Adapted lens – Soligor 300mm f5.5
Soligor 300mm F5.5
Adapting a 1975 telephoto lens to digital
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As an avid collector of ‘old camera junk’ Keith Cooper often tries out old lenses on new cameras. We have an index page covering all of Keith’s old lens experiments dating back several years.
With the recent advent of full frame mirrorless cameras, it’s much easier to make use of adapters to fit old manual lenses, and use features such as focus peaking and exposure simulation in the viewfinder. These make it much easier to get well exposed and focused images from old lenses, with such features as manual aperture stopdown.
The lens here is a 300mm telephoto.
The Soligor 300mm f/5.5
This lens dates from 1975 and is a basic telephoto lens (5 elements 4 groups) with coated optics and an aperture range of f/5.5 to f/22. It weighs ~870g and focuses down to ~6 feet.
The lens takes a 62mm filter size and this one came with an M42 screw fit mount.
How do I know it’s from 1975? Well, the serial number (375xxx) tells me that it was made by Sun Optical in Japan in 1975 for sale under the Soligor brand [for a useful reference for Soligor see here]
Here’s the lens mounted on my EOS RP. There is an M42->EF adapter and an EF->RF adapter on the camera.
Two adapters… It’s worse than that, since the lens is a T mount with a different screw fit.
The lenses were sold with ‘built in’ adapters for a number of different mounts. This one has the M42 mount.
Here are the adapter parts, along with another T mount lens from my collection (a Hannimar 135/3.5)
The T mount screws into a ring which is attached to the M42 mount via the 3 grub screws.
I note that Fotodiox offer a range of T mount adapters for different systems, so you could tidy this up a lot if you wanted. Given that lenses with T mounts will often be avoided or go cheaply on eBay, this is worth knowing…
Using the lens
The lens requires manual stopdown. This means you set the aperture with one ring (click stops at half stop intervals) a second closer ring smoothly adjusts aperture between open and what you’ve set.
With focus peaking it’s very easy to focus with the EOS RP [see my RP review for more].
At full aperture, there is distinct vignetting, as you can see from this shot of a passing plane in the sky [click to enlarge images]
The vignetting is easily fixed in RAW processing, although with some shots you might not mind it.
This nearby tall building is having its cladding replaced, as has happened in quite a few locations in the UK.
Tidying up and straightening, the image looks quite clean
This view at around f/10 needed very little work, although I did use Topaz AI Sharpen to clean up slight lateral chromatic aberration and softness.
One area this lens (and many other older lenses) shows problems is longitudinal chromatic aberration, where colour fringing shows up before and after the plane of sharpest focus. A colour fringing reduction works quite well in processing RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw, whilst Sharpen AI works well on the kinds of softness you get with old lenses.
This view along the canal/river in Leicester looks quite clean, but has needed quite a bit of processing, being shot wide open. Quality improves a lot at f/11, but that hits exposure/ISO if like me you were shooting hand-held.
This screen shot (400% magnification) shows how much Sharpen AI can fix and why you might want to get out that tripod to avoid f/5.5 sometimes.
A lens I’d use?
I’m afraid not – my old EF70-200 F2.8L IS (from 2003) with a 1.4x mk3 extender gives ~100-280mm @f/4 with much better image quality and image stabilisation. Oh, and it’s got working autofocus as well…
Then again I’m unlikely to find a 70-200 for under £10 on eBay.
However, it’s fun to just go out and use a single lens for a bit.
This view in Leicester captures over 150 years of building, along a road that existed in Roman times…
All my old lens experiments
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