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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)
Lens
Structure
(el/groups)
Close
Focus
(dist)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Ebay
Price
(USD)
Used
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor Wide-Auto 17mm f/3.5 M42; Fixed MF 11 / 8 0.22 m E72 56 x 80 mm 380 g 130-260 check
Soligor AF 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Fixed AF 13 / 11 0.50 m E77 82 x 70 mm 300 g 120-230 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 20mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 9 / 7 0.20 m E58 61 x 45 mm 230 g 160-330 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 21mm f/3.8 T4; M42; Fixed MF 9 / 8 0.35 m E72 75 x 60 mm 260 g 80-170 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 23mm f/3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 8 / 6 0.30 m E62 65 x 57 mm 250 g 40-80 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.5 IS; M42; Fixed MF 9 / 7 0.30 m E55 59 x 53 mm 260 g 70-130 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 9 / 7 0.25 m E52 56 x 44 mm 240 g 60-120 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 24mm f/2.8 T4 MF 8 / 7 0.45 m E67 70 x 69 mm 280 g 60-120 check
Soligor C/D 24-45mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 11 / 10 0.48 m E62 66 x 66 mm 400 g 80-170 check
Soligor 25mm f/2.8 T2/T4 MF 8 / 6 0.25 m E52 58 x 57 mm 225 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 28mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 8 / 7 0.22 m E58 62 x 63 mm 330 g 130-260 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.5 IS; M42; Fixed MF 8 / 7 0.30 m E52 62 x 41 mm 250 g 50-100 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 (E58) T2/T4 MF 7 / 6 0.28 m E58 61 x 55 mm 210 g 40-80 check
Soligor 28mm f/2.8 MC (E52) M42; Fixed MF 8 / 8 0.30 m E52 56 x 54 mm 210 g 40-80 check
Soligor C/D Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 6 / 6 0.21 m E49 62 x 42 mm 205 g 50-100 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E58) Fixed MF 7 / 6 0.45 m E58 61 x 60 mm 265 g 40-80 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 (E62) Fixed MF 7 / 6 0.45 m E62 65 x 55 mm 300 g 40-80 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 28mm f/2.8 EC (E55) Fixed MF 8 / 7 0.40 m E55 60 x 55 mm 210 g 40-80 check
Soligor C/D DualFocal 28/35mm f/3.5-3.8 Fixed MF 9 / 9 0.40 m E52 58 x 50 mm 260 g 80-170 check
Soligor C/D 35mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 8 / 7 0.29 m E58 63 x 51 mm 270 g 60-130 check
Soligor Wide 35mm f/2.8 T2 MF 6 / 5 0.50 m E46 52 x 45 mm 210 g 50-100 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E49) M42; Fixed MF 6 / 5 0.60 m E49 54 x 50 mm 215 g 50-100 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E52) M42 MF 6 / 5 0.30 m E52 57 x 50 mm 220 g 50-100 check
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 (E55) Fixed MF 6 / 5 0.50 m E55 60 x 53 mm 230 g 50-100 check
Standard Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(mf/af)
Lens
Structure
(el/groups)
Close
Focus
(dist)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Ebay
Price
(USD)
Used
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor C/D 24-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro Fixed MF 14 / 10 1.20 m E67 70 x 91 mm 585 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 28-50mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 10 / 10 0.90 m E52 60 x 50 mm 280 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 28-55mm f/3.3-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 8 / 8 0.60 m E55 61 x 53 mm 310 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 28-70mm f/2.8-4.2 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 11 / 10 0.50 m E72 74 x 86 mm 480 g 60-130 check
Soligor AF C/D 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Fixed AF 10 / 9 0.70 m E52 72 x 70 mm 420 g 30-60 check
Soligor S/M 28-70mm f/3.9-4.8 MC Macro Fixed MF 9 / 9 0.80 m E55 65 x 66 mm 330 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.3-4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 10 / 9 1.00 m E62 66 x 85 mm 510 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15 / 13 1.80 m E62 66 x 81 mm 500 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 28-80mm f/3.8-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 9 / 9 0.70 m E62 68 x 99 mm 415 g 100-190 check
Soligor AF 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Fixed AF 15 / 13 1.50 m E72 75 x 90 mm 440 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15 / 14 2.00 m E72 75 x 90 mm 460 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 28-135mm f/3.8-5.2 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 17 / 14 2.00 m E67 70 x 95 mm 540 g 50-100 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.3 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 18 / 16 2.50 m E72 74 x 108 mm 650 g 30-70 check
Soligor AF C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCS Fixed AF 18 / 16 3.00 m E72 74 x 110 mm 850 g 50-100 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 UMCS M42; Fixed MF 18 / 16 2.50 m E72 74 x 105 mm 750 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 28-200mm f/3.8-5.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 17 / 15 1.10 m E72 74 x 100 mm 550 g 30-70 check
Soligor AF C/D 28-210mm f/3.5-5.6 Fixed AF 14 / 12 1.90 m E72 75 x 107 mm 560 g 40-70 check
Soligor Auto 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 10 / 9 0.50 m E58 64 x 85 mm 450 g 30-60 check
Soligor S/M 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7 / 7 0.40 m E52 60 x 65 mm 350 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7 / 7 0.50 m E52 60 x 68 mm 350 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 35-80mm f/3.5-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 7 / 7 0.90 m E58 68 x 76 mm 345 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 35-105mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 11 1.50 m E72 74 x 110 mm 700 g 50-100 check
Soligor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 11 1.50 m E55 61 x 84 mm 550 g 30-60 check
Soligor Auto 35-140mm f/3.5 MC Macro IS; M42; Fixed MF 13 / 10 1.50 m E72 74 x 125 mm 800 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 35-140mm f/3.8-5.3 MC Macro Fixed MF 13 / 11 2.00 m E62 64 x 97 mm 550 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.5-4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 15 / 13 1.70 m E67 69 x 123 mm 650 g 50-100 check
Soligor C/D 35-200mm f/3.8-5.3 MC Macro Fixed MF 15 / 13 2.50 m E67 69 x 126 mm 625 g 50-100 check
Soligor 37-105mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 10 1.80 m E72 74 x 127 mm 700 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 45-150mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 11 1.50 m E67 69 x 140 mm 900 g 60-110 check
Soligor Auto 50mm f/1.8 M42 MF 6 / 5 0.45 m E52 57 x 43 mm 300 g 50-100 check
Soligor C/D 55mm f/2.8 (Macro 1:2) Fixed MF 5 / 4 0.06 m E62 66 x 80 mm 340 g 60-130 check
Tele-photo zooms Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(mf/af)
Lens
Structure
(el/groups)
Close
Focus
(dist)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Ebay
Price
(USD)
Used
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor Auto 55-135mm f/3.5 T2; T4; M42; Fixed MF 13 / 9 1.50 m E62 68 x 127 mm 708 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 60-300mm f/4.0-5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 9 1.50 m E67 70 x 116 mm 578 g 60-110 check
Soligor Auto 70-150mm f/3.5 MC Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.50 m E55 60 x 159 mm 505 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 70-150mm f/3.8 MC Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.50 m E49 54 x 119 mm 492 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 70-160mm f/3.5 Macro Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.50 m E55 66 x 142 mm 625 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 70-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 12 / 10 1.00 m E49 65 x 80 mm 425 g 30-60 check
Soligor 70-220mm f/3.5 MC M42; Fixed MF 15 / 12 1.50 m E72 77 x 184 mm 1370 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/3.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.50 m E67 74 x 165 mm 991 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12 / 9 2.00 m E58 66 x 131 mm 552 g 30-60 check
Soligor AF 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed AF 10 / 7 1.50 m E55 69 x 105 mm 420 g 40-70 check
Soligor C/D 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.00 m E49 74 x 175 mm 450 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 70-222mm f/3.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 9 1.80 m E67 74 x 197 mm 1200 g 30-60 check
Soligor Auto 70-235mm f/4.5 M42; Fixed MF 8 / 8 2.50 m E67 72 x 265 mm 800 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.5 M42; Fixed MF 13 / 9 2.00 m E62 65 x 162 mm 1100 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 75-205mm f/3.8-4.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.50 m E52 66 x 105 mm 510 g 30-50 check
Soligor C/D 75-250mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 13 / 10 2.50 m E62 67 x 175 mm 650 g 30-60 check
Soligor Auto 75-260mm f/4.5 T4; M42; Fixed MF 13 / 10 1.50 m E67 71 x 195 mm 1160 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 75-300mm f/5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 13 / 9 1.30 m E58 65 x 169 mm 740 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 78-210mm f/3.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 12 / 8 2.00 m E62 75 x 187 mm 912 g 60-120 check
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5 MC Macro Fixed MF 13 / 9 2.00 m E55 64 x 123 mm 521 g 30-50 check
Soligor C/D 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 MC Macro Fixed MF 10 / 8 2.00 m E55 64 x 128 mm 514 g 30-50 check
Soligor Auto 80-210mm f/3.8 M42; Fixed MF 14 / 9 2.00 m E62 70 x 180 mm 960 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 85-205mm f/3.8 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12 / 9 2.50 m E62 68 x 147 mm 850 g 30-70 check
Soligor 85-210mm f/3.8 MC M42; Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.70 m E62 67 x 160 mm 840 g 30-70 check
Soligor Auto 90-230mm f/4.5 T2, T4, M42, Fixed MF 11 / 7 2.50 m E58 62 x 207 mm 530 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 95-210mm f/4.5 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 12 / 9 1.80 m E52 64 x 126 mm 516 g 30-70 check
Soligor C/D 95-310mm f/5.6 MC Macro M42; Fixed MF 14 / 9 1.50 m E58 95 x 169 mm 635 g 30-60 check
Soligor 100-200mm f/5.6 T2 MF 7 / 5 3.00 m E55 61 x 190 mm 500 g 30-50 check
Soligor AF 100-300mm f/5.6-6.7 MC Fixed AF 10 / 7 1.50 m E55 60 x 173 mm 700 g 70-130 check
Soligor C/D 100-500mm f/5.6-7.5 Fixed MF 15 / 9 1.80 m E72 75 x 267 mm 1500 g 130-260 check
Soligor 120-600mm f/5.6-8 M42, Fixed MF 15 / 11 4.00 m E82 89 x 290 mm 2200 g 160-330 check
Soligor C/D 125-580mm f/5.6-8 Fixed MF 15 / 11 4.00 m E82 84 x 340 mm 2100 g 200-400 check
Soligor Auto 130-650mm f/5.6-7.5 Fixed MF 15 / 9 4.00 m E86 90 x 372 mm 2100 g 160-330 check
Soligor 180-400mm f/5.6 T2 MF 11 / 7 4.00 m E77 82 x 375 mm 1800 g 160-330 check
Soligor C/D 500-800mm f/8-12 Mirror Fixed MF 6 / 6 4.00 m rear 98 x 135 mm 1036 g 200-400 check
Tele-photo primes Camera
Mount
(type)
Focus
System
(mf/af)
Lens
Structure
(el/groups)
Close
Focus
(dist)
Filter
Type
(size)
Lens
Dimensions
(dia x len)
Lens
Weight
(net)
Ebay
Price
(USD)
Used
Offers
(ebay)
Soligor 85mm f/1.5 T2 MF 7 / 5 0.90 m E62 64 x 93 mm 510 g 200-400 check
Soligor Dual Focus 85mm/135mm f/4 Fixed MF 9 / 6 1.80 m E49 55 x 102 mm 380 g 30-60 check
Soligor C/D 90mm f/2.5 MC Macro (1:1) Fixed MF 6 / 5 0.35 m E62 67 x 84 mm 555 g 130-260 check
Soligor AF 100mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2) Fixed AF 5 / 4 0.43 m E49 60 x 70 mm 225 g 60-130 check
Soligor 135mm f/1.5 T2 MF 6 / 4 1.20 m E98 103 x 152 mm 2700 g $$$ check
Soligor C/D 135mm f/2.0 M42; Fixed MF 6 / 5 1.80 m E77 81 x 89 mm 760 g 200-400 check
Soligor 180mm f/3.5 T2 MF 4 / 4 2.30 m E58 60 x 120 mm 495 g 40-90 check
Soligor C/D 200mm f/2.8 M42; Fixed MF 6 / 4 2.20 m E77 79 x 128 mm 760 g 50-100 check
Soligor Tele-Auto 250mm f/4.5 M42; Fixed MF 4 / 4 4.50 m E62 67 x 195 mm 690 g 30-60 check
Soligor 300mm f/5.5 T4; M42; Fixed MF 5 / 4 6.00 m E62 68 x 164 mm 869 g 60-110 check
Soligor 350mm f/5.6 T2; T4 MF 4 / 2 5.00 m E67 72 x 248 mm 896 g 50-100 check
Soligor Telephoto 350mm f/5.6 T2; T4 MF 4 / 2 8.00 m E72 75 x 244 mm 932 g 50-100 check
Soligor 400mm f/5.6 M42; Fixed MF 4 / 4 5.00 m E72 78 x 239 mm 1000 g 50-100 check
Soligor 400mm f/6.3 T2 MF 4 / 4 6.50 m E67 78 x 310 mm 1015 g 50-100 check
Soligor Tele 400mm f/6.3 M42; Fixed MF 4 / 3 7.00 m E67 78 x 300 mm 1015 g 50-100 check
Soligor Tele-Auto 400mm f/6.3 MC M42; Fixed MF 4 / 3 7.60 m E72 81 x 300 mm 1010 g 50-100 check
Soligor 500mm f/8 Mirror T2 MF 4 / 4 10.00 m E77 84 x 120 mm 500 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 MC Mirror M42; Fixed MF 5 / 4 2.50 m E72 78 x 106 mm 356 g 60-130 check
Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 Mirror T2 MF 5 / 4 2.50 m E77 80 x 84 mm 534 g 60-130 check
Soligor 500mm f/8.8 Mirror T2 MF 8 / 5 2.50 m E67 70 x 90 mm 350 g 60-130 check
Soligor 600mm f/8 T2 MF 2 / 1 13.00 m E87 90 x 600 mm 4500 g 130-260 check
Soligor C/D 650mm f/8.5 Mirror T2 MF 7 / 6 2.00 m E88 95 x 116 mm 904 g 130-260 check
Soligor 800mm f/8 T2 MF 2 / 1 25.00 m no 90 x 800 mm 6000 g $$$ 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. 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.