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VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5 Review RSS Feed

VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5

Reviews Views Date of last review
5 21,401 Wed January 8, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
60% of reviewers $151.67 9.40
VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5

VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5
VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5
VarioZenitar-K MC 25-45mm F2.8-3.5

It's an interesting wide-angle zoom, 10 elements/10 groups, multicoated, introduced in 1991.
Very good build, fast, not very light but takes little room.
8-blades diaphragm.
Slip-on 60mm filters.
Built by KMZ in Krasnagorsk.
It is a miid-eighties design by A.A. Tokarev and S.M. Nikitin, released in 1991.
According to the original KMZ documentation, it trumps the well regarded Mir-24 2/35mm. The center/border sharpness is 45/26 ln/mm, while the Mir does 40/21 ln/mm.
It is said to perform better than most "western" zooms made in the same period
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: March, 2015
Location: Kaliningrad
Posts: 1
Review Date: January 8, 2020 Not Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, correct geometry transfer
Cons: Scatter of parameters of different specimens, cover, lack of thread under the filter.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 6    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K70, Pentax K10D   

I had two copies of this lens in use. The first had a serial number of 930550 (1993 of release) and a juicy green-looking lens coating. The second is serial number 930833 (1993 of release), the lens coating is light purple in appearance. I will say right away that the second copy was completely unsuitable for shooting and did not possess the qualities of a peye lens, which I will discuss below.
So, the lens corresponds to the Pentax “M” series in functionality. Due to the small zoom range it has good sharpness at all focal lengths, compensated distortion even at a wide angle. It correctly conveys the geometry of space, which is important for shooting architecture. The lens covers a full frame 36 * 24 mm with slight vignetting. Sharpness begins already at the open aperture, at 5.6 in sharpness it is not inferior to lenses with a fixed focus. Compared in test shoots at different focal lengths with SMC Pentax M 2,8/28 мм and Chinon 2,8/35 mm - VarioZenitar won in sharpness. With aperture 8, sharpness reaches its maximum and just cuts like a razor.
Therefore, the lens is wonderful when shooting architecture, landscape and group photos with a large number of people.
The main disadvantages: 1. No one guarantees that you will come across a good copy, it is better to immediately put on the camera and take test shots. 2. The standard lens cap always falls off in the bag or when you carry the camera around your neck with a strap. It is plastic and metal, but both do not hold. 3. The front lens almost protrudes above the frame. It cannot be protected because there is no filter thread on the frame. And since the lynx constantly falls off in the bag, then year after year my lens received scratches and abrasions of the coating of the lenses. 4. The front lens rotates when focusing, the lens hood is already difficult to come up with because of the strange frame, so only round is suitable. 5. Does not like oncoming light, like all Soviet and Russian lenses (because frames, aperture blades and lens ends are poorly blacked out).
The bokeh of the lens is not very expressive, which is characteristic of all wide-angle zooms.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2017
Location: Vallès Occidental
Posts: 139
Review Date: October 16, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp and colours
Cons: Construction
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 9   

It is a good zoom, hard-working and very Russian, but with good performance.

Good colors
Good shine

Mechanically, it is no longer so good, the diaphragm mechanism tends to be spent and the zooming slits down.

For me, the bokeh is attractive:

Forum Member

Registered: December, 2014
Posts: 61
Review Date: January 23, 2018 Not Recommended | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: резкий
Cons: нету автофокуса
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: k5!!s   

объектив чудесный, мой любимый .
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: NV/CA
Posts: 370
Review Date: January 13, 2013 Recommended | Price: $235.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, easy to focus/zoom compact and lightweight.
Cons: 60mm shap on filter/hood. Although it can be modief to 62mm failry easy.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

One of my favorite zooms.
Excellent optical performance just like most Soviet lenses.
I modified my 60mm filter that came with the lens, took out glass, reversed it and screwed on 62mm hood.

Few landscape shots.


Registered: March, 2010
Location: Chiang Mai, Bologna, Amsterdam
Posts: 1,197
Review Date: January 3, 2013 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: handling, build quality, satisfying sharpness
Cons: weight, moderate contrast
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I have just added this les to the database of russian P-K lenses.
Unfortunately there is no section for russian P-K zooms (there are three of them, two VarioZenitars - 25-45mm and 35-105mm - and the Granit 80-200mm), so i had to add the lens to the list of russian primes.
The vote of "8" is not a bad one, at least for me, and the evaluation is relative to the category (i.e. wide-angle zooms).
Of course the IQ is not on par with a prime lens which gets the same vote, but i was positively impressed by the optical performance of this lens. My expectations were quite lower.
I am trying to explain a little the ratio of my evaluation: i have seen a bunch of 10's given to screw mount russian lenses which are... well, VERY optimistic. I don't know if M42 optics should have a place here (then, why no Mamiyas, Mirandas, etc. etc.?), but i can't understand why a certain lens, universally considered a dud, averages a vote of "10" on the reviews posted here.
When it comes to Pentax primes. i would give a "10" to just three of my optics (all A*: 1.4/85mm, 2.8/200mm and 2.8/300mm), and a "9" to other three primes (2.8/50mm Macro series F, 1.4/50mm M, and 2/28mm K Zeiss/Pentax floating elements).
All the other many P-K lenses i own don't earn the definition of "outstanding" or "exceptional" (which are a "9" and a "10").
Zooms can't be evaluated with the same severity, because they have intrinsic limits, and some features like focal choice and ergonomics have much more importance.
Of course you can't expect very high contrast from a zoom with a 10E/10G optical layout, but the VarioZenitar withstood a lot of rough use by my girlfriend, and in the end her slides and B&W negs were always on par with those i shot myself, using a good Tokina AF wide-angle zoom (which i expected to be much better!).
The lens is not very light, but it's solid and very well built. More than average, for a russian lens.
My girlfriend used to prefer a minimal equipment, when shooting 35mm film. It was either an MX or a Super-A, with the Pentax-A 35-105mm f/3.5 and the VarioZenitar. Just two zooms and one body.
The Pentax-A 35-105 was no slouch, i guess it's one of the best reasonably priced Pentax-A zooms, though i could not find an evident difference between the two lenses (in the focals where the two optics overlap i had problems telling which lens was used).
Maybe it's also because my girlfriend mostly used "central" diaphragms, shooting with good illumination, so the Pentax zoom could well show a better IQ if used wide open, but that's just a speculation.
I have used this lens very little myself, but from what i have seen it deserves the moniker of "hidden jewel".
Little known, and not easy to find (though you could get it for a nice price, if you happen to find one).
It is a nice do-it-all lens for indoor/events shooting, especially with a 400 ISO film.
It is a true pity that it has no electric contacts, and that its usefulness is greatly reduced if you use a DSLR.
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