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Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8 Review RSS Feed

Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8

Sharpness 
 9.7
Aberrations 
 9.3
Bokeh 
 9.6
Handling 
 9.1
Value 
 10.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 70,141 Thu May 3, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $133.67 9.44
Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8

Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8
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Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8
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Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8
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Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8
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Description:
The classic "Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 Auto Telephoto Close Focusing" was made by Komine (28xxxxx serials) from mid 1970's to around 1981 (pre PKA mounts). Structurally similar to the Komine made 90mm macro (Vivitar, Panagor, Elicar etc) with a focus that actions two helicoids giving the large focus extension. Can be found as PK and M42 (as well as other mounts of the era - the example pictured is OM mount).

Lens construction: 4 elements in 4 groups.
Aperture Range: f/2.8-22.
Iris: 8 blades.
Weight: 425g/15 ounces
Length: 8.5cm (at infinity focus), max 15cm at 1:2 macro.
Filter size: 62mm
Focus throw: 360 deg to 1:3, another 180 deg to 1:2
CFD: 0.6m/2'
CWD: 38.5cm/15.2"
Magnification: to 1:2

"Cult classics" discussion of this and other VS1's here.

Review by "Theatre of Noise (Robin Parmar)"
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:



Add Review of Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8
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Senior Member

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Drome, France
Posts: 137
Lens Review Date: May 3, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, light, robust, reaches 1:2, colors and contrast
Cons: Very long throw to achieve 1:2
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3, K-1   

I was looking for a long macro lens, a 135mm 1:2 is interesting in this scope.
To reach 1:1, you have to use at least 65mm extension ring or a 3 or 4 diopter close-up.

For a normal (non macro) use, this lens is excellent, the only drawback is the very long throw.
Macro use is astonishing: you will get a working distance of about 26cm using extension rings, and about 17cm using a 4 diopters close-up. It can be difficult to focus precisely, due to the long working distance.

I performed a macro test at 1:1: this lens vs a tamron 272E vs an Oshiro/Bresser 60mm F2.8.
Using extension tubes, the Vivitar is less sharp than the competitors ; using a 4 diopters close-up, I cannnot determine which one is the sharpest: they are in the same league.

You will find below some example pictures (if you want the exif data and bigger photos, feel free to browse Flickr):









The test (sorry: in French) is here: http://www.mmpentax.com/t7482-vivitar-auto-telephoto-close-focusing-135mm-f-2-8

This lens is one of my favourites, I would not imagine selling it.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2015
Posts: 1,523
Lens Review Date: June 19, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great detail when used properly
Cons: Takes a lot of care to get the best out of it
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1000, Super Program, K10D, K-01, K1   

I bought this lens when I worked at a camera shop in the mid-90s, I think for around $20 (so double that in today's money). I wanted a Macro lens on the cheap, and this one came along and did that, mostly...

I never got really good photos out of it, but what I thought were mostly lens shortcomings were really mostly operator error...

The rule about 1/focal length prevents shake? Not a real good rule at 1/2 life-size...
And with no TTL flash on a modern digital body, flash metering is a bit of a pain (though not as bad as on the K1000).
And a lot of the fill flash tricks that work great at 'normal' distances leave in too much blurring shake at macro distances...

As a portrait lens, the focus mechanics are too slow to work really well in a dynamic, interactive environment, so that was a bit painful, too...though those photos came out pretty well, despite colors a bit more blue than Pentax standards.

All of which sounds terrible, which it never is, but it is unforgiving to sloppiness.
But if it's used as intended, with accommodation to light loss at close focus and understanding of the really long focus throw, it shines. Detail is great from about f5.6, and most of the problems I've had wider than that were probably poor focus caused by my own movement rather than an issue with the lens, as it will do a decent portrait wide open.

It does weigh a ton compared to non-macro 135mm lenses (particularly ones like the M135), but it is an old-school, fairly quick macro, and for that it's pretty reasonable.

Bokeh is nice and smooth at macro distances, less so but never annoying at middle distances.

I've never really noticed any aberrations, but it's a 135mm macro, so most of the ones that annoy me the most on wide angle lenses aren't an issue, though I haven't found a screen door to photograph to quantify this in any way...

Somewhere around f8...
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: August 29, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $152.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, contrasty, saturated, easy to focus, solidly and very cleverly built--Plus 1:2 macro!
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony a7   

Wow! Just wow! This lens captures images that compare favorably with my Zeiss FE 55mm F/1.8 in terms of contrast, sharpness, color, and saturation. The throw is perfect for manual focusing, and even though I am not a pro, I was able to easily capture many action shots at the dog park.
   
Junior Member

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Nottinghamshire
Posts: 47
Lens Review Date: October 19, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, Build Quality, 1:2, Value
Cons: Can be difficult to focus quickly
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I`m using this lens on a Nikon D90 at the moment. It`s going to be the hardest lens to give up when I ( soon I hope ) change over to a Pentax.
What can I say?
It`s sharp, with great build quality and a smooth, if long, focus action. The front element seems to extend forever when you`re getting out to 1:2 but it never seems unwieldy.
I bought from ebay using a Buy It now ( 80 ) and I`ve been struggling to find another for when I change to Pentax. I may have to keep it for a while and use it with the D40 which I will hang on to for a bit.
It`s the sharpest lens with the best feel that I`ve got.
I`ll let the pics confirm that.







   
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 13
Lens Review Date: March 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very Sharp, Very easy to focus
Cons: Doesn't go to 1:1
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

This is a very nice lens especially for the price. 135mm provides plenty of distance between the lens and subject so is better than a 100mm macro in that regard. Unfortunately it doesn't come in a PK A mount so you have to stop down for metering. I have seen them in a PK mount and a Pentax screw mount (42mm). It has plenty of throw so it is very easy to focus. It doesn't go to 1:1 so you would have to use extension tubes or an achromatic closeup lens such as a Marumi (in +3 or +5) or one of the discontinued Nikons such as the 5T. I am still looking for a PK version for my Pentax but I have the Nikon ai version for my Nikon. As pointed out in the other reviews, it is very sharp and has nice bokeh. The newer AF focus macro lenses such as the Tamron 90mm cost over twice as much and are harder to manually focus. This lens is made by Komine who in my opinion made some of the best Vivitar lenses.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: September, 2009
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,292
Lens Review Date: April 26, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros:
Cons:

This is a Komine build for Vivitar and Komine built both a "close focus" 1,2 and a standard focus 135mm. The komine versions for Vivitar can be identified by the serial number starting with 28 as 28X XXX. These are hard to find and are rated very good lenses for the era (1980s) They were available in both k mount and M42. As Komine built lenses for numerous rebranders, you might find the 135MMs as Panagor, Elicar and a few others. I am thinking the standard 135mm Komine would work just as well as a close focus with spacers and these seem to be more available. You might care to check the lens postings on the Panagor 90mm macro (also in Vivitar brand) by Komine for additional back ground on this good lens maker.

Good article on this lens: http://www.theatreofnoise.com/2013/05/a-look-at-vivitar-135mm-close-focusing.html
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: Seattle,
Posts: 26
Lens Review Date: November 2, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, lovely bokeh, allows nice working distance,low cost
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Bought this lens for something like 5 dollars at a tag sale - only shot it a little bit - then recently took some true macro shots with it - Wow! - spent 100 bucks to get dings and dents taken out of it - it had a kind of bump in the helical around infiinty making it useless for quick tele shot. Anyhow, got it fixed and I love it.
some shots on flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sethlaster/6036627347/in/photostream/
- keep clicking older> there are quite a few
   
Inactive Account

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 2,542
Lens Review Date: April 30, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build Quality, Superb IQ, 1:2 Macro
Cons: None Really
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

I have the m42 mount version of this lens, looks exactly as pictured above.

It has superb sharpness, contrast and colors. The focusing ring travel takes a little getting used to but once mastered this is a relatively easy lens to manually focus compared to my other manual lenses. Nice sharpness wide open and by f4 super sharp. This is one of the few lenses I cannot hand hold at the minimum focus distance.

With the m42 version, I can use the lens in Av mode, so no green button needed! I shoot RAW+ and both photos below were minimally PP from a Jpeg...

If you can use a high quality, fast 135mm lens, get this one!



   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Alameda, CA
Posts: 3,206
Lens Review Date: September 21, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp, great working distance, easy to focus manually
Cons: pK mount (stop-down metering)

Built like a tank but not too large nor heavy, very sharp, focusing to 1:2. The FL of 135mm gives great working distance.

I sold my copy of the legendary Pentax 135mm F/2.5 and keep this instead.

I bought it for only $25 (with a Chinon CM-4 body and Chinon 50mm F/1.9). I don't want to record the price because it will skew the average price. If I were selling it now, I wouldn't take less than $150.

Sample photo at 1:2 (resized only, no other post-processing):



With Raynox 250 attachment:

   
Pentaxian

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Holy Land
Posts: 1,041

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, flat field design, great working distance
Cons:

This lens can produce a remarkably close reproduction ratio of 1:2 from a distance of 20 inches! For macrophotography of critters and bugs, this lens is more useful than many 100mm range macro lenses.
Very sharp and great colour quality. Smooth bokeh in blurred backgrounds.
All metal build quality makes it a bit heavy but solid with no looseness.

You can find more information about Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 1:2 Macro lens on Hin's Tech Corner blog here:

http://www.techtheman.com/2008/09/vivitar-135mm-f28-12-macro-from-komine.html
Add Review of Vivitar Auto Close Focusing (1:2) 135mm f/2.8



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