Vivitar Serial Numbers

An m42 (Praktica) mount Vivitar 28mm – made by Kiron
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / TAG Photography)

Users of 1970s era Vivitar lenses are usually aware that Vivitar did not manufacture their own lenses. has provided a list of the actual manufacturers as discerned by the first two digits of the lens serial number. Camera-wiki offers your basic CYA disclaimer so that none dare call the list gospel. Nonetheless, its utility is obvious. I regularly use a Vivitar wide angle (an M42 mount 28mm) that is prefixed with the number 22. The fact that this lens was made by Kino/Kiron explains why the optics are so impressive.

Vivitar Serial Number Prefix Codes
09 (or 9) Cosina Company, Ltd.
13 Schneider Kreuznach
22 Kino Precision
25 Ozone Optical Co., Ltd.
28 Komine
32 Makina Optical Co., Ltd
33 Asanuma & Co., Ltd
37 Tokina Optical Company, Ltd
42 Bauer
44 Perkin-Elmer
47 Chinon Industries, Inc.
51 Tokyo Trading
56 Kyoei Shoji Company, Ltd.
61 Samyang Optics Co., Ltd
75 Hoya Corporation
77 Kobori Mfg Co. Ltd
81 Polar

Carl Zeiss (aus) Jena

A Praktica MTL3 (35mm) SLR with a Carl Zeiss Jena DDR lens.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / TAG Photography)

Carl Zeiss (aus) Jena Lenses

[NOTE: This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. To see the original article and access additional information on the Pentacon Six visit Although the article focuses on the Medium Format Pentacon Six, the lenses described were also produced, at the same two factories, for other Pentacon products, including the Praktica SLR favored by Thomas Altfather Good. — Editor]

I have a chance to buy a lens marked “aus Jena” —
Is it a genuine Carl Zeiss lens?
by Trevor “The Pentacon Six Man

In a word, “YES”.

After the Second World War, the Carl Zeiss factory in Jena recommenced production, making over the next 45 + years many of the wonderful lenses described elsewhere on this website.

When the war ended in 1945, the town of Jena in eastern Germany, home of the Carl Zeiss company, was behind American lines.  However, in accord with the then-secret Yalta agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, Jena was to be in the Soviet sector of Germany, so — to the surprise and concern of the local Germans, who particularly feared the Russians — the Americans withdrew to the west, letting the Russians come into the area.

As the Americans moved west, they took (stole) some German technology (they called it “liberating” it) and encouraged or persuaded some highly-qualified Germans to go with them. Some of the Germans concerned needed little encouragement. Some others refused to go.

So it was that some staff from the Carl Zeiss lens factory in Jena moved west with the Americans. They set up a new factory in South West Germany, in a village called Oberkochen.
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Digital Micro Done Dirt Cheap

My 1967 Nikon F uses a T series viewfinder, making this camera a “Nikon F Photomic T.”

The lens I use with it is a 1969 Micro-Nikkor-P Auto 55mm f3.5. But this lens can also be used for digital.

Here’s how:

Find an “entry level” Nikon D-SLR. When the D40 came out in November, 2006 it was the first D-SLR without an auto-focus motor in the body. Nikon did this to make the camera available for $499 – and perhaps to get you to buy new lenses as the camera only auto-focuses with lenses that possess an AF motor in the lens barrel. Nonetheless the D40 was a very popular camera and remains my workhorse. Its illegitimate offspring, the D40x, also is a gem. Why? No AF motor in the body means no electrical contacts in the F mount. The mount is far less busy than the more expensive Nikons. And, more importantly, it means the super cheap D40 (and its descendents) can use almost any lens Nikon ever made (see for a lens compatibility chart).

The Micro-Nikkor-P (and P-C – better coating) Non-AI lens is available on eBay for $90-$100. It’s a 55mm lens that is very slow (f3.5) but very crisp (especially at f32). It is a great chunk of glass and a real bargain.

To use the Micro-Nikkor on a D40 (etc.), set the mode dial to manual and bracket your shots to find the right exposure. There is no auto anything when you use a rabbit-ear lens on a D-SLR. Not unlike using an F with a prism. Except that you see the results immediately. And they are impressive. I typically focus (on still lifes) at about 8 inches from the subject and set my ISO to 400 to emulate film. These settings work well for my purposes. The one problem is DOF.

Micro photography can be tricky where Depth of Field is concerned. But the D40 has an answer. The popup flash must be set to manual mode via the D40 menuing system (it’s in Custom) but once you do this you can either experiment with the amount of power supplied to the flash (from FULL to 1/32 in half steps) or do what I do…I set my f/stop to f32 and set the flash to Full Power. I shoot at either 1/125 or 1/160 in a well lit room and things work pretty well. Except for the harsh light from the strobe working at full power. But there is a solution.

I use a homemade diffuser on my D40/x strobe. I made it by cutting a 1/2 inch strip out of the barrel of a translucent film canister (Kodak and CVS – made by Fuji – both work well). Slide the film canister over the popup flash and you have a nice, crisp image. And at f32, any dust motes on your low pass filter will be very visible. A hurricane blower solves this problem. Use the Nikon menu to lock-up your mirror, invert the camera and use the blower.

Disclaimer: this strategy works for me, your mileage may vary. Worse case scenario – you end up with a great camera and great lens, acquired for next to nothing.

© 2013, Thomas Altfather Good. All materials are available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)

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