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Is Soligor a sleeper?

Jeff Polaski , Jul 23, 1999; 02:36 p.m.

This is my first question on the forum and I am trying not to be trite or vague. Really. Honest. I thoroughly read Phil's admonitions.

I have a Soligor 300mm lens (T4-Pentax SM) from the very early '70s. In deciding whether to start using it again (I have to hunt down a Pentax K-mount adapter for it), I found that the lens I always assumed to be a cheap Japanese lens is actually German (check www.soligor.com, und Sie muss' Deutsche sprechen).

Has anyone had experience with Soligor optics? I usually have great respect for German optics, but Soligor lenses seem so inexpensive?

In performing my due diligence before posting this, I searched for and found little reference in photo.net about Soligor. One reference I did find noted that Soligor and Phoenix were perhaps getting together to produce a 28-400mm zoom. Phoenix? B&H sells a Phoenix SLR. It's a very manual camera, which in fact sounds an awful lot like the Soligor SRL described on the Soligor web site.

Here's my question (finally): Is it possible that the Soligor brand name -- and maybe the Phoenix name -- is a sleeper? Are Soligor cameras and lenses up to the standards I've always assumed for German optics and machining? Or have I somehow fallen prey to the virtual corporate identity confusion in a global market place and this is actually stuff from a small town on the Pacific Rim?

Responses


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Robin Smith , Jul 23, 1999; 03:57 p.m.

Jeff

I have always assumed that Soligor were Japanese and they were definitely cheap and not very good. I had a 35 f2.8 which was OK but definitely not world class optics. They used to produce a lot of screw mount lenses back in the late 60s to mid 70s. Tamron and Vivitar stole their thunder in the mid to late 70s. I suspect that they were a marketing brand and used generic Japanese lenses to make up a line (i.e like Tokina, Kiron etc. etc.) German optics, that is Zeiss, Schneider, Rodenstock they are most definitely not.

Ray Negus , Jul 23, 1999; 04:45 p.m.

My experience is that in photography, you get what you pay for. If the lens price is cheap, the optics probably are too.

There are some exceptions to this: The Canon Elan II is an extremely good camera for the money (avoid the eye-control version), and some lenses like the 100/2.8 Macro are as sharp as the 180/3.5 macro, but at one third the cost. But these are rare exceptions to the rule.

If cost is your primary concern, then the Soligor (or Tamron, etc.) may be your only choice. But if possible, get lenses by the same manufacturer as the body (i.e. Nikon lenses for Nikon bodies). They will work a lot better.

David Ferrell , Jul 23, 1999; 05:19 p.m.

Does anyone remember Mamiya/Sekor and their 35mm SLRs? I think Soligor had some kind of connection with Mamiya and that Sekor lenses were made by Soligor (or perhaps Sekor was another name for Soligor). In any case, I remember the very first time I saw a Mamiya 6 lens the first thing I thought was "This sure looks like a Soligor." The second thought was "This is a lot of money for a Soligor." Mamiya 6 and 7 lenses are nevertheless excellent IMO. Maybe another poster can fill us in on the history of Soligor.

Marcus Erne , Jul 23, 1999; 05:25 p.m.

Hi Jeff,

Soligor is nothing but a photographic-equipment DISTRIBUTOR (among other products). Most of their product line is NOT "Made In Germany". Based on the few experiences I had with their products, I would call it decent (after-) mass-market quality.

They buy, like others, their lenses from Cosina in Japan. Soligor, Vivitar, Cosina and possibly Cambron are all manufactured at the same place, with different logos.

No, not a sleeper.

Brad Hutcheson , Jul 23, 1999; 06:14 p.m.

David,

My Mamiya/Sekor 50mm f1.4 screw mount lens is way too good to be a Soligor. It is not only sharp, but well made. It also produces pictures that are slightly on the "warm" side, as I have been told Mamiya medium format lenses do. The only Soligor lens I have seen was an FD mount 135mm f2.8 that was poorly made. The aperture diaphragm basically fell apart, and the focusing ring could barely be turned.

gene crumpler , Jul 23, 1999; 11:38 p.m.

I had a Soligar 28mm in a nikon mount back in the early 70's. It fell apart fairly quickly and I threw it away. Never have had a nikkor lens fail in the last 30 years.

M. Huber , Jul 24, 1999; 06:04 p.m.

Marus is correct. The Soligor glass is not bad. The mechanics are not good. Keep checking the lens frequently for loose parts; don't leave home without at least one small screwdriver.

Cliff LeSergent , Jul 25, 1999; 03:10 p.m.

I purchased a Soligor 300mm (f5.5, I think)with the T-4 mount for $69 back in 1977. I used it on my Nikon FM until I could afford a Nikkor 300mm f4.5, at which point I sold the Soligor. As it turned out, the Soligor was much sharper than the Nikkor I replaced it with (which was the non-ED version). It just goes to show you that some third-party lens manufacturers did come up with decent lens designs, much like Tamron and Vivitar did back in the '70s.

Jeff Polaski , Jul 26, 1999; 07:20 a.m.

Thnaks, folks.

My 300m Soligor is indeed Japanese. I guess wishful thinking got the better of me when I found the German Soligor web site. I guess shopping with a global distributor won't get me those German optics I had use of back in my army days. The Soligor is my only non-Pentax lens; I'm currently mounting the other (fixed focal length) lenses on an ME Super.


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