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Vivitar 24-70mm f/3.8-4.8 Series 1

Reviews Views Date of last review
2 15,501 Fri January 2, 2015
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $90.00 8.50
Vivitar 24-70mm f/3.8-4.8 Series 1

Wide angle - mid range zoom from the classic series 1 range. Cosina made (09xxxxx serials).

Macro focusing zoom
67mm filter ring
Automatic aperture ring
Push pull zoom
Mount Type: Pentax KA
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: January, 2015
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: January 2, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good sharpness, color and contrast for an old zoom. Good focal range. 'A' setting. Nice build quality.
Cons: Not fast aperture. Flare occurs in opposite light. Precise focusing is needed to achive sharpness.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-01, Pentax K10D   

Very nice lens indeed, combying good sharpness and usability with that magic "film style". I bought it without any serious expectations, attracted by low price (90$) and convenient focal range for crop. The Vivitar 24-70 Series 1 works good even with 16 Mp matrix of K-01, and it is razor sharp on K10D. I can say that this rare Vivitar is far better than any 18-55 kit lens in terms of sharpness and "3D effect". Macro 1:5 is not a true macro, but a useful close-up option with nice picture and bokeh.

Very good contrast. Rich colors (color rendition is slightly cold, so you'd better shoot in RAW).
Barrel distortion is slightly visible at 24mm, but correction in Capture One is easy and almost non-destructive for composition.
REMEMBER: you should focus very precisely to make sharp photos even if aperture is stopped down to 8. But if you do it, the sharpness is very good.

The lens is build like a tank. It was designed in 80th by Cosina as a professional zoom and costed about 500$! The focusing/zooming rubber ring is very handy. The length changes very slightly when zooming (almost inner zooming). Bokeh is OK due to 8-bladed aperture, but not outstanding. At 5.6 or 8 a visible octagonal flare can occure in opposite light. On the other hand, I didn't find any probems with aberrations. Strong blue CA may occure only in very contrast light.
Now it is my most used walk-around manual zoom!

Some hi-res examples from K-01 (without any sharping, just DNG to JPG conversion):
24 mm f/7.1:
30 mm f/6.3:
70 mm f/7.1:
70 mm f/6.3:
Close-up, f/8:
And typical flare:
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Newcastle
Posts: 1,824

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 14, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: 24mm is sharp
Cons: Zoom creep and a little PF
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5   

After receiving this in a job lot my immediate thought was to sell it to fund my collection of Pentax lenses. I am glad I didn't go with my initial instinct!!!

To understand this poorly known lens I decided to test its performance against some Pentax 'keeper' primes from the same era for IQ comparison, namely:

SMC Pentax K 24mm f2.8
SMC Pentax K 35mm f3.5
SMC Pentax M 50mm f1.7

The test was undertaken using a K5. Photos (RAW) were taken initially with the Vivitar in 'A' mode for each of the comparable focal lengths. Then a photo was taken with each prime lens using the same f stop determined by the Vivitar (trying to minimise variables). All photos were taken in Manual mode using green button for the Pentax primes.

I imported the RAW images into Camera Raw and proceeded to contrast stretch each image to the same level. Highlight and shadow were adjusted to their maximum for each image - no other adjustments were made. Crops of the centre and edge were prepared saved as a jpeg and compared. Images are below:

Vivitar 24mm outer edge

SMC Pentax K 24mm outer edge

Vivitar 24mm centre

SMC Pentax K 24mm centre

Vivitar 35mm centre

SMC Pentax K 35mm centre

Vivitar 50mm centre to edge

SMC Pentax M 50mm centre to edge

The above testing (albeit not scientific but good enough to look for difference) has convinced me the Vivitar 24-70mm Series 1 lens is a keeper. It appears that the Vivitar is sharper than the Pentax 24mm and 50mm - with only the SMC Pentax K 35mm being superior (understandably so - that Pentax lens is VERY sharp and very highly regarded).

Colours are broadly more realistic in images taken by the Pentax lenses. The Vivitar consistently produces a warmer image, almost Takumar like, which is not a bad thing as the colour can be either acceptable in its own right or altered in PP if desired.

Contrast is perhaps a little better in the Vivitar (except for the SMC Pentax K 35mm lens). Not much difference there.

So what would I rather have? A bag full of primes (which I am not adverse to) or this lens? While I have a preference for primes due to IQ benefits I have to say that I cannot justify keeping the 24mm or the 50mm in my bag if the Vivitar is accessible.

Other benefits over the primes include the 'A' function and the short well dampened focus throw. Focusing is smooth and precise so there is nothing lost there. However, there is a little zoom creep - but this is a hard thing to overcome given the amount of glass in the lens (I have no idea how many elements there are by the way).

So I am keeping the Vivitar and surprisingly will be selling the Pentax 24mm and 50mm. Of course the SMC Pentax K 35mm will remain in my possession (never to be sold willingly).
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