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Soligor 400mm F6.3

Sharpness 
 7.7
Aberrations 
 6.7
Bokeh 
 7.7
Handling 
 7.3
Value 
 9.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
6 48,544 Tue February 3, 2015
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $40.00 8.17
Soligor 400mm F6.3

Soligor 400mm F6.3
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Soligor 400mm F6.3
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Soligor 400mm F6.3
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Soligor 400mm F6.3
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Description:
The Soligor brand sourced lenses from a range of manufacturers, meaning that there are different versions of the 400 f6.3 - confusing or interesting, depending on your point of view. Structurally and optically they are more similar than dissimilar: telescope type long barrel lenses, achromatic objective, tripod mount, hood (not Hxx.. tokina version), doublet/2 element rear group.
Interested enthusiasts on MF lenses have put together a code to id the maker of many of the Soligors. My chrome-eared (Soligor made a whole range with the "chrome-eared" design ) Soligor 400/6.3 is identifiable as a Kino made in 1969: 969xxx serial number. This is a tentative synopsis cribbed from relevant threads** (serial numbers beginning..):
1xx../Hxx.. = Tokina;
2xx../ 3xx.. /4xx.../7xx.. = Sun
6xx..= Komine; 8xx.. = ?
9xx.. = Kino;
Txx.. = Tamron;

Here are some specs for the versions with pics here. Online posts suggest there are at least 7 versions. All have F6.3 max F22 min aperture, tripod mount, 6.2 degree FoV (full frame). This review page primarily for the chrome eared versions, these are usually 9xxx serials, also KA-xxx serials, 2xxxx serials. The tokina made lenses have review pages under tokina-primes.

Other (non-soligor) 400/6.3 reviews here. However these lenses were sold under other marques (eg Spiratone) so if your lens looks identical to one of these you can park your review here.

The fixed mount and T4 mount 17xxxx serials are derived from the Tokina RMC 400mm f6.3's and can be reviewed on that page.
It's also clear that many of the early preset t-mount soligors like the Hxxx one in pic 2 are Tokyo Koki ie tokina.

Version: Tokina (Hxx..) pic 2 Kino (9xx..)* pic 1 Tokina Tele-Auto (1xx..) Tokina tele-auto (1xx..) pic 4 Sun Auto (3xx..) pic 3.
Optics: 4 elements/3 groups. 4 elements/2 groups 4 elements/3 groups 4 elements ? groups 4 elements/3 groups
Filter: 67mm67mm72mm 72mm 67mm
Aperture: 2 ring preset. 2 ring preset one ring + A-M switch 2 ring preset one ring + A-M switch
Iris: 13 blade. 13 blade 8 blades ?  
Focus: ~ 360 rotation ~360 rotation. ~ 300 deg rotation ? ?
Mount: T-mount T-mount T4 and fixed mount T-mount M42
CFD: ~ 8m/22'6.5m/22' 7.6m/25' ? 7m/23'
Length: ~ 38cm/15".~ 31cm/12.2" 29.5cm/ ~30cm/11.75" ?
Weight: ~ ? ~ 960g/34oz ~ 1kg/36oz ? ?
*I have also seen: an almost identical version but without chrome/ears, numbered 8xx.. with fixed Nikon mount; an identical lens serial KA163xxx..

**The big Soligor thread - mflenses. This page is also useful.
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:



Add Review of Soligor 400mm F6.3
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-6 of 6
New Member

Registered: August, 2014
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: February 3, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp, build quality
Cons: slow, very long
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony NEX 5R   

Quite impressed with this for the price (20) sharp enough, does suffer from aberrations in strong light and is very long but it is built solidly, very acceptable results even wide open. I think I have the kino version serial 9715031

A few shots

First one was taken hand held f11 1/160th iso 1600

Kingfisher by Caledonia84, on Flickr


Lunar 2 by Caledonia84, on Flickr

A few more I took today for comparison

Heron by Caledonia84, on Flickr

Cormorant by Caledonia84, on Flickr

Cormorant by Caledonia84, on Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2012
Location: North Wales
Posts: 1,428
Lens Review Date: May 1, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Swappable t-mount. Good hood. These "chrome eared" Soligors one of the classier of the 400/6.3's.
Cons: subject to the same limitations of the design and optics, and tend to be bested by tokina made 400mm f6.3's and tamron 400mm f6.9's.
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-r, Lumix G1   

Mine is the 9xx.. version pic above, reckoned to be of Kino Optical manufacture. Its a classier and weightier construction than the typical offbrand 400/6.3, and, IME on average, a bit better optically, specifically wide open. (update) However comparisons with both the tokina rmc 400mm and the earlier Tokyo Koki 400mm suggest that both of those models have superior resolution and are better for fringing too. Marked down a notch.

But apart from that I don't really have much more to say about this above what I have already said about 400/6.3's here.
And not as good as my Nestar so didn't keep it.

Sample pic of mansion from across the estuary (f11, buffed in Faststone, pentax K-r):



100% crop. Detail is good. PF was particularly evident on edges against sky, and is clear on the tree in this crop.



UPDATE: chapter 2

Identical looking chrome eared model but with KA.1xxxx serial. KA.zxxx serials have been attributed to KA. = Kyoei Acall. Distinctly softer, especially wide open.
   
Junior Member

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Victoria BC
Posts: 35
Lens Review Date: July 31, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $5.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Cheap, light and simple
Cons: Lost ability to focus to infinity.

I am pleased to have picked this lens up for a bargain. But was disappointed to see that the lens wouldn't focus at infinity. Although this is minor to me, because if the subject is farther than 200 feet away then this lens isn't bringing the subject that much closer. I would love to know if anyone has details on how to adjust for this, I am willing to try as I have fixed this on other lenses.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,056
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, light weight, easy to use, hand-holdable, IQ, tripod collar
Cons: Manual

I am rating this lens 10 without adding the words "for its price." This is an overall excellent lens that impressed me and surprised me. I just wanted to try to see what an unexpensive 400mm would look like and was positively surprised. I am shooting birds hand holding this lens. It also comes with a tripod collar. My lens is actually the: SPIRATONE - SHARPSHOOTER TELEPHOTO- 400mm f6.3 Filter size 72mm. I will be posting pictures as they came out of the camera soon. I am really impressed with this lens. I do not see any connector to the camera, so I am not yet sure how the metering is done. I just attached to the camera and started shooting. There is an aperture ring and there is another ring with the letters O - C that moves and moves the other aperture ring. I presume you have to focus with the first ring, then stop down with the other ring, that is how I am using it, but it is very easy to use. I love this lens. If I evaluated this lens based on the price I paid, I would give an 11.

This is an update after several days now.

I was reading about the preset aperture lens like this one. First, by setting a fix aperture, they were able to economize and provide a high quality glass, and the rest of the money to provide the well constructed tubings. The tripod collar is there not because the lens is heavy, but because it takes some time to use this lens. Meaning, you have focus at your set aperture, then stop it down with another ring, etc. Unbelievable, I can do that while shooting birds handheld.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 1,052
Lens Review Date: September 26, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Value for money, sharp enough, weight, cheap!
Cons: Slow, contrast not so great

I like this lense and have had (and still having) quite a bit of fun with it.

It does need a bit of attention to focus it , in order to get a fairly sharp image. So not so great for trying to capture moving wildlife! Not very sharp wide open (although not too bad either) but only needs to be stopped down a click (f8) to resolve this and f11 still pretty good. I find that I mostly use it on a tripod or at least on a monopod.

Apart from being slow, my only real complaint (for my copy anyway) is that contrast is not very high. I find the images definately benefit with a contrast boost during PP.

The following is basically a full crop shot (with only minor PP)...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwi_jono/4388966161/

Overall I rate the lense:
1. Image quality: 6.5
2. Mechanical: 7.5
3. Value for money: 9
So I would rate 7.5 overall - rounding up to 8.
   
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 29

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 5, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good IQ and bokeh, handles well
Cons: Huge, f/6.3, CA, not-so-close minimum focus
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I never wanted to buy one of the many 400mm f/6.3 lenses, but they are pretty common bits of people's 1970s kits, so I've gotten two as parts of lots that contained lenses I wanted. Thus, this lens didn't cost me anything per se, but I'll call it $15.

My Soligor is in excellent condition and the preset mechanism works very smoothly with a nice, circular, aperture. I don't know the optical formula, but it is probably very simple, because the weight is too modest for there to be a lot of glass inside. According to http://www.flickr.com/groups/soligor_mf/discuss/72157625238376083/, my lens was made by Tokina (H6 serial number). Image quality is quite good for a 400mm:



Frankly, I'm impressed. This lens is way better than I expected. It is easy to hand hold, doesn't weigh enough to rip the mount off your camera, and the preset aperture is a dream to use. In some ways, the images look better than from my 300mm f/4.0 SMC Takumar.



Looking more closely, I see more signs of a simple optical formula. One is a color shift upon stopping down -- a problem that seems particularly common among simple telephotos and Soligors in particular. More significantly, this lens has a CA problem.

CA isn't very obvious, but pixel-peeping reveals that it is there and quite severe wide open. It looks less bad than the 300mm Takumar, but CA is actually close to twice as large! Basically, the Tak's CA is sharp, obvious, and easily correctable by scaling color channels, whereas this Soligor's color fringes are somewhat blurry. It's a nice blur that on film would be less objectionable than what the 300mm Tak does, but I'm shooting digital....

Speaking of blur, this lens has pleasant bokeh at all aperture settings.

Close focus is lousy, but that's what tubes are for, and they work well with this lens.

In summary, extreme telephotos never produce flawless images. This lens does fine, arguably better than many more expensive lenses if you don't do post processing. The bokeh are particularly good, which draws a nice contrast between my f/6.3 500mm mirror lens and this. The mirror lens fits in a camera bag nicely and focus goes into the macro range, whereas this lens gives much better bokeh, can stop down to produce somewhat better images, and is actually easier to hand hold. Very different.

Overall, IQ is a solid 8 for such a telephoto, handling/construction are more like 8.5. Add an IQ point if you use film and never PP your photos.
Add Review of Soligor 400mm F6.3



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