Vivitar 135mm f/1.5 lens

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by larry h., May 16, 2006.

  1. OK, I couldn't resist. The "Old M42 Lenses" thread made me check the
    auction site for a Spiratone 135/1.8 lens. That led me to this

    Just look at it and ogle. I have absolutely no interest in the lens,
    especially at the asking price. But check it out if only to try to
    count the number of diaphram blades on this guy; I lost track! At
    least the Bokeh should be good!
  2. I counted 17 blades, but I might be out by one or two.

    I wonder what the front filter size would be for this?
  3. It's certainly a Very Large Lens. Something like this is only worth lugging around if you always use it wide open, and I wonder what the performance is like. Vivitar's reputation is patchy, to say the least, but this one may be a gem. Anybody know?
  4. I agree with Brian that this lens would only be worthwhile wide-open, so never mind about the Bokeh statement. Also, the front element would need to be at least 90mm in diameter to be f/1.5.

    I found some more info on Robert Monaghan's webpage on cult-classic third party lenses:

    "I should mention that there were a few even faster 135mm f/1.8 and even f/1.5 lenses made by Vivitar in 1968, using the preset T-mount. But these lenses were much poorer performers optically than the later Series I 135mm f/2.3 lenses. Avoid them!"

    Note that I (Larry) once owned a Series 1 135/2.3 lens. It was not suitably sharp enough for astrophotography wide open (see my thread on 'blue haloes' and chromatic aberration). It did do well for terestrial photography, though, but with a blue cast.

    Here's another excerpt from Robert Monaghan:

    "[Ed. note: Thanks to Gregg for this chart; unfortunately, I feel it supports my conclusion that the lens is too low resolution used wide open, that you would be better with a much lighter and smaller lens (like the Vivitar 135mm f/2.3 Series I cited above) which is sharper and quite usable wide open...]

    Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000
    From: Gregg> To:
    Subject: re: Vivitar 135 1.5


    Wow, what an incredible data base of third party lenses! Congratulations on such outstanding work.

    I have one contribution, correction to make. I recently came across the Aug/Sept 1967 edition of Camera 35, which includes a brief review and test of the Vivitar 135 f/1.5 T-mount on page 57.

    The following info may by useful:

    Reported resolution:

    Center Edges
    f/1.5 24 17
    /2.0 28 24
    /2.8 28 24
    /4.0 34 28
    /5.6 40 34
    /8.0 48 40
    /11.0 56 48
    /16.0 68 48 * Max Res
    /22.0 56 40

    I don't know if the rated resolution is lines per mm, or inch, but it is interesting that the lens apparently doesn't reach maximum resolution until f/16

    Dimensions: 5" long, 4" wide, 4lb,8oz
    (Vivitar ad in the same magazine says: 5.5" by 4", 4lb, 3 oz
    7 elements, 6 groups, min focus 6 feet

    Lastly, the article claims the lens was originally made for NASA, and that it lists for less than $600.00

    keep up the amazing work, hope this helps.
    Gregg Humphrey "
  5. Vivitar does not have a "patcgy" reputation. The company has a very good reputation. I have many Vivitar lenses and most of them are excellent. Vivitar had lenses made for various price points. A 135 with a maximum aperture of f/1.5 is very unusual so you will not be able to compare it to very many equally fast 135s.

    As for the 135mm f/2.3 Series 1, I have two of these. One is in Konica AR mount and the other in Nikon AI mount. This lens compares very favorably with any other 135 near its speed. From my experience the best Vivitar lenses were made by Komine, Kino and Tokina. Lenses made after that by Cosina and other companies were not nearly as good. This is especially true of most of the AF lenses.

    With the excellent 400 and 800 speed color print film available today there is not as much use for a 135 as fast as f/1.5 but it it still an impressive piece of glass and metal.
  6. Jeff, just to clarify, the 'patchy' statement was a quote from Monaghan's site, not me. I have one 28/1.9 and two 90/2.5 macros. I did not like the 135/2.3 as much as you do, however. But my primary use, astrophotography, is very demanding. See the following thread for samples:
  7. I would say that each type of photography requires a different quality from a lens. A lens which has the desired qualities for astrophotography may not have equally good qualities in other areas. For architectural photography you would want a lens with very little distortion. For macro photography you would want a lens which has very good performance in the close-up range. Astrophotography is not more demanding of a lens. It simply makes different demands. The Vivitar 135/2.3 Series 1 is an excellent general purpose 135. You just need the muscles to carry it around.

    I thought the posting about the Canon 200mm f/4 was interesting. I have a plain FD (1971), an FD SSC and a later 200/4 FDN. They are all good and the FDN has closer focusing but the first two are really excellent and sell for very little.
  8. Point well taken, Jeff. For astrophotography, I could care less about distortion, but is very important for architecture. So I will specify: For astrophotography, pinpoint sharpness is important. That means little or no coma, astigmatism (I think they are the same or related), spherical or chromatic aberration. Wide open, or specifically, performance at f/2.8 is important to me.

    The Canon FD 200/4 may be very good. However, it is too slow and long to do unguided astrophotography. Even f/2.8 and 135mm is challenging. And I personally do not have the patience to do guided exposures, which is my failing. Besides, I have an old Minolta SRT102, which is great for astrophotography. The competing Canon, the FTb, does not have mirror lockup I don't think. Besides, I don't have one.

    I had hoped the Viv S1 135/2.3 would have worked for me, because I cannot afford the Minolta MD 135/2.0. A 135/1.5 sharp wide open would be even better, but probably is far too heavy for my telescope to drive correctly. I guess I could try the Canon FD 135/2.0 or Nikkor AIS 135/2, but it's not worth the money or effort to me. I also question how good they are wide open. If I really wanted a 135/2.0, my best bet would be the Canon EF model, but that raises problems with focusing and battery drain.

    Oh, well, now I am just rambling. Thanks for your input Jeff.
  9. Oh yeah, I will say the Viv S1 135/2.3 was the best built lens I have ever owned, followed closely by the S1 200/3 and 90/2.5 macro. Even my Nikkor AIS 55/2.8 micro, my Rokkor lenses and the FD lenses my wife used to own seem flimsy by comparison. The focusing ring on that 135/2.3 seemed to glide on butter, yet offered a great tactile feel when focusing.
  10. Just addingtwo brief points of my own exprience,

    First, the canon FTb does have mirror lock-up. The only difference is the way MLU is carried out. On a SRT it is by turning a tiny dial beside the lens mount. On a FTb it is by pushing a small lever below the self-timer beyond the stop-down mark.
    The MLU on board a FTb is somewhat easier to use, however unlike am SRT which stops down and lock the mirror seperately, MLU could only be done when your lens is stopped-down.

    Secondly, I own a Vivitar 135/2.3 in Minolta MC mount. The lens is the best one I have ever had in terms of build quality and handling. One friend of mine commented on its focusing action as "chopping up margarine"
    I use it mostly for theatric photos where a 80-200/2.8 is pretty slow and rather cumbersome. At first it did not work too great but as my manual focusing skills inproved it turned into a superb lens, able of picking up all the details on the stage.
    I have also tried to shoot the typical "head and shoulder" 135mm portraits, using avaliable light. On 8x10 prints I could see amazingly sharp image. The only problem was the DoF wide-open is pretty narrow and requires critical focusing, a sturdy tripod and a good model who doesnt swing back and forth.
    I used to use a cheap tamron 2x teleconverter to get a "quick fix" telephoto, however there was excessive CA that renders it useless for color. Only until I picked up a Minolta 300s teleconverter and tried it with my good old 135/2.3 that I realised the potential of the lens. Now my casual outfit always includes with combination and I convinced myslef that I actually own a 300/4.5 lens!
  11. Hi everyone, just wanted to say that I have one of those rare 135mm/1.5, mine is a Soligor not a Vivitar. Though I?m not 100% sure, I believe they were all made by Tomioka and branded as either Soligor, Vivitar or Porst (in Germany), probably Yashica too. I want to sell my unit but I can?t find someone willing to pay the right price in Spain, right now I?d let it go for $400USD. If anyone wants more information, pictures or whatever just let me know.
  12. Hello Isidro, please contact me if you still have it. Gracias. C.
  13. Vivitar is/was a marketing company; sort of like Radio Shack. Thus a Radio Shack CB radio often is made by Uniden; it has a different serial # sequence; different model number; different bezel. Thus Vivitar and Radio Shack have sold great, average, and some marginal products; mostly average to good. The makers of vivitars lens and accessories have been several; thus a sweeping generalization on quality will not be accurate. Vivitar even had T and T4 adapters in the 1960's that were made in West Germany.

Share This Page