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.

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