Third Party Lenses Resource Megasite Home Page
by Robert Monaghan


One of the Top Ten Myths of Photography is that lens brands matter a lot. A study of ultrawide 35mm lenses showed that the biggest difference was in your pocket-book. Third party ultrawide lenses were only a third the price of ultrawide OEM lenses!

Check out our Cult Classic Third Party Lenses page for our listings of the best third party lenses from Vivitar, Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, Kiron and others through the early 1990s. Our handy tables will help you figure out who made what brands of lenses too!

Our Wierd Third Party Lenses and Adapters page will amaze you with the odd-ball third party lenses such as T-mount fisheyes and telephoto shift lenses that nobody has tried to copy since!

Wondering who makes or imports all these third party lenses? So did we until we created this Who's Who in Third Party Lenses listing of manufacturers, importers, and distributors.

Want to know the Secret about which Lens Manufacturer is Really the Best? Care to guess how the cheapy Minolta MC 50mm f/1.4 and Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.4 did against the Leitz 50mm f/2 Summicron and classic Elmar 50mm f/3.5? (Surprise!) [Warning! Leica/Leitz fans - don't look!!!]

Planning on buying a some lenses? How much Quality do You Really Need? Unfortunately, you have to be very proactive and smart in using your lenses to beat the 50 lpmm barrier. Using the wrong lower resolution films can be more detrimental to your quality of results than switching from a high cost OEM lens to a lower cost no-name importer lens.

Don't forget to price OEM Lenses, as some older lenses and consumer grade lenses (e.g., Series E) may be good buys.

You can use a variety of tricks to get the optimum performance out of your camera and its third party lenses. We provide a page of tips on getting the maximum performance out of your lens by using the right films, lens hoods, and other tricks. Our Mirror Lockup page has some sharpness improving tricks and tips if you have that feature on your camera body(s).

So third party lenses can save you a lot of money. We can help save you more via our Buying Grey Market Photo Gear Direct to Save 40% to 60%. Check to see if you quality for a student discount. If you are looking for used lenses, we can also provide Jeff Albro's IMPACT! Used Photo Gear Pages with hundreds of dealers and classified ad sources. Be sure to read our caveat emptor articles too! You may even find your camera manuals online if you're lucky!

Another way you can reduce the financial pain of buying new or used lenses is by Turning Semipro. The tax advantages can provide tremendous savings if you turn your hobby into a part-time profession. Third party lenses also provide a low-cost way to provide Backups in Photography in case of theft. Professional insurance is also handy too!

Be sure to check out our Tips on Buying Third Party Lenses. But which lenses do you need? Find out in Lens Kit Suggestions. Our Alternative Camera Bags pages will help you save on camera bags too. Don't forget to double-check our list of camera bag contents so you don't forget anything on your next trip.

We have some unique listings of third party lenses at this site, viz.:

You can also check out our third party lens related postings and Third Party Lens Reviews in Popular Photography Index. You can also check Pop. Photo's OEM Lens reviews in a related resource page.

We believe that third party lenses offer a unique advantage over OEM lenses for the person who has multiple brands of cameras or who may change camera mounts someday. See our Interchangeable Mounts - Third Party Lens Advantage? page for details.

Our Camera Mount Adapter FAQ also covers the use of mechanical and optical adapters for letting you use one brand of lens on another brand of camera (e.g., Nikon lenses on a Pentax M42 camera). The history of interchangeable mounts is under Tamron on our Third Party Lens Manufacturers page. Usage of the T-mount, T2, Tx, and Tamron adaptall mounts is described here too. We also look at Obsolescence of Camera Mounts - Was it Avarice or Necessity?

If you have an older camera mount, you may benefit from Collecting Third Party Lenses for Fun and Profit. With the right mounts, you can use newer lenses on your old camera!

Interested in the history of camera prices? See Deja Vu for some amusing older prices and CPI tables. Our Economics of Third Party Lens Sales shows how third party lenses boomed in the mid-1970s, but it has been downhill since then. To understand why, read our Death Spiral of Serious Amateur Photography.

Our Lens Flare by Manufacturer, by %flare, and flare in zooms pages helps explain what lens flare is, and how bad it can get. Our Lens Recoating FAQ will explain why multi-coating older lenses is so expensive too.

Most third party lenses are prime lenses. Most of today's photographers are more familiar with zoom lenses. So we present a Prime Lenses versus Zooms page to highlight some of the benefits of prime lenses. Be sure to price the cost of filters for those fast lenses before you buy!

Learn more about Third Party Lenses - Design, Glass, and Quality Control issues. Third party lenses also offer a variety of Lens Diaphragms - Auto, Preset, Manual, Fixed.... You can find out more about Optical Glass Manufacturing too.

How good is your lens? To find out, read Lens Variations - Why You Have To Test Each One. Then see our Camera and Lens Testing pages with how-to-do-it lens testing tips. Before you clean that new lens, check out our lens cleaning tips pages.

If you do find dust in your lens, don't panic! See ourLens Faults Hierarchy for information on how to evaluate lens problems, and how bad are they anyway? If you need to get a lens or camera repaired, check our worldwide list of Independent Repair Shops. You can also check our Manufacturer's Addresses Listings to get factory direct repairs.

You can also find out more about MTF Charts and MTF use. We can help you pick the right film for your tests, based on film resolution.

A new section expands our coverage to Russian and Ukrainian lenses for both medium format and 35mm SLRs and rangefinders. Some of the more interesting rangefinder cameras and lenses are Leica clones. And who wouldn't be tempted by those low cost fisheye and ultrawide Peleng and Zenitar lenses from Russia and the Ukraine turning up on EBAY nowadays!

Believe it or not, but there were some third party 35mm lenses that were also used as Medium Format Third Party Lenses. In fact, many medium format folks resort to making their own Homebrew Lenses. The Bronica 6x6cm S2/EC had the most third party lenses for any medium format camera as shown on our Bronica Lenses listing. If you want to read more about medium format lenses, see the links at our medium format camera and lens library. But before you buy, our Budget Guide to Medium Format and Danny Gonzalez's Medium Format Camera and Lenses Reviews are must-reads!

If you wonder what your 400mm f/6.3 telephoto would be like on a different mount, we have a lens equivalency table for nine formats. Our calculator links can compute lens field of view or depth of field.

Our medium format megasite and Bronica 6x6cm megasite have more information too. Our links page has lots of unusual and interesting photo-page links. You can find some more photography articles and collected postings here too.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Big Brand Names Don't Guarantee Results
Build Quality Surprises; Can Cheaper be Better?
Cheapy Lentar & Soligor zooms scores many Excellents in Tests
Degradation Factors (Erwin Puts)
Different Brands - Same Q/C Statistics
Lack of Progress in Fixed Lenses since 1970s?
Mfgers Select Best Lenses for Magazine Testing
Nikon Kilobuck Zooms Q/C Glitches
Spiratone 18mm - Sigma or Tokina-made? f/3.2 or f/3.5?
Tale of 3 Telephotos (preset tele savings)
Variables in Chart Testing
Vivitar Series I from 1970s beats Newer Zooms?
Vivitar TX lenses Surprises

Related postings:

Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 
From: Martin Trautmann
To: Robert Monaghan>
Subject: Re: third party lenses

Robert Monaghan wrote:
> Wow! Nifty and massive effort ;-) I tried to convert to HTML using Excel 
> several times, but the sheer size of the conversion evidently locked up 
> Excel ;-) I have posted the database on the new medium format development 
> site at so the emailing worked, 
> just not enough memory on our campus lab pcs to convert it (yet ;-)...

That's a password protected area?

With your feedback I've added a first experimental version on : AFF.html AFZ.html MFF.html MFZ.html

I'll have to add some credits later on, while that's just plain data up to

How do you feel about this? What's your suggestions?

Kind regards

End of Page

Broken Links:
Third Pary Lens Incompatibility Pages (and known compatibility pages too!)
pages used to be here at before 2/2003 link check