Soligor 135mm f2.8 lens

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by braxus, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. braxus

    braxus Member

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    I have one of these lenses for use on FL and FD Canon cameras. I bought it quite cheap of Ebay a couple years ago, but haven't really used it yet since I have EOS as my main system. I now have a FD-EOS adapter which I removed the lens. I tried the Soligor with adapter on my EOS 1N camera and it will focus for something a meter or two away, which means I could use it for closeup portrait shots. This lens looks like it has 10 aperture blades and produces a nice round aperture when stopped down. What Im wondering is how this lens compares with todays 135mm lenses from Canon? I have read the Soligor is a sharp lens, but dont have a point of reference to know how it compares. Canon's 135mm L lens is quite good I hear, but can't say how the Soligor would compare to it. Anyone have one of these old lenses?

    If I need to use this focal length of lens farther away, I could still bring out my FD cameras. But my intention is to also use it with EOS bodies, mainly the 1N I have with its manual focus screen.

    Here is a shot with this lens. The main thing I notice is the contrast may not be as good as newer lenses. But its hard to tell with the indoor lighting that was used.

    http://www.photo.net/bboard/uploaded-file?bboard_upload_id=34422584
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2007
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Back in the early 70's Soligor was a major producer of independent lenses and had a good reputation, I bought a 135mm Soligor for my Zenit E, it was still in use 2 years ago by a relative.

    Telephoto lenses are quite easy to design and build, and most have good optical quality, independant wide angles were rarely more than adequate usually suffering from distortion and/or flare, it was companies like Vivitar with their S1 lenses who began to compete optically with the camera manufacturers prime lenses.

    Ian
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Not that good. I've never owned a really great Soligor lens, and I've owned or tried some real dogs. I don't think (though I could be wrong) that Soligor ever made lenses: all were bought in.

    But even the dogs can be fun, cf. my Soligor/Porst 135/1.8.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I dunno. I may have gotten lucky with a 250mm MD mount I got from eBay last March. It has taken some nice images.
     
  6. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Soligor memories

    I have very fond memories of the first Soligor I ever used. It was back
    in 1962 while I was a student at Ohio State. I had saved my pennies and
    bought a new Pentax H3v with clip-on meter and 50mm 1.8 Super Takumar. I
    became chief photographer of the Daily Lantern, the student paper, and it
    was my job to shoot the Ohio State football games for the paper.

    Well, let me tell you, a 50mm lens doesn't cut it on the sidelines at
    Ohio Stadium. I got some great stuff standing on the end line when the
    Buckeyes punched over a run from the 2-yard line, but that was incredibly
    limiting. For me, not the team.

    But I digress. I had very little money left for anything, let alone a
    decent telephoto for the sport I was shooting. The photo equipment cabinet
    in the school paper's office had a nice collection of Rollei 2 1/4 gear, but
    nothing I could really use. A pal let me use his Leica rangefinder and 135
    lens once, and while I was thrilled with that, it still wasn't enough.

    Soligor to the rescue. I laugh when I think about it now, but I came up
    with $34.50 for a 180mm Soligor f3.5 pre-set lens, plus a few dollars more
    for a 2x converter that fit between the lens and the M42 adapter for my
    Pentax.

    This was for a mail-order deal from some N.Y. outfit whose name escapes
    me now, but 47th Street Photo rings a familiar bell.

    Back to the Soligor. I laughed, I cried, I screwed on the lens, then
    screwed on the converter, then back again, all the while running up and down the sidelines with this cumbersome rig on either side of Woody Hayes.

    It was indeed a fun time. I was using the speedy 160 Tri-X of the day,
    pushing it to unrememorable ASA numbers so I could use at least 1/250 or
    1/500 of a second speeds, then developing some of the film in Rodinal
    injected with a syringe. Brings back some memories for me. Anyone else?

    To continue, the most amazing thing of all was that the photos turned
    out incredibly sharp. Contrast wasn't great on less-than-sunny days, but the
    negs (that I still have) were remarkable. Even with the converter, believe
    it or not, giving me an even slower, pre-set contraption, I got great
    results that looked perfect when published. The Associated Press bought a
    couple of them, and I assure you that was a big thrill for a hungry student.

    In the 1990s, I acquired another Soligor. This one was for a daughter's
    first decent camera, a Pentax K1000 with normal lens. This Soligor was a
    cheapie, although I can't rember the price. However little I spent for it, I
    probably overpaid. It was a dual-focal length, as I recall, with 85mm and
    135mm settings. It was uniformly soft with little contrast. When it was
    stolen, the only tears shed were most likely by the sap who took it when he realized what crap he had picked up.

    My original Pentax and Soligor pre-set outfit from my college days were
    lost in a fire years ago. I do not now shoot with Soligors simply because I
    can afford better equipment. If the lens I bought in the 1990s is indicative
    of Soligor quality today, save your money.

    Sorry I rambled a bit with my post. I hope you enjoyed reading my
    Soligor reminiscence.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Sure. Wouldn't argue for a minute. But there are several factors at work here. First, even lousy lenses can take nice pictures cf my 135/1.8. Second, some Soligors were a lot better than others. The worst I ever tried was a 28mm with barrel distortion so bad that the first time I looked through the viewfinder I automatically took a step back because I thought the building was collapsing on me. Third, there was a lot of variation in quality control. Fourth, build quality was such that a knock that might be shrugged off by (say) a Nikkor would misalign a Soligor.

    All I meant was -- and I see I was unclear -- that the reputation Soligors enjoyed was never as high as another poster suggested. Some of the lenses may have been better than that reputation -- and indeed some presumably are, like your 250mm.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    What little information I found on Soligor lenses comes from the Miranda Camera site mirandacamera.com. AIE owned both Miranda and Soligor from 1963 to 1978, Soligor and Miranda as rebranded lens are still on the market, but not in the US, I dont know who owns the brand names or makes the lenses. Soligor made lenses for Miranda, I guess based on Miranda design but also offered lenses which were not in the Miranda lineup such as a 85.15. I have just started to collect Mirandas, the Miranda lenses seems to be very sharp with good contrast. I consider the The 50mm 1.4 to be as good as my Pentex M42 50 1.4. The Soligors 135 and 35 dont seem to be quite as good as the Mirandas. I guess that there are very good pre 1978 Soligor lenses as well as some very bad lenses, any lenses that come after 1978 I have no idea.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Your right there were good and bad lenses from most independant manufacturers/resellers in the 60's and 70's.

    At the time the objectivity of many magazine reviews was extremely suspect and highly misleading. A lens brand which got amazing reviews "Hoya" was in fact so poor quality the company had to re-invent their brand under a different name.

    The photo hacks of the time mislead the readers, and some of them are still around . . . . . .

    Ian
     
  10. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Quite alright, Roger. To be honest, I had never even heard of Soligor before last year. And did Rosey ever meet Woody? I'm dyin'. Go BUCKEYES. At least we beat Michigan. That's all that REALLY counts.
     
  11. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ian Grant wrote "Telephoto lenses are quite easy to design and build, and most have good optical quality ... "

    Ian, are you sure? I ask because modern teles are so much better than old ones. The old ones had relatively bad distortion, poor resolution, and, often, severe chromatic aberration. Back in the days when the lens being discussed was young, Modern Photography's lens tests reported resolution and contrast from wide open to stopped down and gave the results verbal grades, e.g., excellent, acceptable, ... Grade for grade, they asked less of teles and other long lenses than they did of normal lenses. And the smaller the format the more they asked of lenses. An excellent for 6x6 would have been "fair" for S8.

    Ian also wrote "At the time the objectivity of many magazine reviews was extremely suspect and highly misleading. A lens brand which got amazing reviews "Hoya" was in fact so poor quality the company had to re-invent their brand under a different name." This is more hogwash. Modern Photography's tests were safe to act on, Popular Photography's also, Petersen's absolutely not. What was wrong with MP and PP is that they never published tests of lenses that didn't meet the minimum standards. BJP was absolutely trustworthy. Its not fair to expect you to have taken our photography magazines in the '70s, but surely you could have found copies of BJP.

    Rosey, where you involved in instigating the 1964 -- I think that was the year -- riot over the sorority girl who was jailed for jaywalking? No one in her sorority liked her enough to go bail ... I met the very girl some time later, I wouldn't have bailed her out either.
     
  12. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Yep! I sure did meet him. Stood next to him (made sure to stay out of his way) often on the sidelines. Interviewed him too. And you at least have your priorities straight. The Michigan game is THE game that counts. GO BUCKS!
     
  13. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Covering my very first riot...

    Wow! You sure bring back some fond memories there! I covered that entire jaywalking riot with my trusty Pentax H3v. Looking back, the whole incident was caused by one of the most blatant examples of irresponsible journalism I can remember.

    A local AM radio station in Columbus reported the ticketing of the black girl for jaywalking while her companion was not ticketed. All morning, the announcers said that a very large demonstration in support of the black girl (read that anti-police) would take place at 16th and High at exactly 2:30 p.m., if I recall.

    At 2:15 p.m., I climbed the large billboard in front of Long's Book Store (or maybe it was the Student Book Exchange) at that intersection. There were a few students there. Ten minutes later, thousands of students were yelling, blocking traffic, causing mayhem.

    I, of course, was safely perched above it all, with plenty of film in my photo bag to record events.

    Well before nightfall, bonfires were started, the electric buses were shut off, all through traffic was blocked, police had taken up positions on the outskirts of the area, and some serious vandalism was underway.

    I made my way down from the sign, planning to head towards the Lantern (student newspaper) to process and print my stuff. My photos of the riot are still on file in the Lantern morgue, by the way.

    Before I left the area, but not until dark, I saw a small gang busy overturning a car, and I snapped the photo just as the car flipped. The flash apparently was a sore point with them, and I never knew a little fat boy like me could run so fast when they stopped their frollicking and turned towards me.

    Life as a student photographer certainly was lively in Columbus.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2007
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Of course Dan your right, I had only ocassional copies of US photo magazines, usually bought on trips to London, and yes their review of lenses were far better.

    In comparison Amateur Photographer's reviews of the time pandered to their advertisers, the lens importers/distributors, the first UK magazine to include good accurate lens tests and review was Camera (formerly Camera User). I don't remember any reviews of budget lenses in the BJP at the time.

    If you check back you'll find Hoya lenses launched in the early 70's with a range of fixed and zoom lenses, some were fine, but overall the range suffered from a variety of problems. Hoya ditched the whole lens brand, after all it was supplying most of the glass to other lens manufacturers and couldn't be seen to be making inferior lenses itself.

    I bought a Hoya 28mm f2.8 after reading a good review, which was actual accurate, the lens was very sharp, low distortion and multicoated. What the reviewer forgot to say was not every air/glass surface was coated and the lens suffered from flare unless the sun or light source was directly behind you.

    You asked about why telephoto lenses are easier to design, mathematically they are simpler, in comparison a wide angle is more complex, particularly for an SLR camera. Companies in the late 60's & early 70's didn't have todays computer power or modern glass types and aspherical elements.

    It was Vivitar with their Series 1 lenses who challenged the camera manufacturers with the first high quality 3rd party lenses.

    Ian

     
  15. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Rosey, our recollections don't agree. The girl in question was white and not very nice. If she'd been nice her sorority sisters would have sprung her instead of letting her spend a night in the tank.

    As I said, I met her some time after the riot and was neither impressed nor attracted. IIRC, while I was passing the time with one of my friends in the French department the girl, one of her students, walked into her office and began berating her. Dissastisfied student with poor manners and not much sense.

    I vividly remember the stations announcers telling all who would listen to avoid 15th & High at 3 pm on Friday. A riot was forecast, stay away. Irresponsible doesn't half cover them. Police cares and trackless trolleys were burnt ...

    15th & High. Long's College Bookstore.

    Ian, telephoto lenses look simple but aren't easy to make perform well. We've seen great advances since the mid-'60s in wide angle lenses for all formats; long focal length lenses for all formats, most of them telephotos; and in zoom lenses. All for the reasons you advanced. I tend to use old lenses, but modern long 'uns really are better. If good long lenses were easy to design, they'd not have improved as much since the mid-60s as they have.
     
  16. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Dan,

    You may be right about the girl at the root of the riot; she never appeared on the scene. However, the very reason that the issue hit home with restless students of the age was not that a girl had gotten a ticket, but that a black girl was allegedly ticketed and her white companion wasn't. Even if it was inaccurate.

    That seed of racism by police, whether factual or not, was what was spreading and riling up the students. Coupled with the radio reports that a riot was imminent, it was all they needed.
     
  17. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

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    Ian

    Don't forget that the BJP was primarily aimed at pros who would not be interested in budget gear reviews. The few budget lenses I tried (I didn't buy any) were rubbish. Come to that some of the Nikkors weren't so hot either. Indeed some still aren't...



    Richard