Registered: March, 2009
Location: South Korea
1 user found this helpful
| Lens Review Date: April 10, 2009 ||I can recommend this lens: No |
Price: None indicated
| Rating: 7 |
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.
The softness of 35mm 2.8 and 4 comparison
Busy bokeh at 35mm 2.8
Smooth OOF transition at 85mm 5.6