Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Third-Party Pentax Lenses - Reviews and Database » Vivitar Lenses » Zoom Lenses
Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8 Review RSS Feed

Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8

Reviews Views Date of last review
3 60,663 Wed February 12, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
33% of reviewers $100.00 7.00
Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8

Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8
Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8

"This Series I lens provides a wide angle to short telephoto capability in a lens only 3.6 inches long that weighs only 26 ounces. Like its cousins, this Series I lens features a short ten inch close focus range providing a 1:3.5 reproduction ratio. What is more important is that the lens is very sharp throughout this range, with excellent contrast too (thanks to VMC multi-coating). Again, the lens is large in diameter, requiring a 72mm filter, but providing a reasonably fast f/2.8 constant aperture throughout its range....
Vivitar achieved this by constructing a varifocal zoom..."
- cult-classics.

Made by Kiron
Variable Focusing
Push-pull Zoom
Constant 2.8 Aperture
72mm Filter
Length: 10cm
Weight: around 700g
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-3 of 3

Registered: November, 2017
Location: Garden City, NY
Posts: 3,886
Lens Review Date: February 12, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Character; Handling; Softness
Cons: Soft; HEAVY
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-50   

The lens is an 8 in terms of legacy lenses. I cannot compare this lens to a modern lens because i simply have not used a modern 35-85/2.8 - and also because it would be apples/oranges. A legacy lens cannot compare to a digital one.

If you seek that digital look and sharpness = this lens is a 0.

This review will likely benefit those who understand the limitations of legacy glass on newer digital bodies.

If you pixel peek or if you seek that digital tack sharpness = look away from here.

If you like to experiment, enjoy softness as needed and a nice bokeh, and have time to frame your shots... This lens is a beauty (mind you I've owned this copy for 1 day!).

Shots wide open at 85mm:

85mm at 5.6:

35mm sample (stopped at 5.6):

New Member

Registered: February, 2009
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: September 20, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast, great IQ when stopped down
Cons: Extremely soft wide open
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 5   

This is supposed to be one of the best Series 1's. It's a very mixed bag. I've had two and had the same experience with both. They were extremely soft wide open. Even worse than a single use film camera. The photos in the other review are exactly like what I experienced. Stopping down even a little results in great IQ. Since I bought it for the speed I returned both.
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: South Korea
Posts: 275

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 10, 2009 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: sharp if stop down from F4, smooth bokeh at 85mm
Cons: soft dreamy and ring bokeh at 35mm wide open

This is one of the less popular Vivitar Series 1. It's big and heavy and built beautifully, all metal and stuffs. The length is constant 10cm and despite of being heavy and using push pull zoom it's immune to zoom creep. It's a vari-focus design, means when you change the focal length the focus is changed also. According to some people this also means the lens has less restriction in its design and the designer supposedly can optimized both focal ends better than normally. On this particular lens, I just feel that at 35mm and 85mm the lens acts almost like a totally two different lens, with different characteristics.

At 35mm, wide open, it's soft, causing dreamy soft-filter-like effect, but this might have something to do with small scratch on one of internal element of my Vivitar. When stopped down to F4 it's much much better, sharp picture. But then you'd get a usable 35mm F4 not F2.8. The bokeh at 35mm wide open also not very pleasant, with distracting bokeh and OOF highlights look like doughnuts. Again, stopped down to F8 it's much better.

At 85mm, wide open, the soft-filter effect is gone, though it's still slightly soft. Good for portrait I suppose, although from my testing I prefer the color from my Pentax-A 50mm 1.4 or my Helios-44 for portraits. But for mid-size flower shots, where you want to include some background I found this lens at 85mm to be perfect, and contrast to 35mm, at 85mm this lens renders smooth OOF transition, better if stopped down a little. The bokeh also better and there's no doughnut OOF highlights.

On all focal lengths, the color seems to be less saturated than my liking, even when I use Vivid Image Tone. It's also vulnerable to flare, ghosting and glare, all pretty much expected from its big 72mm front diameter and simple coating. The varifocus does not bother me at all, but the focus throw is only around a quarter of round, much like an auto focus lens, despite being manual lens. So, wide open at longer focals in a lot of occasions I have trouble to quickly find perfect focus even with a split-screen installed on my DS.

Bottom line, I've tried to like this lens, seeing that it is one of the cult Vivitar Series 1 lens. But there's too much I dont like from this lens, and it's always hard to favor this lens instead of my other lenses which cover similar focals. If I can summarize, it's like a quite good 35mm f4 (note not f2.8) lens and a good 85mm 2.8 lens combined together. But for the size and weight, I think you better off with two small 2.8 28/35 and 85 primes. I guess there's a reason why this lens is not as popular as other Vivitar Series 1. For taking pictures I dont recommend this lens, but as collectible it's a piece of beautiful lens which is rare and worth collecting.

Sample Pics:
The softness of 35mm 2.8 and 4 comparison

Busy bokeh at 35mm 2.8

Smooth OOF transition at 85mm 5.6
Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm F2.8

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:26 PM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]