Showcase Toyo / Tou / Five Star 28mm f/2.8


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Jun 29, 2011
I was digging through an old camera bag with some MD mount lenses that I picked up for $15 at a thrift store and found a somewhat generic 28mm f/2.8 by "Tou/Five Star". According to Google this came from a company called Toyo, even though that name does not appear on the lens, and is a decent but not spectacular performer. I took a smattering of random snapshots yesterday to see what it was capable of.

The most interesting thing about this lens is that it labeled "Macro", at 1:5 magnification, which isn't huge, but can make for some cool photos at 28mm focal length. It focuses fairly closely, and the manual focus action is quite nice. The ring is grippy and turns smoothly with just enough friction. The distance scale on the lens is nice and the aperture ring clicks and operates wonderfully.

Optically, the biggest drawbacks seem to be lack of contrast SOOC and somewhat severe CA. It's not really purple fringing per se but the overall "glowing" look at high contrast areas. Additionally, it is handles flare very poorly -- shooting anywhere near a direct light source absolutely nukes the contrast. I suspect this is due to the old, cheap coatings (it is labeled MC, for what its worth). But aside from those optical aberrations, the lens is surprisingly sharp and quite fun to use. I'm going to keep this one mounted for awhile I think.

On to the samples... these are not SOOC JPEGs -- a few were RAWs converted and processed in Lightroom, a few were JPEGs beamed to my iPad via Eye-Fi card in JPEG format, then processed in Snapspeed. Most of the processing was very light - just contrast bump and a little sharpening. A couple are more "artful" if you want to call it that.

Note: ALL samples were shot wide open (f/2.8), manually focused using the 5x focus assist on the O-MD E-M5 (I have that mapped to Fn 1) in Program mode, while I rode exposure compensation. There are a few different ISOs ranging from 200-1600 depending on the scene.

(Click for full size -- not original resolution but pretty big anyway)

1. Lanier Mini Cassette Recorder -- a nice looking decoration for my office that serves no earthly purpose in this day and age. Light processing in Snapspeed on iPad.

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2. Blueprints -- just a snapshot of some floor plans sitting on my desk. This is approximately a 3" x 2" area of view. The sharpness is surprisingly good, though the unprocessed JPEG was quite flat. Contrast and a touch of sharpening boosted in Snapspeed on iPad.

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3. Motherboard -- Again, a pretty small area of view that this lens captured quite sharply. Notice the CA "glowing" effect I mentioned near the high contrast areas. Still, not bad. Contrast/saturation/sharpening in Snapspeed on iPad.

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4. Bell & Howell 1 - An old magazine camera serving as a decoration in my office. Again, this lens can be almost razor sharp if you nail the focus, and render colors and tones quite pleasingly, if flare is avoided. Processed in Snapspeed on iPad

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5. Bell & Howell 2 - Another composition and processing of the above. Snapspeed on iPad.

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6. Watch - Snapshot from the driver's seat (parked!). Again, a flat shot that a contrast boost brought to life, but the "glow" CA is a little distracting. Bokeh in this shot is busy but okay. Contrats, sharpness and saturation bumped in Lightroom

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7. Switches -- Another driver's seat snapshot. Rendered to B&W with basic contrast and sharpening added in Lightroom.

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8. Leaf -- I was impressed by the sharpness of this shot. It looks a bit overprocessed, but the only thing I did was a bit of contrast and sharpening in Lightroom. The halo/glow around the edge of the leaf was present in the SOOC RAW file as well, it was not introducted by processing.

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9. Cottonwood Sea -- Man, the trees are in full bloom around here. Cottonwood layered grass around the park I was at. I do like the color rendering and bokeh of this lens. Contrast and sharpness boosted in Lightroom.

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10. Accessories -- A desktop snapshot. Notice the colored aberrations at contrast areas (where the mug meets the desk, glasses earpiece, etc). Processed in Snapspeed on iPad.

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So all in all I'm quite fond of this little 28mm that I got for next to nothing. SOOC photos are flat and a bit dull, but still sharp, and they process quite nicely. I think this is a lens with a little more personality than some of the more "clinical" and obviously higher quality AF MFT lenses.

Thanks for reading! If anyone else has one of these floating around I'd love to see your findings as well.

Paul C

Mu-43 Veteran
Oct 29, 2017
Toyo made 28mm lenses for many "brands" - Clubman, Tefnon, Saitex, Ensinor, Sicor....and more.
The MF Lenses forum has the definitive biography for it that is a great read - if this interests you. Toyo was just one of the small "no-name" Japanese manufacturers that created the market of mid-price generic lenses in the 1960's - 80's

Key identifying features of this lens:

  • Four evenly spaced retaining screws on the mount
    Two letter code denoting the mount type on the aperture ring (OM, PK etc)
    'Macro 1:5' text in sky blue at the closest focus position
    Metre distance markings in distinctive bright orange/red
    Even-sided solid green diamond on the focus scale
    Serial number prefixed by the letter L
    'Japan' text on side of barrel rather than 'made in Japan'
Similar lenses were made by the "Oxone Company" - these have a K-letter prefix for the serial number on the front and were sold as Kalimar. I can't tell you how they perform - but they are easily confused as Toyo's

I have 2 copies, just like the one reported in this MU-43 report and I can confirm they are well made, light, have good mechanics and are great on my Lumix G's.

So why carry one when you might have the excellent Lumix kit lens with AF and anti-shake (or its Olympus equivalent)? The only reason is that they do 1 or more things that the 14-42/45
5 cannot accomplish.
[1] Optically they are great - making a 55mm F2.8 equivalent lens for a micro 4/3 camera with full manual control for 3/4 length portraits and 1.5 stops advantage over the lit zoom aperture. The colours and image are smooth - making it great for this role at F2.8.
[2] The macro focus, at 1:5 is really close focus - but this gives me a good resolution at f5.6/f8 which is sharp across the frame. Since the M4/3 crops out the usual trouble spots at the periphery of a wide-angle lens view - we are left with the optically best bits of the lens. Macro at f2.8 is great for flowers - giving a softer periphery and a pastel colour tone. As a bonus - at "macro" focus ranges - out of focus highlights make "bubbles" in the bokeh which can be a great creative effect with Christmas Trees, Streetlights, water fountains etc..
[3] CA is no problem on a computer screen or 1x7 prints - I have never had to correct them.
[4] Mechanically and optically they are great to use - better by far than the tiny c-mount/APS generic Chinese 25mm lenses. And often can be bought cheaper than those lenses. If you want a manual control lens - then it needs to feel "just right" to be good to use.
[5] Flare is no problem - this lens is multicoated. Furthermore I use standard metal lens hoods designed for 50mm full-frame lenses to keep stray light down on M4/3.

Overall - as many reviewers will testify - they are as good as Vivitar 28mm F2.8s - putting them in the top tier of generic fixed focal length wideangles. Crucial to optical quality is how clean they are inside. Wideangles have small diameter rear lens apertures. Dust and oil there have a dispropostionate effect on image quality - magnified again by the M4/3 crop factor. Get a good version of this lens and you will feel pleased - reviewers with poor optical results might want to take a bright torchlight to the lens are critically appraise the internal surfaces. Inside the lens - elements are joined into combined lens units making disassembly an unpleasant task.

Photographers who remember film SLRs and pick up my lumix with this lens on all go "ahh" when they look through the viewfinder and begin to turn the controls....and none of them have guessed what I really paid for them.

At the current eBay prices, repairs are not economic. I bought 4 of these and have kept the best 2. The other 2 went in the bin - life is too short and eBay has another "no-name" 28mm for you to try at Latte or cappucino prices.

I am sure an Olympus OM 28mm f2.8 or an equivalent Nikor would resolve a few lines more on a test chart - but that isn't the point about having these lenses. Besides which - try finding the macro versions in those makes at all - let alone at a price you can afford. Any slight barrel distortion on arcitectural shots is very small - and gone in 2 clicks on DXO software.

So - if you spot a shiny clean one - my advice is have a try and a bid.

Best wishes to you all - Paul C

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