer to the center than it should be, you’ll have enough space to place the chip between the caliper and the lens. Once you put the chip with glue on it in place, push the caliper in its intended position, centered on the bayonet, in order to make sure that the chip is in the right place.

Let the glue dry before you proceed.

Step seven:

Put the bayonet with the black ring and the chip back on the lens.

The “U” on the bayonet needs to be placed over the silver pin in the lens.

Don’t forget the screws that hold the bayonet…

This is what it looks like when it’s done:

Now the only thing left is to program the chip. Instructions can be found here.

It proved to be useful to turn off the image review and extend the Auto off timer for the menu.

You’ll need to close the aperture of the lens (f/16 or 22) to work properly in A, M and S mode. Once you’ve done  this, the aperture is controlled by the camera, and there is no need to change anything on the lens any more.

Hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments.

-doda

P.S.: Here is a quick test shot. The picture was taken with a D40, Nikkor 2/28 AI-S and the built-in flash. The camera was used in A-mode, while the flash was set to TTL:

 

35 Responses to “Russian Communicator”


  1. 1 JoJo June 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Nice guide, thank you!
    I’m wondering if this might be used to make the Nikon AF TC-16A teleconverter compatible with digital bodies. Would the AF-motor be used with this chip on the lens?

    • 2 ongabonga June 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      You’re welcome!

      What exactly is the problem with this tele converter? Doesn’t it already come with a chip?

      • 3 JoJo June 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

        It comes with a chip, but does only work on some older non digital AF-bodies, and the D2x. On other digital bodies it does not work at all. As far as I know it was originally made for the F501 to enable limited AF with MF lenses.

        • 4 Ongabonga June 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm

          I very much doubt that this chip will be of much help for this, as it only tells the camera about the focal length, max and min aperture and whether or not it’s AF or MF.
          Plus you would need to reprogram the chip every time you use a different lens on the TC.

          But there is another chipping option, offered by Bjørn Rørslett.
          Have a look here:

          http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_CPUconversion.html

          and here:

          http://www.naturfotograf.com/CPU_extension.html

          His chips are a lot more versatile, but can be more difficult to install, and also are a bit more expensive (65 Dollar vs 33 Euro).
          Also worth mentioning is that he sells you a chip only, that needs to be placed inside the lens. You’ll need to take the contacts form another non AF-S lens, in order to make the connection between his chip and the camera.

  2. 5 Rick DeNatale June 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I have several quite old Nikkor and F-mount lenses. I still haven’t bought a DSLR, and I’ve been wondering if it would be worth it to stay with Nikon, since my old lenses wouldn’t even support metering.

    Now this looks to change that thinking.

    But I’m still a bit unclear about whether or not the dandelion chip will work with zoom lenses, since the programming instructions talk about setting the focal length.

    Will this work for zoom lenses, or just fixed focal lenth ones?

    • 6 Ongabonga June 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      As far as I know, it works only with one focal length. If you can live with the fact, that the correct focal length isn’t in the Exif, this should work fine with constant aperture lenses.
      If you have zoom lenses with variable aperture, you might have the problem that you have chosen an aperture that the lens doesn’t support at this focal length, and your picture might be underexposed.

      Have a look at the links I gave JoJo in the comment above to Bjørn Rørslett’s website. His chips can also be used with zooms, as far as I know.

      • 7 Rick DeNatale June 14, 2010 at 10:16 pm

        Thanks.

        Yes I guess it would be impossible for the chip to know what the actual focal length was used for each shot anyway. So it’s just a matter of incorrect EXIF data then.

        I guess mr Viperoni is saying that you COULD reprogram the chip each time you zoomed, but this seems a bit unnecessary.

        The lens I’d most be interested in converting is a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F3.5 zoom, its mount is AI (not AI-S) I’ve used it with my original F (which I bought used back in 1970 for $100 used) complete with a Photomic finder, and a Nikkor-H f2.0 50mm lens), and my most ‘recent’ Nikon an FE.

        The Vivitar lens always worked well, it was one of the better 3rd party lenses in it’s day, although the focus ring turns in the opposite direction than Nikon lenses do.

        I haven’t taken the Vivitar lens apart but it looks like it should work based on the above, a different set of screws, but basically the same.

        I still have that 50mm F2.0 Nikkor mounted on the F body, although it was probably the sharpest normal lens in it’s day, it’s a really old mount, I don’t think it’s multi-coated, etc. etc.

        I also have a variable focus 35-70mm f3.3-4.5 Zoom-Nikkor which I believe I bought with the FE. It is AI-S, but were I to buy a new Nikon DSLR, I’d probably be better off buying it with a modern medium wide to medium tele zoom lens anyway.

        So it might be worthwhile to spend the 37 euro for the Vivitar. I wonder if anyone has converted one of those.

        By the way when I bought the F, I spent more money ($125 if I recall correctly) to buy the then current Photomic FTn through the lens finder, than I did for the camera and body. The original finder had an external cds meter which you “turned on” by flipping up a little flag which covered the cell.

        • 8 mr Viperoni June 15, 2010 at 4:17 am

          What i’m actually saying is that you just program your lens as 210mm in you case, and then you get:

          1. full metering with amateur level Nikon cameras
          2. automatic focus confirmation and shutter release turned off until you’re in focus(not in manual mode of course)
          3. EXIF data for sorting out photos made by your manual lenses(and i have lots of em)

          Getting the exact focal length of the shot is not as desirable, and not quite important compared to all the above.

        • 9 Ongabonga June 15, 2010 at 4:57 am

          As there is no connection between the lens and the chip, other than the glue, I think it’s safe to assume that it will have it’s difficulties with a variable aperture lens. Either you set the chip to the widest f-stop at the short or the long end, which will result in over/underexposed pictures shooting wide open at the extreme end of the zoom range.
          But your variable aperture lens doesn’t seem to be overly attractive ;)
          Depending on the body you are reaching out for, I think it would be a good idea to replace this one.

          I actually heard a lot of good stuff about your Vivitar tele, and I think it’s quite worth to give it an update.

          I have an old Vivitar here as well, which I mainly use for macros. I opened it right quick, and it’s all pretty similar. (Mine is an AI-S though, but I doubt that there is too much of a difference)

          The only thing about AI, is what the manufacturer of the lens says about it:

          “In pre-AIS series lenses manufactured before 1981 the aperture control mechanism has a non-linear construction. When making pictures with such lens a slight expo correction may be needed.”

          I have no idea if this only applies to the steps between full stops, or the whole range of the aperture. And I have also no idea how the Vivtars behave here.

          But either way, I would definitely give 70-210mm a shot. This lens is probably used at 210mm wide open in more 90% of the shots anyway…

          If you go through with it, I would be glad to hear back, how it all worked out!

  3. 10 mr Viperoni June 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Well actually this chip works with zoom lenses ! I live in Russia, and have contacted mr. Lushnikov on this issue. He said it’s not a problem.
    You just enter the lens parameters when programming it, it’s quite flexible.

  4. 11 Wilco June 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Instead of filing off the black ring, can it be possible to sand off the chip?

    • 12 Ongabonga June 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      I don’t know how thick the plastic of the chip is.

      For this particular lens, it wasn’t much that needed to be filed off, but with others it’s inevitable to remove parts of the black ring.

  5. 13 Soren Jensen June 21, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Thansk for this great guide. I have just ordered one for my adaptall-2 adapter and with your guide it should pretty simple to put it together.

  6. 14 Jaap August 28, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Than, but then the innerside of the chip has no supportks for the guide. I installed the chip succesfully on my 28mm 2,8 AIS (no filing just glueing).
    My 180mm 2,8 AIS is an other story unfortunately. You cant file in the can becoause it has to be removed complete. Moreover you cant remove the bayonet because the aperture spring is attached to it. You can remove the black “ring” because it comes out as a black tube. Long story short, i m not having any luck converting the 180 with this guide.
    Anyone succesfully chipped the 180
    Your feedback is greatly appreciated

    • 15 kari November 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Hello Jaap,

      I am going to chip my 28/2.8 (0.2 meters) manual Nikkor too, and some manual macro Nikkors.
      I have 180/2.8 and I am going to chip it also.

      180 Ais: The bajonet mount can be quite stiff ie tight tolerances. It helps to ease the mount and tubing (=black) off by aiding from several different positions along the edge. Do not use too much force, some may be needed. Also note that the aperture ring position can have effect on the dismounting also the lenses focusing distance. Turn the lens to min distance so the inner black tubing has more freedom of movement.

      Once the inner tubing is off: file (or saw first two lens axis parallel cuts) off a suitable piece of the metal flange so that the chip will fit in. You and I have to remove the flange away on the position of the chip. Remaining parts can act as a safety support.

    • 16 jpasion February 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      For the 180mm 2.8 ais you do not have to disassemble the lens to mount the chip. Just make sure to protect the rear lens element. To do this set the lens to it’s CLOSEST focusing distance. This will move the rear lens element to the inside of the barrel. What I then did is tape the barrel so the lens tube won’t move while working on it. After which I cut a piece of foam and stuff it in the back of the lens effectively sealing it from any metal particles that would be generated while filing. Also apply tapoe to all the part you want to protect on the back of the lens. Use two layers. tape all openings as well.
      With the chip as a guide I then mark the area on the black part of the mount that I need to remove. I used a 6 inch flat bastard file. You could also use a mill file of the same size. I would not go with more than a 6 inch file since anything larger would be too wide and you would end up taking out more than you need to.
      File it all the way down to the chrome lens mount. Take out just enough to fit the chip in. The metal on each side will help support the chip.
      With that done you are ready to glue the chip on. I used a slow setting epoxy. It’s called J-B Weld. Give it at least twelve hours to set and adjust the chip position as you see fit.
      Good Luck.
      Note: I also did this same exact procedure for my Micro-Nikkor 105mm f4.

  7. 17 sequoiacopyru August 30, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Я считаю, что Вы ошибаетесь. Предлагаю это обсудить. Пишите мне в PM, поговорим.
    Куда же Вы так надолго пропали?
    Должен Вам сказать Вы на ложном пути.
    Завидую тем, кто досмотрел до конца.
    Браво, ваша мысль очень хороша

  8. 18 john September 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Rick, just wondered if you managed to convert your vivitar series 1 zoom lens. I have one (a 2.8) and would like to convert it-its works well in manual mode but would be even better with auto features. Any advice would be welcome

  9. 19 Joshua Daniels November 15, 2010 at 4:39 am

    This was a highly informative tutorial! Note that legacy2digital.com now offers this service for ALL Nikkor manual focus lenses AND third party F mount non-Ai, Ai, and Ais lenses. Many of these lens, to be properly converted, require machining and / or modification to the light baffle. While the user can do it yourself, it may be worth having a professional do it.

  10. 20 Ensamer Hirte December 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Hi

    1. Can you tell how you chose the glue, and tell how it holds until now, being in use for a while?

    2. What’s the exact glue you use?

    (I am thinking of chipping a lens but fear using the wrong glue)

    Thanks!

    • 21 Ongabonga December 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      It should be a strong glue that is suited for plastic and metal.

      The glue I used is called “UHU Alleskleber Kraft” (it’s German), but the place that I linked for ordering the chip has a glue as well.

      I can’t complain so far, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. I don’t use my camera as a professional, but I do change lenses quite frequently.

  11. 23 skysaxon January 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I´ve got an Canon FD to Nikon mount – is it possible to chip this?
    I don´t care for the Exif, but would like to get an internal messurement on my D70, so that I could use all my FD Lenses.

    • 24 Ongabonga January 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      It should work in order to get the focus conformation and light meter to work.

      Is the aperture set automatically by the adapter?

      • 25 skysaxon March 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

        No it isn´t – it´s just a piece of brass to mount a Canon FD lens on a Nikon.
        As I said before I don´t care for EXIF – what I realy need is a internal messurement.
        Is it possible to set the chip just one time – maybe to 1,2 50mm but get reasonable results with any other lens and aperture?

        • 26 Ongabonga March 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

          Yes, this should work, as long as you set the aperture on the camera to the max (whatever you programmed the chip to), and you don’t change the actual aperture on the lens between metering and shooting.
          This will work great if you shoot wide open, but stopping down will also reduce the brightness in the viewfinder.

          • 27 skysaxon March 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

            Ok – thanks for your help!

          • 28 skysaxon April 30, 2011 at 6:38 am

            It works!
            Got my chip via Leitax and a friend glued it to the Canon FD to Nikon adapter and programmed it.

            What should I say? It was the best investment I made in the last 10 years – I could use my beloved Canon FD lenses on my Nikon D70 with an internal metering, that´s all I dreamed of since I use a digital camera.

  12. 29 Lynell Vosmus February 7, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Exactly what a writeup!! Very informative and easy to understand. Interested in more such comments!! Are there a facebook? I recommended it on digg. The single thing that it’s missing is of color. However we appreciate you this review.

  13. 30 eibona March 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Hi,
    have anyone tried putting this chip on the nikon 50mm f1.2. I was looking at the mount but it seems like there is no place to put the chip on?

    Thanks

  14. 31 Christena Lehneis April 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I delight in, lead to I discovered exactly what I was taking a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  15. 32 karthik August 30, 2011 at 1:28 am

    can i modify zeiss lens.If yes, then how can i modify Nikon mount Zeiss ZF 50 1.4.


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