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Soligor Lens Compendium

Soligor was a photographic equipment supplier that was based in the US and Germany and is best known for its third party lenses. The term "Soligor" was originally used as a brand name of Allied Impex Corporation (AIC), a trading company that had been based on the US East Coast since 1938. In 1968, AIC established a subsidiary company in Germany that subsequently became a major camera, lens and accessory supplier until it filed for bankruptcy in 2011. The main period of Soligor's lens development and sales ranges from the end of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1990s. Most of the company's lenses are based on manual focus, but some autofocus lenses were also marketed, once that technology had taken hold.

The Soligor lens catalog is comprehensive, ranging from ultra wide-angles to super-telephoto lenses. In many cases, these third-party lenses represented a value proposition relative to OEM lens offerings by providing good optical quality at affordable prices. Yet, in a number of cases, Soligor also offered top-level specs, for example in the form of very fast prime lenses or zooms that featured constant aperture or unusual focal length ranges. Most lenses came with solid metal barrels, which gives them a reassuring heft when in use.

28mm wide-angle
Different versions of the Soligor 2.8/28mm[visualopsins]

Similar to some other photographic equipment supplier, such as Vivitar, Soligor concentrated on the marketing, while it commissioned its lenses from Japan-based producers. The company collaborated with a number of different optics manufacturers, and some lenses, such as the popular 28mm f/2.8, are available in slightly altered versions from several manufacturers. The identity of the producer (Kawanon, Kino, Komine, Sun Optical, Tamron, or Tokina) can be derived from the serial number on the lens.

Serial number information

Producer identification
Serial Number BeginningLens Manufacturer
1Tokina
2Sun Optical
3Sun Optical
4Sun Optical
6Komine
7Sun Optical
9Kino
AKomura
H37Kawanon
H4Kawanon
H5Komine
H6Komine
H7Tokina
TTamron
YKomura

The serial number on Soligor lenses makes it possible to derive the manufacturer of the lens, as well as the year of production. In particular, the first one to three characters identify the lens producer, the next digit the decade of production, followed by the year of production. For example, a lens whose serial number starts with "168" would have been produced by Tokina in 1968; and one with a serial number beginning with "H688" would have been manufactured by Komine in 1988.

Soligor lenses were produced for a number of different thread or bayonet mounts. Fixed mounts are available for all major camera brands, including Canon, Contax/Yashica, Konica AR, Minolta, Miranda, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax. Optics that attach to the camera via a T-mount adapter (called "T2-mount") do not support automatic diaphragm coupling, so that the lens does not automatically stop down the aperture when a shot is taken. Instead, these lenses have two aperture rings. One is used to "preset" the desired aperture, while the other serves to actually stop the lens down. In use, one would select the shooting aperture (for example, f/8) on the aperture ring, and then open the lens up with the second ring to enable focusing in a brighter viewfinder. Once focus is achieved, one would turn the second ring fully back, and thereby stop down to the preset aperture for taking the picture. Soligor's later T4-mount adapter made it possible to couple the diaphragm between camera and lens, so that the shooting aperture would automatically be transmitted to the lens and no presetting of the aperture would be required. Similarly, all Soligor lenses with M42 or fixed bayonet mounts support automatic diaphragm transmission between camera and lens.

Over time, Soligor released several distinctive lens series. The most prominent of these is the C/D line first released in the mid-1970s. While there is controversy whether the acronym stands for "computer designed" or "compact design", C/D lenses represented a premium line among the company's offer. However, even though the lens series contained some exceptional optics and very good performers, it did overall not achieve the consistently above-average quality that Vivitar, for example, attained with its "Series 1" lenses. Moreover, in the mid-1980s, the German subsidiary of AIC released several G/S-labeled lenses, which are part of the company's "Golden Series" and were manufactured by Sun Optical. These include the 2.5/24mm, 2.5/28mm, 2.5/135mm, 2.8/200mm, 4.5/300mm, 5.6/400mm, 3.5/35-140mm, 3.5/70-160mm, and the 3.5/70-222mm.

Soligor lenses were also sold under alternative brand names in different geographical markets. This alternative naming includes lenses branded as Aetna, Beroflex, Derek Gardner, Elicar, Flexar, Hanimar, Infotar, J.C. Penny, Mirage, Pallas, Porst, Prinzflex, Reflex, Super Carenar, and Weltblick. The only differences to the genuine optics are cosmetic and sometimes only involve the alteration of the inscription on the lens.

The main attraction of legacy manual focus lenses, like those from Soligor, is nowadays their rock-bottom pricing on the pre-owned market. Some physically very nice optics can be found for as low as $20 to $30. However, prices vary substantially and the price indication in the table below just provides a rough orientation. In any case, if you like to bargain-hunt and experiment in your photography with unusual gear, Soligor is a good place to start...

Headline Specifications of Soligor Lenses
Wideangle Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(MF/AF)
Elements/
Groups
(#/#)
Min
Focus
(m)
Front
Filter
(type)
Overall
Length
(mm)
Lens
Weight
(g)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor Wide-Auto 17mm f/3.5 M42; Fixed MF 11/8 0.22 E72 80.0 380 195 check
Soligor AF 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Fixed AF 13/11 0.50 E77 69.5 300 175 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 20mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 9/7 0.20 E58 45.0 230 245 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 21mm f/3.8 T4; M42; Fixed MF 9/8 0.35 E72 60.0 260 125 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 23mm f/3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 8/6 0.30 E62 .. .. 59 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 23mm f/3.8 M42; Fixed MF 8/6 0.30 E62 .. .. 59 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.5 IS; M42; Fixed MF 9/7 0.30 E55 .. .. 99 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 9/7 0.12 E52 .. .. 89 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8 T4 MF 8/7 0.45 E67 .. .. 89 check
Soligor C/D 24-45mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 11/10 0.48 E62 66.0 400 125 check
Soligor 25mm f/2.8 T2/T4 MF 8/6 0.25 E52 57.0 225 49 check
Soligor C/D 28mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 8/7 0.22 E58 .. 330 195 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.5 IS; M42; Fixed MF 8/7 0.30 E52 .. .. 75 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 (E58) T2/T4 MF 7/6 0.28 E58 .. .. 59 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 MC (E52) M42; Fixed MF 8/8 0.30 E52 .. .. 59 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 6/6 0.21 E49 42.0 205 75 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E58) Fixed MF 7/6 0.45 E58 60.0 265 59 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E62) Fixed MF 7/6 0.45 E62 55.0 300 59 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 EC (E55) Fixed MF 8/7 0.40 E55 .. .. 59 check
Soligor C/D DualFocal 28mm/35mm f/3.5-3.8 MC Fixed MF 9/9 0.40 E52 50.0 260 125 check
Soligor C/D 35mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 8/7 0.29 E58 51.0 270 95 check
Soligor Wide 35mm f/2.8 T2 MF 6/5 0.50 E46 45.0 .. 75 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E49) M42; Fixed MF 6/5 0.60 E49 .. .. 75 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E52) M42 MF 6/5 0.30 E52 .. .. 75 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E55) Fixed MF 6/5 0.50 E55 53.0 230 75 check
Standard Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(MF/AF)
Elements/
Groups
(#/#)
Min
Focus
(m)
Front
Filter
(type)
Overall
Length
(mm)
Lens
Weight
(g)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor C/D 24-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro Fixed MF 14/10 1.20 E67 .. .. 95 check
Soligor C/D 28-50mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 10/10 0.90 E52 .. .. 95 check
Soligor C/D 28-55mm f/3.3-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 8/8 0.60 E55 53.3 310 95 check
Soligor C/D 28-70mm f/2.8-4.2 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 11/10 0.50 E72 86.0 480 95 check
Soligor S/M 28-70mm f/3.9-4.8 MC Macro Fixed MF 9/9 0.34 E55 66.0 330 65 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.3-4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 10/9 0.24 E62 .. .. 49 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15/13 1.80 E62 81.3 500 49 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.8-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 9/9 0.70 E62 99.0 415 145 check
Soligor AF 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Fixed AF 15/13 1.50 E72 90.0 440 95 check
Soligor C/D 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15/14 2.00 E72 90.0 460 65 check
Soligor C/D 28-135mm f/3.8-5.2 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 17/14 2.00 E67 .. .. 75 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.3 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 18/16 2.50 E72 108.0 650 49 check
Soligor AF C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCS Fixed AF ../.. 3.00 E72 .. 850 75 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCS M42; Fixed MF 18/16 2.50 E72 .. .. 95 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.8-5.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 17/15 1.10 E72 .. .. 49 check
Soligor AF C/D 28-210mm f/3.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed AF 14/12 1.90 E72 107.0 560 55 check
Soligor Auto 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 10/9 0.50 E58 85.0 450 45 check
Soligor S/M 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7/7 0.40 E52 65.0 350 45 check
Soligor C/D 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7/7 0.50 E52 .. .. 45 check
Soligor C/D 35-80mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7/7 0.90 E58 76.0 345 45 check
Soligor C/D 35-105mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/11 1.50 E72 110.0 700 75 check
Soligor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/11 1.50 E55 .. .. 45 check
Soligor Auto 35-140mm f/3.5 MC Macro IS; M42; Fixed MF 13/10 1.50 E72 124.5 800 95 check
Soligor C/D 35-140mm f/3.8-5.3 MC Macro Fixed MF 13/11 2.00 E62 97.0 550 45 check
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15/13 1.70 E67 .. .. 75 check
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.8-5.3 MC Macro Fixed MF 15/13 2.50 E67 126.0 625 75 check
Soligor 37-105mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/10 1.80 E72 .. .. 95 check
Soligor C/D 45-150mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/11 1.50 E67 140.0 900 85 check
Soligor Auto 50mm f/1.8 M42 MF 6/5 0.45 E52 .. .. 75 check
Soligor C/D 55mm f/2.8 (Macro 1:2) Fixed MF 5/4 0.06 E62 80.0 340 95 check
Tele Primes Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(MF/AF)
Elements/
Groups
(#/#)
Min
Focus
(m)
Front
Filter
(type)
Overall
Length
(mm)
Lens
Weight
(g)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor 85mm f/1.5 T2 MF 7/5 0.90 E62 .. .. 299 check
Soligor Dual Focus 85mm/135mm f/4 Fixed MF 9/6 1.80 E49 102.0 380 45 check
Soligor C/D 90mm f/2.5 MC Macro (1:1) Fixed MF 6/5 0.35 E62 84.0 555 199 check
Soligor AF 100mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2) Fixed AF 5/4 0.43 E49 70.0 225 95 check
Soligor 135mm f/1.5 T2 MF 6/4 1.20 E98 .. 2700 $$$ check
Soligor C/D 135mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 6/5 1.80 E77 89.0 760 299 check
Soligor 180mm f/3.5 T2 MF 4/4 2.30 E58 120.0 495 65 check
Soligor C/D 200mm f/2.8 M42; Fixed MF 6/4 2.20 E77 128.0 760 75 check
Soligor Tele-Auto 250mm f/4.5 M42; Fixed MF 4/4 4.50 E62 .. 690 45 check
Soligor 300mm f/5.5 T4; M42; Fixed MF 5/4 6.00 E62 164.0 869 85 check
Soligor 350mm f/5.6 T2; T4 MF 4/2 5.00 E67 .. 896 75 check
Soligor Telephoto 350mm f/5.6 T2; T4 MF 4/2 8.00 E72 244.0 932 75 check
Soligor 400mm f/5.6 M42; Fixed MF 4/4 5.00 E72 239.0 1000 75 check
Soligor 400mm f/6.3 T2 MF 4/4 6.50 E67 310.0 1015 75 check
Soligor Tele 400mm f/6.3 M42; Fixed MF 4/3 7.00 E67 .. .. 75 check
Soligor Tele-Auto 400mm f/6.3 MC M42; Fixed MF 4/3 7.60 E72 300.0 1010 75 check
Soligor 500mm f/8 Mirror T2 MF 4/4 10.00 E77 .. .. 95 check
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MC Mirror M42; Fixed MF 5/4 2.50 E72 106.0 356 95 check
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 Mirror T2 MF 5/4 2.50 E77 84.0 534 95 check
Soligor 500mm f/8.8 Mirror T2 MF 8/5 2.50 E67 .. .. 95 check
Soligor 600mm f/8 T2 MF 2/1 13.00 E87 600.0 .. 199 check
Soligor C/D 650mm f/8.5 Mirror T2 MF 7/6 2.00 E88 116.0 904 199 check
Soligor 800mm f/8 T2 MF 2/1 25.00 - .. 6000 $$$ check
Tele Zooms Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(MF/AF)
Elements/
Groups
(#/#)
Min
Focus
(m)
Front
Filter
(type)
Overall
Length
(mm)
Lens
Weight
(g)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor Auto 55-135mm f/3.5 T2; T4; M42; Fixed MF 13/9 1.50 E62 127.0 708 95 check
Soligor C/D 60-300mm f/4.0-5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/9 1.50 E67 115.6 578 85 check
Soligor Auto 70-150mm f/3.5 MC Fixed MF 12/9 1.50 E55 .. 505 65 check
Soligor C/D 70-150mm f/3.8 MC Fixed MF 12/9 1.50 E49 .. 492 45 check
Soligor C/D 70-160mm f/3.5 Macro Fixed MF 12/9 1.50 E55 142.0 625 65 check
Soligor C/D 70-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 12/10 1.00 E49 79.5 425 45 check
Soligor 70-220mm f/3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 15/12 1.50 E72 .. 1370 95 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/3.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12/9 1.50 E67 165.0 991 65 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12/9 2.00 E58 130.8 552 45 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 12/9 1.00 E49 175.3 .. 45 check
Soligor C/D 70-222mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/9 1.80 E67 .. .. 45 check
Soligor Auto 70-235mm f/4.5 M42; Fixed MF 8/8 2.50 E67 .. .. 49 check
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.5 M42; Fixed MF 13/9 2.00 E62 .. .. 49 check
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.8-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12/9 1.50 E52 105.0 510 39 check
Soligor C/D 75-250mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 13/10 2.50 E62 175.0 650 45 check
Soligor Auto 75-260mm f/4.5 T4; M42; Fixed MF 13/10 1.50 E67 .. 1160 49 check
Soligor C/D 75-300mm f/5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13/9 1.30 E58 169.0 740 65 check
Soligor C/D 78-210mm f/3.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12/8 2.00 E62 187.0 912 90 check
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 13/9 2.00 E55 123.2 521 40 check
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 10/8 2.00 E55 128.0 514 40 check
Soligor Auto 80-210mm f/3.8 M42; Fixed MF 14/9 2.00 E62 180.0 960 49 check
Soligor C/D 85-205mm f/3.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12/9 2.50 E62 147.0 850 49 check
Soligor 85-210mm f/3.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 12/9 1.70 E62 .. .. 49 check
Soligor Auto 90-230mm f/4.5 T2, T4, M42, Fixed MF 11/7 2.50 E58 .. .. 49 check
Soligor C/D 95-210mm f/4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12/9 1.80 E52 125.7 516 49 check
Soligor C/D 95-310mm f/5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 14/9 1.50 E58 168.5 635 45 check
Soligor 100-200mm f/5.6 T2 MF 7/5 3.00 E55 .. .. 39 check
Soligor AF 100-300mm f/5.6-6.7 MC Fixed AF 10/.. 1.50 E55 .. .. 99 check
Soligor C/D 100-500mm f/5.6-7.5 Fixed MF 15/9 1.80 E72 .. .. 199 check
Soligor 120-600mm f/5.6-8 M42, Fixed MF 15/11 4.00 E82 .. .. 249 check
Soligor C/D 125-580mm f/5.6-8 Fixed MF 15/11 4.00 E82 .. .. 299 check
Soligor Auto 130-650mm f/5.6-7.5 Fixed MF 15/9 4.00 E86 .. .. 249 check
Soligor 180-400mm f/5.6 T2 MF 11/7 4.00 E77 .. .. 249 check
Soligor C/D 500-800mm f/8-12 Mirror Fixed MF 6/6 4.00 - 135.0 1036 299 check

Further Reading

For detailed Soligor lens reviews, there are unfortunately very few in-depth assessments available on the web. In the supertele category, you can find additional information on the 400mm f/5.6 and the different versions of the 400mm f/6.3 on this site. These lenses provide a solid entry into long telephoto photography at bargain prices. If you are looking for a marked step-up in optical quality in legacy manual focus lenses and are willing to spend a little more, you might also want to check out the Leica R-lens catalog, which contains some truly exceptional optics that can be adapted to and used with a variety of camera mounts.