Lenses

The Casual Collector

Lenses

They are why we chose the camera we chose, right?

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     It's the promise that comes with the initial acquisition. The ability to broaden your perspective, to reach out for a speck on the horizon, to magnify detail. If films are our palette, lenses are our brushes. What artist uses just one?

     Being neither an artist or resolution freak, the optical qualities of lenses are often lost on me. Get me the picture and endure the treatment I dole out, bokeh be darned! Being a "bottom feeder" collector, CHEAP appeals to me. Oddballs draw me in, too. Here, with no reason or rhyme, are some of the things I fill the gaping hole in front of my cameras with.


Gamma Terragon 35mm f-3.5

     Fascinating name on this one. "In standard orbit above Gamma Terragon, Captain Kirk"!

     Exakta mount with pre-set aperture control. Unusually compact for an SLR lens. Compare with the Canon 50/1.8 RF lens for size. I guess that this one dates back into the 1950s. Note that it focuses Nikon style, clockwise to infinity. The lenshood/ filter adapter probably retains series VI filters. 49mm filters screw into front thread of hood. 

     I have no idea who manufactured this lens. I bought it out of curiosity. I'll try it out on my Topcon sometime.

Gamma Terragon and hood/retainer. A very early Japanese third party SLR lens?

Compare size with Canon RF lens. Note opposite focusing directions. Potential clue to maker? Early Sigma lenses favored Nikon focus direction.

Exakta mount allows use on this "catalog camera".


Cimako 135mm f-2.8

     Cima Kogaku, a.k.a. Cimako and Cimko. One of the unsung soldiers of the SLR invasion. 

     Their lenses came into the U.S. wearing countless distributor and house brands. I am guessing, but I'll wager that many Hanimex, Chinon and Makinon 135s are this lens with cosmetic variations. This chunky little handful sports a Minolta SRT mount and takes 58mm filters.

     For me, this lens' main attraction was the manufacturer's name on the ring, rather than a distributor's. I am guessing it was originally purchased by a GI in Southeast Asia. I found it in a retail camera shop in New Hampshire wearing a $40 price tag. The rear element was dusty, screws were missing from the focus ring and it had been on the shelf far too long. The shop keeper looked at the lens, looked at my five dollar bill and shrugged. Two screws, a good cleaning and it's ready to make pictures. Now I have to fix the SRT!

 

135s are the photographic equivalent of the navel. Every photographer has (at least) one!

 


Kiron 28mm f-2.0

   

     During the 1970s, Kino Precision was one of several manufacturers making Vivitar brand lenses. By the late 70s, they chose to "come out of the closet" and sell high quality lenses under their own name. Kiron lenses were launched in 1980, positioned as a high quality, independently manufactured lens. Kino's advertising agency created some excellent ads. They stressed the lens' computer designed optics, quality materials, precision manufacturing and high tech lubricants. The ads worked. I bought the 80-200/4 zoom and 28/2 wide angle. It was the beginning of a "like, dislike" relationship.
     The Kiron lenses were rugged and smooth working. I found them plenty sharp. They fit right in with my Canon FD lenses, accepting 55mm filters. The 80-200 was compact and light, the 28 was bright and easy to focus. My enthusiasm was about to wane, though.
     The iris in the 28 quit working when the lens was about two years old. Kiron fixed it under warranty, no questions asked. By the late 80s it quit again, out of warranty! I put it away and bought a used Canon 28/3.5.
     I really liked the Kiron 28 and wanted it working again so off to the repair shop it went. A few weeks later I picked up the lens and resumed taking pictures. The iris quit again, immediately!! Well everyone has a bad day once in a while. The shop made good on it, no questions asked and it hasn't failed since. 
     About a year ago I bought another Kiron 28/2 at a very reasonable price. It came from an owner who has purchased three of them on the used market and had iris issues with each! I figured I could get it working without too much trouble. I was half right! I picked up two junkyard Kiron 28s to experiment on. 
     The Kiron iris unit is made like a sandwich. A two piece shell envelops the actuator disk and 6 aperture leaves. It is almost totally enclosed. Solvent that gets in does not run or blow out readily. Flood cleaning the assembled unit calls for a very diligent and careful blowing out or a fast evaporating solvent. The first time I tried cleaning one, it stopped working the next day!
     Kino's choice of lubricant haunts their reputation. I've had grease related issues with the 80-200 zoom too. Kirons are among the best aftermarket lenses ever made, becoming Cult Classics, but examine them closely before you buy.