Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
08-28-2011, 10:21 AM   #1
Veteran Member




Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: NewYork
Posts: 899
Are there many bad vivitar lenses? (warning, long post)

I was under the impression that there were good and bad vivitar lenses depending both on model and manufacture. I'm not sure if I just got lucky with selection or good samples or maybe I'm seeing it wrong, but based on the handful of lenses I have gotten, it should be more along the lines of good, very good or exceptional and there are not many that are actually bad including less desirable makes? Are the lenses that people are saying are bad really good but perhaps bad in comparison?

A few disclaimers

I havent had some of these lenses long enough to use them a lot. I'm sure there might be things I have missed.
I use a 6MP ist-ds. It seems you have to go pixel peeping to see flaws with some of these lenses and I generally hit pixelization before I hit flaws.
I have never had a high end lens. I have a few cheaper auto focus pentax lenses including the kit lens and some after market with the best (according to ratings here anyway) being a sigma that rank about an 8 (with some reviewers giving 9 or 10 but 8 average). Nothing that cost more than a few hundred dollars new.
I have used high end prosumer cameras with all kinds of lens attachments for quite a while but have only had a dslr for a few years (and with young children so little free time, I seem to be stuck in the rank amature zone).
I have never owned a manual focus lens till about 4 months ago (now I own many, ebay LBA).

So now on to the lenses
vivitar 35-70mm 2.8-3.8 serial 28??? komine
The zoom was very stiff (dried grease), but after a clean and lube it was much better. Its still a touch stiff but I used a very heavy grease and have since found a better grease (I plan on re lubing it). Bone dry with no lube the lens operated slick and smooth as could be. Short of the grease problem, I can find no faults with this lens. While it doesn't just pop and make me say wow like some other lenses with things like extreme sharpness, there is also nothing that I would call bad (very good overall). I can not find anything except maybe the dried grease issue on this lens that could remotely be called bad.

Vivitar series 1 70-200mm 3.5 constant version 2 serial 37???? tokina
This one has a reputation and goes without saying. Mine was olympus mount that I converted to k mount and it is an exceptional lens.

vivitar 28-210mm 3.5-5.6 serial 09??? I assume cosina? Cosina is one I have seen mixed info on. Others have questioned, if cosina branded lenses are good why are vivitar cosinas not. If I were to find a fault with this lens it would be that the focus swing is about 60 degrees. Oddly, when you go to 200mm, the macro focus swing is more like 210 degrees? Beyond that I can find little fault with this lens. Its nice and sharp, bokeh seems pleasing to me, build quality and feel of operation is great. I can not find any thing on this lens that could be called less they very good (maybe not as good as the 70-200mm ver 2 but still in the same league). So why are cosina vivitars always called the bad ones? Did I just get a good sample? This one was minolta mount that I converted to k mount.

vivitar 35-200mm 3.0-4.5 serial 77??? kobori
So I never hear about kobori being one of the good ones and saw people calling this lens a "work horse" and describing it as good but nothing special. When I got it and searched further, One person said that it was better than any AF wide focal range zoom pentax ever made. I have found a few other comments about it being stellar specifically with the 77 serial number. There seem to be a lot of mixed opinions but I have not specifically seen anyone identify any that were not 77. I have only been able to do macro on mine as it is minolta mount (haven't converted it yet), but my initial impression is that it is as good as the 70-200mm ver 2 in every way. Build, operation, image (what macro I could do hand holding the lens to the camera with a tripod to help) are all exceptional.

vivitar 28-210mm 3.5-5.3 serial 77??? kobori
I haven't actually got this lens yet (should be here monday).
There is an 8 page thread on the dpreview pentax slr forum where many claim this is the best wide zoom range lens ever made. I probably would have not got one just for image quality (the cosina one I have is very nice), but the cosina is converted so its like an m42 lens where the new one had aperture connection to the camera and is an A lens. I guess well see how they compare.

vivitar 90-230mm 4.5 t4 mount serial 37???? tokina and vivitar 100-200 5.0 tx mount serial 37??? tokina
I'm not sure if it would be better to describe these as a tank or a huge lead brick. If someone threw it at your head it would most certainly kill you. I think these are what cave men went hunting with.
All jokes aside, the are not in the same category as the other lenses. They are obviously not the optical quality of the other lenses. They are not exactly terrible either. If I had to describe something as a work horse these would be it. They are not stellar or phenomenal optically but they are not exactly bad either. Both seem to have pretty good potential as outdoor macro lenses too (I'll know more when I have had more time to use them). Using the better vivitars as a measuring stick, they are the next class down in optical quality (but not several classes down and not garbage). Again and in particular with these two, I haven't used them much so maybe I'll notice more short comings later.
So if these 2 are the worst of the vivitars (or so I have read), does that mean that all vivitars are decent usable lenses, not bad, and bad is more refering to lesser than the real hot shot vivitars? Are some of the bad vivitars mentioned above (cosina in particular), possibly very good but lesser than the real hot shot vivitars?

There is one last one. Its a vivitar 28mm 2.5 serial 22??? kiron
I thought these were supposed to be one of the hot shot ones but I would lump this one in with the tx-t4 lenses I got. I got a damaged copy so that is probably why I guess. The front glass was pretty scratched up, the front was dented and the filter threads were destroyed (looks like they bent the built in hood back out with pliers). The focus stuck some but that went away when I properly removed the dent (I think the whole barrel had been crushed a little). The rear element is a little loose too.

08-28-2011, 10:37 AM   #2
Site Supporter
boriscleto's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 12,863
QuoteOriginally posted by ripit Quote
vivitar 28-210mm 3.5-5.3 serial 77??? kobori
I haven't actually got this lens yet (should be here monday).
There is an 8 page thread on the dpreview pentax slr forum where many claim this is the best wide zoom range lens ever made. I probably would have not got one just for image quality (the cosina one I have is very nice), but the cosina is converted so its like an m42 lens where the new one had aperture connection to the camera and is an A lens. I guess well see how they compare.
Be prepared to grind the aperture lever flange, or remove it altogether.

There is one review of the Kobori version here, the reviewer didn't like the contrast very much.

Vivitar 28-200mm f3.5-5.3 Lens Reviews - Zoom Lenses - Sigma, Tamron, Adaptall and 3rd Party Lens Review Database

This lens does have a "Ricoh" pin, but it is not a problem. It retracts when the lens isn't on A.

I have this lens but have only ever taken a few pictures with it. I prefer AF zooms for SR reasons.
08-28-2011, 10:40 AM   #3
Inactive Account




Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Michigan, USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 7,484
QuoteOriginally posted by ripit Quote

There is one last one. Its a vivitar 28mm 2.5 serial 22??? kiron
I thought these were supposed to be one of the hot shot ones but I would lump this one in with the tx-t4 lenses I got. I got a damaged copy so that is probably why I guess. The front glass was pretty scratched up, the front was dented and the filter threads were destroyed (looks like they bent the built in hood back out with pliers). The focus stuck some but that went away when I properly removed the dent (I think the whole barrel had been crushed a little). The rear element is a little loose too.
I wouldn't base my overall opinion of that lens on THAT copy. From your description, it's clearly been abused or dropped or both. While a couple 'cleaning marks' won't hurt anything, too many scratches will definitely have an affect, especially on contrast. At the very least we can say it wasn't well taken care of. The copy I had of that lens was indeed a solid performer. The only reason I let it go was because I don't particularly like messing with adapter'd lenes. I had a TX mount vivitar 35-105 (I think) that I also thought was quite nice. Even though my copy was quite beat up. It came as part of a lot to get the K mount adapter for the TX lenses. The others that came with the set were mediocre at best IMO. There was a 28 f2.8 with a sticky aperture, a 135 something or other, and a 300. All were soft and uninspiring to use. I let the entire TX lot go, cheap, including the mounts last fall. No real experience with the rest on your list.

Vivitar TX Mount - a set on Flickr



08-28-2011, 11:16 AM   #4
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,107
Over at Steve's BigDawg - and I believe he is over here also - somewhat infrequently, has or had a rather large Vivitar glass collection. I think that he may be in a position to add to this topic....



08-28-2011, 11:20 AM   #5
Veteran Member




Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: NewYork
Posts: 899
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Be prepared to grind the aperture lever flange, or remove it altogether.

There is one review of the Kobori version here, the reviewer didn't like the contrast very much.

Vivitar 28-200mm f3.5-5.3 Lens Reviews - Zoom Lenses - Sigma, Tamron, Adaptall and 3rd Party Lens Review Database

This lens does have a "Ricoh" pin, but it is not a problem. It retracts when the lens isn't on A.

I have this lens but have only ever taken a few pictures with it. I prefer AF zooms for SR reasons.
I figured that I might have to grind a flange which isn't a problem. Thanks for the info about the ricoh pin retracting. From what I gather, the reviews in the database seem to agree that this is an exceptional lens. 3 reviewers give it a 9. 1 reviewer gave it a 6 because he couldn't mount it due to the flange (he returned it and never used it). One reviewer gave it a 6 due to low contrast in bright light (said it was fine in overcast conditions). All the other lenses may unfortunately have this problem. There has been a lot of cloudy weather here so I haven't been able to test in bright light. I'm aware that many of these older lenses (not just vivitar) didn't have as good coatings as modern lenses and flare and contrast problems in bright sunny conditions just comes with the territory of old lenses. It will be a pleasant bonus if any perform well in bright light but I am prepared to accept that none of them may. Its a cost of getting great lenses cheap.

@JeffJS, I figured that the condition of the 28mm 2.5 probably had something to do with it. Not only may the scratched hurt image quality, but I have to wonder if the loose rear element might be a bit misaligned hurting sharpness (or more accurately even focus). I have a feeling my tx/t4 lenses may wind up sitting on the shelf too. It's not that they are bad as they are not, but some of the others are better. I still have some hope for their macro ability but I'll find out when I have more time.

So are many/most vivitar lenses good (maybe bad in comparison to the hotshot ones but still good)?

I forgot one other lens. its a vivitar 70-150mm 3.8 kiron. It is minolta mount and also seems very good, but I have broken 3 screw drivers trying to get it apart so its a paper weight for now.
08-28-2011, 11:41 AM   #6
Veteran Member
RioRico's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Limbo, California
Posts: 11,264
First: You talk about mostly Viv ZOOMS, which don't necessarily represent all Viv LENSES.

Next, a disclaimer: I'm no Vivitar guru. That would be Big Dawg, active on many other forums.

Then: I gather that Viv's lenses can be sorted into a few categories:

* Series 1 zooms (original series): Often very-good to outstanding for their day.
* Other zooms: Neither great nor lousy; fixed-max-aperture zooms are usually better.
* Various primes: Widely variable, from outstanding on down to meh.
* Later lenses (1990+): Generally lesser quality than earlier offerings.

Notes: All the early zooms, even classic Series 1 stuff, reflect the technology of the day; modern zooms are usually better. Well-used lenses are more likely to have suffered some damage so it's hard to generalize about Viv based on bashed copies. And we know how to deal with the oversize guard on the bases of some Viv lenses.

So, to answer your question: Viv lenses are mostly no worse than their contemporaries from any lensmakers. That's not surprising, given that the very same lens may have been branded as Vivitar, Lentar, Albinar, Sears, Focal, Porst, Soligor, even Nikon. As I suggested above, the only valid generalizations are 1) Series 1 zooms were about as good as any, 2) older Viv primes were mostly pretty decent, and 3) with all the rest, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.

EDIT: Big Dawg said he's selling-off his Viv collection. Something about buying a motorcycle...
08-28-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
Veteran Member




Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: NewYork
Posts: 899
Original Poster
I didn't even think about it at the time but I have a few good primes and I just don't use them much. I have mostly looked into zooms. I just saw bigdawg's vivitar collection. That is certainly someone who knows how good the average vivitar is!!!

Last edited by ripit; 08-28-2011 at 12:10 PM.
08-28-2011, 12:11 PM   #8
Veteran Member
joe.penn's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Maryland (Right Outside Washington DC)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,902
QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
* Series 1 zooms (original series): Often very-good to outstanding for their day.
I got a 70~210 S1 that challenges all lenses in its range - outstanding is an understatement!

QuoteOriginally posted by JeffJS Quote
I had a TX mount vivitar 35-105 (I think) that I also thought was quite nice
I have one of the later S1's 28~105 2.8 macros that is a stellar performer.

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Later lenses (1990+): Generally lesser quality than earlier offerings
Well, not the newest ones, the samyang offerings that is.

Komine, Kiron and now Samyang made/makes the best glass for Vivitar and Cosina was hit or miss (either nailed it or just fell flat)...







--

08-28-2011, 12:20 PM   #9
Senior Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 102
I have owned two Vivitar lenses...a T-mount 400mm and it was in the ugh category and an 'A' aperature 28mm f 2.8 close focus which is stellar (in my limited opinion). For the 400mm, build was the only thing it had going for it. If I'd needed to fend off an attacker it would have made a tremendous club. Contrast and resolution were worse than the 300mm cropped so I dumped it on ebay. On the other end of the spectrum is the little 28mm prime. It has great colors, contrast and resolution. Build is classic plastic fantastic. I bought it on the cheap. Here is an example:



I guess you don't always get what you pay for. These are the only two Vivitar's I'm qualified to talk about. Missed a Series 1 90mm Macro by a fraction of a second recently. I'm sorry I can't comment on that one!
08-28-2011, 12:25 PM   #10
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Upstate New York, US
Photos: Albums
Posts: 223
QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Cosina was hit or miss (either nailed it or just fell flat)...
--
I think that kind of describes Cosina as a manufacturer in general. I can't think of another company that actually manufactures lenses themselves (rather than selling ones manufactured by someone else) that has as variable quality as Cosina. They've made some of the best lenses out there, and they've made some junky lenses. I've always thought it was odd.
08-28-2011, 12:31 PM   #11
Veteran Member




Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: NewYork
Posts: 899
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by CFWhitman Quote
I think that kind of describes Cosina as a manufacturer in general. I can't think of another company that actually manufactures lenses themselves (rather than selling ones manufactured by someone else) that has as variable quality as Cosina. They've made some of the best lenses out there, and they've made some junky lenses. I've always thought it was odd.
Is it that some models were good and some were bad, or that copies of the same model were good or bad (poor quality control and consistency)? I have to wonder on some if I have just been very lucky and got very good copies.
08-28-2011, 12:35 PM   #12
New Member
mikec100z's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Calgary
Posts: 17
vivitar Series 1

my experience is limited to the vivitar Series1 lenses which I thought were very sharp. I had two of them, both of which were excellent lenses.
08-28-2011, 12:40 PM   #13
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Upstate New York, US
Photos: Albums
Posts: 223
QuoteOriginally posted by ripit Quote
Is it that some models were good and some were bad, or that copies of the same model were good or bad (poor quality control and consistency)? I have to wonder on some if I have just been very lucky and got very good copies.
It's that some models were good and some were bad as far as I've seen. Although you can get a better copy of a bad model and it can be passable.
08-28-2011, 12:41 PM   #14
Senior Member




Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Idaho
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 102
The 28mm that shot the above was a Cosina if my information was correct.
08-28-2011, 02:39 PM   #15
Veteran Member
Lloydy's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Shropshire, UK
Posts: 1,114
I have a Series 1 24-48 f3.8 (Kino ) that is now my general walkabout lens, it's that good. I also have the 'legendary' Series 1 70-210 f3.5 (Kino), my second favorite lens.
I also have two other Vivitar zooms of the 'consumer' range, the 28-200 f3.5 / 5.3 (Kobori) which is a good lens, not world beating but ok for a big heavy old fashioned zoom. The other is the smaller and lighter 80-200 fixed aperture f4 lens ( also Kobori ), which is one of those lenses that sometimes surprises me and other times disappoints me. It's a frustrating lens so I wouldn't use it for anything important. But when it's good.........

I like my Vivitars a lot and generally use the two Series 1's as my everyday walkabout lens' on my K10, instead of the DA* 50-135. Why ? I just prefer the whole process of using a manual lens, so I might as well use a good zoom if I'm not using primes, a Vivitar.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
cosina, focus, grease, k-mount, lens, lenses, macro, pentax lens, quality, slr lens, tokina, vivitar, vivitars
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Do you think in the long run, DA lenses are a bad buy? Size of CCDs in the future Capslock118 Pentax DSLR Discussion 28 11-07-2010 06:46 PM
Questions about TIFF and file size - Warning long question! jmschrei Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 2 05-30-2010 06:57 PM
My review of the A*135mm/1.8, with photos (LBA warning and long) photogerald Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 36 05-28-2010 12:10 AM
Bad lenses - how often do they happen? luma Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 12 05-21-2010 10:36 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:57 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top