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02-11-2017, 08:46 AM   #1
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Lens Manufacturer Quality

As commonly seems to be the case when I got an ME super it came with some other stuff, two of which are :

Miranda 28-70mm F3.5-4.8 MC Macro
Vivitar 80-200mm F4.5-5.6 MC Macro

From that era I don't recall these being brands one would aspire to owning but I may be confusing them with other brands so are they any good at all ? I won't be offended if not, I made the purchase for the body and the 50mm and these were just a bonus. I would assume Pentax, Tamron and Sigma to be OK but would be unsure about brands other than these you see.

02-11-2017, 08:52 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Some lens sold by Vivitar were alright. There are a couple 28mm primes of theirs that I would like to have. The user reviews here and elsewhere will help you figure out what you have. And, of course, your own results will tell the whole story.
02-11-2017, 08:55 AM - 1 Like   #3
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By the 1980s Miranda was just a brand name for cameras and lenses made by Cosina, maybe some others. 28-70 zooms were pretty much standard kit in the late 80s.

Vivitar was an American reseller of cameras and lenses made by various companies. They sold a variety of 80-200mm zooms. You can tell which company made the lens by the serial number.

Vivitar serial numbers - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia
02-11-2017, 09:06 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Some lens sold by Vivitar were alright. There are a couple 28mm primes of theirs that I would like to have. The user reviews here and elsewhere will help you figure out what you have. And, of course, your own results will tell the whole story.
May be worth giving them a go then and seeing what the are like, thanks !

---------- Post added 11-02-17 at 09:07 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
By the 1980s Miranda was just a brand name for cameras and lenses made by Cosina, maybe some others. 28-70 zooms were pretty much standard kit in the late 80s.

Vivitar was an American reseller of cameras and lenses made by various companies. They sold a variety of 80-200mm zooms. You can tell which company made the lens by the serial number.

Vivitar serial numbers - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia
Oh I see, Cosina was my first SLR with lens and was actually OK.

---------- Post added 11-02-17 at 09:16 ----------

Looked up the serial which starts 09 which indicates Cosina for the Vivitar as well.

02-11-2017, 09:16 AM - 1 Like   #5
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That 28-70 is not a bad lens - I got one free with a Cosina SLR a while back and have used it quite a bit on my film cameras.
02-11-2017, 02:46 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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It seems everything is subjective on this subject. Why ask us if you should keep these lenses or if they're any good? In my experience every manufacturer seem to have produced some gems and some dogs, and with the plethora of rebadging in the 60's,70. and 80's it's often difficult to track who made what lens. In an era of digital imaging its easy to test lenses. Clean them and put them on a camera and shoot with them! (assuming that the ME you bought is not your only camera) If you like the pictures or at least find them not technically flawed then keep them.You will find no end of threads extolling the virtues of a particular manufacturer or reseller you will find an equal number of threads railing against them, in the end only by shooting them and seeing if they can produce the kind of images you want will you know. I own many lenses in the pentax mounts some are "name" brands some are obscure and on more than one occasion I have been pleasantly surprised by shots I've gotten from these lenses. Don't get hung up on what they are, get hung up on what they do.It's one thing to do research if you're thinking about buying a lens but if you already have them in your hot little hands trust your own judgement after you use them...
02-11-2017, 03:37 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cardinal15 Quote
It seems everything is subjective on this subject. Why ask us if you should keep these lenses or if they're any good? In my experience every manufacturer seem to have produced some gems and some dogs, and with the plethora of rebadging in the 60's,70. and 80's it's often difficult to track who made what lens. In an era of digital imaging its easy to test lenses. Clean them and put them on a camera and shoot with them! (assuming that the ME you bought is not your only camera) If you like the pictures or at least find them not technically flawed then keep them.You will find no end of threads extolling the virtues of a particular manufacturer or reseller you will find an equal number of threads railing against them, in the end only by shooting them and seeing if they can produce the kind of images you want will you know. I own many lenses in the pentax mounts some are "name" brands some are obscure and on more than one occasion I have been pleasantly surprised by shots I've gotten from these lenses. Don't get hung up on what they are, get hung up on what they do.It's one thing to do research if you're thinking about buying a lens but if you already have them in your hot little hands trust your own judgement after you use them...
It's not so much whether I should keep them but as I am starting out again there will be many variables so just wanted a heads up about what to expect, but as you suggest it doesnt seem as simple as that anyway.

Are Pentax brand pretty much always OK ? I heard sometimes they use other manufacturers designs with their own glass but not a straight rebadge and only decent manufacturers.

---------- Post added 11-02-17 at 15:43 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Less a reseller than a design house that farmed out manufacturing to various (typically Japanese) contractors.

Many Vivitar lenses are actually quite high in quality, on par with their OEM peers.

Miranda was originally an OEM that made high-quality SLRs with their own mount and sold overseas through a licensing agreement with Soligor. Later, the brand was revived for downmarket Cosina-made lenses.

Just to illustrate that it's difficult to associate various "generic" manufacturers with quality or lack thereof, Cosina, in addition to having made many crappy generic lenses, is the current manufacturer of Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses in Japan now.
The 50mm that came with my Cosina CT-1a always seemed pretty good actually, I kept it for my P30n, although it was possible that on my budget I just didnt have anything decent to compare it to.

I remember buying the cheapest 80-200mm there was, it began with H, Hanimex proabably ? After a while it went wrong anyway, the diaphragm locked up if I remember correctly.
02-11-2017, 05:15 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frosty66 Quote
Are Pentax brand pretty much always OK ? I heard sometimes they use other manufacturers designs with their own glass but not a straight rebadge and only decent manufacturers.
The current rebadges are the D FA 15-30 (Tamron), D FA 24-70 (Tamron), DA 18-270 (Tamron) & DA 12-24 (Tokina).

In the past they rebadged the Tamron 28-200 & 18-250. They also rebadged the Cosina 100mm F3.5 Macro as the FA 100mm F3.5 Macro.

Tokina made several Pentax designs but never sold them in K-mount. These were the DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, DA 10-17 FE & D FA 100mm Macro.

The lens review database is a fairly reliable guide to what is good and what isn't in K-mount...

Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Pentax Lenses by Sigma, Tamron, Zeiss, and more - Reviews and Specification Database - Pentax Lens Review Database

And the Sample Archive...

Lens Sample Photo Archive - PentaxForums.com

02-11-2017, 07:43 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Back '80s when I was first getting into photography, Vivitar had a pretty good reputation, especially for their Series 1 lenses. I have a Vivitar 70-210 zoom for my 35mm Minolta cameras that is truly excellent. The only Vivitar lens I have in a Pentax mount is a Cosina-made 28mm f2.8. I wasn't all that fond of it at first, but the more I use it, the more it grows on me. It's really a matter of coming to understand its strengths and weaknesses and making the best use of what it does well. Since you already have the lenses, why not take them each for an extended test drive and see what there is to like about them. You just may be pleasantly surprised.
02-12-2017, 11:45 AM   #10
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I forgot to mention that Samsung sold Pentax lenses under the Xenon brand name. These are just rebadged Pentax DA lenses.

Samsung Lenses for Pentax: Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

Samsung Lenses for Pentax: Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
02-12-2017, 01:25 PM   #11
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I have 2 Cosina 50mm lenses, a F1.7 and a F2, a Cosina 35mm, a Cosina 135mm and a couple of zooms. All of them cheap if not all particularly cheerful.
Both 50mm lenses had problems with the aperture blades being slow or stuck and I added a bit of lubrication to the actuator mechanism to get them working well enough to try them. They didn't stack up as anything special unfortunately.
The 35mm F2.8 was not bad and the 135mm quite good. The two zooms were not bad either.
I bought them because they were cheap and I have a Rikenon 50mm F2 that I found surprisingly good (and cheap), so was hoping for more of the same.


So what I am saying after all that is don't disregard anything on the basis of "reputation", try them and see if you like them, preferably on digital so you can put them through their paces at no cost to you, then judge whether to use them or pass on. Some old film era lenses seem surprisingly good! I have a Tamron SP 60-300mm that I use (so have lent out my Tamron 70-300mm AF DI LD macro) as it seems to perform better than the Tamron and Sigma budget 70-300mm AF lenses.
I also have a Pentax-A 35-105mm that I prefer to my Pentax-F 35-70mm and 70-210mm zooms (along with the Tamron SP 60-300mm) and wish it were possible to get it and the Tamron in AF.
Old manual lenses can be very satisfying to use if budget lenses are what you can afford.
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