rick_drawbridge Posted December 27, 2021 Share Posted December 27, 2021 Well, not until now, when it was offered to me for a pittance along with a few other odds and ends.It's a Sun System Zoom 135mm f/3.5, from the mid 1970's. In the 1950's the Japanese manufacturer Sun Optical was creating some very fine lenses for Leica and Exakta, amongst others, but as the years passed the company turned more to the mass consumer market and by the 1970's was concentrating on mid-range consumer zoom lenses. As well as producing lenses for distributors like Vivitar and Soligor, their lenses were marketed under a great variety of names as in-house brand for various big retailers, world wide. I've tried a fair selection of Sun-created lenses and found them to be pretty average, in most case, with the occasional stand-out and quite a few lemons. However, I was fascinated by the totally over-the-top appearance of this lens; the very well-informed luisalegria, writing a review in the MF Lenses Forum, puts it better than I can: "The 1970's line seems to have depended mainly on styling, and the 60-135 short zoom may be the ultimate in cheap bling. Satin chrome and an absurd number of knurled rings and switches, it looks like something that should have been launched into space with Apollo 13, or starred in Space:1999. It just screams that its owner is a particularly silly amateur with no taste, who probably wears his flowered shirt open to his navel to show off the medallion on his chest hair. Yes, I remember those days..." However, he goes on to observe that the build quality and performance is actually very good, an opinion that I'm happy to share. Here's another angle of the lens. It's a very heavy lens, in this case in M42 mount, a two-touch zoom that meets my preference in zoom action. All actions are smooth and well-damped, though the retractable hood on this copy is a little sloppy. The glass is pristine and has the sort of sparkling clarity that promises good definition and contrast. One odd feature is a sort of built-in flash exposure calculator, something I've not come across on a lens, though I'm at a loss to know quite how it works. On the underside of the lens are three ASA ratings and a rotating scale for setting flash guide numbers, and above and rotating with the aperture ring is another set of numbers which apparently indicate distance. How this all works I don't quite know, and perhaps some erudite member can resolve the issue. After relieving the lens of a few decades of filth and not expecting much in the way of great results, I did a quick test on a Sony A7R and was very surprised by the high quality of the results. I used it on a few botanical subjects, and the lens lived up to it's initial promise, so I attached it to a Fujica ST605n loaded with FP4 and took it downtown. I was delighted by the results; while the lens is very sharp from f/4.5 down it creates a real "filmic" image, with a certain smoothness and creaminess that's reminiscent of much older lenses. Anyway, here are a few samples, and I guess I'll just have to accept that one should "never judge a book by its cover". The film was developed in PMK Pyro and scanned on an Epson Perfection V800, and the colour images are from a Sony A7R. @ The Town Hall Park 4WD Agapanthus Change On Kitchener Asiatic Lily Five Bokeh 5 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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