Saturday, September 27, 2008

On Test: Vivitar 28mm 1:2.0 Close Focus Wide Angle [K01]



Of the ten documented K-mount Vivitar 28mm lenses (yes, the full list will be posted here eventually!) there are only two which open up all the way to f/2. That's a stop faster than f/2.8, which can certainly make a difference in low light situations. But only if the performance is up to snuff. I've done a series of test shots to see if the K01 cuts the mustard. Read on for the third in the continuing series Looking For The Perfect Normal.

The K01 is of solid construction with a well-damped focus ring and a nice aperture dial that goes from f/2 to f/16 with semi-step click between all markings except f/11 and f/16.

Vivitar K01 front

Unlike the previous Vivitar optical designs, this lens does extend when focusing, but only a tiny bit. The front element does not rotate. Previous lenses attained a minimum focus distance of 25cm (10"), despite not being marked as "close focus". This model is so designated and trims 2cm off that figure. The filter size is 49mm.

Vivitar K01 barrel

My copy is in good, even great condition with no signs of use. From its serial number it was made by Komine. I fitted a generic metal wide-angle hood in order to reduce glare. Though I found this was not essential, it makes for a fairer testing scenario if I'm consistent. Testing proceeded the same way as the M01 and T01. As usual you should click through each thumbnail to see 100% images in my Flickr account.

Minimum Focus Distance

f/2.0
K01 minimum f/2
f/2.8
K01 minimum f/2.8
f/4
K01 minimum f/4
f/8
K01 minimum f/8
f/16
K01 minimum f/16

At Two Feet

f/2.0
K01 24in f/2
f/2.8
K01 24in f/2.8
f/4
K01 24in f/4
f/8
K01 24in f/8
f/16
K01 24in f/16

At Infinity

f/2.0
K01 infinity f/2
f/2.8
K01 infinity f/2.8
f/4
K01 infinity f/4
f/8
K01 infinity f/8
f/16
K01 infinity f/16

Conclusions.

At the closest focus f/2 is better than decent, f/2.8 shows up every scratch on the ruler and even f/16 is hardly deficient (softish but decent textures). Unfortunately the images at two feet seem to have a consistent focus problem. That was likely my mistake (jogged the tripod?). At infinity, performance definitively benefits from stopping down to f/2.8. There's loads more contrast and the exposure is also better. A lot of detail is missing by f/16.

Trap focus works fine as does the viewfinder focus indicator. Glare was not noticeable.

I have had great fun shooting with this lens. Avoiding either aperture extreme it performs very well. Here are a few real-world images to prove my point.

Cross-Section
Cross-Section

Library Dog
Library Dog

Shelter From The Rain
Shelter From The Rain 1

This lens cost me €70 in a package with two other lenses which proved to be fungus happy and hence useless. Though I only ended up with the one lens for the price, I would say it was very much worth it. The K01 is a manual lens that is worth a bit of extra bother.

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