View Full Version : Legacy Lenses Vivitar Series 1 100-500mm f5.6-8.0 macro zoom

First Light
12-08-2005, 06:35 PM

Most of the time, I would not attempt to use a legacy zoom lens with a 4/3rds camera because zooms are apt to have more problems on a dSLR since they have more elements. However, I was experimenting with lunar photography and had an opportunity to try this Vivitar Series 1 zoom. For those who aren't familiar, the "Series 1" lenses were Vivitar's very best and were marketed as "professional" lenses. This lens had an OM mount and I used the Olympus OM-to-4/3rds adapter.


The focal length is changed by sliding the focus barrel forward and backward. Here is a view of the lens fully extended. I've never cared for this type of zoom because the barrel will sometimes move when you don't want it to. For example, when you rotate it to focus or when you hold the camera upward to photograph something overhead.


I don't have any daytime shots to show. When I tested this lens my primary interest was shooting the moon. :) Here is my best shot with the lens fully extended to 500mm. I think the aperture was f8.0. The photo has been cropped and was moderately sharpened (note: I couldn't locate the original unsharpened photo---I didn't anticipate that I would be writing this rewiew when I took the shot) .


I also tried using the lens with the Olympus Zuiko Digital EC-14 teleconverter but the results were very disappointing due to softness and chromatic aberrations (CA).

This is an outstanding multicoated 100-500mm super-telephoto macro zoom for film photography.

Mechanical - All metal lens body with large rubber-wrapped focus barrel.

Optics - Nice zoom range and macro capability, making this a very versatile lens.

Mechanical - The sliding zoom is a pain. When extended, it won't hold its position if the lens is pointed upward. The rotating tripod mount cannot be removed and it is useless if you have an HLD-2 battery grip on your E-1 (like I do) because it is located way back at the rear of the lens where there is not much clearance.

Optics - The lens produces moderately soft pictures on a 4/3rds camera. There is also visible, but mild, CA. I shot some outdoor daytime shots and none of them could compare to the sharpness of the Zuiko Digital lenses (I can't share them because none were saved). Because of the softness and mild CA, I can't recommend this lens. But it isn't so terrible that I would rate it "bad". So it receives a "mediocre" rating.

Steve Adams
07-17-2007, 06:28 AM
Quick question about this lens, is the photos better from it, than say the opteka 500mm lens on ebay?

07-17-2007, 10:36 PM
I was not impressed with the pictures from the opteka 500mm lens on ebay. I picked one up just for giggles. I did get a couple of pictures that were ok. but it took a couple of hundred shots to do it. It was difficult to focus. The f8 fixed ap meant slow shutter speed at best, and camera shake. I will dig up and post some examples if you wish. The best photos I got looked like snap shots from a cheap camera. The lens was light, compact, cheap, but I would not recommend it.


Steve Adams
07-18-2007, 06:10 AM
thanks, I pretty well ditched the opteka idea, the vivitar and tamrons im looking at are much better lenses.....I need the 135-400mm and the 50-500mm sigmas however finding the 135-400mm is like finding a hens tooth...

07-18-2007, 09:08 AM
I have a Vivitar Series 1 70mm-210mm with macro. It took great photos for years when mounted on my OM-1 and OM-3 bodies.

I'm looking at getting the E-510 with the Oly lens mount so I can use my legacy OM lenses( 50mm 1.4, 50mm 1.8, 28mm 3.5) and the Series One.

Does anyone have any opinions on how the Series 1 will perform, on either tele or macro? It took great images on macro in its film day.
Someone mentioned that my 28mm 3.5 will be next to useless as it will be in effect a 56mm f 3.5 without the advantages of being digital.

07-18-2007, 09:10 PM
here is my review of a vivitar series 1 70-210, I found it very good at macro but not great at telephoto. It is my choice for macro of flowers and bugs in the wild as I can get them at arms length.



Don Baldwinson
07-20-2007, 02:26 PM
I have a 28-105 Vivitar Series 1 zoom, 67mm dia. version, the best, just like FL's in miniature. It's absolutely immaculate, after an expensive clean, because the oil they used at the time had congealed. The cost to fix had me gagging at the time. The construction oozes quality, and it's a hefty little beast. It does not creep, probably because it's a smaller lens, or maybe rarely used.
Image quality is quite good at F5.6, though not as sharp as the Zuikos. Images need to be sharpened a little, and WB adjusted to correct a slight bronze cast, typical of some legacy lenses.
I use it sometimes, just for the sheer pleasure of handling a very well made lens.