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Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm Line

Reviews Views Date of last review
11 133,859 Sat September 14, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $100.00 9.50
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm Line


There are six versions of the manual focus Vivitar Series 1 (VS1) 70-210 zoom lenses, all of which can be distinguished apart from each other visually (and their manufacturers can be identified by using their serial numbers). Interestingly, Vivitar was never actually a lens manufacturer per se -- Vivitar contracted with various lens makers to produce lenses to its own specifications, which it then marketed under the Vivitar brand (although the contractors would sometimes end up releasing similar lens designs under their own and/or other brands), and this always-a-lens-specifier-and-never-a-lens-maker characteristic is certainly true for all the VS1 70-210 zooms.

The first VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured by Kino (SN 22nnnnnn), from about 1973 to 1981. This revolutionary lens design (the first successful "macro zoom" lens ever designed) was an f/3.5 model that likely underwent the greatest number of engineering revisions during its lifetime. The first VS1 lens design that Vivitar released, it probably did more than any other VS1 product to make the Series 1 lenses a highly respected line of lenses for quite some time in the latter 20th Century. For Pentax users, this version was available at first only in M42 screwmount trim, but a K-mount fitting was added to the available mounts when Pentax came out with K-mount bodies and lenses in 1975.

The second VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured by Tokina (SN 37nnnnnn), from about 1981 to 1983. Like the first version, this was also an f/3.5 design, although it was a more compact lens overall. At 1:4 maximum magnification, it did not focus quite as closely as the first version, but it did not require any special user actions to enter "macro" mode -- this version represented a total redesign of the 70-210/3.5 specification, and Vivitar marketed it with the slogan, "Think of it as 141 of the finest lenses that you can buy". This second version was available for Pentaxers in both M42 and K-mount trim (and Tokina did also release its own RMC Tokina version of this lens).

The third VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured by Komine (SN 28nnnnnn), from about 1984 to 1986. Unlike the first two versions, which featured a constant f/3.5 aperture throughout the zoom range, this version was the first in the series to feature a fast-to-slow aperture transition, with f/2.8 at the 70mm end and f/4 at 210mm. Of interest to Pentax shooters (then as well as now), when Pentax released the first Ka bodies (and lenses), Vivitar also switched over to Ka functionality for this design as well, so that this version can be found with either K-mount or Ka-mount functionality. Modern Photography magazine lens tests showed this version to be a bit sharper than the earlier versions (although Modern Photo never tested the later versions for a more complete comparison).

The fourth, fifth, and sixth 70-210 zooms were manufactured by Cosina (SN 09nnnnnn). While there are (not surprisingly) many similarities in these three newer versions, which differ from the first three versions especially in their zoom handling, there has been an unfortunate tendency in forums and other online references to dismiss these versions as inferior to the first three (often by those that have never even owned any of them), simply because they were made during a time when Vivitar may have been "resting on its laurels" a bit by applying the Series 1 label to far too many lenses (which does NOT mean than all of the VS1 lenses of that time were necessarily inferior), and/or perhaps because they were built by Cosina (despite the fact that Zeiss has also employed Cosina to manufacture some of its own highly regarded lenses).

The fourth VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured from about 1987 to perhaps 1995. The most obvious difference between this version (as well as the two that followed) to the previous three versions was in the action of the sliding zoom and focus collar -- to zoom closer (toward 210mm) on these Cosina versions, the one-touch zoom ring had to be pushed outward, unlike on the first three versions, where the zoom ring had to be pulled closer to zoom in. [In 1988, to mark Vivitar's 50th Anniversary, Vivitar produced and gave away as gifts to Vivitar distributors in several countries a limited run of fifty sets of gold-plated brass versions of this lens and the VS1 28-105/2.8-3.8 lens, marked with serial numbers from 01 to 50, in velvet-lined, wooden display boxes.]

The fifth VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured from 1991 to perhaps 1995. Otherwise nearly identical to the fourth version, this version featured Vivitar's novel Q-DOS system that, by incorporating internal red and cyan filters that could (optionally) be set in position within the lens barrel, offered anamorphic 3-dimensional capability to produce images that, when later viewed with (supplied) red and cyan glasses, display 3-dimensional depth quite effectively. The lens was marketed as "the world's first switchable 3-dimensional single lens system that requires no special film, no special camera or processing, only a special lens".

The sixth VS1 70-210 zoom was manufactured starting in perhaps 1995. Likely the biggest difference between this version and the previous versions was the incorporation of apochromatic optics (although there are some other physical differences as well, such as wider filter threads and the inclusion of a bayonet-mount reversible hood). Cosmetically, it has a semi-gloss finish, less glossy than in the other Cosina versions. [This sixth version was even released as an autofocus lens model, although only for Canon, Minolta, and Nikon mounts.]

Version 1 Lens Reviews -

Version 2 Lens Reviews -

Version 3 Lens Reviews -

Version 4 Lens Reviews -

Version 5 Lens Reviews -

Version 6 Lens Reviews -

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ~NO~ FURTHER REVIEWS BE PLACED ON THIS LEGACY PAGE, AND THAT ANY NEW REVIEW OF A SPECIFIC VERSION BE PLACED ON ITS OWN RELEVANT REVIEW PAGE - Please use the links above to add any new lens review for any of the manual focus Vivitar Series 1 (VS1) 70-210 zoom lenses. [This review page will continue to exist as an introductory page to the VS1 70-210 lens series, with its legacy lens reviews (not all of which specify exactly which version is being reviewed) being allowed to remain as originally written.]

Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

Add Review of Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm Line
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-11 of 11
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: September 14, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp, excellent lens, no CA's
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-S1 k-x k200d Mz 5 sfx z20p   

what a wonderfull lens !!!

I've got the 15/10 elements version of Vivitar Serie 1

++ excellent sharpness

++ nice bokeh

+/++ wide open scarecely visible CAs - with f 8-11 none

++ excellent color rendition

++ high contrast

++ full metal / glass constuction

9.7 points for the first 3.5 version with macro 1:2

ps. with a 36 mm macro ring and focal reductor (2/1 elements of a 8x30 binocular fitted into a small macro ring !!!) I've got an excellent macro les 2.8/50-150 with exorbitant sharpness

(very low price because of a small fungus at the edge of the front lens - not remarcable with APS-C.)
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 1,286

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 31, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: n/a
Cons: n/a

PLEASE POST ~NO~ FURTHER REVIEWS ON THIS LEGACY PAGE, AND INSTEAD POST ANY NEW REVIEW OF A SPECIFIC VERSION ON ITS OWN RELEVANT REVIEW PAGE - Please use these specific links to add any new review for any of the manual focus Vivitar Series 1 (VS1) 70-210 zoom lenses:

Version 1 Lens Reviews -

Version 2 Lens Reviews -

Version 3 Lens Reviews -

Version 4 Lens Reviews -

Version 5 Lens Reviews -

Version 6 Lens Reviews -
New Member

Registered: June, 2016
Posts: 1

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 4, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very inexpensive
Cons: None
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Nikon D50   

Look...I am just an amateur. In fact I put it on and love using the instant screen output of "what do I need to adjust next" It is completely manual and it does not take long to understand the moment. Lets face it , we do not need to take notes and develop the film now. It is a Fantastic lens with INSTANT feedback from the DSLR. The other day I took it out and had my boy stand for a few seconds, he was wanting to get on with skateboarding. I took the following in one take after a prior adjusting for light. I was 12 feet away with a hand held D50 Nikon and this is what I editing...simple , pure result from a camera moron (actually i am intelligent) with no training or education in film.Thank you.
40 Year old Lens!!
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2015
Location: Toulon, South of France
Posts: 302
Lens Review Date: September 11, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: build quality, sharp, bright colors
Cons: very heavy, has to be mod for dslr
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 10   

I've not bought it yet but the seller lent it to me for testing, I have tested it on sea-side and will probably buy this 1st version (with the 67mm filter thread). This lens can produce fantastic photos for the price. The only bad thing is there is no tripod screw-mount on it as it is much heavier than the camera body, and it may take some training to realy master this beast, maybe more hours spent at the gym

Also the model I have tested needs a mod to be mounted on a KAF2 mount, the aperture lever shield must be trimed or removed (3 screws to remove it).

Here are some photos taken this afternoon (I missed a lot of my shots because move blur comes very fast when you don't want to go over ISO 200). Found best results between f/5.6 - f/8 but it is still sharp wider, only focusing becomes harder at wide and the huge focusing cylinder is a bit to smooth.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2013
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 118

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 7, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great contrast, sharpness, price, macro, colors, superb bokeh, quality of construction, constant f/3.5
Cons: heavy, no tripod collar, takes time to master
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

This is lens is so great that I own 4 copies of the lens it's self. The lens takes time to master the sliding and turning to focus. It is heavy and will make you want to go to the gym just so your arms won't be so tired.

This is lens is highly under estimated by newer photographer just because it doesn't have auto-focus. Their lost and my gain in this matter. The lens is really sharp when stopped down. It is one of my sharpest lens that I have and I take it everywhere. When used when used with the lens hood the aberrations is almost non-existent, what little is there can easily be removed in PP.

The bokeh is buttery and smooth wide open and still holds that value when stopped down. It can completely make the background look like a painting if used correctly.

JAH_2042_01 by Jarrett_Hunt, on Flickr

JAH_2112_01 by Jarrett_Hunt, on Flickr

JAH_2210_01 by Jarrett_Hunt, on Flickr
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Detroit suburbs
Posts: 257
Lens Review Date: March 24, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good output when done right
Cons: Muted contrast at default settings
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10   

I have the series 1 version.

Overall this is a really nice lens and performs rather well. Aberrations are a problem for this lens in my view, but LR4 cleans these up nicely.

Since this is the heaviest (and longest) lens I own, I don't pack it much. When I have used it, however, it has performed well.

I was bored the other day so I took some test shots. On a tripod with 2s mirror up, LV focused, default lightroom settings.
1:2 crop of this lens at about 100mm f5.6:

And here is a 1:2 crop of my Pentax D FA 100mm Macro at f5.6:

As you can tell not exactly at the same focal length.
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 38

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 2, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

I very recently took Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/2.8-4 (third edition-Komine model) out for a shoot this last Memorial Day (2012). I had forgotten how very good this lens is. Yes, it's a tad heavy, compared to modern lenses, but the optical quality and build construction is superb. I burned a roll of Portra 400 with it. The neg's and scans are great! No post processing on the snaps. This is one very sharp and well built zoom.

Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

I have the Kiron (ver. 1) and the Komine (ver. 3), both lenses are very good and I recommend them. The Komine is easier to use because of the PkA. The Kiron is probably a better lens, but it is heavier, and to use the macro, you have to push a button and rotate it. The Kiron requires stopping down with the green button (or with the on/off switch on the K5). It is easier to use on the K5 because of that. I paid four times what I paid for the Kiron to get the Komine. Here are couple of photos:

These ones were taken with the Kiron, my first shot with it. Not to bad for chasing a bee:

VivitarS170-210-3.5(KironV1)-Bee-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

VivitarS170-210mmf3.5(Ver.1-Kiron)-LemonsToBe1-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

These ones were taken with the Komine:

Dredging by Palenquero, on Flickr

Train by Palenquero, on Flickr

VivitarDana2-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

VivitarDana9-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

VivSeries170-210-f2.8-4-Dana7-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $185.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built, Image Quality, Great macro (for a zoom), f/2.8
Cons: some aberation on the Kx toward the long end of the zoom

Very pleased with this lens. Very sharp. I have the third version (Kommie) with no "A" switch. The focus feels as smooth as any of the good Pentax lenses I have used over the years. This one is a keeper!

Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Maryland (Right Outside Washington DC)
Posts: 2,902

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 21, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp!!!, Build Quality, 2.8
Cons: Prone to aberration mid~long on Digital Bodies

Konime Version w/ A setting

Can't say enough about this lens, it is a great performer. I have noticed a mention or two about the color rendition of the images being off, THAT IS 100% INACCURATE, this lens produces spot on color, on every single shot taken with this lens. Other users of this lens compares the color accuracy compared to newer lenses that do not produce accurate color renditions on digital cameras.

The only downside of this lens is the aberration, typically when shooting on the long end, and not present when I use this lens to shoot film on my ME Super or Super Program. I give it a 9.5 rating, since there is no 1/2 increments on the ratings system, I will bump it to a 10.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 131

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 10, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, multiple uses, built like a tank
Cons: heavy, zoom creep.

I just received this lens and will add to the review as I gain experience. First, it is one of the lenses that was built to last. Solid construction throughout means that if it's dropped, check your floor for damage before you check the lens. It benefits from the use of a tripod as the lens weighs enough that it is really difficult to maintain a steady focus. I'll be adding a hood to lessen flare which has not actually been a big problem (so far). The zoom has a tendency to creep down if the lens is angled to the ground, which, as the lens is "of a size", is fairly often. I'm so far impressed with the contrast and the versatility of this lens. Shots below were handheld in full sunlight.
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