Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spiratone 18mm f/3.5 Ultra-Wide Angle

Here is the lens I was ranting about in my first post. I have my little routine of checking out the local camera shops every so often to see whats come in to the used section. I wasnt actually in to shop, rather I was dropping off some equipment for an employer when he called to me! $100 later it was sitting on my passenger seat, patiently awaiting it's new home.

The Spiratone 18mm f/3.5 Wide Angle (Nikon AI mount). It is in excellent condition and even came with the original metal cap. (I actually photographed the logo on the cap to use it in the images.)

Here's what I know thus far. According to an article posted on Manual Focus Forum, from Modern Photography, 1979, this specific Spiratone model is actually a 17mm Tokina! Specs are as follows:

Spiratone 18mm f/3.5

Mounts: Canon, Konica, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax Bayonet, Praktica Screw thread, Minolta MD
Filter: 72mm
Apertures: f/3.5-16
Min. Focus Dist.: 8 in. (20cm)
Features: Multi-coating
Serial No.: 7800166
Size: 3 1/4 in. diam., 2 3/16 in. long (83 x 55mm)
Weight: 13 oz. (364 g)
Price: $179.95

In reading about this lens, I discovered some very surprising as well as exciting news:

Spiratone's famous bargain 18mm f/ 3.2 (later renamed f/3.5) was a Sigma-manufactured optic. This new 18mm is actually made by Tokina (manufactureres for Soligor and Vivitar, among others) and in truth is really the Tokina 17mm f/3.5. Does this mean you are getting a 1 mm wider angle bonus compared to the older lens? An actual measurements of the focal length revealed it to be 17.54mm. We then measured our old Sigma-made Spiratone 18mm f 13.5. It came to 18.14. Given the allowed ± 5% manufacturer's tolerance, either lens could be labeled a 17 or 18mm. However, the new Tokina Spiratone, when compared in actual picture taking (and through the viewfinder), does show more picture area. Why should Spiratone elect to label the lens as an 18mm when they just as legitimately could have called and promoted it as a 17mm? We judge that Spiratone's older 18mm Sigma-made lens was so highly successful in sales that the importer wished to maintain the continuity of aperture and focal length in the new lens. Our conclusion: Enjoy the bonus. (Modern Photography, 1979)

Similar lenses (and in the Tokina's case, the same lens): Sigma 18mm f/3.2 and f/3.5, Tokina 17mm f/3.5, Soligor 17mm f/3.5, Asanuma 17mm f/3.5

The forum in which I found much of this information is here. Message me if you would like the article found in Modern Photography as I cannot seem to locate where I downloaded it but do still have the PDF. **FOUND IT**


Modern Photography, 1979

I found the PDF origin, which I then converted to jpg and visually edited to emphasize the information pertaining to the Spiratone 18mm, bumped up the contrast for easier reading, and so forth. A gentleman by the name of Ed Sawyer put this article up on his site along with a number of scans made of lens reviews in older publications. Definitely check his site out, especially if you are looking for more info on another older lens.

All images on this site were taken by me, unless otherwise noted.

See my Ultra-wide comparison to see why this lens only costs $100 (and that's probably more due to its intrinsic/vintage value!)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I know this is a old blog post but you may know to answer on some of my questions. I saw this lens on a Antique shop and I had doubts about buying or not. I own a Nikon D5500 and I use some lens adapters for PK mounts or M42 old lenses. The one which I saw was like M42 but on the lens was written PE or just E, Spiratone 18mm and was yellowish the whole glass but in very good condition. If the price was lower I thought about taking it but they ask 68$. We are in 2017 and the ebay is full with such stuff. On this price there are alternatives to this lens? It`s worth it? Should I go with camera and give it a try? Thank you

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