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Lester Dine 105 macro

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by GonzoBernelli, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Anyone know anything about these lenses? It seems they were part of a package offered by Lester Dine for dental photography. Found one yesterday, almost NIB and it was extremely inexpensive and sharp as a scalpel.

    Who is/was the manufacturer? How about reputation - flare, ghosting, quality...

  2. amcoelho


    Feb 26, 2008
    Atl, GA
  3. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Nick :

    It's an excellent lens - I have one - and one of the great bargains of the MF world for Nikon camera. It's particularly good with the Nikon diopters.

    I can't speak for ghosting issues, but it's definitely one of my "go-to" lenses for macro work (and you might recall our discussions about how many macro alternatives I have in my overall kit... :wink:) .

    What are they asking ?

    John P.
  4. I paid just over $200 including tax. Thanks for the info Adam and John. Looks like I got a steal....
  5. You got a steel there Nick. I bought mine for $175 on eBay about two years ago, not in mint condition but the glass is ecellent. It is one of the most revered macro lenses made by Kiron which also produced lenses for Vivitar in the eightees.It goes to 1:1 without any adaptor. Sharpness and color rendition are excellent. They ar now going for more than $300 on eBay. Here is a pic shot with the lens

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  6. amcoelho


    Feb 26, 2008
    Atl, GA
    Wow you got a great deal!, Now pony up some shots :) 

    I would have swooped that up to.
  7. Superb, old macro lens. One of the two "legends" in old macros, in my book. The other legend being the Tokina 90mm f/2.5 (the "Bokina") and its very similar Vivitar 90mm f/2.5 Series 1 counterpart. Both are fantastic old lenses.

    The lens in question was made by Kiron / Kino Precision Industries. Kiron made this lens under its own labels and for other brands. There are four known versions:

    • Kiron 105mm f/2.8
    • Lester Dine 105mm f/2.8
    • Vivitar100mm f/2.8
    • Vivitar 105mm f/2.5 Series 1

    All of the versions are optically identical. Even the mechanical construction is extremely similar, with the most distinct being the Vivitar Series 1 version. The Kiron, Lester Dine, and Vivitar 100mm differ only in cosmetics. E.g. some of the Lester Dines have dental quadrant markings, since Lester Dine sold the lens to the medical industry.

    The Vivitar Series 1 version has a larger focusing ring that is rubber coated and a thicker metal shade. Otherwise it's also optically identical. Don't let the claimed differences in maximum aperture and focal length fool you.

    There are actually two sub-versions of the Lester Dine -- with and without the lens shade. Some have different dental quadrant markings. I speculate that the one without the lens shade was to accommodate the Lester Dine Ring Flash. I'd prefer the version with the shade since that helps with flare/ghosting (though one can add their own hood).

    Do not pay a premium for a Lester Dine version if there are also Vivitar or Kiron versions available at a lower price. The Lester Dine ones typically sell for higher because of the Lester Dine name. If you find a Lester Dine for cheap and there are no Vivitar or Kiron alternatives, buy it because its resale will be higher. Arguably the Vivitar Series 1 version also has the best resale of the set. But if you find the Kiron or Vivitar versions on sale at the same time and they're cheaper, save your money and pass on the Lester Dine.

    These Kirons have awesome build quality. Solid metal, beautiful finish, heavy. What sets them apart IMHO is the long-throw focusing ring -- spinning it from infinity to 1:1 takes forever :biggrin: Bad for telephoto, but it's not a telephoto -- great for macro when you have to get the focusing down to less than a millimeter!

    Optically they are excellent. Very good contrast, very sharp. Maybe the slightest color cast that is easily fixed in post. Not as sharp wide-open but you want that in a macro -- a good macro shouldn't have peak sharpness wide-open anyway. Very good bokeh.

    Awesome lens. The only one I like in some situations are the Tokina 90mm f/2.5 and the similar Vivitar 90mm f/2.5. The differences between the Tokina and Vivitar versions are actually more pronounced than the differences between the Kiron set.
  8. Great price! On eBay a Lester Dine in excellent condition sells for at least $350.

    Last year, I bought the Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 version on eBay for $63 plus shipping. It went under the radar because not everyone realizes it's a Kiron. I haven't seen that same mistake since, though. One just sold on eBay for over $300.
  9. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I considered one of these a while back. It's a stop faster than my AIS 105/4 and goes to 1:1 instead of 1:2. Compared to my AF 105/2.8 it had a nicer manual feel and greater working distance at 1:1 since it has less focal length shortening at close range. There were a couple of minor points - the focus ring turns the "wrong" way for a Nikon lens, and the markings on the barrel appeared to be printed on, not engraved, and were starting to rub off. Maybe the other versions are better. The lens I saw was overpriced, and given that I already have two fine macros I decided to pass.
  10. Curious. I've handled every version but the Lester Dine and the markings are engraved. Carved into the metal and then with colors printed/painted into the indentations.

    Given the age of some of these, sometimes the paint within the engraving gets rubbed off or covered with dirt.

    Were these the dental marks, or aperture numbers and brand?
  11. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    I am trying to find the 90mm Tokina/ Vivitar 90 2.5 myself

    almost got a Vivitar 100mm off ebay the other day
  12. Peanut - not a drunk dog! D300 + Lester Dine 105 f2.8

    Full image

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    100 % crop

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  13. Enough talk already lol , cant somone post a snap of the lens ? :)  I never heard of it, so curious to see what it looks like.

  14. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    Maybe you are right, it was some years ago, but engraved or not, the paint was starting to rub off. I think the lens I saw was a Kiron 105/2.8, 52mm filter and a short built-in hood. It was not a dental version. Another thing I noticed was that it has an 8 blade diaphram, which I don't think is the nicest shape, but that's a minor point. The lens was nicely made and the lens coatings had nice rich colors, which suggests the coatings were good quality. I might have bought it if I didn't already have the Nikons.
  15. LD 105 Min FL

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    LD 105 Max FL

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  16. Here are some photos of the Kiron 105/2.8 and the Vivitar 100/2.8. It makes it pretty obvious that they're from the same source as the Lester Dine :biggrin: All they really did was throw in that dentist label for the Dine, change some wording (e.g. "METERS" vs "m") and change around the brand name, the paint colors, and the pattern on the grip!

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    Finally, here's the Vivitar 105/2.5 Series 1 version. It's the most "different" of the bunch from a cosmetic perspective.

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    The VS1's focusing grip is rather gaudy (known as the "Ghetto Kiron"). But I actually prefer it because it gives the best precise focusing control of the four!

    Note that the VS1 has a thicker lens shade.

    The lenses are like blocks of metal. They weigh 21-23 ounces depending on version.
  17. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    I like that Vivitar Series 1 also....
  18. ElanR


    Feb 10, 2008
    Texas, USA

    Nothing lost here Roland. This lens is a very good lens that was spun into legendary status for no reason whatsoever. The one plus with it is that it does a little better than the Nikkor at f/16, and I do mean a little. The down side though is this laborious, overly dampened focus ring. It takes almost two full turns of the ring to get from infinity to 1:1, which is well past the amount needed for precise focus. By the time you're done turning, your subject is gone!

    As far as the markings on the lens. Mine is in new condition and the markings are crisp, but they are all painted on as you observed. Not an issue for me. I haven't tried mine for anything other than macro, but I suspect the bokeh for longer FCs is average and somewhat geometric. For $200, it's a nice lens to have. But to pay $350+ for one is a different story. You can get the Tokina AF 100/2.8 Macro for that price. That's a better lens than the Kiron even without the AF.
  19. The Vivitar Series 1 versions also came with a very attractive leather box case, complete with embossed "Vivitar Series 1" on the lid.

    Up until a year ago, an eBay seller "traderjim" bought out the stock of a closed store. In it he had dozens of the VS1's in Pentax mount! Absolutely brand-new, with the case, instructions, etc. He sold all of them over the course of several months, asking for $250 but accepting best offers of $175. What a steal for the Pentax folks.

    Since then, those "traderjim lenses" have been reselling on eBay for $400-$500 -- I thought only Nikon owners were that hardcore!

    A Lester Dine in Nikon mount just sold on eBay for $222.50. Auction ended a couple of hours ago. That is an anomalous price. Unfortunately the seller put up numerous but terrible photos of the lens. Couldn't tell if it was the photos or the lens itself. Else I would have thought about buying it myself!

    One encouraging thing about the these particular Kiron macros is that they don't seem to be as vulnerable to the same stuck aperture issues that some Kirons are notorious for. E.g. the Kiron 28/2 is quite popular but often require a disassembly, cleaning, and re-lube of the aperture assembly.

    Since we're on this trivia, there are two slightly cosmetically different Tokina 90mm f/2.5's. The primary difference just appears to be date of manufacture and the colors of the lettering!
  20. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    Most current macro lenses have over-compressed focus scales which makes focusing near infinity oversensitive. I guess they went the other way and made the focus scale nicely spread out for distant work, which makes the close range scale too stretched out.

    Overall, I guess if you are looking for a good manual focus macro lens, the Kiron 105/2.8 is a good option as it goes all the way to 1:1, unlike the Nikon AI and AIS counterparts.

    The Tokina 90/2.5 would be another option if you also want to use it for portraiture - the slightly shorter FL and greater speed should be useful. This one only goes to 1:2, but has a special 1:1 extender which is a bit like an extension tube except it contains optics to improve performance at close range. Again, that's a better arrangement than the AIS 105/2.8 on the PN-11 - when focusing just beyond 1:2 the lens is "focused" near infinity, the CRC is not optimised for close range so Nikon recommends stopping well down to maintain sharpness.
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