donderdag 3 november 2011

Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5 review

WARNING: Vivitars, and especially this lens, are notorious for problems with the aperture. This lens is notorious for oil leaking on the blades.

My lens is one of those lenses with oil leaking on the blades, this causes the blades to be too slow to close down. Fortunately because of something in the design the lens doesn’t automatically open up all the way when you put it on your camera with the aperture closed. It opens up to f/4, giving me two apertures to work with. (I think this is caused by the higher friction, so the springs which should open it up all the way are too weak).

Before you plan to buy this lens, check the serial number. There are multiple versions around, made by different manufacturers, although I have heard that every version of this lens is good. My lens is made by Komine.

Handling the lens:
The lens is pretty heavy, yet it does not feel unbalanced with my d60, and of course this weight should be expected for a large aperture zoom lens. The lens has a different design than most lenses: you have to refocus every time you zoom. This takes some time to get used to, but in the end you’ll keep it in mind.
The design allows very close focus at the widest end, but only a minimal focus distance of one meter at 90mm. To be honest I really like this, it gives a nice wide angle look to your near-macro shots, something you don’t see very often.

Handling the lens without metering:
If you use this lens on a consumer grade Nikon camera you’ll probably lose metering.  but if you get the hang of guessing the exposure this lens will not pose any problems. Yes this lens has a variable aperture, but it’s only half a stop, so if you forget to adjust you can easily fix it in post. And because you have to refocus anyway after you’ve zoomed this lens in or out you’ll probably remember adjusting the exposure just a bit.

The lens shows quite some chromatic aberration wide open, especially wide open. Yet your post production program is very well able to remove this. When you close it down, there still is some CA but you have to look for it. However I like to get rid of it anyway since it takes almost no effort.

Sharpness is almost OK wide open. You get a usable image, but if you look your photo at 100% you see that is soft compared to a prime shot wide open. I’m not sure if this is a fair comparison, a prime has an easier construction, but why would you settle for less if you also have a prime? However if you close it down one stop it sharpens up to very usable levels, but don’t expect extreme sharpness.

Bokeh is ok, nothing really special, but also not very distracting.

There are some downsides though, this lens is pretty prone to flare. Sometimes the flare is all over your photograph, reducing the contrast. You can use this to your advantage, but sometimes it just happens too often and easy.
I have heard quite some complaints about vignetting, but because I use this lens on a DX sensor I have not yet noticed it. When I shoot it against a white wall I’ll probably see it, but until now I have not seen it in “real” photographs.
(the highlights in the background is flare caused by a flash positioned at 60 degrees from camera left)

Buy this lens if you want an easy lens with a lot of possibilities, and that’s the reason I like it. You get a useful range, you can focus really close and you have a fast lens. This sounds too good to be true, and of course it is. The results are ok, but not amazing. I think that’s the reason I don’t use it very often, because I also have a 28mm and 50mm which do have amazing image quality and are my preferred focal lengths.  

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