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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, Kobori, Komine, Sun Optical, Tamron, or Tokina) can be derived from the serial number on the lens (Thanks to visualopsins, Lloydy, Kevin S. and other legacy lens experts for collecting and relaying this information).

Serial number information

The serial number on Soligor lenses makes it possible to derive the manufacturer of the lens, as well as the year of production.

Producer identification
Serial Number Beginning Lens Manufacturer
1Tokina
2Sun Optical
3Sun Optical
4Sun Optical
6Komine
7Sun Optical
8Tokina
9Kobori
AKomura
H37Kawanon
H4Kawanon
H5Komine
H6Komine
H7Tokina
KKowa
KAKyoei Acall
RItoh
TTamron

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...

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Soligor Lenses
#  Lens
Designation
Focus
System
(type)
Lens
Construction
(elmts/groups)
Close
Focus
(m)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Used
Price
(USD)
Current
Offers
(USD)
1
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 17mm f/3.5MF11 / 80.22E7256 x 80 mm380 g130-260i
2
 
Soligor AF 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 MCAF13 / 110.50E7782 x 70 mm300 g120-230i
3
 
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 20mm f/2.8 MCMF9 / 70.20E5861 x 45 mm230 g160-330i
4
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 21mm f/3.8MF9 / 80.35E7275 x 60 mm260 g80-170i
5
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 23mm f/3.5 MCMF8 / 60.30E6265 x 57 mm250 g40-80i
6
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.5MF9 / 70.30E5559 x 53 mm260 g70-130i
7
 
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8 MCMF9 / 70.25E5256 x 44 mm240 g60-120i
8
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8MF8 / 70.45E6770 x 69 mm280 g60-120i
9
 
Soligor C/D 24-45mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF11 / 100.48E6266 x 66 mm400 g80-170i
10
 
Soligor C/D 24-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC MacroMF14 / 101.20E6770 x 91 mm585 g60-130i
11
 
Soligor 25mm f/2.8MF8 / 60.25E5258 x 57 mm225 g30-70i
12
 
Soligor C/D 28mm f/2.0MF8 / 70.22E5862 x 63 mm330 g130-260i
13
 
Soligor 28mm f/2.5MF8 / 70.30E5262 x 41 mm250 g50-100i
14
 
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 (E58)MF7 / 60.28E5861 x 55 mm210 g40-80i
15
 
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 MC (E52)MF8 / 80.30E5256 x 54 mm210 g40-80i
16
 
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 MCMF6 / 60.21E4962 x 42 mm205 g50-100i
17
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E58)MF7 / 60.45E5861 x 60 mm265 g40-80i
18
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E62)MF7 / 60.45E6265 x 55 mm300 g40-80i
19
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 EC (E55)MF8 / 70.40E5560 x 55 mm210 g40-80i
20
 
Soligor C/D DualFocal 28/35mm f/3.5-3.8MF9 / 90.40E5258 x 50 mm260 g80-170i
21
 
Soligor C/D 28-50mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF10 / 100.90E5260 x 50 mm280 g60-130i
22
 
Soligor C/D 28-55mm f/3.3-4.5 MC MacroMF8 / 80.60E5561 x 53 mm310 g60-130i
23
 
Soligor C/D 28-70mm f/2.8-4.2 MC MacroMF11 / 100.50E7274 x 86 mm480 g60-130i
24
 
Soligor AF C/D 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 MacroAF10 / 90.70E5272 x 70 mm420 g30-60i
25
 
Soligor S/M 28-70mm f/3.9-4.8 MC MacroMF9 / 90.80E5565 x 66 mm330 g40-90i
26
 
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.3-4.5 MC MacroMF10 / 91.00E6266 x 85 mm510 g30-70i
27
 
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF15 / 131.80E6266 x 81 mm500 g30-70i
28
 
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.8-4.8 MC MacroMF9 / 90.70E6268 x 99 mm415 g100-190i
29
 
Soligor AF 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 MCAF15 / 131.50E7275 x 90 mm440 g60-130i
30
 
Soligor C/D 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF15 / 142.00E7275 x 90 mm460 g40-90i
31
 
Soligor C/D 28-135mm f/3.8-5.2 MC MacroMF17 / 142.00E6770 x 95 mm540 g50-100i
32
 
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.3 MC MacroMF18 / 162.50E7274 x 108 mm650 g30-70i
33
 
Soligor AF C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCSAF18 / 163.00E7274 x 110 mm850 g50-100i
34
 
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCSMF18 / 162.50E7274 x 105 mm750 g60-130i
35
 
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.8-5.5 MC MacroMF17 / 151.10E7274 x 100 mm550 g30-70i
36
 
Soligor AF C/D 28-210mm f/3.5-5.6AF14 / 121.90E7275 x 107 mm560 g40-70i
37
 
Soligor C/D 35mm f/2.0MF8 / 70.29E5863 x 51 mm270 g60-130i
38
 
Soligor Wide 35mm f/2.8MF6 / 50.50E4652 x 45 mm210 g50-100i
39
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E49)MF6 / 50.60E4954 x 50 mm215 g50-100i
40
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E52)MF6 / 50.30E5257 x 50 mm220 g50-100i
41
 
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E55)MF6 / 50.50E5560 x 53 mm230 g50-100i
42
 
Soligor Auto 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5 MCMF10 / 90.50E5864 x 85 mm450 g30-60i
43
 
Soligor S/M 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF7 / 70.40E5260 x 65 mm350 g30-60i
44
 
Soligor C/D 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC MacroMF7 / 70.50E5260 x 68 mm350 g30-60i
45
 
Soligor C/D 35-80mm f/3.5-4.8 MC MacroMF7 / 70.90E5868 x 76 mm345 g30-60i
46
 
Soligor C/D 35-105mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF13 / 111.50E7274 x 110 mm700 g50-100i
47
 
Soligor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF13 / 111.50E5561 x 84 mm550 g30-60i
48
 
Soligor Auto 35-140mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF13 / 101.50E7274 x 125 mm800 g60-130i
49
 
Soligor C/D 35-140mm f/3.8-5.3 MC MacroMF13 / 112.00E6264 x 97 mm550 g30-60i
50
 
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.5-4.5 MC MacroMF15 / 131.70E6769 x 123 mm650 g50-100i
51
 
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.8-5.3 MC MacroMF15 / 132.50E6769 x 126 mm625 g50-100i
52
 
Soligor 37-105mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF13 / 101.80E7274 x 127 mm700 g60-130i
53
 
Soligor C/D 45-150mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF13 / 111.50E6769 x 140 mm900 g60-110i
54
 
Soligor Auto 50mm f/1.8MF6 / 50.45E5257 x 43 mm300 g50-100i
55
 
Soligor C/D 55mm f/2.8 (Macro 1:2)MF5 / 40.06E6266 x 80 mm340 g60-130i
56
 
Soligor Auto 55-135mm f/3.5MF13 / 91.50E6268 x 127 mm708 g60-130i
57
 
Soligor C/D 60-300mm f/4.0-5.6 MC MacroMF13 / 91.50E6770 x 116 mm578 g60-110i
58
 
Soligor Auto 70-150mm f/3.5 MCMF12 / 91.50E5560 x 159 mm505 g40-90i
59
 
Soligor C/D 70-150mm f/3.8 MCMF12 / 91.50E4954 x 119 mm492 g30-60i
60
 
Soligor C/D 70-160mm f/3.5 MacroMF12 / 91.50E5566 x 142 mm625 g40-90i
61
 
Soligor C/D 70-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC MacroMF12 / 101.00E4965 x 80 mm425 g30-60i
62
 
Soligor 70-220mm f/3.5 MCMF15 / 121.50E7277 x 184 mm1,370 g60-130i
63
 
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF12 / 91.50E6774 x 165 mm991 g40-90i
64
 
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5 MC MacroMF12 / 92.00E5866 x 131 mm552 g30-60i
65
 
Soligor AF 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MC MacroAF10 / 71.50E5569 x 105 mm420 g40-70i
66
 
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MC MacroMF12 / 91.00E4974 x 175 mm450 g30-60i
67
 
Soligor C/D 70-222mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF13 / 91.80E6774 x 197 mm1,200 g30-60i
68
 
Soligor Auto 70-235mm f/4.5MF8 / 82.50E6772 x 265 mm800 g30-70i
69
 
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.5MF13 / 92.00E6265 x 162 mm1,100 g30-70i
70
 
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.8-4.8 MC MacroMF12 / 91.50E5266 x 105 mm510 g30-50i
71
 
Soligor C/D 75-250mm f/4.5 MC MacroMF13 / 102.50E6267 x 175 mm650 g30-60i
72
 
Soligor Auto 75-260mm f/4.5MF13 / 101.50E6771 x 195 mm1,160 g30-70i
73
 
Soligor C/D 75-300mm f/5.6 MC MacroMF13 / 91.30E5865 x 169 mm740 g40-90i
74
 
Soligor C/D 78-210mm f/3.5 MC MacroMF12 / 82.00E6275 x 187 mm912 g60-120i
75
 
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/3.5MF13 / 90.60E6268 x 170 mm970 g40-90i
76
 
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5 MC MacroMF13 / 92.00E5564 x 123 mm521 g30-50i
77
 
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC MacroMF10 / 82.00E5564 x 128 mm514 g30-50i
78
 
Soligor Auto 80-210mm f/3.8MF14 / 92.00E6270 x 180 mm960 g30-70i
79
 
Soligor 85mm f/1.5MF7 / 50.90E6264 x 93 mm510 g200-400i
80
 
Soligor Dual Focus 85mm/135mm f/4MF9 / 61.80E4955 x 102 mm380 g30-60i
81
 
Soligor C/D 85-205mm f/3.8 MC MacroMF12 / 92.50E6268 x 147 mm850 g30-70i
82
 
Soligor 85-210mm f/3.8 MCMF12 / 91.70E6267 x 160 mm840 g30-70i
83
 
Soligor C/D 90mm f/2.5 MC Macro (1:1)MF6 / 50.35E6267 x 84 mm555 g130-260i
84
 
Soligor Auto 90-230mm f/4.5MF11 / 72.50E5862 x 207 mm530 g30-70i
85
 
Soligor C/D 95-210mm f/4.5 MC MacroMF12 / 91.80E5264 x 126 mm516 g30-70i
86
 
Soligor C/D 95-310mm f/5.6 MC MacroMF14 / 91.50E5895 x 169 mm635 g30-60i
87
 
Soligor C/D 100mm f/2 AutoMF6 / 41.50E5867 x 67 mm375 g200-500i
88
 
Soligor AF 100mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2)AF5 / 40.43E4960 x 70 mm225 g60-130i
89
 
Soligor 100-200mm f/5.6MF7 / 53.00E5561 x 190 mm500 g30-50i
90
 
Soligor AF 100-300mm f/5.6-6.7 MCAF10 / 71.50E5560 x 173 mm700 g70-130i
91
 
Soligor C/D 100-500mm f/5.6-7.5MF15 / 91.80E7275 x 267 mm1,500 g130-260i
92
 
Soligor 120-600mm f/5.6-8MF15 / 114.00E8289 x 290 mm2,200 g160-330i
93
 
Soligor C/D 125-580mm f/5.6-8MF15 / 114.00E8284 x 340 mm2,100 g200-400i
94
 
Soligor Auto 130-650mm f/5.6-7.5MF15 / 94.00E8690 x 372 mm2,100 g160-330i
95
 
Soligor 135mm f/1.5MF6 / 41.20E98103 x 152 mm2,700 g$$$i
96
 
Soligor C/D 135mm f/2.0MF6 / 51.80E7781 x 89 mm760 g200-400i
97
 
Soligor 135 mm f/3.5MF6 / 51.50E4658 x 87 mm368 g20-40i
98
 
Soligor 135 mm f/3.5 Tele-AutoMF6 / 51.80E4960 x 96 mm385 g30-50i
99
 
Soligor 180mm f/3.5MF4 / 42.30E5860 x 120 mm495 g40-90i
100
 
Soligor 180-400mm f/5.6MF11 / 74.00E7782 x 375 mm1,800 g160-330i
101
 
Soligor C/D 200mm f/2.8MF6 / 42.20E7779 x 128 mm760 g50-100i
102
 
Soligor Tele-Auto 250mm f/4.5MF4 / 44.50E6267 x 195 mm690 g30-60i
103
 
Soligor 300mm f/5.5MF5 / 46.00E6268 x 164 mm869 g60-110i
104
 
Soligor 350mm f/5.6MF4 / 25.00E6772 x 248 mm896 g50-100i
105
 
Soligor Telephoto 350mm f/5.6MF4 / 28.00E7275 x 244 mm932 g50-100i
106
 
Soligor 400mm f/5.6MF4 / 45.00E7278 x 239 mm1,000 g50-100i
107
 
Soligor 400mm f/6.3MF4 / 46.50E6778 x 310 mm1,015 g50-100i
108
 
Soligor Tele 400mm f/6.3MF4 / 37.00E6778 x 300 mm1,015 g50-100i
109
 
Soligor Tele-Auto 400mm f/6.3 MCMF4 / 37.60E7281 x 300 mm1,010 g50-100i
110
 
Soligor 500mm f/8 MirrorMF4 / 410.00E7784 x 120 mm500 g60-130i
111
 
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MC MirrorMF5 / 42.50E7278 x 106 mm356 g60-130i
112
 
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MirrorMF5 / 42.50E7780 x 84 mm534 g60-130i
113
 
Soligor 500mm f/8.8 MirrorMF8 / 52.50E6770 x 90 mm350 g60-130i
114
 
Soligor C/D 500-800mm f/8-12 MirrorMF6 / 64.00rear98 x 135 mm1,036 g200-400i
115
 
Soligor 600mm f/8MF2 / 113.00E8790 x 600 mm4,500 g130-260i
116
 
Soligor C/D 650mm f/8.5 MirrorMF7 / 62.00E8895 x 116 mm904 g130-260i
117
 
Soligor 800mm f/8MF2 / 125.00n90 x 800 mm6,000 g$$$i

Further Reading

For detailed Soligor lens reviews, there are unfortunately very few in-depth assessments available on the web. In the super-tele 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. Comparable offers are also available from other third party lens suppliers, such as Tamron or Vivitar. 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.

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