We were also second-hand dealers which allowed me to try out all sorts of lenses and cameras we did not stock ourselves.
This list is based on lenses I handled during the period 1984 to 1986 plus or minus a couple of years. I have tried to order them roughly in descending order of quality, although this is difficult as some made a mix of good and bad lenses.
TamronThe Tamron lenses felt well made and looked industrial. Their design was angular, rather like Leica or Contax. Their quality was above Tokina and with the appropriate “adaptall-2” lens mount their 70-210mm zoom came in at around £129. Their selling point was that you could change mount when you changed camera. This was a faff for dealers though as you never seemed to have the right mount in stock, no matter how many drawers full you had. You could probably find a Fujica or a Topcon mount, but woe betide anyone asking for a lens in Minolta or Olympus fitting.
TokinaThis was usually the higher end offering at most independent photo dealers in the 80’s. Their Telephoto zooms tended to be around the £99 price point and were reasonable performers. If you went cheaper than this then image quality usually suffered.
ChinonLike the Chinon cameras these were sold exclusively by Dixons. Although their SLR bodies were Pentax K or M42 fitting they made lenses in other fittings too. Dixons stopped stocking these after they introduced the Miranda lenses, except in Pentax K fitting as part of a multi lens kit with a Chinon body. The Chinon lenses were solid performers. They even made a 50mm f1.2 which sells for serious money today.
MirandaThese were sold exclusively by Dixons following their acquisition of the Miranda trade mark. They were produced in Canon, Minolta, Pentax K, M42 and Olympus mounts. Probably made by Cosina (who also made the Miranda branded SLR cameras for Dixons).
CosinaAlthough Cosina made lenses for lots of manufacturers their own lenses were much rarer and tended to be in Pentax K mount to suit their range of SLR cameras. Some of their telephoto zooms suffered from chromatic aberration, usually evident as green fringing. Others were fine, so test before buying.
VivitarVivitar marketed lenses manufactured by Cosina, Makinon and Chinon amongst others. Some were good, others not so good. Their SLR camera bodies were made by Cosina.
HanimexA mixed bunch of lenses from the same far eastern sources as Vivitar. I owned a 135mm f2.8 which was outstanding and probably originated with Chinon.
HeliosThis was an unfortunate brand. The original Helios lenses were made in Russia (e.g. the 58mm 2.0 made by KMZ and Lomo and fitted to the Zenit SLR’s). The UK importers TOE wanted to import the full range of good quality Russian lenses but the Russians would not allow it. As a result TOE imported mediocre quality lenses from Japan badged as Helios. The 28-70mm was particularly poor, but looked equally spectacular with its huge objective lens and 62mm filter thread.
SiriusSirius lenses were low priced and the quality was not great as they seemed to pander to the “one lens does everything” craze of the later 80’s which saw lenses like the 28-200mm become popular. The Sirius lenses were popular with independent dealers. They were mainly manufactured by Cosina and Samyang.
Sun ActinonThese were budget priced lenses sold through Sangers Photographic Wholesale, who operated the ”Image Photo Centre” brand used by a lot of independent photographic shops.
The 80-200 sold for £49 compared to the Tokina 70-210 which was £79. It tended to suffer from zoom and focus creep.