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Vivitar Series 1 100-400mm f 4.5-6.7

Reviews Views Date of last review
3 21,722 Thu September 14, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $103.00 7.67
Vivitar Series 1 100-400mm f 4.5-6.7

Aperture: f/4.5 (100mm) f6.7 (400mm) - f/22
Closest Focusing Distance: 78 in
Picture Angle: 6.4 - 24 degrees
Groups / Elements: 12 Elements in 9 Groups

Attachment / Filter Size: 67 mm
Diameter: 2.9 in
Length: 6.3 in
Weight: 25.9 oz
Mount Type: Pentax KAF3 (in-lens AF only)
Price History:

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Junior Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 29
Lens Review Date: September 14, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap! Goes to 400mm
Cons: Long min focus, some creep, modest sharpness, CA
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony A7RII   

I have only a few ~400mm lenses, and they're all manual. Thus, when I saw this "made in Japan" Phoenix in nice condition available for $60 (in Sony A mount that I can use with AF on my A7RII via an LA-EA4), I figured it was worth trying. I'm guessing this Phoenix is basically a low-end Cosina product.

The lens looks and feels cheap, but it doesn't really seem to be badly made. I wouldn't call the focus fast nor buttery, and it is sometimes loud enough to perhaps be an issue if shooting video, but given a scene with decent contrast, AF works fine. That's actually surprisingly good because it's f/6.7 at 400mm. The push/pull zoom needs a bit much force around 400mm, and it can slip easily near 100mm, but it's perfectly usable. It's not a small lens, but it's only about half as long as my fixed 400mm lenses, and it's even shorter at 100mm.

Image quality at 100mm is quite respectable, and by 400mm it's still comparable to the best of my f/6.3 400mm primes. Basically, IQ is ok, with fairly low contrast and modest resolution (perhaps 10MP effective on FF wide open, improving when stopped down). There is almost no vignetting. It has about 2.9 pixels worth of transverse CA at 400mm, but the color channels are sharp enough to easily and effectively correct It also suffers some axial CA (bokeh CA), with red/blue fringing in front of the focus distance and green behind, but bokeh are actually fairly nice: no bright ring artifacts nor onion skin (not that we'd expect onion skin from a lens without aspherics).

Overall, the images look pleasing enough, especially after a little auto-levels adjustment.
Forum Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 52
Lens Review Date: June 1, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $99.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IQ, price, zoom range
Cons: focus hunt, no quick shift.

200 to 300mm just didn't seem to be long enough for outdoor wildlife and the 6X7 300mm prime is OK if I'm staying put, but just a pain in the neck to carry around. I've never gotten acceptable results from things like mirror lenses or teleconverters. This 100-400mm zoom extends my reach without burning up all my $$$ on one piece of gear.

I don't own any really great lenses to compare this lens to, but initial shots are better than my SMC FA 100-300 (silver), my DA-L 50-200 "kit lens", various zooms like older Tamron 70-210, and a TAK-A 70-200. The only long lens I have that seems to beats this lens for sharpness and contrast is a S.M.C 6X7 300/f4 but it seems to be a little more subject to flare and PF in harsh lighting than this zoom.

This used zoom has zoom creep, and hunts like a blind hound unless you "pre-focus" on a tree or bush about the same distance as your anticipated subject. It seems rather large and about a pound heavier than the FA100-300, but not near as heavy as the 6X7 300/f4.

Here's a link to a photo with the DA 50-200, FA100-300, Vivitar 100-400 and the 6X7 300/f4 side by side.
Moderator Emeritus

Registered: May, 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Posts: 10,648
Lens Review Date: December 8, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Range, weight, IQ* focus speed
Cons: A bit soft wide open, some CA's

I'd rate this lens between a 7 and 8. It's a very good value for the money and will get you close on a budget. Sometimes that's all that matters. *Sharpness is decent especially when stopped down a bit. Softer at 400mm and pull it back a little for a better image.

Build quality is average, metal mount but most of the rest feels like plastic. But that is also a plus for lighter weight. Most 400mm lenses weigh a ton and you won't be carrying them around long.

IMO if you are in the market for a long lens on a budget and come across one in decent shape for $150.00 or less, then pick it up. It's fun and won't break the bank.
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