100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Started Feb 13, 2017 | Discussions
Tons o Glass 0 Class
Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends
3

Introduction

I've found myself using a pre-serial-numbering sytem Auto Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 lens a lot lately. My copy isn't in the best of shape with some minor fungus etching on the optical surface near the aperture.  It has field curvature, some LoCa, fairly well-controlled LaCa, and can flare pretty badly, but there's still a lot to like (with or without a ZY LTII in the mix). It's probably not going to wow you in difficult lighting situations, but it has Character©.  It does pretty well on short extension tubes and is decent at infinity when stopped down.

It's a Sonnar-type lens consisting of 5 elements in 3 groups, with a 1.2m/4ft MFD, a run-of-the-mill six-bladed aperture, and magenta/yellow coatings.  Here's a rough sketch of what I saw while cleaning my Vivitar as well as a Miida variant:

Not accurate, just a general idea of curves/groups. In the cemented triplet, hard lines are what you see from the outside, while the grey line is how I think the "meat of the sandwich" was shaped.

In my search for information about the lens and for a sample in better condition, I'm left with more questions than answers as well as more choices. I can say that while one particularly branded lens of this focal length is fairly uncommon, I think identical optics can be found under several different names with similar build variations - all from the same era (1960s-1970s), all with similar serial numbers (1xxxxx, 6xxxxx, 7xxxxx, 408xxxxx). So it's not so uncommon afterall. Most of the serial numbers I've seen have been between 68xxxx and 72xxxx, but there are plenty outside that range.  It's seen in various mounts (M42, SR/MC, FL/FD, Exakta, Nikon F [pre-AI]). The Porst tends to be unreasonably expensive, while the others can go either way. The units without built-in hoods are especially compact (but they really need hoods). Brand/lens names include (but aren't limited to) the following:

  • Aragon (6xxxxx)
  • Avanar (7xxxxx)
  • Beriflex (6xxxxx)
  • Beroflex (6xxxxx)
  • Berolina (6xxxxx)
  • Chinonflex (6xxxxx)
  • Elicar (7xxxxx)
  • Hanimar (6xxxxx - built-in hood)
  • Hanimex (7xxxxx)
  • Miida (7xxxxx - built-in hood)
  • Pentor (7xxxxx)
  • Paragon (1xxxxx)
  • Photax-Paragon (1xxxxx)
  • Porst (7xxxxx)
  • Prinzflex (7xxxxx)
  • Revue (7xxxxx)
  • Rexatar (7xxxxx)
  • Soligor (7xxxxx)
  • Vivitar (7xxxxx, 408xxxx, 408xxxxx - built-in hood)

The three main exteriors - compact+black, compact+silver, built-in hood+steep name-ring.  Grips vary, lettering colors vary.

Who made it? That's a frustratingly difficult question to answer.  I'll probably never know, which bugs me way more than it should.  If every re-badger wanted to sell it, it must have been a decent lens for the price, right?  Sun is a strong possibility, but Tokina, Tomioka, and Mitake also came up in old threads (but were disputed for one reason or another - for example, a Chinon/Tomioka 100/2.8 [1xxxxx serial], while externally identical to a Porst 100/2.8, has a different rear element that is more recessed into the body).  So much of the information I could find was pure speculation - I could simply state that all 1XXXXX serials are Tomioka and the rest are Sun, but I'm trying to limit the amount of blanket statements and alternative facts in this post.

Whoever made it may be copying Topcor's 100mm f/2.8s or they made that lens, too (*gasp* apologies to Topcor fans for potential blasphemy). Maybe Topcon made all these re-branded ones :P. They have a strikingly similar optical design, the same minimum focus distance, similar dimensions, and share some build similarities as well (not to mention similar serial numbers). I've been wanting to find out for some time to satiate my curiosity, but that lens isn't easy to find cheap.  I can only assume the Topcor is built to higher standards.

What's it worth?

It's often over-valued.  With great performers from other/bigger brands at or near these specifications (at around $100 USD), one of these shouldn't be bought for anything more than $40-$60 in my opinion.  Good luck finding a Porst-branded one for that, though.

Tests/Samples

Below are some tests/samples involving my Vivitar and a newly-acquired Miida that has clean[er] glass but needs some TLC.

Bokeh test. Infinity is way off on the Miida (an easy fix that I'll get to soon), which helps account for the difference in bokeh-ball size between the two lenses. The Vivitar also shows some evidence of fungus etching (and perhaps some unfinished cleaning - doh!). The in-focus[sorta] portion shows some haloing on both lenses.

Miida wide open (w/ZY LT II) at its current minimum focus distance.

Some flare and veiling from the sun on the Miida (w/LT II as before).

Same setup as before, only stopped down to f/3.3 (? whatever is a half-stop between 2.8 and 4). Notably, my Vivitar doesn't have this half-stop. There are still some issues but "the rainbowy stuff" has been eliminated.  I saw a rainbowy shiny metal ring just below the aperture while I was working on it, which could be responsible for that stuff.

Vivitar (w/ZY LTII) wide open.

Same setup, stopped down (to f/5.6?). Different framing, sorry.

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walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

I have a possible "and friends" lens that i need to pick up from the post office.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/252745260886

Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

walter g1 wrote:

I have a possible "and friends" lens that i need to pick up from the post office.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/252745260886

Ah yes, there it is - an Aragon that the seller mis-labelled as a Paragon (not that it would have hurt his sale too much anyways). Nice win. I hope it's a keeper!

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ProfHankD
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 6,589
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Tons o Glass 0 Class wrote:

Tests/Samples

Below are some tests/samples involving my Vivitar and a newly-acquired Miida that has clean[er] glass but needs some TLC.

Bokeh test. Infinity is way off on the Miida (an easy fix that I'll get to soon), which helps account for the difference in bokeh-ball size between the two lenses. The Vivitar also shows some evidence of fungus etching (and perhaps some unfinished cleaning - doh!). The in-focus[sorta] portion shows some haloing on both lenses.

A bit suspicious that we don't see the same dust marks in corresponding positions in the off-axis OOF PSF. I think your point light sources aren't "pointy" enough.  The lenses look very clean (compared to eBay average) in any case....

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Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

One thing I neglected to mention was that these were taken on my focal reducer to help show what kind of shapes bokeh balls take near the edges.

I wasn't very careful about keeping the focal plane between shots or between lenses the same, but I can still see more similarities than differences.

Those four little LEDs were all I had aside from christmas lights, which were much bigger. Would pinholes through a black sheet of paper do the trick?

It looks to me like there's dust on the reducer as both lenses appear to have some of the same dust spots. Does the presence of the reducer help explain what we're seeing, or am I missing your point?

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SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 5,863
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Hello!

In line with early "Vivitar" history, my guess would be Tokina - do you have a few snaps of your very Vivitar?

I take it, this Soligor is not the model you are looking info on?

Interessanten Artikel bei eBay ansehen http://www.ebay.com/itm/142198054033

That one would be a 1975 Tokina made lens.

A "7" Soligor on the other hand would be a Sun Optical, so if the ones you saw were 7s, my guess would be Sun.

Best,

Alex

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Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

SiFu wrote:

Hello!

In line with early "Vivitar" history, my guess would be Tokina - do you have a few snaps of your very Vivitar?

I take it, this Soligor is not the model you are looking info on?

Interessanten Artikel bei eBay ansehen http://www.ebay.com/itm/142198054033

Hi there! Thanks, but you are correct in saying that's not the model I'm looking for. The Vivitar version of the lens I have looks just like this one (my serial is a little lower but still 408xxxx): http://item.ebay.com/400995904732

As I've said - I think this guy is asking too much. But to be fair, it looks to be in very nice shape if it looks that good in direct sunlight.

There is a later Vivitar 100/2.8 non-macro that is Tokina made with a 37xxxxxxx serial. It looks different inside and out and has a different optical formula: http://item.ebay.com/252763068552

That one would be a 1975 Tokina made lens.

A "7" Soligor on the other hand would be a Sun Optical, so if the ones you saw were 7s, my guess would be Sun.

Best,

Alex

All of the lenses I'm referring to in this thread are non-macros (however, I'd love to have a 90/2.5 / 100/2.8 / 105/2.8 macro). The Soligors I've seen in the same form factor as Vivitars have indeed had 7xxxxx serials. Thanks, I've heard that as well. Who knows.

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SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 5,863
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends
1

Hello!

Sorry, I did not realize you meant a non-macro.

I have found the serial number copendium for Soligor pretty handy for cross-vendor identification of makers:

https://www.apotelyt.com/photo-lens/soligor-catalog

Best,

Alex

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Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Thanks for the link! I hadn't yet seen it.

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walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

SiFu wrote:

Hello!

Sorry, I did not realize you meant a non-macro.

I have found the serial number copendium for Soligor pretty handy for cross-vendor identification of makers:

https://www.apotelyt.com/photo-lens/soligor-catalog

Best,

Alex

Alex, the Soligor chart on that link is not the lasted version, and has a mistake in it.

In 2010 on mflenses I started that chart to try to ID Soligor lenses. At that time their was no reliable ID for Soligor that I could find on the web. I had alot of help from many members to create it.

It was actually started in another thread, and kept their. I didn't want this chart posted until I was certain it was correct.

Soligor code 5 is still unknown. I haven't found enough lenses to ID it.

Soligor code 8 is Tokina.

Soligor code 9 was Sugested by another member as Kiron. I was able to find a Soligor 9 code lens and positively Id it as Kobori.

H code seems to be multiple makers, but they are very hard to ID.

T code is Tamron, but only if the T is at the beginning of the serial number. T at the end of the serial number is a different maker.

walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Tons o Glass 0 Class wrote:

walter g1 wrote:

I have a possible "and friends" lens that i need to pick up from the post office.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/252745260886

Ah yes, there it is - an Aragon that the seller mis-labelled as a Paragon (not that it would have hurt his sale too much anyways). Nice win. I hope it's a keeper!

Thanks, it's a keeper

I picked it up today. Who made it?

Serial number starting with 68.

Silver version. It has chrome rings around the grip like Chinon / Tomioka, but grip is different.

Aperture markings look  more like Tomioka, not like Sun.

Lens is sharper wide open then I would expect from Sun Optical. I have a small collection of their lenses.

The lens is in Minolta mount and even has a stop down lever with knurled ring.

SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 5,863
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Hello Walter!

Thanks for the info!

And even more so for all the hard work it must have been collecting the info!

Btw, I found that very site via google-searching "soligor serial numbers". Just curious, was it not you who put it up then?

Best,

Alex

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Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

walter g1 wrote:

Tons o Glass 0 Class wrote:

walter g1 wrote:

I have a possible "and friends" lens that i need to pick up from the post office.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/252745260886

Ah yes, there it is - an Aragon that the seller mis-labelled as a Paragon (not that it would have hurt his sale too much anyways). Nice win. I hope it's a keeper!

Thanks, it's a keeper

I picked it up today. Who made it?

Serial number starting with 68.

Silver version. It has chrome rings around the grip like Chinon / Tomioka, but grip is different.

Aperture markings look more like Tomioka, not like Sun.

Lens is sharper wide open then I would expect from Sun Optical. I have a small collection of their lenses.

The lens is in Minolta mount and even has a stop down lever with knurled ring.

I wish I could answer that for you! The serial number's in line with the other Aragons I've seen on the net.  I've also seen Aragons in Exakta mount.  There is such a thing as an Auto Chinon 100/2.8 by Tomioka.  It has a different optical formula (compare the rear element with any lens mentioned in my list), a different serial than your Aragon (1xxxxx) and some build differences, so I can't conclude that any of the lenses mentioned above were made by Tomioka just yet.

Some stuff definitely varies, though - focus direction, grip style, hood / no hood, matte paint vs. baffles, paint scheme (Soligors have a Minolta SR scheme) , etc.

If you could provide some mug shots of the lens (front, side, rear) it might help to see where your lens falls on the spectrum.  The rear element is the biggest indicator for me as to whether it's a Tomioka or whatever the lenses in my list are.  Image samples are welcome, too!

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walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

I will try to post mug shots of the lens tomorrow, but the lens looks like the silver Elicar pic you posted.

Also,

Their is a problem attributing 1×× serial numbers to Tomioka.

The Photax Paragon has a 1×× serial number but the aperture markings look like the ones used on Mitake lenses.

walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

SiFu wrote:

Hello Walter!

Thanks for the info!

And even more so for all the hard work it must have been collecting the info!

Btw, I found that very site via google-searching "soligor serial numbers". Just curious, was it not you who put it up then?

Best,

Alex

I'm not the one who put the site up. If you are interested in Soligor. This is the thread where the list was developed. The list still needs work. Their are more letter codes to add, Plus the Miranda Soligor codes.

http://forum.mflenses.com/soligor-12-8-f28mm-21and-versions-t30866.html

Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

walter g1 wrote:

I will try to post mug shots of the lens tomorrow, but the lens looks like the silver Elicar pic you posted.

Also,

Their is a problem attributing 1×× serial numbers to Tomioka.

The Photax Paragon has a 1×× serial number but the aperture markings look like the ones used on Mitake lenses.

It's entirely possible that the Paragon / Photax-Paragon lenses with their 1xxxxx serials aren't part of the same family as the rest of the lenses in my list. It appears more compact than the others. I was hesitant to include them due to the serial numbers alone, but then I saw the rear element. While the retaining ring is a different style, the rear element is concave and protrudes beyond the M42 threads just like the rest of the bunch.

Paragon and Photax-Paragon labeled 100/2.8s. Note the protruding concave rear element as well as the same minimum focus distance.

I do see what you're saying about the depth-of-field scales though (with the white "U" around the focus marker) as well as the text and overall form factor:

An Uni Automatic 35/2.8 from a Mitake-themed thread on mflenses . There's also a Photax-Paragon branded version of the very same lens.

http://forum.mflenses.com/the-story-of-mitake-t64648,highlight,+mitake.html

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walter g1 Contributing Member • Posts: 745
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Sooner or later I will have a 1xxx version to compare with my lens.

Sorry. Will be a few days before before I can get pics of my lens up. Doc gave me a Z-pac and prescription cough meds. The good news is I don't have the flu.

Also,

Thanks for starting this thread. I've been interested in these lenses for awhile, but hadn't researched them.

Belgarchi Senior Member • Posts: 1,601
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Just curious: according to your post, the IQ of this lens is average, and there are many light, inexpensive, excellent 100/2.8 made by other brands. Why are you spending so much time on this one?

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Tons o Glass 0 Class
OP Tons o Glass 0 Class Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends

Belgarchi wrote:

Just curious: according to your post, the IQ of this lens is average, and there are many light, inexpensive, excellent 100/2.8 made by other brands. Why are you spending so much time on this one?

I'm mainly driven by two things: I like the lens' output, and I dislike that there is so little information out there about any of these lenses - usually it's at most a few minutes from Google to whatyouneededtosee.com; not with any of these.  I'm trying to do something about that for anyone else that might be curious about these lenses when they pop up.

My sample images probably aren't enough to convince anyone the lens is any good - so I invite you to dig through some mflenses posts for other images. It might be time well spent.

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vivaldibow Contributing Member • Posts: 610
Re: 100/2.8 - Vivitar and Friends
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Tons o Glass 0 Class wrote:

Belgarchi wrote:

Just curious: according to your post, the IQ of this lens is average, and there are many light, inexpensive, excellent 100/2.8 made by other brands. Why are you spending so much time on this one?

I'm mainly driven by two things: I like the lens' output, and I dislike that there is so little information out there about any of these lenses - usually it's at most a few minutes from Google to whatyouneededtosee.com; not with any of these. I'm trying to do something about that for anyone else that might be curious about these lenses when they pop up.

My sample images probably aren't enough to convince anyone the lens is any good - so I invite you to dig through some mflenses posts for other images. It might be time well spent.

I feel the same thing. I started to collect these 100mm/105mm lenses not long time ago as their optical performance is really good due to simple construction, similar to that of regular 135mm lenses. Broadly speaking, the sea of rebanded Japanese lenses has submerged lots of lenses, good or not-so-good ones. Performance-wise, they may not be very interesting to a lot of people, but as part of the history (photography, photo equipment or even WWII), it is always interesting to find the right puzzle. Just my 2c.

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