Spiratone 18mm F/3.5 Pluracoat [I] (Soligor Wide-Auto)

Ultra-wide angle prime lens • Film era • Discontinued


Model history (2)

Spiratone 18mm F/3.5 Pluracoat [I] (Soligor Wide-Auto)A11 - 80.22m⌀72 1979 
Spiratone 18mm F/3.5 Pluracoat [II]A11 - 90.25m⌀67

Features highlight

Extreme AoV
CFD 0.22m
Built-in hood


Production details
Production status: Discontinued
Also known as:SOLIGOR WIDE-AUTO 1:3.5 f=17mm
Optical design
Focal length:18mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Canon FD [42mm]
Contax/Yashica [45.5mm]
Konica AR [40.5mm]
M42 [45.5mm]
Minolta SR [43.5mm]
Nikon F [46.5mm]
Olympus OM [46mm]
Pentax K [45.5mm]
Diagonal angle of view:100.5°
Lens construction:11 elements in 8 groups
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:Aperture ring (with or without Auto Exposure setting)
Number of blades:6 (six)
On Nikon D APS-C [1.53x] cameras
35mm equivalent focal length:27.5mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/5.4 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:76.3°
On Pentax K APS-C [1.53x] cameras
35mm equivalent focal length:27.5mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/5.4 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:76.3°
Closest focusing distance:0.22m
Maximum magnification:<No data>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Physical characteristics
Weight:364g (mount not specified)
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀83×55mm (mount not specified)
Weather sealing:-
Fluorine coating:-
Filters:Screw-type 72mm
Lens hood:Built-in petal-shaped
Teleconverters:<No data>
Source of data
Spiratone camera accessories, lenses, darkroom, viewing and projecting equipment catalogue (No. 803) (Summer 1980).

Manufacturer description

From the Spiratone camera accessories, lenses, darkroom, viewing and projecting equipment catalogue (No. 803, Summer 1980):


Spiratone's conventionally coated 18mm lens was by far the most popular ultra wideangle ever made. Ranking high in critical test reports, the lens was the undisputed best buy in its class. And considering it was designed in the 1960's, its performance was remarkable.

But optical science does not stand still and our latest, multicoated 18mm f/3.5 not only boasts equally fine resolution and linear correction, but, thanks to its multicoating, has better contrast and color fidelity, excellent flare control and what is most difficult to achieve in an extreme wideangle lens: excellent evenness of illumination. In other words, it is truly an achievement in modern lens design.

Just imagine the striking viewpoint, the startling perspective than can be achieved by taking a look at the world through the unique wide window of the Spiratone 18mm:

  • It produces a true w.A. image: straight lines remain straight, undistorted as they do with a good 35 or 28mm. No 'fish-eye' effect.
  • It covers almost 8 (yes, eight) times the area of the 'normal' 50mm lens. 4 times as much as a 35mm, almost 2.5X as much as a 28mm!
  • It 'compresses' the required working distance by well over 60%. For example, to photograph a group or an interior which fills the 35mm frame with the 18mm at 20 feet, you'd have to push the wall back to over 54 feet to get it all in with a 50mm.
  • Its depth of field is startling: At f/16, everything from 15" to infinity is 'in focus'. At f/5.6, depth of field extends from 33" to infinity.
  • Its near focusing range is equally impressive: the helical focusing mount focuses all the way to 8"!
  • And, of course, it's fully automatic, meter-coupled on all popular 35mm SLR's, operates just like your normal lens.

Modern Photography evaluates the Spiratone 18mm Pluracoat f/3.5 ultrawideangle - comparing it with the outstanding performance of the original Spiratone 18mm lens notes that it has improved performance, is now multicoated, and after 9 years of inflation, it costs only a few dollars more!


  • Optical construction: 11 elements in 8 groups.
  • Angle of view: 100°.
  • Aperture: f/3.5 to f/16.
  • Focusing range: 8" to infinity.
  • Approximate weight: 11 oz.
  • Approximate length: 2"
  • Filter size: 67mm.
  • Coating: Pluracoat, multicoating.


LENS-DB: Unfortunately, Spiratone mixed up the specifications: in the catalogue, they showed a photo of a 18/3.5 lens that accepted 67mm filters, while the description, as well as the optical formula, corresponded to the first version of the 18/3.5 lens that accepted 72mm filters.

From the Modern Photography magazine (1979)

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 (manufacturers for Soligor and Vivitar, among others) and in trust is really the Tokina 17mm f/3.5. Does this mean you are getting a 1mm 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/3.5. It came to 18.14. Given the allowed +/-5% manufaturer'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.

While evaluating two lenses of unlike manufacture can be a case of comparing apples and oranges, some like measurements are called for: The older 12-element lens (the new one has 11) is some 2 oz. lighter, 9/16 in. longer and 1/4 in. smaller in overall diameter. The general shape and configuration of the two lenses are about the same. Aperture and focusing rings on the new lens are heavier and easier to control and the minimum aperture is now f/16 instead of f/22.

The most immediate visible difference is the new lens's two-lipped sun shade with the lips horizontally opposite. The older lens has a shallower 360° circumference shade. In our opinion, virtually any built-in shade for an 18mm lens is but lip service since a truly useful shade would have to be an enormous dish arrangement, only practical (if even then) as an accessory. However, the use of Spiratone's multicoating called "Pluracoat" goes far to minimize unwanted flare outside of the angle of coverage.

The second discernible difference concerns the new lens's front element, which is considerably greater in diameter than that in the old lens. This should help provide a more even illumination across the field with less immediate light falloff in the corners - which we did find was the case. In terms of overall resolution, we would judge both lenses approximately equal.

It's interesting to note that the non-multicoated 18mm f/3.5 Spiratone lens we tested in 1971 then cost $169.95, while the new multicoated lens seven years and much inflation later is only about $10 more. We can do no better than to repeat what we said in 1971 even if it then described an optic supplied by another manufacturer: "excellent value in addition to being a fine super-wide-angle optic."

From the editor

Made by Tokina.

Note that the Spiratone-branded version is labeled 18mm, while the Soligor-branded version is a 17mm lens.

We took the data on the weight and size of the Spiratone lens from the above publication in the Modern Photography magazine.


  • Independent-brand lenses were made for 35mm film SLR cameras by companies that competed with the camera manufacturers. Some came from factories that made lenses under their own brand names (Angenieux, Kiron, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina). Many others were national and international marketing organizations (Kalimar, Panagor, Rokunar, Soligor, Starblitz) that bought lenses from anonymous manufacturers. One firm — Vivitar — actually designed its own lenses and accessories, which were then subcontracted to manufacturing firms. Still others were private labels, sold only by specific photo specialty shops (Cambron, Quantaray, Spiratone).

Typical application


Slow full-frame ultra-wide angle prime lens • Professional model

Professional model

  • Combination of focal length and speed meets professional demands

Genres or subjects of photography (5):

Landscapes • Cityscapes • Buildings • Interiors • Travel photography

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/20th of a second

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2


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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Modified M42 mount

The mount has been modified by the manufacturer to allow exposure metering at full aperture.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/3.5 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.