Tearing down a $2,300 Sony GM lens for a DIY repair

Oct 4, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Tearing down a $2,300 Sony GM lens for a DIY repair

Oct 4, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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As a photographer, it’s one of the worst things that can happen. You’re away for three weeks travelling and shooting – for work – and right at the beginning of the trip you drop the only lens you’ve brought with you. That’s what happened to Pierre Lambert and his $2,300 Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens recently.

With part of the body of the lens twisted, there were obvious issues. Pierre chose to take the rather unconventional decision to attempt to repair the expensive lens himself. Fortunately for us, he shot video so the rest of us can see what’s contained inside this $2,300 lens.

Despite the lens being a bit bent, Pierre managed to carry on shooting with it for the next three weeks, hoping that the slightly out of focus edges of the shots wouldn’t become an issue. He had no access to tools to repair the lens while he was away, and he took no other lens with him, so he didn’t have much choice.

On arriving home, though, he dismantled the lens in order to determine what had happened. And with the lens in pieces, he could see that it was all down to a simple screw.

The impact had caused a screw to snap the plastic, no longer holding the barrel in place. But replacing this part proved to be somewhat tricky. When looking at the website to order spare parts, there were no images next to any of the listings, so he had to take a best guess at which item it was. Fortunately, his guess was correct and on receiving the part was able to reassemble the lens.

When all was reassembled with the new replacement part, it all functioned perfectly again. Pierre’s DIY repair worked out well in the end, although I wouldn’t advise doing your own repairs unless you know what you’re doing. And even if you do know what you’re doing, it’ll probably void your warranty.

If you’re going away and worried you might break something, you might want to consider taking a backup.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “Tearing down a $2,300 Sony GM lens for a DIY repair”

  1. Pierre Avatar
    Pierre

    Thank you for sharing the video! Tip for everyone. Take a cheap lens with you on big trip – just in case! I had a telephoto lens but useless for 80% of my needs!
    And as mentioned, open it only if warranty is already voided! :)

  2. Frank Nazario Avatar
    Frank Nazario

    a pro photographer that takes only one lens to a paid gig in an isolated region like the maldives is the MOST IRRESPONSIBLE professional I’ve seen … specially knowing that second hand alternatives and cheaper options can be had either rented or purchased for very affordable price… You have a 2300 dollar sony for the paid gig BRO GET A SIGMA 18-35 with the adapter for 650 used!!!!! and keep it in your bag … he made this a joke and then had the nerve to say “Im going to use it as is and hope NO one notices its crooked” if i had been the client and noticed it and this dude would have told me that was his only lens the shoot would have been called off and he would have had to return my money… and to top it off he made a video of it … we learned nothing from it… sorry for the rant but this really upset me.

    1. Pierre Avatar
      Pierre

      Hey Frank! Sorry this upsets you – don’t take it on you :)
      Context: one year of travel world tour with 2 bags, this was our last 3 weeks. no space for extra anything. Backup solution high end compact camera that I can use as last resort. Also had a 70200mm 2.8 with me – the “no lens” should have been “no wide angle”.
      I always have backups but 12 months long trips are different than a usual one day to 2 weeks assignement :) I just happened to be in the Maldives and be able to work with the place while around.
      Have a great Sunday!