Samstag, 20. September 2014

The Vivitar Series 1 28mm f/2.5 - made by Kiron

Not wrongly applies the Vivitar-lens-series as one of the best lens series from the good old days. What is the origin of the name and company Vivitar? 1938 fleeing from Hitler, the German immigrants Max Ponder and John Best founded in Los Angeles a company for distribution of optical equipment. Ponder and Best first imported German-made photo equipment. After World War II, the partnership began to import cameras and photographic equipment from Japan. Since the early 60s the company sales still called "Ponder & Best Inc." different lenses of the Japanese company called Tokina. Tokina designed and manufactured the lenses and "Ponder & Best Inc." sold these under the name "Vivitar" throughout the world. The production of the lenses took over in the 70s, the Japanese companies "Kino Precision Industries", better known under the brand "Kiron" and the company "Komine". In Internet circulated the opinion that "Komine" was only an extended workbench of Kiron and not an independent company. You can see that a lens of "Komine" comes when the serial number begins with the number "28". The best lenses from "Vivitar" called "Series 1" descended assuredly from the Komine Co. Ltd. . In 1979 the company "Ponder & Best Inc." renamed in "Vivitar". Under the name "Vivitar" very many good lenses were designed and sold. But the company has then in the end of 80s completely missed the transition into the time of autofocus-cameras and particularly the transition into the digital photo era.  Later it was sold to the company Hanimex and produced until 2008 inter alia for the South Korean company Samyang.

The lens that I am presenting today, was made ​​by Kiron. Also available as a Panagor badged lens, Kiron made Vivitar 28mm f/2.5 dates from the mid 1970s. Here the specs:
The lens has 8 Elements in 7 Groups. The aperture range goes from f/2.5 to f/22 (in Konica- version to f/16).The minimum focusing distance is 300mm. It weights 11 and 1/4oz (318 grams). The length at Infinity is 2 and 3/8"  (60mm), maximum diameter are 2 and 1/2"  (63mm), the filter size is 67mm.

The lens is built like a tank. For a 28mm lens, the design is quite large. In addition, it is necessary an adapter if you want to use the objective. With a Sony NEX or Olympus E-M5 the whole construction is then already top-heavy.

Typical of the lenses from the 70s is the very solid lens body. The aperture ring snaps fed and safe, the distance can be adjusted very precisely. Such optics are built to last.

With Sony NEX-3N at f/4, 1/500s, ISO 200
How is the picture quality? Well, at full aperture, the image-center is slightly sharp and contrasty. To edge sharpness and resolution falls off very violently. Only when you stop down to f 4 or 5.6, the image is uniformly good quality. The distortions are rather small. The lens can even be used on an APS-C sensor as a portrait lens. At open aperture i found a little bit purple fringing at contrast edges. The lenses otherwise are coated obviously excellent.

With Sony NEX-3N at f/4, 1/250s, ISO 200
With Sony NEX-3N at f/4, 1/400s, ISO 200
With Sony NEX-3N at f/2.5,  1/60s, ISO 1250
With Sony NEX-3N at f/2.5,  1/250s, ISO 200
With Sony NEX-3N at f/2.5, 1/60s, ISO 1000
And bottom line?  You can buy this lens on eBay or as a package with any camera for less than 30 Euros.  You should not have to pay much more even. Stopped down to f/4 or 5.6 the Vivitar 28mm/2.5 is a very good performer. And: stop down ist not a shame.  In low light, the lens is still even at full aperture acceptable performance. It is not as good as the Yashica 28mm/2.8 or the Olympus 28mm/3.5. Even the Sigma mini wide II 28mm/2.8 is better at full aperture.  You get what you paid for. And for 25 to 30 Euros you have made ​​a bargain and should give a chance to this lens.

Sonntag, 14. September 2014

Industar 61 L/D 55mm f/2.8 - the radioactive lens from Russia

The Industar lenses are very often discussed on the Internet. There are already a number of reviews and most speak very positively. From the well-known lens Industar 61 there are different variants with focal lengths from 53 to 58 mm depending on production run. All of this lenses were produced since the 30s of the 20th century in Russia. More specifically, in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. The Ukraine was then a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, like Russia or Kazakhstan.  The factory in which the Industar lenses were manufactured was called FED. Exactly the same name got the cameras manufactured there. Here you see a typical FED-camera named "FED5c" from the 1950s, the time of cold war.  Good friends have given me the camera as a birthday-gift some time ago.

I have adapted the Industar lens on my SONY NEX-3N and try to take some photos with it. Here are two photos with the adapted lens at the little Sony:

The Labour Commune FED is an invention of the Russian pedagogue Makarenko. He has founded it in 1927 as "Trudkommuna imeni F.E. Dserschinskowo" in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. The initials F.E.D. are first name, patronymic and surname of the bloody founder of the Soviet secret service "Cheka": Felix Eduardowitsch Dsherzinsky. The commune hundreds of orphans were brought up by Marxist ideas. This included the work of the children. The children worked in two four-hour shifts. Four hours of class and four hours of work. First the labor community produced furniture and from the middle of the year 1932, replicas of the German Leica cameras and Leica lenses. Many of the FED cameras was copies from the original german Leica III with M39 mount.

OK, first the statistics: the Industar 61 is a single coated Tessar variant with 4 elements in 3 groups, the filter size is leica-like 40,5 mm. It has six conventional blades. You can stop down it to f/16 or in other production types to f/22. The closest focus distance is typical for rangefinder- objectivs: uncomfortably  one meter. It is 38mm long and the greatest diameter is 54mm. It weighs only 129 grams.  "L / D" in the name of the lens indicates that the glasses were impregnated with the rare earth Lanthanum. Lanthanum is actually slightly radioactive. However, the radiation is less than the background radiation we are exposed on earth anyway. On every flight through the earth's atmosphere, the radioactive pollution is much higher. A visible sign of the radioactive impregnation of the glasses is the yellowing of the lens if you have stored it a long time in the dark. The Industar 61 L / D is supposed to have the same optical calculation ​​as the Elmar 50mm f/2.8 made by Leica since 1957.

The handling ist neat, distance and sharpness can be adjusted easily. On backlight, the lens is very sensitive. The colors and contrast are fading. Here is a detail from a photo. Approximately 60% circumcised. The light came from above right. You should use a screw lens hood for Leica.

What are Cons and Pros for using this lens? 
The price is very nice: you can get it together with a FED-Camera by EBay or every used-merchandise trade for less then 20 Euros. The M39 mount adapters for Sony-NREX or mft are slightly and slim. It has a pretty solid built quality and the colors are great, when you stopped down.
And the Cons? The sharpness really lacks. It is open very soft, you must stopped down to aperture 4 or 5.6 to get sharp images with good contrast and colors. It is very difficult to focus when the lens is adapted on Sony NEX, regardless of whether you use focus peaking or not. 
The bokeh is choppy but not unpleasant.
Here some pictures wide open. You can see here the softness, not only in the center.

And my conclusion? That is very difficult to say. For the low price, the lens is a very good choice. On the other hand, there are a lot of good lenses with a focal length of 50mm for a little money. Among them are really good pancakes, such as the Minolta MD 50mm f / 2.0
If you caught a good specimen and must pay very little money, then I would recommend it. Otherwise, other manufacturers also have very good lenses in this focal length.