Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm f/2.8

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by mark_pierlot, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. I have an opportunity to pick up an FD-mount Vivitar Series 1 35-85mm f/2.8 for a very good price. I'm wondering
    whether anyone has any experience with this lens that they would like to share with me. I already have (and love)
    the FDn 35-105/3.5, but thought that the extra speed of the Vivitar might be useful for some applications. My main
    concern is with its image quality.
  2. Vivitar lenses were made by a host of different manufacturers, so quality control is inconsistent. If I'm not mistaken, Kiron
    made the best lenses for Vivitar, and if they made it the serial number should start with 22. I've heard to avoid the ones
    made my Cosina, serial number begins with 9. Series 1 lenses were supposedly some of the best lenses around when
    they were manufactured correctly.
  3. That was one of the original Perkin Elmer designs and was world class for its time. Later ser 1 lenses were made by el cheapo third party manufactures in Japan.

    In addition to the 35/85, there was a 80/210, 135 2.3, 200 3.2, 600 Cat mirror, and a 800 Cat Mirror. Memory is failing as it has been a very long time. My brain is cluttered with useless junk.
  4. I can vouch for the 28-90mm f/2.8 being a good lens, but with some vignetting between 28-35mm wide open. Otherwise it's great. i know that doesn't help much but i have confidence in series one lenses!
  5. I don't remember seeing an 80-210mm Vivitar Series 1 lens. There were several versions of the 70-210mm. I have the 35-85 in M42 and Minolta mounts. It's a very good lens but a complicated one inside. If the one you are looking at is in good condition then you shouldn't hesitate to get it. Of the different manual focus Vivitar Series 1 lenses in this range I also think the 28-90/2.8-3.5 is the most desirable. It's a good combination of range, speed and build quality. I would rate the 28-90 best in build qualty followed by the 35-85/2.8, 28-105/2.8-3.8 and 24-70. Kino Precision did not make all of the good Series 1 lenses. The 90/2.5 Series 1 Macro is one of the best lenses ever made by any manufacturer and it was made by Tokina.
  6. I don´t have firsthand experience of this lens myself, but several users have commented that the lens is (very) soft wide open, but sharpens up significantly at f4 and smaller. Maybe Jeff can confirm this. I believe it´s also a varifocal lens...when the focal length is changed the lens must be refocussed.
  7. While different from this lens, my Tamron 35-80/2.8-3.2 is awesome. This also has to be a great lens.
  8. I have one, and it's certainly decent. The 2.8 really is nice to have, although frankly I don't use it all that much because I don't find the 35-85 range all that useful. When I have used it, though, it's generally given good results.

    Mine looks like it's been run over by a truck, though(I think I paid about $8 for it on Ebay), so I'm not sure how fair of an evaluation I can offer.

    There's one big thing you should be cautioned about, however-this is NOT a zoom lens, and Vivitar makes no mention of it being as such anywhere on the lens or in the literature. It's a 100% varifocal lens, which means that it needs to be refocused, and refocused rather dramatically at that, every time the lens is zoomed. I believe, from memory(it's been a while since I've used it) that if you go from 85mm to 35mm, you need to turn the focusing ring about a quarter turn to maintain focus.

    If you can get it for a price you're happy with, I'd definitely suggest grabbing it. You won't find too many variable focal length lenses in the FD lineup with a constant 2.8 aperture and fit and finish as nice as this one.
  9. It is mentioned in Robert Monaghan's Cult Classics in Third Party Lenses:
  10. Whether this lens looks sharp wide open depends on what condition it's in. A good one will be sharp even wide open. Sometimes the extra speed is helpful for focusing even if you aren't shooting wide open. Two other vairfocals I have are the 35-100 f/2.8 Konica Hexanon and the 28-85 f/2.8-3.8 Vivitar Variable Focusing. I think the 28-85 is about as good as the 28-90 Series 1 model which is an f/2.8-3.5 lens. The Hexanon is something I probably wouldn't have bought myself. I inherited it in 1992 and had it serviced by Greg Weber. If you can find one in good condition the 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5 Soligor C/D is also very nice. The same lens was also sold under the Access brand with slightly different cosmetics. My favorite zoom in this range is probably the 35-70 f/3.5 Minolta MD. With the bright finder if an X-700 it's just about perfect. I wish I had one in FD mount but I have plenty of other lenses for my Canons.

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