Vintage Lens Jeopardy #3: Eximar 28mm F2.8 review – The enchanted forest

Introduction

Welcome to part #3 of Vintage Lens Jeopardy. Today I am taking a look at the Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto Ww, another wide angle lens. I bought it for cheap (10€) because the Fujinon 28mm has this aperture tab which would interfere with mounting it on my Lens Turbo II adapter. I wanted to take wide angle pictures so I snapped this one up in an auction. Being the only bidder was the first sign of what was to come.

About Eximar

I tried to look this lens up but came up with nothing. I found a bunch similar lenses from the usual budget brands like Hanimex, Chinon, Soligor, Makinon, Beroflex or Miranda to name just a few. Eximar was the brand name for the Wirgin / Edexa company from Germany who used to produce a range of widespread and affordable 35mm cameras in the 1950s and 1960s. From what I could gather and from the build and materials used this lens was probably made in the 1970s to 1980s. That I could find so little about the brand and lens does not bode well for it’s quality.

Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto Ww

Alright. Let’s have a look. The build quality is actually quite decent. The barrels is metal, while the aperture ring and auto switch are cheap plastic. The aperture control itself is smooth but clicks with a rather unsatisfying sound every full stop. The auto switch feels very cheap and of course does nothing on digital cameras. These so-called “auto lenses” would allow the photographer to compose and focus with the aperture fully opened and therefore with a bright and easy to see viewfinder image. Upon pressing the shutter button the camera would engage the little pin on the back and close the aperture to the set value before releasing the shutter mechanism. The focus ring is very smooth and has a nice rubbery grip. Unfortunately the focus throw is very short with about 100 degree turn radius. It makes it easy to quickly focus on the subject but hard to accurately nail focus. Minimum focus is 30cm which is pretty good actually and allows for some creative options.

Image Quality and samples

This is not going to be a suprise. The image quality is not great especially wide open. At F2.8 the the whole image is blurry. Not just the corners the but all across the frame everything has a blurry and kind of creamy glow. I checked the glass elements and they are clean. There are probably a lot of internal reflections and the lens is simply not sharp at all. It gets slightly better at F4 but the lens can really only be used at F8. Stopped down significantly the sharpness is good and the lens could be considered a solid performer for average daylight shooting. I have two side by side comparisons between wide open and stopped down. Unless you want to to go for a dreamy enchanted forest look this lens should be considered a 28mm F4 lens. Just tape the first stop off or something. The color images use the beautiful Ektachrome 100 SW film simulation from Fujixweekly.


coffee cup flat on the ground
Flat Out (2021) Fuji X-T3 + Lens Turbo II + Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto WW velvia film sim

The colors are pretty washed out and flat. This image is part of my collection of trash images. Shooting trash with trash seems quite right. I wish I could find out what this lens cost when it was on the market.


paper cups coffee cupscoffee cup paper cub
Three cups one bench (2021) Fuji X-T3 + Lens Turbo II + Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto WW velvia film sim

You can use the slider to compare both images at F2.8 and F8. Wide open the this lens is not only soft but it looks like someone smeared petroleum jelly over the front element. These paper cups and a random bench at the playground is the most we could do to approximate he feeling of going to a café at the time. At least the little one could play outside instead of being bored with her crayons in a coffee shop.


tree lined road
Tree lined and steel lined (2021) Fuji X-T3 + Lens Turbo II + Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto WW velvia film sim

The lens does alright stopped down and in bright light. I used the Velvia film simulation here to crank up the color saturation. The lens itself renders colors a bit flat. Usually this placed would be packed with tourists so it was nice to get a distraction free daylight shot of this path. Some more “woody” examples below.


entrance door
Dwarfed by Justice Fuji X-T3 + Lens Turbo II + Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto WW APX400 film recipe

The giant doors at the entrance to the local courthouse. It was a gray and rainy day so I had to crank up the ISO because the lens needed to be kept stopped down for acceptable sharpness. What good is F2.8 if you can’t use it? These doors are so huge because people used to enter the courtyard with horse drawn carriages back in the day. Now it only seems to make one feel small in the face of Justice.


bike fallen down on the pavementbike fallen on the pavement
Fallen (2021) Fuji X-T3 + Lens Turbo II + Eximar 28mm F2.8 Auto WW APX400 film recipe

You can compare sharpness again here. Focus was both times on the bike itself. Black and white really pronounces the smeary and washed out look. I am sure it can be used for creative effect but then I’d rather have a good lens with an artistic filter instead of this. Unfortunately I was not tall enough to capture the whole bike. The Lens Turbo does make this lens into a 31mm lens so I am missing just a few degrees of field of view.

Verdict

The Eximar 28mm F2.8 is as obscure (at least online) as it is crappy. The first stop is unusable with it’s horrendous softness. This also makes the minimum focus of 30cm rather academic. Some interesting close wide angle shots with a bit of background separation are not really possible. Especially as the focus throw is pretty short for accurately nailing focus. Essentially this lens is only suitable for daylight shooting or the enchanted forest look. Maybe I can use it as a paper weight or piece to practice lens disassembly. I paid 10€ so I am not salty at all. Using the lens was an interesting vintage lens adventure.

Pros:
– it’s made out of metal
– cheap (if you can get it, but there are many similarly bad lenses around)
– “enchanted forest” look 🙂

Cons:
– horribly soft at F2.8, only usable from F5.6 onwards
– short focus throw
– cheap plasticky controls

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