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Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom

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8 60,396 Sat September 19, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
88% of reviewers $124.33 8.25
Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom

Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom
Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom

This review page is for the Cosina made (9xxxx serials) lens with a 67mm filter:
"Vivitar Series 1 2.8-3.8/28-105 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom"
A later 77xxxx serial lens with a 72mm filter was made by Kobori and is reviewed here.
Later a Cosina made 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 AF lens was issued under the Series 1 label.

14 elements in 12 groups.
8 blade iris.
CFD 0.22m at 28mm
Macro/close focus at 28mm.

The Kiron 28-105mm is reviewed here.

Review on the A lens a week blog.
Mount Type: Pentax KA
Price History:

Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F2.8-3.8 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom
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Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 1,761
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: looks nice
Cons: low quality
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 5    Value: 5   

Saw two reviews here and needed to add my opinion. This lens reads some very interesting specs: large zoom range, large aperture. Optical quality is fairly low. The focus distance changes when zooming. All lens tests of this lens suggest low performance as well.
Looks nice, specs look nice, but that is it. I used the lens many years ago, bought it new.
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2020
Posts: 75
Lens Review Date: September 19, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: fast, sharp; nice, solid build; great single-lens range for travel; good dedicated lens hood; macro
Cons: no control of zoom creep above 30 degrees; vignetting on FF; macro
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K1000, LX, PZ-1, K10D, K-3 II   

The categories on this 28-105mm Series 1 lens need to be changed to simply "f/2.8-3.8" and "f/3.5-4.5", because my lens doesn't fall into any of the categories listed. My lens also seems to be sharper than lots of the copies reviewed here on Pentax Forums, so it may be an improved later design. I bought my copy new (apparently for close to $200, not counting tax) in the 1980s for my K1000, and it was my most-used lens for a good decade, as I was doing a lot of world traveling in those years, and this would be the only lens I'd take for travels by plane. I got a lot of great photos with this lens in my film days, when I would shoot about 2/3 slide and 1/3 regular film.

One of the things that I didn't like about this lens on a FF camera was the vignetting and light fall-off in the corners, with some barrel distortion noticeable at 28mm. Aside from the zoom creep, this problem with corners pushed me steadily away using from this lens over time, despite its sharpness. And then I tried it on my APS-C cameras, and it really shines there, with no real drop-off in the corners at all. So even though I rate this an "8" overall, I'd rate it a "9" for use on my APS-C cameras alone.

The build is top-notch, except for the zoom creep. The focusing ring is rubber (with "Vivitar Series 1" nicely imprinted into the black rubber on the side of the barrel), and it's large and has good grip, and has a quick focus. The aperture ring is solid, and has the "A" setting for aperture priority. This lens has some heft it it, with a big front glass for the f/2.8, and with the dedicated (included) lens hood, it can look imposing when out on the street photographing (see photos below), and it looks good overall (not ugly like some with other variants of this lens say in their reviews. The lens hood needs to be as large as it is on the 28-mm end, to avoid getting in the photos; so it's functionally very good.
(The hood is a twist-on bayonet-type attachment, back behind where the filter screws in, so you can turn the polarizer by putting your fingers around the lens hood easily.) My lens version has 8 blades, and as I said, it's not one of those listed in the two pages of "Series 1" 28-105mm Vivitar zoom lenses (see the front-lens inscriptions on my photo below). My lens has serial number 09811848, with the 72-mm filter size. I found one list of Vivitar lenses at that does not list this lens (like Pentax forums, it lists the Ser. 1 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 only with a 67-mm filter size), but it does say that serial numbers starting with 09 or 9 were made by Cosina.

So, to the zoom creep: while it's easy to move the lens in and out quickly, it's a bit too easy; and once you point the lens upward or downward more than 30 degrees, it will move (along the zoom axis) until it gets to one end or the other -- which is very annoying, so that you can't do any photography with this lens above or below 30 degrees from horizontal unless you keep your hand on the lens (but then this really isn't a tripod lens, anyway -- it really is a hands-on lens). I also have this problem on my Series 1 Vivitar 70-210mm lens (see my review in that section), though zoom creep is not quite so bad on that lens. But other than zoom creep, this lens is really an excellent lens. The dedicated "pinch-on" "Vivitar Series 1" lens cap does not fit on with a polarizing lens, unfortunately.

Notice that I listed "macro" as both a pro and a con above. It's a pro because it has a macro option, which can come in handy at times. It's a con because the closest distance that I can get, and get proper focus, is about 3 feet (1 meter), and it's not a 1:1 macro (it says 1:6.8x on the barrel). I've gotten really nice photos of flowers at about 3 feet with nice bokeh with this lens, and it's not a huge deal for me because you're really going for the fast glass and the big, useful focal-length range. One of the photos below shows the lens fully extended in macro mode (where it "locks" in place when you turn it all the way to the left). Another photo shows the lens fully pulled back, and you can see photos both with and without the lens hood (which is very necessary, given the large objective glass that's very exposed at the end of the tube).


Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 641
Lens Review Date: December 16, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Solid build, nice optics
Cons: Heavy, push-pull zoom takes some getting used to

This lens recently came to me with a K20D and two other lenses, which is why I left the price paid blank. Separating that out from the entire $150 lot would be entirely subjective. That said, I really like the lens. It has a solid feel--gotta love vintage metal hardware--and the optics are nice and crisp. Optically, the lens is surprisingly bright and sharp but handling is a bit awkward, given that it is manual focus and uses a push-pull zoom mechanism. It's also really long for its range of focal lengths. There are far more compact options available. I don't know how much use it will actually get, but it's an interesting addition to my collection.
Journeyman Cat Wrangler

Registered: June, 2017
Location: Indiana, U.S.
Posts: 4,827
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $92.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid build, smooth zoom and focus, fairly bright, crisp at f4.0 and above.
Cons: Heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-50   

I have only had this lens for a few days but I am learning its tricks.
I purchased a Near mint copy on E-bay for $75.00 plus 17.00 shipping. It had the case which was also immaculate. (No strap
though.) Smooth and I am liking the push pull zoom as my copy is smooth in zoom and focus.
After getting into the groove with the green button and using it in A mode with shutter and aperture priority, I started getting more depth of field than when I was experimenting with it wide open. I also removed the Promaster UV filter that was on for protection and found that the focus indicator and metering seemed better than when it was on.
my model is the Cosina made version and if the Kiron is reportedly even heavier, I would not want it.
The lens is more capable than I am skilled at manual focus, so I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the lens.
Macro photography with uncooperative wildlife is hard, domestic critters, only a bit easier.

Here is a day 1 photo of my cat when I kept bothering her to see how close i could focus. f2.8 1/125s ISO 3200

Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2014
Posts: 1,313
Lens Review Date: February 6, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp Fast and Super Crisp Photo's
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: k-30   

I really can get over how sharp this Lens is .It is completely under estimated. I have a funny feeling if you don't know how to manual focus, then maybe you might not like this Len, although being so bright it is very easy to nail spot on focus.
New Member

Registered: April, 2014
Posts: 11
Lens Review Date: April 27, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $89.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Built Sturdy, IQ Sharp, nice bokeh
Cons: The focus distance changes when zooming
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K20D   

I got one of this kind of lens last week. It cost me $89 include postage. A complete information about this lens may be:

Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm F/2.8-3.8, Filter size 67mm, P/K mount with "A" mark on the aperture ring

Yes, it is the version of filter-size in 67mm, which has been commented as very good by some people worldwide. I was very satisfied at the first with it since the pictures were very sharp and clear.

This is a very good manual lens. I will upload some pictures taken with this lens, and you can see the image quality (IQ) is very good even in the wide open of the aperture 2.8 at the Focal 105mm, and the color rendition is very nice. Of course the bokeh is amazing, too. Especially when worked with its macro, even under f/11, the bokeh is still very good in outdoor photographing since it has a very short distance to the object (I guess it is less than 0.5 meter).

I also tested its focal 28mm, the IQ at f/2.8 is acceptable to me, and sharp enough at f/4, but very sharp at f/5.6. However, the bokeh is not good enough under some specific situations due to the closest distance is 1.5 meters.

I would like to recommend this lens strongly if the price is around &100, but it might be worth to have it as a collection if the condition is mint and the price is under $200.

Good luck!!
Forum Member

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Sterling, VA
Posts: 70

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 11, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent image quality
Cons: Focusing ring ergonimics

I find this lens very good in providing quality pictures. Color rendition is at least as good as comparable Pentax lenses. Given the price I paid I would have given the lens a 10 but for the unusual function of the focusing ring; it does take some getting used to. Some people just don't like it; however, if you can get past that you will find this a very good lens.
Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2010
Location: ohio
Posts: 218
Lens Review Date: September 9, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $49.95 | Rating: 9 

Pros: nicely made.a good looking lens.
Cons: it's focus to inf. is off at f2.8 slight vignetting at 28mm wide open

everything about this lens (at least mine) screams quality. the fit and finish of this lens is next to none. i love the grip with the "series 1" molded into it. the one i have is made by cosina. it has the 67mm ring. it's not exactly a light is a varifocus lens which has to be refocused each time you move the zoom. it's lens groupe is 14/12. it has nine blades. this lens loves the lower iso films. with it's 2.8 through 3.8 you can use them (low iso's) in lower light are tack sharp.good contrast. great saturation .it macros to 1.1. and does it very well i might add. some of these lenses can be had for a song if you look hard enough.and they are well worth the hunt.
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