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Thread: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

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    Default Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

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    Image courtesy of kenrockwell.com

    Well I figured I would finally post up a review of this FANTASTIC lens, so here goes.

    Vivitar was one of the first manufacturers to offer a really high quality, third party lens for 35mm cameras. But, of course, it had it's downsides. Vivitar was known to use different contractors to make their lenses. Kiron precision optics made the first VIVITAR series 1 lens 70-210mm f/3.5.

    This review will be dedicated to this version only, since it's the only one I have.

    Pro's :

    Cheap!! 50-60$ USD on fleabay, or KEH

    Available!! There are a TON available online!

    Sharp, bright, and fast:

    The lens's constant max aperture is really helpful. At f/3.5, it's resonably fast for a 420mm EFL lens. I haven't noticed any loss of sharpness wide open, to the sweet spot around f/5.6-8. It easily out resolves my 70-300mm throughout the entire zoom range. I am consistantly able to crop the 210mm of the Vivitar, and obtain much better results than the 300mm of the 70-300mm ZD (uncropped)

    Solid like a tank:

    The lens's all metal construction is fantastic. It really feels good in your hands, the zoom ring is "loose", but extremely acurate. The only thing I dislike about the build is the apeture ring. On the E1, the ring is a tad difficult to grab. I often find myself looking for it, but it's really minor. The aperture blades are snappy, and the ring turns then locks solidly. A great feature.

    I actually dropped this lens on pavement, and broke the attached 67mm filter, but the lens is PERFECT. The camera strap broke on my bag, and the lens was dropped.

    Telephoto performance:

    WOW, if your eye is good, this lens is a winner. It is a little difficult to focus without the split prism, but you do get used to it.
    Sample:


    Macro performance:

    On a 35mm body, this lens provides a maximum magnification of 1:2.2. This works very nice on the 4/3's body.

    Samples. This is my MACRO lens, and it's the only one I use:

























    Cons:

    Of course every lens has it's cons. Not many from this one though. I have to admit that the manual focus is difficult with this lens. The zoom/focusing mechanism is very strange, but accurate. You have to use stop down metering, and use spot metering as well. If you use ESP, the metering is funny. I usually set my camera to -0.3 (this may be a function of the E1, and not the lens) and spot metering, and get fantastic results.

    In regular mode (non Macro), you focus by rotating the main element, and zoom by PULLING/PUSHING the main element. This works very well.

    To put the lens in Macro mode, you have to pull the main element ALL THE WAY toward you, press the macro button, and rotate the macro ring. This works very well. The focusing is now done by PUSH/PULL of the main element. The OPPOSITE of regular mode. As you push the main element away from you, you can focus closer. Max focus is about 3 inches from the subject. The focal length is fixed in the macro mode.

    The lens is HEAVY and HUGE!! Larger than my ZD50-200mm, and weighs like 3 pounds! Probably because its built with metal, and a bunch of glass element!

    There you go, my little non technical review, hope it helps! If not, at least I tried.

    Charles.
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    I had one of these before I bought my 50-200mm. I must say it's a great alternative, and also a great lens in it's own right.

    Nice shots with it!
    -Mark
    E-PL2 | WCON-07 | 14mm F2.5 | 20mm F1.7 | Pentax 25mm F1.4 | 35mm F1.7 c-mount | FL-50 | MA1 | SEMA-1

    OM-2n | 28mm F3.5 | 50mm F1.4 | 135mm F3.5 | Sigma 600mm F8 | T-20 | 2x Vivitar 2800

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Thanks !!

    I really like this lens, and I will have it for a while. Even though I have the 50-200mm and will most likely have a ZD50 soon for macros!
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    For more information on the history and spec's of this particular lens, here's a pretty good web page:

    http://www.robertstech.com/vivitar.htm

    Marc

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Thanks bud! That is the first link I found when I was looking at buying it.
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Great review! I found one on eBay and it's on its way. Having this information and those examples was extremely helpful as I satisfy my GAS.

    Thanks!

    Nate

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    You're welcome! I hope you have as much fun with it as I have. I found it was a little difficult to use on the E500, but the bright viewfinder in the E1 makes it work fairly easily.

    Cheers!
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Well, here's hoping that AF confirmation will at least assist with the E-520. I figure I can at least use center AF confirm. The adapter I bought has the chip installed.

    Here's hoping it's usable. If not, I might have to find an E-3 somewhere later.

    Wouldn't that be a shame?

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Let us know how you like it! It takes a while to get used to the AF, and make sure you focus WIDE OPEN, then stop down for the proper metering.

    Post up some shots when you get it working.
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    I have the Kiron lens, and the Series 1 made by Tokina. The Tokina is smaller in diameter and a bit shorter. I normally like Tokina lenses, but I'll be darned if I can make this particular Tokina do Macro anywhere near the quality of the Kiron. The serial number codes on the 5 makers of the Series I Vivitar 70-210 are as follows, out of the link you posted for the information on the lenses.

    The 1st two digits (or first one digit, in the case of 6 or 9) designate the manufacturer:

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    That's because the Kiron has a magnification of 1:2 while the Tokina has a magnification of 1:4....

    1:4 is enough for closeups, but definetely not macro work. I just purchased a Vivitar S1 Macro focusing teleconverter, which is supposed to give me 1:1 magnification. We'll see how it works out, I have heard of great results with this combo.

    Cheers.
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Regarding Viv S-1 glass. There are numerous (8) Series 1, 70-210 lenses. However, for the sake of discussion, we will deal with the first three. The following editions are nothing to seriously consider, so we will concentrate on the first three editions, which are the good one's. The 4th & 5th editions are also 2.8-4 variable aperture model's, but lacking in construction quality (Cosina built). Due to the fact that the third one is a variable aperture lens, (2.8-4) it will be somewhat sharper than a fixed aperture lenses. It is much easier to design and build a quality variable aperture lens.

    The first edition was designed by Vivitar (Ellis Betensky of NASA Optics fame, had a hand in it) and built by Kiron. (67mm filter) It is a professional caliber lens, with a 1:2 macro feature built into it. It was the first zoom, designed with the aid of computers, that truly rivaled the OEM lenses of the time. That was in "76."

    The second edition (my personal favorite) was built by Tokina, per, Vivitars specs. It too, is a fixed 3.5 aperture, but smaller, lighter and sharper. (62mm filter size). I really like it because of the fixed 3.5 aperture which is nice for focusing in dim light and long range flash work. However, not a true macro, 1:4 life size.

    The third edition was made by Komine, and like the first two, is very well built. It is a 2.8-4 variable aperture lens, and the sharpest of the bunch. It has 1:2.5 life size macro from 100-210mm's, with a working distance of about two feet. Which can be quite useful. Can you see a discernible difference in slides taken with either one of them? No! Don't get caught up in bench tests. Any of the first three editions will give you professional-publishable images. I really like this lens, and in time may become my favorite.

    Personally, I recommend the second or third edition of the line. I have and use all three of the first editions, and can highly recommend any one of them. Superb optics and construction.

    Also, the Kiron 70-210 f/4, is a splendid performer.

    Kiron Kid (MrVivSeries1)

    left to right:
    Viv S-1 Kiron edition #1
    Viv S-1 Tokina edition #2
    Viv S-1 Komine edition #3
    Kiron 70-210 f/4 with zoom-lock
    Last edited by Kiron Kid; 01-16-2011 at 10:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiron Kid View Post
    The second edition (my personal favorite) was built by Tokina, per, Vivitars specs. It too, is a fixed 3.5 aperture, but smaller, lighter and sharper. (62mm filter size). I really like it because of the fixed 3.5 aperture which is nice for focusing in dim light and long range flash work. However, not a true macro, 1:4 life size.

    I had that lens myself. Bought it because I gave up on the disappointing Zuiko 65-200/4 close focus zoom. The Zuiko CF zoom had mediocre macro quality and was just decent as a zoom. I sold the zoom and bought the 90 macro for close up work and the Tokina-made Vivitar 70-210/3.5 for general moderate-medium tele work. Plus, the 62mm filter size on the 70-210/3.5 were tailor-made for the Nikon 5T/6T achromats.
    Regards,
    J A P

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Charles,

    Just read your post on the Vivitar lens. I have one which I used on my Minolta SRT-101 and XD-11 for years and you are correct it is an excellent lens. My question ... I recently purchased an Olympus E-520, is there an adapter that I can purchase that will allow me to use the Minolta lenses (particularly the Vivitar) on the E-520?

    Thanks, Conrad

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    If it's an MD mount, then your all set. Just search for "MD to 4/3" on ebay, and you'll come up with thousands of hits.

    Alot of people recommend the user "Jfinance", and I specifically recommend "cowy07" for getting adapaters.

    Here's the one I have for my MD lenses, and it seems fine. Just make sure to support the lens AND the camera, as adapters can fail. http://cgi.ebay.ca/Adapter-for-Minol...item563932d99d

    Cheers
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Quote Originally Posted by Lowa2 View Post
    Alot of people recommend the user "Jfinance"
    jinfinance

    http://myworld.ebay.com/jinfinance/

    Click "Items for sale" on the left.
    -Mark
    E-PL2 | WCON-07 | 14mm F2.5 | 20mm F1.7 | Pentax 25mm F1.4 | 35mm F1.7 c-mount | FL-50 | MA1 | SEMA-1

    OM-2n | 28mm F3.5 | 50mm F1.4 | 135mm F3.5 | Sigma 600mm F8 | T-20 | 2x Vivitar 2800

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Obviously I never bought from him! I can't even get the name right!
    Charles

    Canon cool aid, but soft spot for Oly :-D

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    Sitting here in the wee hours, I was pleasantly surprised to find a review of the S1/Kiron 70-210. Your images are spectacular, BTW. I had the Pentax version of this lens until I went digital. I liked the push-pull zoom mechanism. I also found it to be bright, and very sharp. Of course this was back in the day that I could hand-hold something that large out at the 210 end.

    Thanks again!
    No, I don't miss film...

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    The second and third editions are considerably smaller and lighter than the original Kiron made edition. They are also a bit sharper. Also, the Kiron 70-210 f/4 (#4 in the attached snap) is a very good performer and features the Kiron zoom-lock, which works very well. The macro function on version #3 is very good and in macro mode you are further from your subject, making it easier to not cast your own shadow on the subject or to spook skittish critters that you may be shooting. If you want something MUCH smaller and compact, the Kiron 70-150 is the answer. Very high perfroming lens.
    Last edited by Kiron Kid; 01-16-2011 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Vivitar Series 1, Made by KIRON, 70-210mm f/3.5 Constant

    The attached snap was made with the first edition (Kiron) model in macro mode. The third edition (Komine) is even sharper.

    [img]http://farm1.static.flickr.com/204/4...33e1e93f_z.jpg[/img]

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