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09-11-2016, 05:12 AM   #1
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looking for advice and opinion different lenses

ok, sorry if this is in the wrong forum or any other way I am intruding but here goes:

I have a collection of lenses ranging from my film days to close to up to date:

Tamron 1:4-5.6 70 -300 macro zoom ld [1:2] af 62 f

Vivitar Series 1 1:3.5 200 mm prime af in lens 67 f

Vivitar Series 1 1:2.8-3.8 28 - 105 mm macro zoom mf 67 f

Vivitar Series 1 1:2.8-4.0 70 - 210 mm macro zoom mf 62 f

smc Pentax-DA 1:1.8 50 mm 52 f

Pentax DA 1:3.5-5.6 16 - 85 mm wr 72 f

Pentax dal 1:4-5.6 50-200mm zoom ed wr 49 f

Pentax dal 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm zoom wr 52 f

Pentax da 1:3.5-5.6 18-55 mm zoom al 52 f

HD Pentax -DA af rear converter 1.4 AW

Here are the questions

1 is the "speed" of the Series 1 manuals 1.28 worth using compared to my other lenses which cover 28-105 or 70 -210?

2 is the "glass" of the Series 1 200 prime better than the "glass" of the other comparable lenses?

3 is the "glass" of the Series 1 manuals better than the "glass" of the other comparable lenses?

4 what, if anything would you use the Series 1 lenses for?

or are those old Vivitar Series 1 lenses nice light weight paper weights now

any thoughts or suggestions


Last edited by aslyfox; 09-11-2016 at 05:40 AM.
09-11-2016, 06:10 AM   #2
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Because of sample variation and the subjectivity of what we may define as "better", the ultimate answer is in the results you find with the subjects you shoot.

Back when 35mm was king, Vivitar was the cheap and lower quality non-OEM alternative with the exception of the Series-1. They were designed for film, however, not a digital sensor. Therefore, you can expect more chromatic aberration from the Series-1 compared to your digital lenses. However with a light circle for 35mm or FF, you will be getting the sharper center area with your APS-C sensor which will help with the overall results.

Is f/2.8-4 significant vs. f/3.5-5.6? On an older DSLR where noise becomes apparent at ISO 800...yes. With a newer DSLR that can get acceptable IQ at ISO 1600 or 3200...no.

Is the Series-1 200mm prime better than a modern 200mm digital prime for a DSLR? No. Is it better than a modern zoom like the 50-200mm? Yes, I would think so, plus youʻve got a constant f/3.5 vs. f/5.6 on the zoom.

Your question #3 is a bit vague. Are Series 1 glass better than other comparable lenses? That answer depends if youʻre shooting film, FF, or APS-C. Comparable other film glass of that era or comparable focal lengths on modern digital glass? It was certainly better than non-Series 1 Vivitar lenses, Nikkor Series E, and a few of the modern non-OEM offerings from China and Korea. But not better, and in some cases, nor as good as the Pentax equivalents.

Are they worth keeping? If you do not have a modern macro lens, thatʻs one reason to keep at least one of them. Is there a K-1 in your future? Have you run comparison tests at various focal lengths and apertures? And last, assuming you are not into collecting, have a limited budget, and the glass is fungus free; could selling the Vivitar Series-1 give you funds to get an equivalent telephoto prime or macro? Is manual focus an issue for you?
09-11-2016, 06:30 AM   #3
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Not the most helpful offering you are going to get as an answer but here goes;
Try them out on your current digital cameras and see what you get!
I have a series 1 70-210mm by Kiron that is infested with fungus but seems pretty sharp otherwise not in good shape to compare.
I also have a Pentax-F 70-210mm that gets good reviews.
I also have a Tamron 19AH 70-210mm
I also have the same Tamron 70-210mm as you and
A Sigma 70-210mm DL Macro.


My favourite lens covering this range however is a Tamron 23A SP 60-300mm.
It is heavy, has zoom creep and is not AF but in my mind proves that not all legacy glass should be discounted till you have used it on digital.
My wider choices are a Pentax-M 28mm F3.5 and a Pentax-A 35-105mm f3.5, which I prefer to the 18-55mm but do not cover the 18-28mm range but I will work on that.
09-11-2016, 06:30 AM   #4
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In humble opinion there are only two pieces of glass I would keep in your collection. One would be the DA 16-85 and the other would be the HD Pentax 1.4 AW teleconverter. But.....that's just me. Others love the old glass, but from what I can tell there aren't any nice gems in there like a K 50 1.2 or anything like that. Please don't be offended. Again it's just what "I" would do.

09-11-2016, 06:36 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Because of sample variation and the subjectivity of what we may define as "better", the ultimate answer is in the results you find with the subjects you shoot.

Back when 35mm was king, Vivitar was the cheap and lower quality non-OEM alternative with the exception of the Series-1. They were designed for film, however, not a digital sensor. Therefore, you can expect more chromatic aberration from the Series-1 compared to your digital lenses. However with a light circle for 35mm or FF, you will be getting the sharper center area with your APS-C sensor which will help with the overall results.

Is f/2.8-4 significant vs. f/3.5-5.6? On an older DSLR where noise becomes apparent at ISO 800...yes. With a newer DSLR that can get acceptable IQ at ISO 1600 or 3200...no.

Is the Series-1 200mm prime better than a modern 200mm digital prime for a DSLR? No. Is it better than a modern zoom like the 50-200mm? Yes, I would think so, plus youʻve got a constant f/3.5 vs. f/5.6 on the zoom.

Your question #3 is a bit vague. Are Series 1 glass better than other comparable lenses? That answer depends if youʻre shooting film, FF, or APS-C. Comparable other film glass of that era or comparable focal lengths on modern digital glass? It was certainly better than non-Series 1 Vivitar lenses, Nikkor Series E, and a few of the modern non-OEM offerings from China and Korea. But not better, and in some cases, nor as good as the Pentax equivalents.

Are they worth keeping? If you do not have a modern macro lens, thatʻs one reason to keep at least one of them. Is there a K-1 in your future? Have you run comparison tests at various focal lengths and apertures? And last, assuming you are not into collecting, have a limited budget, and the glass is fungus free; could selling the Vivitar Series-1 give you funds to get an equivalent telephoto prime or macro? Is manual focus an issue for you?
thanks for the speedy and informative response.

as is with most of my knowledge, my knowledge of photography is:

"less than I claim but more than some other people give me credit for"

no I have done no testing of the lenses. I really don't know how other than taking a picture, swapping lens, and retake photo hoping nothing has changed while I switched out.

I picked up the Series 1 lenses over the years when I was shooting film all were used and the 200 mm was my only autofocus lens. Now I no longer shoot film. I had heard of the same reputation of Series 1 as you related and that is why I got them.

the only "macro" lens I have other than the manual Series 1 lenses is the Tamron which offers autofocus

I am interested in wild life photography and my wife and I are currently planning on a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks the first week of June 2017. I will be renting a Pentax 150 -450 mm for the trip and will have to haul all the photo equipment on the plane. so I am trying to figure out which lenses to take in addition to the 1.4 converter and the K 3 and K 5 II

no idea as to the value of the Series 1 lenses or how to sell them, don't want to give them away at the local photography shop

I have no interest in the K 1 on the other hand, I only got the K 5 II after we decided on a safari to Tanzania which we took in June and the K 3 when we decide on a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP next summer.
09-11-2016, 07:12 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
I will be renting a Pentax 150 -450 mm for the trip and will have to haul all the photo equipment on the plane. so I am trying to figure out which lenses to take in addition to the 1.4 converter and the K 3 and K 5 II
Now that is an awesome lens. Please post pictures when you're done!
09-11-2016, 08:27 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
no I have done no testing of the lenses. I really don't know how other than taking a picture, swapping lens, and retake photo hoping nothing has changed while I switched out.
Yeah, that's about it for testing and comparing. There is no easy way, because you have to be happy with the results. If you don't absolutely love the lens, don't bring it on your trip.

I know you asked about lenses in another thread, since you are taking two bodies, I suggest you take no more than three lenses you own, and the one you are renting.

The DA 16-85 strikes me as the lens that will be the most useful "walk-around" lens for most situations, short of purposefully shooting wildlife far away. The WR means you can use it in the worst of conditions, so you don't lose a shooting day.

For wildlife, the lens you are renting covers 150-450mm, on a crop sensor that's 225-675mm, that will give you all teh range you could want for wildlife, especially with the 1.4 TC.

Two bodies, two lenses, covering a range 16-450mm. Bring the 50-200 WR as an in-between alternate for the second body.

Question: Since you are renting why not have the lens delivered to a pick up point, like the UPS or FEDEx store at your destination? I've done that with rented lenses, one less thing to carry, pack and worry about for the flight.
09-11-2016, 08:50 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
Yeah, that's about it for testing and comparing. There is no easy way, because you have to be happy with the results. If you don't absolutely love the lens, don't bring it on your trip.

I know you asked about lenses in another thread, since you are taking two bodies, I suggest you take no more than three lenses you own, and the one you are renting.

The DA 16-85 strikes me as the lens that will be the most useful "walk-around" lens for most situations, short of purposefully shooting wildlife far away. The WR means you can use it in the worst of conditions, so you don't lose a shooting day.

For wildlife, the lens you are renting covers 150-450mm, on a crop sensor that's 225-675mm, that will give you all teh range you could want for wildlife, especially with the 1.4 TC.

Two bodies, two lenses, covering a range 16-450mm. Bring the 50-200 WR as an in-between alternate for the second body.

Question: Since you are renting why not have the lens delivered to a pick up point, like the UPS or FEDEx store at your destination? I've done that with rented lenses, one less thing to carry, pack and worry about for the flight.
Actually the big zoom will be waiting for me at Jackson WY but I need to plan on bringing it back on the plane b/c Fed Ex will not be open early enough for drop off on the day we leave

Right now thinking about one camera body + lens and the other camera body with another lens so I can switch without changing lenses. Other lenses and 1.4 will be added as necessary

On issue of offending me as some as raised, don't worry

Equipment gathered over the years as budgets and other concerns have varied. Some lenses obtained as part of kit with camera bodies over the years, some lens solo

I know that quality may be , what is that technical term - "iffy", but best that could be done at that time.

I know how good the big lens is, have tried it for 4 days already but the weight and $$$$$

Please keep comments coming

09-11-2016, 08:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
I will be renting a Pentax 150 -450 mm for the trip and will have to haul all the photo equipment on the plane. so I am trying to figure out which lenses to take in addition to the 1.4 converter and the K 3 and K 5 II
The older glass has a lot of fans, and some of it can be really good, particularly the premium primes from days gone by. In other words if the lens was considered ridiculously expensive and good back in the film days it probably still is. If it was considered a 'bargain' back then, it's likely not particularly useful today.

In the recent past conventional wisdom was that film primes were well worth using as they performed better than all zooms. Film zooms were (in general) not considered on a par with modern zooms. However, Pentax's newest glass such as the DA 16-85 and DFA 150-450 you have give the primes a real run for the money. IMHO, the old adage is no longer automatically correct, some modern zooms are just as good or even better than vintage primes. If Pentax comes out with a line of modern primes next year that might change.

If I were going to Yellowstone (lucky you ) I would take both bodies, the 16-85, the DA 50mm, the 1.4x TC, the 50-200 and the rented 150-450. That is plenty and covers all the bases. I'm betting you will use the 16-85 and 150-450 99% of the time. For a lot of the wildlife you are going to want the 150-450 plus the 1.4x tc and a VERY sturdy tripod. If your tripod is not up to the task consider using only the bottom section of legs and shoot sitting down. Practice up on long lens technique before you go.
09-11-2016, 10:37 AM   #10
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some examples using the tamron 70 - 300 zoom

QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Now that is an awesome lens. Please post pictures when you're done!
here are some photos from the African safari using the k 5 II + the tamron 70-300 supported by bean bag on top of vehicle engine off.

(photos loaded out of order) the last photo is same as first but unedited

first slightly edited and cropped

these taken at local zoo

second K 3 with tamron lens + 1.4 converter unedited

third slightly edited and cropped

camera mounted on monopod but slightly blurred as I tried to follow duck chasing food pellet.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-5 II  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-5 II  Photo 

Last edited by aslyfox; 09-11-2016 at 12:47 PM. Reason: corrected message
09-11-2016, 11:32 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
Right now thinking about one camera body + lens and the other camera body with another lens so I can switch without changing lenses. Other lenses and 1.4 will be added as necessary
That is what I'd recommend, the thing I least like is changing lenses multiple times, especially when outdoors where dust or rain can get inside.

QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
I need to plan on bringing it back on the plane b/c Fed Ex will not be open early enough for drop off on the day we leave
I'm all about convenience, I'd return it the evening before, usually I've returned it before 6PM with no issues.
09-11-2016, 12:42 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
That is what I'd recommend, the thing I least like is changing lenses multiple times, especially when outdoors where dust or rain can get inside.

I'm all about convenience, I'd return it the evening before, usually I've returned it before 6PM with no issues.
regarding the rental, to return it to Fed Ex I would have to do that on a Friday or sat. we leave Monday. If I give it to Fed Ex on Sat (12 PM), I'm still charged for Sunday and Monday b/c it won't be sent out to rental company until Monday PM

if I give it to Fed Ex on Friday (6 PM) I don't have it for the final two days in the parks - Sat and Sunday but the rental charge is reduced.

choices, choices
09-12-2016, 05:39 AM   #13
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some links I have found that might be helpful

iding actual manufacturer of Vivitar Series 1 lenses:

Vivitar Lens Manufactuers

info on the 70 - 210 mf

http://www.robertstech.com/vivitar.htm#serialno

test of the 200 af

http://allphotolenses.com/public/files/pdfs/e45c404060b4e39f61b5a001fa4752fa.pdf

info from a "reliable source" (?) on 28 - 105

Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom Lens Reviews - Vivitar Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
09-12-2016, 06:38 AM   #14
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Another link to some Vivitar series 1 70-210mm lens examples. This compares the Vivitars to other legacy glass with images but as yet marcusBMG has not published his findings.


Test classic 70-210mm vintage lenses: vivitar series 1, tamron SP
09-12-2016, 07:26 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Skodadriver Quote
Another link to some Vivitar series 1 70-210mm lens examples. This compares the Vivitars to other legacy glass with images but as yet marcusBMG has not published his findings.


Test classic 70-210mm vintage lenses: vivitar series 1, tamron SP
be nice to know when and if he does, my version is the third Series 1 he mentions and I shoot a K 3 and K 5 II, he is testing a K 5
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