Panagor 28mm f/2.5 Vintage Lens Short Review

This lens was not made by Panagor, but by Kiron (it’s a brand name of Kino Precision Company) in mid seventies. You can also find the same lens branded as Vivitar. It is extremely well built. With its large front element, fancy lettering on the barrel, all metal and glass, black and silver construction it looks great on the Panasonic GH1, and that’s why I bought it. This simple review (more of a user report, actually) first appeared on my old website, but I think it is still perfectly valid as more and more people are discovering these old lenses, using them on digital mirrorless bodies with adapters.

Panagor 28mm f/2.5 – quite a beautiful-looking lens.
As you can see above the lens looks really good. It is a part of a series of automatic lenses that also consisted of 135mm f/2.8, 200mm f/3.5 and the 85-205mm f/3.8 zoom. You can learn about them in the official Panagor brochure that I photocopied for you.

Panagor brochure
brochure, zipped .pdf

The aperture is hexagonal, so we can’t expect too much out of the bokeh of this lens (the bokeh (jap) is the way the lens renders foreground and background blur – in general the more circular the aperture, the more blades it has, the more natural the bokeh). I like the fact that the aperture ring features half exposure value (EV) stops. The ring itself is broad and feels very precise. This lens accepts 67mm (often quite expensive) filters. The front element doesn’t rotate so you can happily use a circular polarizing filter. Most people will use this lens on cameras that are not “full frame”, in which case the lens will become more of a portrait lens, with the equivalent focal length of 56mm (on Four-Thirds cameras) or less (APS-C cameras). Here are the the official specs:
lens construction

Panagor 28mm f/2.5 specifications
Focal Length: 28mm
Construction: 8 elements 7 groups fully coated, color corrected
Aperture: F2.5 to F22 with half stops
Angle of View: 75°
Minimum Distance: 0.3 meter (12 inches)
Filter Size: 67mm Screw-in
Length: 60mm (approx., depending on mount)
Net. Weight: 340 grams (approx., depending on mount)

Panagor on the web

There isn’t much on the web about this lens, but the following links might prove of interest. Please note that my copy is in Olympus OM mount, known for being adaptable to almost any other photographic mount. Other system users sometimes need to disassemble the mounts of their lenses to make them work on their cameras.

Is it any good?

Unfortunately it’s not great. It is beautifully constructed and very robust and looks many times better than it performs optically on a Four-Thirds camera. It’s very soft up to f/4 and later on there’s nothing to write home about either. It’s not unusable – it all depends on the final size of prints you want to make with it. For everyday, web-related usage this lens is perfectly fine, but large prints will probably not look very sharp. One has to take into account, however, that the Four-Thirds sensor is the most demanding for any lens. Because the sensor is twice smaller than a 35mm sensor, the density of pixels is relatively high, and they gather light from the center portion of the light-field of the lens. It’s certain that on a full-frame body the lens would perform quite much better. The lens is a pleasure to handle, looks great and gives quite pleasing, natural colours. Contrast is quite neutral when stopped down. Just make sure to use at least an apperture of f/5.6 if you even think of doing enlargements. Read on to see the samples, and also a comparison of this lens with the the little Zuiko 28mm f/2.8.

My “quick and dirty” test scene

overview

I used my Panasonic GH1 to precisely set focus. I had a FL50 flash mounted on the hot shoe, bounced it off the ceiling and it was the only light source. Exposure was constant. After each image I closed the aperture by 1EV and compensated using the flash.

Panagor 28mm f/2.5 Zuiko 28mm f/2.8

sample

f/2.5, download .jpg

sample

f/2.8, download .jpg

sample

f/4, download .jpg

sample

f/4, download .jpg

sample

f/5.6, download .jpg

sample

f/5.6, download .jpg

sample

f/8, download .jpg

sample

f/8, download .jpg

Conclusion

As you can see from above samples, the Zuiko lens is blowing Panagor straight out of the water. It’s sharper wide open and stays sharper at all apertures. It is also about three times smaller and lighter. Is the Panagor worth buying? As long as you find one really inexpensive and like vintage glass – by all means. I don’t regret buying mine.

Author: Matt Jaskulski

I'm a student of the aging of human visual system and a photography enthusiast. At Emphoka I am responsible for the web design and also serve as editor and occasional author.

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