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Vivitar 75-205mm F3.8 Macro Focusing

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24 125,445 Sun May 16, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
96% of reviewers $49.30 8.65
Vivitar 75-205mm F3.8 Macro Focusing

Vivitar 75-205mm F3.8 Macro Focusing
Vivitar 75-205mm F3.8 Macro Focusing

This kiron made lens comes in an earlier 2 ring design (pic 2) and a later one-touch model. The 85-205mm f3.8 is similar to the 2 touch version and was also made by Kino Optical (= kiron), in numerous versions.
Note that the two ring version can have a large aperture shield that causes mounting problems on DSLR, as discussed in here and here..
PK mount and other mounts of the era (70's)

Focus: Manual
Focal Length:75-205mm
Optics: 15 elements / 10 groups (2 ring version)
Maximum Aperture: f3.8, constant
Minimum Aperture: f22
Filter Threads: 62mm (one touch version); 58mm (2 ring version).
MFD (2 ring version): normal 2m, macro 37.5cm
macro: 1:3.8. In macro mode the focal length is 75mm, internal movement of optical groups reduces the focus distance.

Scan of user manual and other info here.
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

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Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2015
Location: Toulon, South of France
Posts: 357
Lens Review Date: May 16, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp at f:3.8, fast, accurate focusing, smooth mechanisms, nice bokeh
Cons: weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

another underated lens, that could have the Series 1 label, mine is perfect, very smooth handling and awesome sharp open wide at 3.8 from 75 to 205mm !
I'll join photos taken outdoor this week with no filter (62mm) nor hood...
Just a little heavier than the Tokina release (gen.2) of the Series 1 Vivitar 70-210mm
It can even be said as faster because it's opening 3.8 at 205mm vs 4 at 210mm for the series 1
I'll do an infinity focus test at 205mm and some stress tests facing sun...
Even with flash, colors are very accurate.
I noted handling 9 just because of its weight.

Note : I have the 1st version with single ring and 62mm filters/hoods

New Member

Registered: May, 2020
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: August 18, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: film like softness wide open, but very beautiful. By f5.6, extremely sharp.
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Canon AE1 Canon 5D Mark 3   

awesome lens, great performer, accurate colors and overall a very cinematic feel that is different from my modern day digital lenses. Being a Vivitar lens, it genuinely surprised me!
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2020
Location: Virginia
Posts: 37
Lens Review Date: March 20, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, solid, great mechanics
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: KP   

I really enjoy using this lens. It is solid, smooth, and works great. I purchased this on goodwill which was to say fairly inexpensive. Overall it is a nice lens that can give really great results. In terms of myself, I tend to be fairly "shaky" so getting a sharp image sans tripod is a pipe dream. Examples are hand held on a Pentax KP.

Some images:

Still working out how to embed them directly.

Adding on - this is definitely one of my favorite lenses - took it out tonight over to the local park and wasn't disappointed. Had to carefully take an image of vulture who I am assuming was watching over some eggs, given the hissing and other noises it was given.
Custom User Title

Registered: January, 2016
Location: Alberta
Posts: 5,736
Lens Review Date: October 27, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: great contrast and colour rendition, relatively fast
Cons: heavy focus creep
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

Vivitar 75-205mm f/3.8 MC Macro Focusing Zoom Lens for Pentax K-Mount
Full manual lens (focus/aperture)
Beautiful and sharp images!
Incredible colour rendition and bokeh!
Examples posted are all shot on a Pentax K-5 wide-open, straight out of camera raw files converted to jpeg images with no editing but probably could have increase 1 stop exposure!
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 11
Lens Review Date: September 9, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp; colours, and; available in PK mount
Cons: Purple fringing. Heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30   

I have it in single-ring version (one ring for aperture, and one focusing ring). This is an exceptional lens. If you find it in Pentax K mount than its worth every dime. Its sharpt wide open at f/3.8. CA is a big issue but can be corrected in PP. Contrast is very good. Another great thing about this lens is its close focusing ability. Very handy in indoor environment, and also for macro work.
Test images at 205mm
Test images at 135mm
New Member

Registered: June, 2015
Location: Bern
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: July 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: very solid, good sharpness, good contrast, wel built
Cons: --
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Canon 1D Mk4   

The lens is mechanically very well made (two ring version, Kiron 22xxxx).
The sharpness and the contrast are already good at open aperture.
It produces some CA, but it is easy to remove.
I think it's better than the Vivitar Serie1 80-200mm (made by Tokina).
The photo was taken with a Canon 1D Mk4.

Right click for the picture in full resolution, (width 3500Px.) / 105mm / f3.8


Registered: May, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 891

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 22, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good sharp lens
Cons: The shroud near the aperture lever
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-5   

If you are inept with tools or a bit of a wimp like me, avoid the first version, separate zoom ring type, as you will have to cut-grind-file the shroud around the aperture lever.

The good news if you are up to some lens modification work is that the lens seems pretty good, even with some fungus on the glass.
I used a bench grinder and some files to cut back the shroud in the manner noted in other posts, slapped on a cheap shiny hood (the only one I had for 58mm filter thread) and took it out to the garden to try out.

I was impressed with the sharpness exhibited at both the 75mm "macro" end of the lens which is pretty simple to get to, no jiggling around just move the zoom ring through the 75mm mark and at 200mm. I wish I had a Pentax 55-300mm to compare it to but another poster has done that and found this Vivitar to be good.
I have a Vivitar series 1 Kino made 70-210 (with Canon FD mount so only used with film) and this 75-205 is as good if not better IMO, though there is more fungus in the 70-210.
There is some purple fringing as would be expected considering it's age and vintage coatings but I did not find them as objectionable as I have found on other lenses.
Green button metering does throw up some inconsistencies though as you will see in the images I have uploaded. These may be due to the horrible hood I was using...or just my copy. The optics on my copy are not pristine though, some dust and a little fungus unfortunately.

I like this lens, having the focus ring separate from the zoom ring and furthest from the camera means my trembling hands do not turn the focus out when holding it steady as I can move my hands nearer the camera body, a problem I have with push / pull zooms. It is a weighty lens, so promotes thinking about how to steady yourself to take images. It feels like it would never break any of the moving parts.

Taken at F3.8, 5.6, 8 and 11, unfortunately I seem to have a problem uploading images and getting them in the right place. Apologies for the images being scattered about.


Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 7,586

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 20, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Solid build
Cons: Soft wide open, very heavy, rear flange must be removed or cut down before use

This lens is very solidly built, extremely heavy and quite big. The size and weight make it difficult to handle and I never let it hang from my DSLR for fear it might rip the mount off the camera if jerked. It's soft wide open to the extent that it's not useable, at least on digital. At f/5.6 it's useable but I usually stop it down to f/8 or further to get a good sharp result. I think that's not too bad for an old zoom - I've tried some which don't sharpen up no matter how much you stop down and this lens is certainly sharper than the much more modern Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6.

Contrast is a bit low at any aperture, as can be expected for a lens with old, inferior coatings, but it's not too bad and is easily fixed.

It's very important to note that the rear flange which protects the aperture lever is far longer than it needs to be. It must be removed or cut down to avoid damaging and SLR with the electrical contacts originally used for power zoom, now used for in-lens AF motors. You will damage your camera if you try to mount it without first doing this.

If you're prepared to work around these shortcomings it is a pleasant lens to use and can produce good results, probably better than the average old third-party zoom. The softness before f/8 and the weight stop this lens from getting taken out more.


by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

IMGP7158a Viv75-205
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

IMGP1677a Viv 75-205_3.8
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

IMGP7161a Viv75-205
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: December 8, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: very sharp at f 5,6-8,very nice bokeh, excellent colors
Cons: some very few CA's
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: k-x,k200d   

similar to zeiss 4/80-200 in optical construction.

usuable with macro ring, too

very,very sharp, stopped down a few.

One of my best tele zoom lenses !

I use it for astro photos
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 8, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $12.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Minimal chromatic aberration.
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9   

I have the version pictured. Mine is in good, but well-used condition, with clean optics. I also have the Kiron Series 1 70-210mm f3.5, and a fleet of Adaptall and Adaptall-2 lenses with similar specifications, with which to compare it.

Note first that the Kiron-made Series 1 70-210 f3.5 would itself be more accurately described as the 75-205 f3.8. The two lenses are similar in length and appearance, but this one is much lighter, takes a 62mm rather than a 67mm filter, and doesn't have the cumbersome Macro mode mechanism of the Series 1.

Just like the Kiron-made Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f3.5:
  • It is better at the short end
  • There is an enormous improvement in image quality when stopped down to f5.6, so much so that I don't ever use it wide open; I would use the Tamron 46A instead.
  • There is much less fringing than with the Tamron 46A, 103A, 104A, 03A or 52A, and the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6.
It (and most everything else) wins over the Series 1 whenever weight is at a premium.

The Series 1 has the advantage over this lens in terms of:
  • Colour (although the difference is slight)
  • Working with the Kiron Teleconverters (the 2x MC7 and the 1.5x Matchmate), where I find the extra weight of the Series 1 makes it easier to hold things steady. I have obtained images I was happy with hand-held with the Series 1 with the 2x MC7 zoomed to 400mm with an exposure of 1/8th of a second. I don't seem to be able to hold the lighter lenses as steady.
The Tamrons and the Sigma have a slight advantage in sharpness even when the Vivitar is stopped down, but the difference is only noticeable when pixel-peeping.

So, a solid 8.

Registered: September, 2010
Location: MD
Posts: 945

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 15, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $22.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Constant f3.8 with good sharpness, very little CA or PF, parfocal
Cons: Bit heavy, slight zoom creep
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I'm mainly comparing this Vivitar to my DAL 55-300 shooting w/ a K-x. I was looking for something faster than the 55-300, and I was able to get this one rather cheaply on Goodwill. My copy is the push-pull type and in good condition with only a minor zoom creep. There is a bit of oil on the blades (apparently not uncommon), but it does not have any effect on the lens function.
I'm still learning how to do a better job w/ manual lenses, but when I get the focus correct, this is a very sharp lens and can match and exceed the DAL 55-300. (And I've been extremely happy w/ that lens.) This Vivitar beats the DAL 55-300 at the same apertures, and it does a very acceptable job even when wide open at 3.8. Contrast is better on the DAL, but that is fixable in PP.
This lens works very well by setting it to f3.8, using the K-x in A mode so that it meters correctly, and using catch-in-focus. It appears to be sharpest at f5.6-8, so then it's a matter of using M mode and using the green button to meter which it does quite well. (Note: aperture adjustments in half steps)
There is very little CA or PF. I haven't noticed much flare. I don't have a 62mm hood, but I'm guessing that would help.
All in all, a very nice lens that I will keep especially in situations where I want something faster than my DAL 55-300. Also note that this lens is parfocal, so it will work well for shooting video on the K-x.
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Greenville SC
Posts: 179

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 9, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness!! Price
Cons: Weight, lack of tripod collar learning curve. M not A
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I have the rotating barrel version, not the push pull as pictured. I got this in a package deal locally with an ME-Super and an M50 F1.7 for $70 with a nice leather case and a bunch of nice filters. The 58mm is unfortunately an odd sized filter for the lenses I have, but oh well. Close focus feature is nice as it makes for a good cheap 75mm macro lens. Build quality is superb and everything feels really nice. It will be used in conjunction with my DFA50mm macro but will certainly not replace my 80-200 tokina 2.8.

If you can't afford one of the 2.8 sport lenses, this makes a great cheaper alternative if you can focus manually

Another great feature of this lens is the third gripped ring between the zoom ring and the mount. I can't find any other reason for this ring, but it is great as a handhold if you are rotating between portrait and landscape. It allows you to firmly hold the lens and rotate without messing with the zoom or focus rings. Comparable to holding onto a loose tripod ring
New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $29.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, excellent build quality
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

i just picked this lens up on ebay for $29.00. it works flawlessly with my nikon d700 (sorry, used to have a k-5)--- the lens is heavy but build quality is excellent. there is NOTHING plastic on this lens. barrel action is extremely nice-- no zoom creep, no tightness. hard to believe after 30 plus years this lens is in mint condition. the lens is quite sharp at all apertures. highly recommended. manual focus only, but far worth it when you nail focus with this sharp lens.

Registered: May, 2012
Location: ---
Posts: 6,406

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 4, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $31.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: very solid, good sharpness, good contrast, wel built
Cons: heavy, bulky,
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

Built like a tank. Fixed rear element so no dust pump. Heavy (around 700 to 800 grams)

on the K5

This lens is sharper than my Tamron 70-300 4-5.6 Di etc.. and than my pentacon 200mm f4 legacy prime.

some aberrations (purple fringing) on the left, but not really bothersome

Good Bokeh (shot at F5.6)

Probably not as good as a series 1 F3.5 (this has 62mm filter size, series 1 67mm), but also built by Kiron en close to it. Certainly better than a Tamron or Sigma F4-5.6. Plus you can get it dirt cheap.

Edit: I now also have a series 1 (70-210), this is just as sharp, if not sharper. De series 1 has a little better contrast and renders colors nicer (as in really very good, as opposed to good).

Some samples with The K-1. For close up, it is really pretty good:
Vivitar 75-205 F3.8 by The lens profile, on Flickr

Looking at the bokeh by The lens profile, on Flickr

Bokeh balls:
Bokeh balls by The lens profile, on Flickr
Emperor and Senpai

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Mishawaka IN area
Posts: 6,103
Lens Review Date: May 11, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Quite sharp, cheap!
Cons: heavy, purple fringing
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I bought this lens for 20 bucks with a 2x teleconverter thrown in, both in leather cases. I must say this lens is pretty awesome for what it is. It's way sharper than a Sigma lens I bought that was over 11 times the price!

Really, the only issues I've ran into with it is purple fringing, and it gets really bad at high zooms and in bright light, and the thing is heavy. You could kill someone with it!

Still, if you're not afraid to go fully manual and you can find one of these I would say get it, and get it now. If I could have given it a 9.5 in sharpness I would have. I can pixel peep with this sucker!
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