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Vivitar Series 1 (Komine) 28-90mm F2.8-3.5 Review RSS Feed

Vivitar Series 1 (Komine) 28-90mm F2.8-3.5

Reviews Views Date of last review
19 120,526 Mon November 22, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
95% of reviewers $51.54 8.79
Vivitar Series 1 (Komine) 28-90mm F2.8-3.5

This classic Komine made original series 1 is often referred to as the "stovepipe" because of its distinctive long profile with wide front end. Close focus "Macro" capabilities at 28 mm.
One thing to be aware of is that this lens is known to suffer from sticky aperture (oily iris blades).

Focal range: 28-90mm
Construction: 14 elements in 12 groups.
Aperture: f2.8 - 3.5
Filter thread: 67mm
CFD: 23cm/9" at 28mm.
Length: 11.2cm/4.5" at infinity focus
Weight: 680g/24oz

Can be found in M42, PK and (uncommon) PKA mounts as well as other camera mounts of the era.

Comparison to Zeiss 28-85mm and some other similar focal length MF zooms in this mflenses thread.
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 (Komine) 28-90mm F2.8-3.5
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Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2009
Posts: 417

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 22, 2021 Not Recommended | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Sharp
Cons: Sticking aperture blades
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 4   

From a sharpness perspective, if it works, its great. Its got tantalum in it! I've tested it using MTF Mapper and had some great results, of prime level sharpness, better than all my other zooms. Given the physical design problems with this lens, I would recommend a Pentax zoom. By the 80's, Pentax had nailed the mechanical aspects of lens construction. None of my Pentax zooms display this level of unreliability.

In my experience, it will have to be serviced and most camera repair folks will turn this particular lens down. I think my camera guy only repaired it as I sent him several lenses in the past, and he was being generous with his time.

I was drawn into this lens, thanks to over-exuberant reviews on the web. Overall, this lens was clearly engineered to be awesome, and the optics are indeed great, but through a small error in the design of the aperture control mechanism and diaphragm, it falls significantly short, and results in a lens which is unusable without maintenance. To be fair to the lens, I tested a lot of lenses using MTF Mapper, and this was clearly the sharpest, even sharper at 28mm than my Pentax M 28mm 3.5, which is a great lens. Hence my journey to get a working copy.

I took a copy of this lens apart myself in order to have a look inside and understand how it works. There is in my opinion a fundamental problem with the design of the aperture which is held in place by grub screws. Even in a mint example, with a dry looking diaphragm, the aperture can be slow. The problem is that the grub screws themselves can squeeze the aperture blades and make it tight for them. When looking at the clean aperture example, it was literally like new. So the only problem could be design and construction. Its a fine control task to get the diaphragm cover disc positioned correctly so that the blades open the right amount, and also do not stick, but stay in place. There are no controls for moving the disc about, so is an iterative trial and error procedure to get the set up of the aperture blades correct. I suspect simply that the lip on the disc was not set to a sufficient depth, and should have been 0.2mm deeper, so the blades could run more freely. This is a shame, as the other aspects of the lens build are surprisingly high tech. The machined bushing surface of the carrier for the rear group is a work of art, for example.

Finally, the rear mount is connected to the rear of the aperture mechanism by a spring, which is a bodge on the linkage, I guess to accommodate different brand rear mounts. The rear aperture mechanism runs in a ring of bearings, connecting down to the diaphragm. There are two brass rings holding the rear aperture mechanism in place which were impossible for me to unscrew with a lens spanner. You would need to do this in order to fully dismantle the lens for a clean and regrease. However, if you want to have a go at getting one working, I would recommend simply unscrewing the elements. The rear one unscrews from the rear, the front two unscrew from the front, and the fourth is the one with the diaphragm which has some screws holding it in place, and can just be pushed out.

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 10,765
Review Date: July 14, 2020 Recommended | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good optics, sharp, well-built, flare
Cons: Very heavy, sticky aperture blades, flare

I got this lens very cheap to try out. Alas, it suffers from the very common sticky-aperture problem - the aperture blades close down too slowly to be in the right place when the shutter fires. Due to this I can only use it on my mirrorless cameras, where I focus and frame with the aperture already where it needs to be for the photo. It's no good on an SLR unless I fork out to have the aperture blades fixed, though I may do that at some point, depending on price of course, as it can produce some very nice images.

This lens is sharp even at wide apertures and has a typical "vintage" lower contrast look to photos, which can be good if used correctly. It also suffers really badly from flare (veiling and blob) but it's the sort of good-looking flare that can be put to good use for the sake of creativity. All-in-all it can produce some very attractive images when you play to it's strength.

It is very heavy and quite long so that makes it difficult to handle on the camera. The build quality is reassuringly tank-like, which I like.

Overall I like the lens and would recommend it for having some fun on a mirrorless camera, as long as you can get it cheap, or even more expensively if the aperture works properly. If it turns out to be relatively cheap to fix the aperture then I'll surely try it out on my K-3 and on film.

Here are a few sample images.

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: The Worlds Only Portable City - Complete with Carrying Handle
Posts: 2
Review Date: July 13, 2020 Recommended | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very high resolution results with m4/3, where everything manual is all about center sharpness
Cons: they tend to get haze and oily blades
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

Worth having if you can find a "keeper" and understand the negative issue side of the lens. This lens has "testimony" behind it, read the reviews posted and a theme develops about owning and holding. I've owned and used several lenses, but hold on to very few? That should speak volumes to anyone evaluating a choice for a manual lens, people don't mind telling you they hold on to them is huge. However it's not all that. The cold hard fact was First Generation Series 1 lenses cost too much, too much to design, too much to make, and too much to buy and so Ponder and Best found other ways to make a less costly design by cutting cost steeply for the Gen 2 Series 1 28-90 lens. Komine was a cheaper manufacturing partner, a purposely intended "choice" not to go with the "best" available and save cost instead. Sometimes cheaper did very good, but the reality is always the same, cheaper made is cheaper made. Hype evolved over the years, people lost sight of what P&B was actually doing, trying to save their business and preserve their company but still failed, even by cutting cost - the whole point is the 28-90 was part of a life preserver act to bail out a sinking company.

It means they could have offered much better and chose not to chance it, playing it safe the cheaper way
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Sammamish, WA
Posts: 161

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 2, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, color
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

I've had this lens for over 20years, don't use it much any more but it is still a very sharp lens.
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 63

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 12, 2017 Recommended | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, bokeh, price, colors
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K3   

I don't have much to add to other reviews -- this lens is as sharp as almost any prime lens I've used. I haven't had it too long and haven't used it much, but took some photos today and made a flickr album. Highly recommended for lovers of old manual lenses.
New Member

Registered: January, 2017
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 27, 2017 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, focus distance, nice Bokeh, robust
Cons: Heavy,
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: Canon 100D/SL1   

Got the Vivitar Series 1 to replace my Pentax SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 for the 2.8 and crazy short focus distance.
I`m using it on Canon 100D (APS-C)
I have it for couple of month now, and i`m loving it!! It is very capable leans, macro, portrait, landscape...

IQ is great, excellent optics, sharp all the way from 28 to 90.
Macro capable with very short focusing distance, some time i found myself bumping the leans hood on the subject

Using it on the Canon 100D small body, is something need to get used to duo to the leans wight.
Also when walking with the camera point down (strap) some time the lens (throw zoom) may extend.

Overall if you are a vintage leans lover looking for wide-angle short zoom, look for bargain deal on one of this.

With extension tube

You can find me on Instagram
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2014
Location: Colorado
Posts: 497

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 25, 2017 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, bright, build quality
Cons: Heavy
Sharpness: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K20D, K5IIs   

I have the uncommon "A" version, which has made this lens much more of a joy to use. I've also used the non-"A" version before but decided to sell, because it is difficult to find the green button while keeping this heavy lens steady. "A" version is much better.

Optically, I tested this lens side by side with A35-105/3.5 and this lens wins in sharpness in the two lenses' common 35-90 range. A35-105/3.5, however, is better in color rendition and anti-flare quality.

This lens is heavy, but balances well on a big camera.
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 982

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: June 14, 2016 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, great color and contrast, handy one-lens outfit
Cons: slight vignetting on the corners at 28mm wide open at f/2.8

I carried one of these lenses back in my salad days of shooting slides back in the 80s and 90s. This lens almost never came off my camera. Usually I would have a camera dedicated just for it so I didn't have to waste time swapping lenses. I used it for all sorts of photography, from scenics to motorsports to fashion. A very flexible lens with outstanding sharpness and contrast. These days I still use it on my film cameras and also with my NEX 7. And I find it as useful now as I did all those years ago. In short, this is the best wide angle to short tele zoom I've ever used.

New Member

Registered: June, 2014
Location: Moscow
Posts: 4

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 9, 2016 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Good bokeh, very well suited for portrait photography.
Cons: Along the edges are not sharp with noticeable chromatic aberration. Not for landscapes.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-50   

This lens is not by chance stayed in my collection. Pretty sharp in the center. Not much around the edges. Nevertheless, it allows to obtain a fairly good artistic images blurred background. I must say - this lens is not for everyone ...
In my opinion very well suited for portrait photography.
When you purchase is necessary to pay special attention to the work of the diaphragm. Many instances of this lens that passed through my hands a diaphragm has been glued remnants of old grease.

F8 diaphragm
by Alexandr Noskov, on Flickr

by Alexandr Noskov, on Flickr

New Member

Registered: January, 2016
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 9, 2016 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: focal range, macro, aperture
Cons: chromatic abberations, lens flare
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: k7   

I LOVE this lens. You cannot get any better for the price range, I think. On my camera about 30% of the time. It gets a good amount of lens flare anywhere near direct sunlight be warned. Chromatic aberrations in certain lighting needs to be removed and is most often blue. However the pics are warm and often dreamy. Sharpness is very nice when you catch it right. The focal range, IQ, and macro functionality are what makes this lens truly a go-to-lens. F/2.8 allows for pretty low light/indoor pictures. The way it handles is very comfortable and intuitive. When this lens shines it is a beautiful thing. Get one, you won't be disappointed
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2014
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 890

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 3, 2014 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Rugged build. Extremely sharp. True color rendition. Fast. PKA available
Cons: A bit heavy. Push-Pull Zoom. Zoom can be a bit stiff
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K500   

Bought this lens a few weeks ago and finally got to go give it a few clicks this past weekend I was fortunate to find a mint PKA version and decided this would be my first Series 1....

Wow. Just Wow. This lens certainly has made the transition from film to the realm of digital photography in a prodigious manner. It is fast at 2.8-3.5 and it is also sharp across virtually all focal lengths, with only a slight softness at 28mm when wide open. A couple of clicks to stop it down a bit and it remains sharp from 28mm all the way to 90. Contrast and colors render a true to life image without exaggerated contrast or saturation. The 28-90mm zoom makes it a truly versatile lens giving you a nice range from wide to telephoto and even gives you macro to 1:3 with close focus ability. This lens is the perfect "walk-around" lens to conquer virtually any scenario if you can tolerate its heft.

If the thought of a fully manual Kiron or Tokina Series 1 lens is just not your cup of tea, and the PKA Gen 4's bad wrap has you staying away -- seek out the Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm Komine. They are still an excellent value and you will not be disappointed!!

IMGP1056 by Ripper2860, on Flickr

IMGP1307 by Ripper2860, on Flickr

IMGP1311 by Ripper2860, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 13

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: January 29, 2014 Recommended | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built, Faster than some of the newer consumer level zooms
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I agree with most of the other reviewers about this lens. It is built by Komine. Apparently it is available with and without the A setting. Mine has the A setting so it was a little more expensive. It is worth it to pay more for the A setting. Unlike the adaptall lenses with the PK A adapter, the A setting always seems to work flawlessly. It pairs very nicely with the Vivitar series one 70-210mm (f2.8-f4.0) which is also available with the A setting. If you like a manual focus zoom then this lens is a good choice. Vivitar also made a 19mm f3.8 and it too has the A setting. So if you put the three together you cover everything from 19mm to 210mm. Actually the 19mm is wider the the supposedly 18mm kit lens. All three of these lenses are better built and will last longer than the modern zooms. Since they are all available with the A setting you retain most of your camera's functions. In performance they are all comparable to the consumer level zooms (like the Pentax 18-135mm) except that they don't connect to the in-camera software to make automatic corrections and of course they don't have automatic focus. I don't find it difficult to focus any of these lenses but if you are in a hurry to get a shot then the automatic focus is very useful.
New Member

Registered: November, 2012
Location: Southern California
Posts: 7

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 12, 2013 Recommended | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: heavy and built to last
Cons: not as sharp as I hoped
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

I shot a video with this lens and it turned out great:

It's heavy and built, the focus and zoom are well balanced.

Senior Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Southern New Mexico
Posts: 119

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 29, 2013 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2.8 aperture, 42-135 on APS-C sensor
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I grew up with everything on the camera being manual: focus, f stop, speed. This lens was built to last and the change to digital has not altered the excellent optical qualities that persuaded me to purchase it many years ago. I like the ability to set up my photo manually and envision what the photo will be. Unlike shooting with film, digital cameras give me instant feedback to make adjustments. This lens works fine for me. I will not be selling it.
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 41

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 11, 2012 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great build and image quality.
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

My all-time favorite lens.
Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 (Komine) 28-90mm F2.8-3.5

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