Impulse Misfit- Vivitar Series One 35-85mm f/2.8

shoot-317I’m not really a fan of zoom lenses. I own two. One came with a camera, and the other was an impulse purchase. The impulse purchase was this lens: the Vivitar Series One 35-85mm f/2.8.

Vivitar, as was their custom, did not make this lens. They just bought it from Kiron and made the labels on it. The Series One lenses were their higher end offerings. With its 72mm front element, it’s an impressive looking piece of glass. It’s push-pull design marks it as an older lens from the 70s.

I bought this as the result of a half-hearted foray in to fast zooms. At the time, I was shooting digital as well as film, and with a crop factor DX sensor, this was a mid-range zoom. It turned out I never really used it that much, due to some of its idiosyncrasies.

First, this zoom has the “feature” of not staying in focus if you zoom with it. I call it a “feature” since Vivitar acknowledged it didn’t stay in focus and came up with marketing speak to describe it in such a way as to make it sound like it was cool. After all, “Auto Variable Focusing” sounds better than “doesn’t stay in focus” now doesn’t it?

Stopped down to f16, it's presentable
Stopped down to f16, it’s presentable

The second one was the vignetting. While this lens performed pretty well stopped all the way down, as almost every lens does, it vignettes when wide open at any focal length. While it can be used with interesting effect, it’s not something I’d want shooting in low light, which is what I was going to use it for.

Many people do not like it’s bokeh. This particular example at least has passable bokeh, although I am not an expert on that. I tend to shoot stopped down and avoid that most of the time.

At f2.8, the vignetting is apparent.

Mostly what has kept me from shooting it is its heft. This lens is made of steel. I do not think there is any plastic in it. As a result, it weighs as much as a F3 with a 50mm on it. While I prefer the feel and solidity of an all metal lens, there can be too much of a good thing. This lens has stayed home since I could carry another camera for the same amount of weight. Even when I was traveling the back country via 4Runner, it tended to stay in the truck.

I’ve got to clear some shelf space in the Land of Misfit Toys, so I think this lens will be sold. I’ve not used it enough to justify it being there, and I’m going to see what else I can use that space for.

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