Just Another Old Lens...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. I seem to have accumulated about eight or nine ancient 200mm lenses, ranking from reputable Takumars and Rokkors down to more dubious brands such as Prinz-Galaxy and Raynox. Just for the fun of it, last week I fitted each of them to a Sony A7R and shot off a few frames, for the sake of making an informal comparison of their merits or otherwise. As usual, my expectations of the big brands trouncing the rest were confounded; the clear winner was an ancient Soligor f/4.5 preset lens, followed very closely by a very similar Prinz-Galaxy f/4.5. Both produced crisp and contrasty images with very few of the aberrations apparent in most of the others, especially in the realms of purple/cyan fringing that tends to plague these old lenses.

    Sadly, I have no idea who actually manufactured these two lenses, Soligor being an unknown quantity at the best of times, and the Prinz-Galaxy being a fairly generic creation marketed by the English Dixon's photographic stores. I grew quite enthusiastic about the Soligor and took it out for a walk on one of our rare fine afternoons, and I'll post some images below. I think I paid $15 for it several years ago, and it out-performs a couple of more modern lenses of around this focal length for which I paid many times that amount. But first, a pic of the lens mounted on a Praktica of about the same era.

    200mm Soligor f/4.5

    Praktica FX3 - 200mm Soligor f 4 5 copy.jpg

    Three O'Clock

    3 0 pm.jpg





    The Times-Age

    Times age.jpg

    Our Founder

    Our Founder.jpg



    Yet Another Autumn

    Yet another autumn.jpg

  2. Very nice, Rick. Thanks! I'm always happy to see another art deco building surviving. I love reading about these sort of "unsung hero" lenses, too, and it's always nice to see someone buck the tide of fanboy gushing over the "hero lenses". In this case, I could not find one single review of the Soligor 200mm f/4.5, anywhere on the net, and only one review of the Prinz-Galaxy, which was not very enthusiastic, rating it a 6 out of 10 for sharpness. This despite there being dozens of posts about the Soligor 80-200, possibly because Ken Rockwell posted about it on his site. (Whatever one's opinion of Mr Rockwell may be, he does undeniably have a major impact on the photographic community.)

    One of the sites that's often useful for reviews of lesser-reputed lenses is the Pentax Forums (www.pentaxforums.com), but not in this case. No reviews of either the Soligor or the Prinz-Galaxy. But, since you mentioned that they had bested a Takumar, I looked there to see what they thought of the 200mm Takumars. Of the three models listed for 35mm, the lowest score was just under 9 out of 10, overall; the best was 9.6 for sharpness! And, there are some stunning shots posted in the reviews of the f/3.5 Takumar, but how valid can a comparative rating be when you haven't included all the competition? Not very.
  3. Thanks, Dave. Yes, my observations are entirely unscientific, especially when it comes to "sharpness", but qualities such as contrast and chromatic aberrations are relatively easy to compare. Of course, the age and condition of the lenses may have caused them to degrade in performance from their original state. I just like to demonstrate what I have here!

    The Prinzgalaxy (or Prinz Galaxy) line of lenses intrigue me; in adition to the 200/4.5 I have a 135/3.5 and a 135/2.8, both in T-mount, and they are both beautiful lenses. Of course, as many writers have observed, it wasn't too difficult to create a decent 135mm lens, given the simplicity of construction, but these two are are a cut above the average. Apparently Stanley Kalms of Dixons used to travel to Japan to have models made for Dixon's range of cameras and lenses, and always used the name "Prinz" on these, but the trail seems to end there. To complicate matters, "Prinz" was also the house brand of Bass Cameras in Chicago, but there doesn't seem to be any connection between them and Dixons.

    I might repeat this excercise with the Prinz Galaxy lenses at a later date.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
  4. Just to be clear, I was not criticizing your methods when I talked about comparative ratings. I was referring to those on Pentax Forums, and other sites, that are based only on user experiences. Readers, unless they're frequent readers with good memories, don't know how many similar lenses any reviewer has used, and without knowing that it's impossible to judge the reviewer's credentials. Your credentials, on the other hand, are impeccable.

    I look forwarding to reading it. :)
  5. Always interesting to hear about comparisons among lenses (ranging from name brands to less known names). Sometimes an unknown may perform surprisingly well. I've always been impressed with how well so many of the 400mm f 6.3 preset lenses performed. Back in the 80's I borrowed a 400mm f 5.6 Soligor from stock at family camera store and compared it with my Seimar 400mm f 6.3 preset. Very close in performance as I recall.
  6. I have a Prinz slide projector, from the 1970's, all metal construction, well engineered, still functions beautifully (although some of the rubber washers on the sliding arm are perishing). Dixons existed in the UK until 2012.
  7. Rick, you seem to always get the best out of even seemingly "pedestrian" equipment. Thanks

    My personal experience has been that even among the 'bargain' telephotos of the era, optical quality, at least, was surprisingly good.
  8. Thanks you guys, now I want one!
  9. Beautiful shots, with interesting glass, as always!

    Any day with a new rick_drawbridge lens/pics post is a good day.
    rajmohan. likes this.
  10. Thanks! I'll do my best to keep the good days rolling...
  11. Thanks, JDM, most of my equipment is fairly "pedestrian", but I try to keep exercising it... I hope you can find one, Stuart, but they're not that common.
  12. Rick's town always looks better than mine.
  13. I know, right? I wish I had anything close to interesting near me.
  14. bradleycloven said:

    davecaz said:

    All the pics above were taken in Masterton, our nearest "big town". Last year it won the "New Zealands Most Beautiful City" award, an event that surprised almost everyone, including the residents of Masterton. Greytown, my local town, took out the "Most Beautiful Small Town" award, but that was a fair call. After all the images I've posted of Greytown you guys probably know the place as well as I do...
    rajmohan. and James Bryant like this.
  15. Maybe the judges saw your photos of Masterton. They certainly didn't award it that title based on the images I googled up. (The web really needs a garbage removal system!) I'm afraid to google Greytown. It might ruin my mental image of it.

    Out of curiosity, I checked the distance from Greytown to Masterton, to assess how lazy I'm being. According to google maps, it's 23km (14.6 miles), and it takes 23 minutes to travel from one to the other (I didn't specify where in each town). It takes me that long to get to the center of the next town over, and that's only 6.5 miles (~10km). Still, I am definitely being lazy, by comparison. I could just go downtown and do some shooting. That only takes 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic and how many red lights I hit. I guessing there are no stoplights between Greytown and Masterton. The joys of rural living.

    So, it's definitely partly laziness, but I think it's more that I don't feel inspired to shoot my local surroundings. I have done so, when it was with a group of other photographers, but the results haven't been terribly interesting to me. I think I need to try to see it through a different set of eyes, because I used to find it interesting. It's probably a case of being overly familiar with the are. But, you don't seem to suffer from that, Rick.
  16. Some of Dixons gear was pretty good some ........well not so hot. I think Dixons got a foothold in retail selling unknown brand equipment as a way round the old Recommended Price Index rules.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  17. davecaz said:
    Believe me, I struggle to find anything to photograph, these days. The stimulus is provided by using an interesting assortment of lenses and cameras, film and processes; without this I would probably have given up ages ago!
  18. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    Hmm... I'm VERY photogenic...
  19. I hear that! All these fun new/old toys have rekindled my interest. If only "golden hour" came at a more convenient time... like... noon. I can't drag my butt out of bed at 4:30am to be downtown when the sun rises at 5am, this time of year.

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