This lens is very similar to the Vivitar 28mm 1:2.0 Close Focus Wide Angle [K01] I tested the last time. In fact the differences can be enumerated quickly: there are no magnification markings on the barrel, the widest aperture is f/2.8 and there is an aperture click between f/11 and f/16. Perhaps the biggest difference is that this lens is much more commonly available, and inexpensive.
So it's cheap, but is it good? Let's see how it tests out in our continuing search for the Perfect Normal.
The K03 is of solid construction with a well-damped focus ring and a nice aperture dial with definitive clicks. My copy seems to have a little play in the focus, but that could be because it has seen more use than my mint copy of its f/2.0 brethren. The minimum focus distance is 25cm (10") and filter size is 49mm. As before, the lens is made by Komine and does not rotate with focus.
My copy is in good condition with some signs of use. Again I fitted a generic metal wide-angle hood in order to reduce glare. Testing proceeded the same way as before, with four shots being taken at each of three distances. As usual you should click through each thumbnail to see 100% images in my Flickr account.
Trap focus works fine as does the viewfinder focus indicator. Glare was not noticeable. The lens feels very nice to use.
Minimum Focus Distance
At Two Feet
One might hope that the K03 would perform like the K01 with a missing fast aperture. Unfortunately this is not the case. Instead, this lens performs one stop worse across its range, meaning that f/4 here looks as good as f/2.8 on the K01 and so on.
However, this is not to say that the lens is rubbish -- far from it. The K03 is widely available for €20 and performs well for the price. If you want an outdoor lens, say for landscapes, then this will get you decent pictures between f/4 and f/11. But there are better options if you have more money and look harder.
That said, there are worse options too, with poorer minimum focus and inferior build. Here are some "real-world" images to prove my point. All are at f/4. The first shows the effect of the six blades. Overall I like the bokeh quite a lot, especially as this is not an ideal perspective.
Sharp foreground; smooth background. Vivitar sure released some nice lenses!