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06-08-2013, 02:34 PM   #1
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Who actually makes lenses today (vs. slap on a badge)?

I have come across some brand names that seem to offer lenses for modern Pentax cameras.

Samyang
Sigma
Vivitar (still around? awesome!)
Rokinon

How many of these companies actually make their own branded lenses? Does Vivitar still have a factory grinding glass? Or, do they simply submit a spec sheet and ask someone like Sigma to make it for them but with a minor tweak? I imagine that Pentax makes a majority of their own lenses.

Thanks!

-=- Boris

06-08-2013, 02:40 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
I have come across some brand names that seem to offer lenses for modern Pentax cameras.

Samyang
Sigma
Vivitar (still around? awesome!)
Rokinon

How many of these companies actually make their own branded lenses? Does Vivitar still have a factory grinding glass? Or, do they simply submit a spec sheet and ask someone like Sigma to make it for them but with a minor tweak? I imagine that Pentax makes a majority of their own lenses.

Thanks!

-=- Boris
Sigma is its own company and makes lenses for a variety of mounts.

Samyang is a south korean company that makes lenses for a variety of mounts. They own the names of Bower, Rokinon, Polar and Vivitar and sell their glass under all of these names.
06-08-2013, 02:49 PM   #3
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Samyang can be bought under many names: the ones mentioned, and also Walimex, ProOptic, Falcon,.. and possibly others.
Its also kind of hard to say which factories make which lenses, because nowadays different factories make different parts. And then they get assembled and a badge gets put on them. Would be very interesting to see if someone can put together a comprehensive map, though.
06-08-2013, 02:55 PM   #4
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Vivitar no longer exists in its old incarnation -- now it is just a name. Bought by Sakar...

06-08-2013, 03:04 PM   #5
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Don't forget about Tamron!
06-08-2013, 03:24 PM   #6
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Of the brands you mentioned, I believe anything that says "Sigma" or "Samyang" is actually made by them. Anything that says "Vivitar" or "Rokinon" is made by someone else (often Samyang).

Pentax makes almost all of their own lenses, but they have one or two zooms that are actually made by Tamron. As far as I know, Tamron makes all of their own lenses.
06-08-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure the Pentax 12-24 is a Tokina design but don't know if it's actually assembled and everything by Tokina.
06-08-2013, 05:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Vivitar no longer exists in its old incarnation -- now it is just a name. Bought by Sakar...
The current incarnation isn't much different from the old, they just don't do their own designs at all anymore. A lot of the old Series 1 stuff was designed by Vivitar and made for them exclusively by another manufacturer like Kiron, Komine or Tokina. The lower end stuff was all just rebrands that were all sold under different names, I have a Bushnell and Super Lentar that are identical to what Vivitar sold.

06-08-2013, 06:06 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
The current incarnation isn't much different from the old, they just don't do their own designs at all anymore. A lot of the old Series 1 stuff was designed by Vivitar and made for them exclusively by another manufacturer like Kiron, Komine or Tokina. The lower end stuff was all just rebrands that were all sold under different names, I have a Bushnell and Super Lentar that are identical to what Vivitar sold.
I would say that's a huge difference. There is no Vivitar now, essentially. It is *only* a name that Sakar sticks on stuff at its pleasure.


But it used to be a real company. And when they were designing their own lenses:

A) Their designs were very good. One of the first to use computer design.

B) They used very high-quality manufacturers like those you mentioned.

It is true that before they were dismantled and the name sold they had slid downhill already (or else that wouldn't have happened), but their stuff from the 80s and earlier was solid...
06-08-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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I don't think Vivitar ever made anything, even back in the old days. They always were an importer, buying products from various manufacturers and selling them under the Vivitar name. Some of it was quite good and some mediocre. The Samyang lenses are getting some pretty good reviews but there is some cheap stuff coming from Asia labeled under some the the brands that sell rebadged Samyang that come from other sources. The Opteka brand comes to mind and also Phoenix. Some of it is from Samyang and some is from who knows where.
06-08-2013, 06:30 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
I don't think Vivitar ever made anything, even back in the old days. They always were an importer, buying products from various manufacturers and selling them under the Vivitar name. Some of it was quite good and some mediocre. The Samyang lenses are getting some pretty good reviews but there is some cheap stuff coming from Asia labeled under some the the brands that sell rebadged Samyang that come from other sources. The Opteka brand comes to mind and also Phoenix. Some of it is from Samyang and some is from who knows where.
Vivitar didn't manufacture, but they definitely did the lens design -- in the USA, no less. Then they contracted one of the Japanese makers to actually make them...
06-08-2013, 06:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by NitroDC Quote
I'm pretty sure the Pentax 12-24 is a Tokina design but don't know if it's actually assembled and everything by Tokina.

I believe the 12-24 was actually designed by Pentax and the German lens firm...Schneider. I recall reading something in a British magazine about this.
I have also heard that when Hoya took over Pentax...Hoya also owns Tokina and I believe some Pentax lenses became Tokina (Pentax) so Hoya could offer them with Canon and Nikon mounts.

However a lot of who makes what is speculation for as a previous poster stated...we need a road map.

Remember Pentax is an old Japanese (est. 1919) optical company and was originally known as Asahi Optical Company.
06-08-2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
It is true that before they were dismantled and the name sold they had slid downhill already (or else that wouldn't have happened), but their stuff from the 80s and earlier was solid...
I'm pretty sure the Vivitar that is identical to my Tokina made Bushnell 35mm and Super Lentar 21mm was pre-1990, maybe even pre-1980. Very few that they sold were their designs. A lot of the earliest stuff was just Tokina designs sold under Vivitar. A lot of really nice glass, but not Vivitar exclusive or Vivitar designs, they didn't design any of their own stuff until later in the game.

They did design all of their flashes for a while though, new stuff is either an old design or a Tumax design. Flash design is pretty easy though.
06-08-2013, 08:04 PM   #14
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Lensbaby also makes lenses for Pentax.
06-08-2013, 09:37 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
I would say that's a huge difference. There is no Vivitar now, essentially. It is *only* a name that Sakar sticks on stuff at its pleasure.
I agree. A little history lesson might be in order. The "old" Vivitar was a brand of Ponder and Best (a U.S. company dating to the 1930s) that was created in the early 1960s. Many different photographic products were sold under the Vivitar name including lenses and flashes.

Unlike some competitors, they did not shop for existing lens product and rebadge. Instead, they hired experienced optical designers and worked with various Japanese makers on the implementation and manufacturing of their designs. This was true from the earliest days. Vivitar was an early adaptor of computer-aided design and it was those designs that were the basis for the final product. This was a major marketing point back-in-the-day and resulted in consistently good and occasionally very fine optics. So, while a Komine-made Vivitar 28/2.8 is a fine lens, it was not a Komine product, per se. That does not mean that there was no "cross-fertilization" between Vivitar and its manufacturers. It just mean that a lens of similar appearance under say, the "Focal" name is unlikely to be the exact same lens made by Komine, but sold as Focal.

1969 Ad:




That was the "old" Vivitar. Vivitar was sold on the death of its founders and while products continued to be made, the business model changed and quality suffered. As noted by von Baloney, this happened after the company's high point in the 1970s and 1980s. Eventually (2008) the parent company's owners went broke and the Vivitar brand name was sold to Sakar. The current Vivitar-branded products have no relation to the historic brand.


Steve

FWIW...in the late '70s and early '80s, Vivitar was not exactly a bargain brand. When I was shopping for a 28mm K-mount lens in 1982, a Vivitar 28/2.8 like the one currently on my shelf was about $10 more than a Pentax-M 28/2.8. The lenses were not expensive, but they weren't the cheapest either.

Last edited by stevebrot; 06-08-2013 at 10:18 PM.
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