Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vivitar Series 1 28mm Review Part 2

red berries, blue sky @ f/4
I said most of what I needed to in Part 1 of this review. This article gives you a few more images to look at, since I'm not about to subject the lens to formal testing.

All images on this page were shot at f/4. Though perhaps not exceptional in content or execution, they should illustrate the all-around usefulness of this lens. Just so you know, I've run my usual processing on these photos, including input and output sharpening. There's a little contrast enhancement and the colour of the sky has been boosted in the first picture. Further enhancement could no doubt bring out even more from this lens, but I wanted the pictures to be a useful illustration of the actual lens rendering.

fruit @ f/4
The Vivitar does well both at distance for landscapes and at close focus, an indication that the floating element correction is doing its job. Colour is excellent, contrast very nice and I don't notice distortion -- though I didn't shoot anything rectilinear to really test this.

On the used market this lens sells for quite a range of prices, as is typical of "sleeper" lenses not everyone recognises. If you find it for $100 you've got yourself an amazing deal. The most you need to pay is $300, which I still consider value for money. By the way, it also comes in Nikon and Minolta mounts, though I believe the M42 is in greatest demand.

wildflower and moss @ f/4
In case it is still unclear, I heartily recommend this lens. There might be slightly better 28mm options in terms of pure sharpness -- I'm not sure. And there are certainly smaller lenses or those with auto-focus. But you won't find a nicer lens when it comes to handling in the field. I gladly shoot it at f/2.4 and f/4, getting results I am very pleased with.

One final image, this time with creative processing.

19th century



Unknown said...

nice lens. I was contemplating this one or the sigma mini wide 28 macro but then I found a good deal on a pentax 28 2.8. Incredibly sharp lens as well as are most of those older primes. These days its hard to find even decent deals on these lenses since pentax has gotten more popular

robin said...

Unfortunately I was not into Pentax five or six years ago, when there were still deals. But I managed to do OK with this lens, which I think I have had for three years. Patience still rewards the buyer but, as you say, it's much more difficult to pay under the odds nowadays.

I have the Pentax A 28/2.8 but literally never use it. A serviceable lens that is sharper wide open than most, but still needs to be stopped down one for the image to tighten up. Though quite often I might choose f/4 for a shot, any lens that forces me to use that as the widest aperture on an outing tends to get left at home. At least with the Series 1 I can play with funky bokeh effects wide open or use it at f/2.4 with no real worry -- except accurate focus. The options it provides makes it more fun to use.

Anonymous said...

I had 3 of these 1st was crap - returned to the shop and replaced, 2nd also crap - 3rd the same. Flare, soft, distortion - piece of crap!
The 28 f2.0 Nikkor leaves the 28 1.9 S1 for dead!

robin said...

A shame about that! But my photos demonstrate that your experience is not the full story. Or maybe this lens simply works better on Pentax bodies -- who knows? In any case, I am sure the Nikkor is a worthy alternative... if you shoot Nikon.

Niccolò said...

First of all, Great work with the bestiary.
I recently purchased this lens for a bargain price, already converted to eos mount.

It wasn't hard for me to fall in love with it, at 2.8 it gives me the 3D images I was looking for and I even use it for a little work when in need of something special.

By the way, i soon found a nasty..problem.
Looks like the plane of focus is not actually a plane.. but more like, from the middle to the left, diagonally oriented so that on the left side, even on crop-sensor cameras, focus is always -a lot- closer to me.
Add this to the crazyness of this lens' bokeh and you (I) often got pretty funky left sides in my photographs.

On the other hand, it starts to go away at f5.6 and by f8 is negligible, the photo looks sharp all over.

I'll be glad to know if you can help me on this regard, I'd really, really like to fix it.

Link to an example of the problem on flickr, in this photo it's not that big but it's definitely there.

thanks in advance.


robin said...

Niccolò: First, sorry your comment took so long to publish! Second, this sort of defocus problem is quite common with new lenses and especially with those that have been knocking around a while. It can be often (but not always) fixed by taking apart the lens elements and re-assembling them in correct tolerance, but of course this is not a job for any but optics professionals! If you like the lens it may well be worth getting it looked at.

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