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11-07-2008, 09:42 PM   #1
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Cult lens Vivitar series 1 70-210mm

Hi,

I recently read the cult lens article on the web. Part of it compared the Vivitar series 1 version 3 lens to a Sigma 70-210mm zoom. The 20+ year old Vivitar compared favorably and was even a little better in some tests. I happened to see the Photodo mtf rating for the Sigma AF 70-210mm UC, it is 2.1.

The Vivitar series 1 Version 4 or 5 lens is also on the Photodo website, it's mtf rating is 3.0, which is pretty good for a longer zoom. According to the Cult lens article the version 3 is supposed to be far superior to the version 4 and 5.

Does anyone know why the version 3 lens is about the same as the Sigma that is rated at 2.1 on Photodo? Is there another Sigma lens F4-5.6 lens? I have seen people pay upwards of $180 for the version 3 on ebay and wonder if there has been some sort of misunderstanding.

I also have a version 2 lens and while I like it, it gives me the same picture quality as my pentax A 70-210mm.

Hope to get to the bottom of this!

11-07-2008, 10:01 PM   #2
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I wrote this on anther thread which I just bumped up in

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/38667-vivitar-...v2-tokina.html

QuoteOriginally posted by hinman Quote
If you are looking for an inexpensive investment in filling in the gap for 70-210mm with reasonable speed in f/3.5 and better in f/2.8, I think I can recommend either of the three versions with noted caveats below.

Here are my subjective opinions on the three versions:

v1 from Kiron:
  • Viviitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5, from Kiron (v1)
  • serial number starts with 22
  • best in color and contrast
  • heaviest unfortunately, it is actually not much heavier than Komine copy, but it is bulkier especially on the lens barrel
  • best build quality in construction
  • very inexpensive to get, I see as low as $50ish
  • sharpness squares evenly with the Komine copy. But I do prefer the Tokina on sharpness when stopped down
  • good in bokeh, this can be subjective and I found the Komine copy best in bokeh but the Kiron copy is very close. Kiron is better than Tokina in terms of bokeh
  • hardest to use due to big lens barrel
  • close up is at 1:2.2 and I think the weight and the bigger size in barrel may hinder the usefulness in close up. I can't say for sure if close up is good. Given the reputation on Kiron 105mm f/2.8, I would imagine the close up quality to be as good as the Komine copy and the ratio is 1:2.2 instead of Komine copy with 1:2.5.

v2 from Tokina:
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5, from Tokina (v2)
  • serial number starts with 37
  • best in sharpness when stopped down to f/5.6
  • lightest of the three and much usable in walk around
  • does quite poorly in close up with magnification at 1:4, I see ghosting in close up
  • color and contrast are reasonable, but I like the Kiron and Komine copies better
  • best in focusing ring, maybe my copy with Tokina is newer than the other, the focusing ring in my tokina copy is the best among the three versions that I have tried.
  • very inexpensive to get, maybe a bit more than the Kiron version
  • the easiest to handle as a walk around due to its lighter weight and better focusing ring

v3 from Komine:
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/2.8-4.0, from Komine (v3)
  • serial number starts with 28
  • the only version among the three that has 'A' settings
  • weight is middle tier in 860g in between 710g Tokina and the 879g Kiron
  • perhaps the barrel is not as big, I feel similar handling to the Tokina
  • the komine copy is easy to handle like the Tokina though a bit heavier
  • close up is found pretty decent at 1:2.5
  • I still prefer the color and contrast from Kiron but I will give the Komine slightly better than Tokina
  • best in bokeh along with Kiron copy after the komine, definitely better than the Tokina and close to Kiron
  • sharpness is very close to the other two versions but I prefer Tokina as the sharper one
  • best overall due to the 'A' setting, faster speed in f/2.8 in the shorter end.
  • some moderate PF is noted
  • cost more than twice of v1 and v2, recent sale goes about $160 to $180 in both ebay and Marketplace.

The reason why I pick this Vivitar Series 1 zoom is to use it as an inexpensive interim to fill the gap after Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 zoom. Ideally, I can go for the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 but I don't have the money. And another choice is the DA* 50-135 and it is just as expensive. Hence the Vivitar Series 1 zoom can easily fill in the role without breaking my budget. If you like MF and the challenge, the vivitar zoom is a nice addition.

Last edited by hinman; 11-07-2008 at 10:38 PM.
11-07-2008, 10:05 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hiroshi Quote
Hi,

I recently read the cult lens article on the web. Part of it compared the Vivitar series 1 version 3 lens to a Sigma 70-210mm zoom. The 20+ year old Vivitar compared favorably and was even a little better in some tests. I happened to see the Photodo mtf rating for the Sigma AF 70-210mm UC, it is 2.1.

The Vivitar series 1 Version 4 or 5 lens is also on the Photodo website, it's mtf rating is 3.0, which is pretty good for a longer zoom. According to the Cult lens article the version 3 is supposed to be far superior to the version 4 and 5.

Does anyone know why the version 3 lens is about the same as the Sigma that is rated at 2.1 on Photodo? Is there another Sigma lens F4-5.6 lens? I have seen people pay upwards of $180 for the version 3 on ebay and wonder if there has been some sort of misunderstanding.

I also have a version 2 lens and while I like it, it gives me the same picture quality as my pentax A 70-210mm.

Hope to get to the bottom of this!
Do you have the link to the article and that of photodo site? I am not a scientific person who tests lens with brick wall picture and pixel peep for sharpness. I test lens in normal way of shooting and my opinions are always subjective with consideration on handling and cost among the other important factors as in IQ in MTF number.

Hin
11-07-2008, 10:07 PM   #4
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This page should give you all the information you need about the fantastic Series 1 70-210. I own version 1 myself and love it.

Vivitar 70-210 Series 1 Macro Zoom Lenses - Mark Roberts Photography

Hinman's thread is a wonderful resource about this lens, too.

11-07-2008, 10:26 PM   #5
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Hi,

yes, here are the websites

Third Party Lenses Resource Megasite Home Page This is third party lenses article, click on the red "vivitar vs newer zooms" link

Photodo - Photographic lens specifications, guides, discussion and reviews

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts
11-12-2008, 10:15 PM   #6
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Thanks to those who replied. Unfortunately no one had information on the version 4 or lens. Although MTF testing is not the same as actually taking pictures and evaluating them, it is still a pretty good way to compare lenses.

From the sample pictures (Hin's) I know the version 3 is very sharp, but I am still confused by the data that compares the Version 3 to the Sigma, which according to the Photodo website is average. Robert Monaghan's post does not present data on the version 4 or 5 and does not say how the conclusion that they are inferior to versions 1 thru 3 was reached. The version 5 lens is rated as above average using MTF, so I am still curious as to how it performs. If anyone has any information that they can share, I am still interested. I will also look for a version 5 lens and compare it to my version 2 lens if given the chance.
11-12-2008, 11:40 PM   #7
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I have taken some sunset pictures with the Tokina Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 and this time I use green button to do the proper stop-down metering for most shots in f/5.6 with some in f/3.5 when the Sun is down.


I think to a certain degree, the version 2 manages to get pretty good pictures. But of course, having that 'A' is worth the extra money in version 3. I beg the same question on 4 and 5 but I can't go and buy 4 and 5 to try each of them. Look at what happens to me. I bought 2 and 3, tried them, love them both and now have the hardest time to sell even at a discounted price in marketplace. It is bad timing. If I have the money, I will buy #4 from Cosina to try it out as I have good impression on two Cosina lens that I have owned with Vivitar 24mm f/2.8 and Cosina 55mm f/1.2.

I can find the link that refers to MTF value 3.0 for perhaps the version #4

in photodo: http://www.photodo.com/product_813.html

but I fall short in finding the 2.1 MTF value that you mention for some other versions. I only see the MTF value of 3.0. Can you input the exact links, I spent way too much time looking at what you stated and I scratched my head in finding what you are referring to. Time can be saved if you reply with the exact URL link instead of the table of content page and home page full of broken links and pop up windows.

Thanks,
Hin

Last edited by hinman; 11-12-2008 at 11:45 PM.
11-13-2008, 06:36 AM   #8
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I own the version 1 lens, and used it as my main zoom for over 20 years, only to be replaced when I moved to a DSLR with the sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX.

There are really only 2 things wrong with the version 1 lens. Clearly image quality is NOT one of those points.

first of all, and not mentioned directly by Hin, who's summary is pretty good, is lack of a tripod socket. This lens is just too heavy to be supported by the camera's mount, therefore this is only a high shutter speed lens.

second, and this is a comon problem with all zoom lenses, even modern ones, where the front group moves in one direction only while zooming. The weight of this group causes the focal length to change when the lens is vertical. The accepted term for this is zoom creep. this makes it impractical even for copy work on a tripod, or copy stand,

otherwise it is a very good lens, and the constant apature, while a 1/2 stop slower at the short end (compared to somelater versions) is not a real issue.

When I get my next body (3rd dslr) I will probably retrofit one of my present 2 bodies with a split image screen, and make a full MF kit.

This lens WILL be in that kit

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