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Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Pre-set T-mount

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5 25,894 Fri April 28, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $92.25 8.25
Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Pre-set T-mount

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Pre-set T-mount
Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Pre-set T-mount

An old T-mount lens with a pre-set aperture that I converted to K mount.
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New Member

Registered: April, 2017
Location: Chicago, US
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: April 28, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: Solidly Built, fun to use
Cons: Glow wide open, heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: Canon SL1 / 100D   

This is my review of the Tele Vivitar T-Mount 85mm 1.8 lens.

All shots taken with Canon SL1 / 100D with an adapter.

Late last fall I walked into Central Camera here in Chicago to get something or other. After making my purchase, I asked the guy at the counter if they had any interesting legacy lenses. He got excited and grabbed this Tele Vivitar T-Mount 85mm 1.8. Told me it was a unique lens that he owned. He said he'd started working there recently and saw it on the shelf and was happy to meet someone interested in legacy glass.

He also mentioned that he is probably one of the above reviewers of this lens :P

So I used it a fair bit, but have found it's a difficult lens to use under certain circumstances, I had to learn the lens, and I'm not sure I've gotten it figured out just yet. WithWinter now come and gone, I've been walking around with it racking up the shutter count and have here some samples that show its weaknesses and strengths, which are essentially the same thing.

This first shot was taken around noon on a sunny day, no post-processing or filters, WB is at 5950 based on a custom WB off a card shot at f8. The color saturation and soft glow are from the lens, I took 175 shots from 11:30 until 1:20PM, I know, worst time really, and saw this glow and saturation with bright colors into f8 and even f11.

This second shot was taken the next day, same park, but early dusk on a very cloudy day on a tripod. This was taken at f5.6. The glow is still there but the lack of direct sunlight mitigates it.

This next shot has a lot of colors and it seems to me the reds and yellows are unnaturally bright and glowing. Taken on the sunny day, some light high clouds had moved in. Taken at f11.

Finally this last shot has far fewer reds and yellows and I think turned out quite well. The glow isn't as prominent, except for the red shirt and the yellow basket. Taken at f4.

The handling is great, on my camera the aperture markings end up on the bottom of the lens with an adapter, but that's a petty thing. I didn't see any flares when not using a hood, it's sharp corner to corner with minimal aberrations. The bokeh is dreamy and reminds me of my 135mm Super-Takumar 135mm 2.8, in fact I've been comparing them. The Pentax lens does not show the same glowing saturation.I would say the Vivitar is actually sharper if there's no glow. It's a unique lens to work with and I will be keeping it.
New Member

Registered: January, 2014
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $133.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Construction and handling. Unique image rendering: Soft and dreamy wide open, very sharp after f4. They don't make them like this anymore!
Cons: Soft wide open, but that's just the nature of this lens. Perhaps could be considered a negative by some.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

This lens is very unique and there are several excellent reviews online (here, and here). I will echo what others have said: at f/1.8 - f/2, the spherical aberrations render a soft, dreamy glow. By f2.8, the glow occasionally appears in highlight areas. From f/4 onward it is incredibly sharp. Bokeh is uniformly beautiful at all openings -- slightly busy wide open but I like it for that reason. Stop down just slightly to about f/2 and the bokeh is completely smooth. 15 aperture blades make for perfectly round highlights at any aperture setting. Preset functionality and T2 mount make it easy to adapt and use with any camera system. Focus is incredibly smooth. The lens focuses down to less than 5 feet, which is rather good considering the age of this lens.

There's much speculation about the manufacturer of this lens but the consensus seems to be that it's a Tokina. It does not fall within the standard serial number tables for early Vivitar lenses. It appears in the Ponder & Best catalog here.

This lens is an impressive creative tool. Build quality and handling are fantastic and it is an absolute joy to use.

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @1.8

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @2.0

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @1.8

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @5.6

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @2.8

Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Preset T-mount @2.8
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: 14er Country
Posts: 323

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 28, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast, Fun, Good Build Quality, Spherical Aberration
Cons: Spherical Aberration
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8   

I inherited this lens from my Dad. It was part of his original camera kit, and was one of my first lenses as well. It still gets used from time to time with both my film and digital cameras.

This is another one of those lenses where I've put a feature in both the pros and cons. It all depends if you like the look. In this case, I'm talking about spherical aberration at wide apertures. It gives a lovely, soft focus rendering when used at f stops wider than f4 or so. Some people like it, some don't. Hence it's listed as both a pro and a con.

This is probably one of my favorite shots with the lens featuring the softness as a virtue:

Flickr Link

Beyond the "glow," the lens performs a lot like other lenses of its era. It sharpens up when you stop it down. The preset aperture iris has a LOT of blades, so bokeh is quite nice at any aperture. Color and contrast aren't quite as punchy as more modern optics, but they're not bad. The build quality is amazing...they don't make them like they used to!

In the end, you'll need to decide if the spherical aberration will work for you if you plan to shoot this at wider apertures. I have an FA 77mm Limited that serves as my general purpose short tele. The Vivitar 85mm f1.8 provides a nice change of pace from time to time, though, and is a lens I have a lot of fun with.

One other note: the closest focus distance isn't the best as the other reviewers have noted. However, I've noticed that this lens plays very well with extension tubes. Here's a wide open example with a short extension tube:

Flickr Link
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Posts: 228
Lens Review Date: June 6, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $46.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good contrast and resolution. Goods colors. Fine bokeh
Cons: min focus distance.

Heavy. Resist hard use. At F/4 to 11 is very contrast and with excelent power resolving. Very natural colors, especialy for portraits (it's a 85 mm), and a very good element to everyday jobs. Very well balanced.

Very, very good lens. It doesn't seem made in the middle/ended of the 60's, the iQ is actual.

Very recomended.

If you try one, you will stay with it.
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 2,160
Lens Review Date: January 9, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Fast, solid, preset aperture, "glow" wide open
Cons: Long minimum focus distance, hard to focus wide-open, heavy

This is an old Vivitar T mount lens with a preset aperture. I am unsure who made it as it appears to precede the serial number pattern described elsewhere. It is all metal and glass, and so is very heavy. Although the maximum aperture is quite fast, there is a "glow" wide open almost as seen with soft-focus lenses. This makes it a bit difficult to focus wide-open, and I often stop it down a bit. The preset aperture is very easy to use on a DSLR, making it a snap to go from (nearly) wide-open for focusing to closed down to shoot. The bokeh pattern is unusual and quite nice, although there is a tendency to double line bokeh at times.

Simply screwing a T mount adapter on the end of the lens did not allow focus to infinity, I had to take the mount ring off and replace it with a K-mount ring. So it counts as a k-mount lens now! The long minimum focus distance (@4.5 feet) means I often use this with a little extension, and with the preset aperture there is no loss of coupling even with cheap tubes. It s an unusual lens, but worth a try if you come across one.

Sample Shots:

Add Review of Vivitar 85mm F/1.8 Pre-set T-mount

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