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Saturday, 2 January 2010

Sun Optical 28mm F/2.5 (£6.51 from ebay)


I like Sun lenses, they were one of the few companies to make their own lenses in a time when many of the popular brands were just distributors putting their name on other companies designs. The company started off some time soon after the second world war rising from the ashes of the K.O.L lens company. They initially made lenses for the Leica screw mount and one of the appealing qualities of their lenses is that they continued to make lenses that were aesthetically pleasing in a time when other brands were becoming a sea of dull blackness. The company appears to have ceased the production of 35mm lenses in the late 80's but the company still seems to exist as a manufacturer of industrial lenses, on their website they claim to have began operating in the late 80's but had a past in the 35mm lens industry so there is surely a connection but how deep or shallow it is I have no idea.

On to the lens

Sun lenses always seem to have some sort of quirk or gimmick, be it the styling of the lens or some kind of function that makes it distinctive in some way compared to rivals and that is why they appeal to me as a collector. The slightly unusual aspect is of course the F/2.5 maximum aperture as opposed to the more usual F/2.8

Build quality and finish

This 28mm lens is in fact one of their later and more sober looking lenses although it still has a funky logo on the lens cap. It's well put together which seems to be a consistent trait of sun lens but optically it's a mixed bag..........Also a consistent trait!


Image quality

The main problem when the lens is wide open is a tendency to produce bloom in areas of contrast which can make focusing a difficult task, when you are very close to critical focus the bloom appears and gives the impression of softness so the lens almost looks sharper when it is just outside of perfect focus, you have to go against your instincts because if you try to set the focus ring at a point where the blooming is absent you will get a soft image.

The sharpness wide open is not bad in the centre but poor at the edges, unfortunately the edges don't really come up to scratch until F/8-F/11 but I find myself using this aperture a lot with wider angle lenses anyway. The lens also makes a fairly good portrait lens on my Olympus E-410 where it has a 56mm equivalent focal length, in this situation I can use the lens wide open because the subject is more often than not at the centre of the frame.

Where this optics strengths lay are no doubt in the colour and contrast department, there is a very appealing warmth and enthusiasm to the colours this lens produces and the contrast is gives a decent pop that almost makes up for the lack or resolution at wider apertures.

The bokeh is interesting in that it is very smooth wide open but at smaller apertures has a strange almost ring shaped appearance on highlights, almost like a mirror lens. I like it personally but then again I like mirror lens bokeh so I'm a Judas in any case!

There follows some samples which can be clicked on to see a larger version.

This one was at F/2.5:

This one was taken at F/5.6:

This one is a stitch of two photos taken at F/5.6:

This one is F/5.6:


In conclusion I would have to say it's hard to recommended In general even if I am quite fond of it personally, it's optical performance is average and whilst it is strong in the colour and contrast departments it let's itself down in other areas. If I was not a fan of Sun lenses in general I would probably sell the lens on but there is just something about it that I cannot quite put my finger on. If you are in the market for a lens of this kind of spec and price I would recommend looking out for a Tokina RMC 28mm F/2.8 which is a class act in comparison and has much better edge performance and is acceptably sharp across the frame. Another option would be the Tamron adaptall 2 28mm F/2.5, it doesn't quite have the sharpness of the Tokina but it does have that same slightly faster maximum aperture as the sun lens but without the blooming.


Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey there,
I got my hands on a Sun lens. 28mm f2.5. Do you happen to know what mount it uses?

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