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Soligor 400mm f/6.3 super-tele

The Soligor 1:6.3/400mm is a manual-focus, third party telephoto lens that is available for different camera mounts. The lens was actually not produced by Soligor itself, but by a contract manufacturer. Identical or highly similar lenses with only minor cosmetic changes were sold under other brand names, such as Vivitar, Spiratone, Lentar, Tele-Astranar, and Cambron. Also, there are at least three different versions of the 6.3/400 available: (i) an earlier lens with a preset aperture mechanism that was manufactured by Kino Precision Industries in the late 1960s; (ii) a 1970s-optic with an automatic diaphragm, which was produced by Tokina (labelled "Tele-Auto"), and (iii) an automatic aperture lens produced by Sun Optical (labelled "Auto"). All versions feature a solid, all-metal construction, a rotating tripod mount, and a built-in, retractable lens hood.

The preset-version lens does not automatically stop down the aperture when a shot is taken, as its T2-mount does not transmit this information between camera and lens. Instead, it has two aperture rings. One is used to "preset" the aperture, and the other to actually stop the lens down. In use, one would set the aperture ring to the shooting aperture (for example, f/8), and then open the lens up with the second ring to enable focusing in a brighter viewfinder. Once focus is obtained, one would turn the ring fully back, and thereby stop down to the preset aperture for taking the picture. This preset mechanism makes it possible to set the aperture relatively quickly without having to count aperture clicks.

The 400mm super-teles are available for a large variety of SLR cameras. The preset-version of the 400mm f/6,3 can be attached to virtually any reflex camera with the help of an appropriate T2-mount adapter. The Tele-Auto and Auto versions were produced in the M42 screw mount, as well as in several SLR bayonet mounts.

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Specifications of the Soligor 400 mm f/6.3
#  Preset version Tele-Auto version Auto version
1
 
6.3 - 326.3 - 226.3 - 22
2
 
400400400
3
 
6.26.26.2
4
 
2.003.702.15
5
 
4/44/34/3
6
 
6.5m (22ft)7.6m (25ft)7.0m (23ft)
7
 
E67E72E67
8
 
310mm (12.2")300mm (11.75")300mm (11.75")
9
 
1015g (36oz)1010g (35.8oz)1015g (36oz)

As with any super-tele, good lens technique is essential for obtaining sharp images and the tripod ring on the Soligor makes it convenient to support the lens. Yet, while the 6.3/400 is a physically long and thin lens, it is not particularly heavy. Many users, thus, find it relatively easy to handhold the Soligor.

400mm packaging
Soligor 400mm in its box[ses0722]

The large minimum distance can at times be a nuisance and means that the lens is not particularly geared towards macro photography. Also, the relatively slow maximum aperture of f/6.3 turns the focusing of the lens with an optical viewfinder sometimes into a challenge. However, in terms of optical performance, users often find the legacy super-tele to be surprisingly good. The 400mm f/6.3 provides rich detail and contrast already wide open and sharpens up further if stopped down to f8 or f11. The lens also delivers a relatively pleasant bokeh.

Overall, the Soligor is a very viable alternative to legacy mirror lenses in the super-tele category. It is less compact, but optically superior. The 6,3/400 - similar to its successor, the Soligor 5.6/400mm - nowadays sells for rock-bottom prices on the used market and can be easily found on ebay for as little as 40-100 US Dollar (or Euro, Pound). Hence, one does not have to spend a fortune to get a decent tele prime.

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Super-Telephoto Options in the Soligor Catalog
#  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 300mm f/5.5MF5 / 46.00E6268 x 164 mm869 g60-110i
2
 
Soligor 350mm f/5.6MF4 / 25.00E6772 x 248 mm896 g50-100i
3
 
Soligor Telephoto 350mm f/5.6MF4 / 28.00E7275 x 244 mm932 g50-100i
4
 
Soligor 400mm f/5.6MF4 / 45.00E7278 x 239 mm1,000 g50-100i
5
 
Soligor 400mm f/6.3MF4 / 46.50E6778 x 310 mm1,015 g50-100i
6
 
Soligor Tele 400mm f/6.3MF4 / 37.00E6778 x 300 mm1,015 g50-100i
7
 
Soligor Tele-Auto 400mm f/6.3 MCMF4 / 37.60E7281 x 300 mm1,010 g50-100i
8
 
Soligor 500mm f/8 MirrorMF4 / 410.00E7784 x 120 mm500 g60-130i
9
 
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MC MirrorMF5 / 42.50E7278 x 106 mm356 g60-130i
10
 
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MirrorMF5 / 42.50E7780 x 84 mm534 g60-130i
11
 
Soligor 500mm f/8.8 MirrorMF8 / 52.50E6770 x 90 mm350 g60-130i
12
 
Soligor C/D 500-800mm f/8-12 MirrorMF6 / 64.00rear98 x 135 mm1,036 g200-400i
13
 
Soligor 600mm f/8MF2 / 113.00E8790 x 600 mm4,500 g130-260i
14
 
Soligor C/D 650mm f/8.5 MirrorMF7 / 62.00E8895 x 116 mm904 g130-260i
15
 
Soligor 800mm f/8MF2 / 125.00n90 x 800 mm6,000 g$$$i

Further Reading

The closest alternative to the 6.3/400 among Soligor lenses is the slightly faster Soligor 5.6/400mm. If you are willing to spend a little more and are seeking the very best in manual focus lenses, the lenses for the Leica R-system are superb and have been dropping in price since Leica discontinued its reflex camera line in 2009. It is a good time to shop for interesting legacy glass.

You are here Home  »  Soligor Lenses  »  Soligor 6.3/400mm

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