Off Brand Lenses are Alright!

Posted: 02/17/2009


Blog by Michael Raso

I really have a soft spot for off-brand products. You know—off brand, generic “knock-offs” of the original brand. Most products from breakfast cereals to home electronics have them.

My first zoom lens for my Canon AE-1 Program 35mm SLR camera was a Vivitar brand zoom lens ( Vivitar 80-200mm f4.5 FD lens ) . I was 16 years old at the time and so thrilled to have a zoom lens that I didn’t even think of it as a knock-off of the “authentic” Canon glass.

One from the archive using my very first zoom lens! July 7, 1984 / Canon AE-1 Program camera.Vivitar 80-200mm f4.5 FD lens/ Kodak VR 400 color film - below: Recently aquired Vivitar 28 - 200mm FD zoom lens mounted on Canon FTb.



Recently I dug out all of my analog 35mm film camera gear (now almost antiques!) and decided to get back into snapping photos. It’s been 15 years since I touched these cameras and was kind of amazed that everything was exactly as I left it…dust free in their bags. With thousands and thousands of people across the world literally dumping their film camera gear, it’s been a real joy to purchase additional cameras and lenses on e-bay. Authentic Canon glass…now at my fingertips…at a fraction of the original cost! And now that I own the coveted Canon 17mm prime lens…and that Canon 300mm prime lens.


above: Obama Bread in the window at Amy's Bread on 9th Avenue in NYC.
My favorite shot so far this year—photographed with the most inexpensive
off brand lens that I own—the Phoenix 24mm FD Lens for Canon.
Canon body was the 1966 FT QL.

I still find myself transfixed on e-bay auctions pondering and many times bidding on the odd, cheap off-brands. The Vivitar 28–200mm zoom. The Super Cosina 70–300mm zoom. The fast Sigma 28–70mm f2.8 zoom. They’re cheaper than Canon – but are lighter and offer more flexibility – explaining why I always have them when I’m on the go…leaving the heavier, more expensive glass at home.



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