How to Eliminate the Resistance of the Focus Ring of a Camera Lens

By Brandon Getty

A sticky focus ring can make capturing sharp shots difficult.
i Camera & Photographer image by Studio Pookini from

After pulling your old single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera out of storage, you notice that the focus ring resists movement when you attempt to rotate it. Don't worry -- this is a very common problem that plagues many vintage manual-focus lenses during their lifetimes. Lenses are given small doses of lubricant before they leave the manufacturer. Over time, it can dry up and become sticky, resulting in the sluggishness you feel when trying to focus.

Hold a hairdryer about 6 inches from the lens barrel on a low, warm setting. Rotate the lens so the entire ring is exposed to the heat. This will help loosen and re-liquify the dried lubricant.

Exercise the focus ring for 15 to 20 minutes by rotating it back and forth slowly. Gradually increase the pace of your rotations as the focus ring begins to loosen. This helps redistribute the original lubricant.

Apply four small drops of a photo-specific lubricant around the circumference of the focus ring if it does not respond after the first two steps. Work the lubricant into the focus ring by rotating it for about 10 minutes.

Consult a professional lens repair specialist if the focus ring is still sluggish. This indicates that disassembly and specialized attention to the lens is required. Do not attempt to perform the work yourself if you have no prior experience in optical equipment.