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There are Soligor-branded lenses for which I wish to identify the manufacturer. I have read that Soligor encoded the manufacturer in the serial number, so in principle, I just need to find a list of applicable manufacturer codes.

What are the manufacturer codes for lenses that have been rebranded Soligor?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is actually really important when shopping for used lenses, since Soligor rebranded lenses of manufacturers with wildly differing quality levels. It can also be helpful in finding rebranded, cheaper copies of brand name lenses. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2019 at 12:05

2 Answers 2

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Possible Soligor code system:

First number = Maker
Second number = Decade
Third number = Year

1 = Tokina
2 = Sun
3 = Sun
4 = Sun
5 = ??? (perhaps Samyang)
6 = Komine
7 = Sun
8 = Tokina
9 = Kobori
31 = ??? *
A = Komura #
H4 = Kawanon ? #
H5 = Komine #
H6 = Komine #
H7= Tokina #
H37 = Kawanon? #
M = ??? #
N = ??? #
R = ??? #
T = Tamron #

* Six digit lens date code unknown.
# Letter code lens date code unknown.

"H" prefix brands: Lentar / Focal / Soligor / Sun / Vemar

Soligor lenses were also branded and sold as: Reflex, Super Carenar, Prinzflex, Weltblick, Mirage, Infotar, Hanimar, Flexar, Elicar,Derek Gardenar, Porst and possibly Bushnell (Bausch & Lomb ), J.C. Penny, Pallas, Berroflex and Aetna.

References:

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    \$\begingroup\$ Tokina and Kino: You will want to buy the lens and do photography with it (unless you don't like old school Tokina colors). Sun: You don't want to buy the lens and you certainly do not want to photograph anything with it. Relevancy established. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2019 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rackandboneman Are Sun lenses really that bad? I find Komine lenses tend to be pretty good. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Nov 27, 2019 at 0:26
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On the list, Soligor lenses with serial numbers beginning with "M" are shown as "??? # Letter code lens date code unknown"

I think I have the answer for those wanting to know the manufacturer of Soligor lenses with serial numbers beginning with "M."

I found out by accident when browsing on eBay. I saw a Soligor 35mm f/2.8 lens with an M serial number, and thought it looked familiar. Sure enough, I looked at my own Soligor 28mm f/2.8, and cosmetically, it's near identical, even down to the same font. Except, my lens has a seven-digit 974xxxx serial without an "M".

According to the mflenses.com serial list, http://forum.mflenses.com/soligor-12-8-f28mm-eighteen-versions-t30866,start,113.html ... it was made by Kino Precision (Later known as Kiron and the maker of Vivitar Series 1 lenses).

However, I've seen other sites that don't distinguish between the number of digits in the serial number claiming it's made by Kobori.

Such as this one: https://www.apotelyt.com/camera-kit/soligor-catalog

In fact, externally, this 971xxxx 35mm f/3.5 also looks identical to my 28mm, and it's claimed to be a Kobori, too. https://www.ultravioletphotography.com/content/index.php?/topic/4468-soligor-35mm-f35/

So, take your pick: Kino or Kobori.

I have no idea why the M was added. Perhaps to identify a particular region or distributor? Regardless, the mystery is solved. More or less. ;-)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you provide photos of the lenses from the eBay listing and your collection, at least temporarily in comments so I can see if I recognize them? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Nov 19, 2022 at 9:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can view a photo comparison here. i.imgur.com/Q52lkmD.jpg The two on the left are "M" 6-digit 35mm f/2.8 Soligor lenses. The one on the right is my 7-digit (no "M") Soligor 28mm f/2.8 lens. All appear virtually identical cosmetically. Only the distance scale colors and some fonts are different. In my opinion, these lenses are all made by the same manufacturer. While the mflenses list suggests it's a Kino lens, the other sites suggest Kobori. Due to the evidence, I lean towards Kobori. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom Freda
    Nov 20, 2022 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The speculated coding is unreliable because Soligor wasn't consistent with their coding. They may even not have had a system. How many blades and what shape do the aperture in those lenses make when stopped down? Tokina made a bunch of 28mm and 35mm lenses with an unusual star-shaped aperture. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Nov 20, 2022 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have also have a Soligor 28mm made by Tokina. It's a bigger lens, takes 58mm filters instead of 52mm, and has 8 aperture blades. The 35mm "M" examples above all take 52mm filters, have 6-blades and have other physical other similarities with my 28mm that simply can't be coincidence. There's no doubt they come from the same factory. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom Freda
    Nov 21, 2022 at 5:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tokina has made a lot of lenses of various sizes under different labels. The particular lenses I refer to are distinctive for their aperture. They put the same optical block in different housings. I'm reasonably sure the lenses in your photo are made by Tokina. The way to confirm would be to look at the aperture shape. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Nov 21, 2022 at 11:23

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