Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2014

vivitarcat-92

Muffin, harsh backlight wide open at f/1.8

I have an EBAY store where I sell a bazillion items including photo stuff. As an EBAYer I also buy a lot of items on EBAY. I want to support the community that supports my E-Store when ever I can. My good friend and long time business associate, Graham Law and I recently acquired the Photo Fair as well. This is the largest camera show and swap on the West Coast. I support camera shows whenever I can. I write about cool stuff that you can’t likely find in a Ritz Camera Store or Best Buy. This is where EBAY, cool camera shops like Seawood Photo, along with camera shows like Photo Fair reign supreme.

vivitar-92I was surfing around on EBAY one day looking for comps for an item I was about to list; lo and behold, I came across a listing for a Vivitar Series 1 85mm 1.8 manual focus lens for Canon EOS mount. This was a modern lens designed to work on modern DSLR cameras. They have Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc. available as well. I have been in the camera business since 1983. Back in the day, Vivitar’s Series 1 line carried serious clout among both advanced amateurs and professionals. They had some legendary glass back then, including the monster Series 1 70-210 f/3.5. So I saw this lens listed at just $110. I thought, “huh? this can’t be any good.” I looked at some other listings for the same item and found that the running price was in fact $115-$130 for this lens brand new. So I bought one! $110, I can’t go wrong! If it sucks, I’ll box it up and sell it for $110 and be no worse for wear.

I am here to tell you I am pleasantly surprised with the performance of this cheap lens! In the 80s, a Vivitar Series 1 lens was not cheap at all. These lenses challenged the pricing and quality of camera brand lenses. This lens doesn’t quite challenge Nikon or Canon optics but its price is ridiculously low for what you get.

vivitardog-92

Betsy, on the couch (not supposed to be, bad dog) wide open f/1.8 with flash

I have no shortage of lenses. Between my EOS-M and my EOS 5d Mk II, I have 20 lenses! I did not need this 85mm 1.8. I do have the 85mm 1.2 L on my wish list, but this will have to do for now 😉 My first few shots with this lens were unimpressive. I immediately found a fault in the lens. If the primary light source is both bright and just off the image circle of the lens, the contrast gets really flat. It doesn’t flare, but the color and contrast are horrible. So initially I was thinking, “time to box this one back up”. But I gave it a chance and shot a number of photos. I even did a crude resolution comparison with my old Canon 85mm 1.9 rangefinder lens from the 50s on my EOS-M. It is sharper than the old Canon RF lens. The bokeh is not quite as nice as the old lens with the 12 blade curved diaphragm but the lens is sharp and crisp in most lighting situations.

vivitarcat-93

Muffin in the sun, wide open f/1.8

This Vivitar 85mm lens is tiny. It does have a very deep lens hood with the lens cap designed to fit on the hood rather than the lens. I like that, it makes the lens bulkier to store, but who wants to fiddle around with the mounting the lens hood every time? You can take the hood off but if you do you will need to acquire another lens cap, probably a 55mm or 58mm. Optically you are not likely to find any brand new lens for $120 that will perform better. The focus is sloppy and there is no electronic focus confirmation like you find on other manual lenses for Canon. However you don’t find those lenses even used for anywhere near this price. I can use this lens on both my EOS-M with the EOS adapter and my full frame 5d Mk II. I am going to keep this lens 🙂 I probably should get the Canon USM 85mm 1.8 lens, but those are $300 used and $400 new. I don’t really shoot portraits much any more so I think I will just play with this fun ‘lil’ ‘cheapy’ lens for a while.

I think the cure for the side lighting contrast problem is to put felt inside the hood. The lens hood is hard plastic and I think damping it with felt might solve that one problem.

Kershaw-testI decided to put this lens to the test against my Canon 24-105 f/4.0 L lens. I figured a sharpness test should be done with a sharp subject like my little Kershaw knife that is so sharp you can shave with it :). This test is in no way scientific. I mounted the Vivitar Series 1 85mm 1.8 on my 5d Mk II and took three images, wide open, f/4.0 and f/11. I took the Canon 24-105mm and shot two images at f/4.0 and f/11. Obviously f/1.8 was not possible on the zoom. The Vivitar is sharper wide open than the Canon is wide open despite the 2.5 stop advantage in speed. At f/11 the Canon took control. I should have shot one at f/5.6 or 8.0 on the Canon but Kershaw-wideopenthis was not really scientific, remember? The image at left shows a close up of both lenses wide open. The Vivitar is sharper at f/1.8 than the Canon at f/4.0. I was so set back by this revelation, I went back and took 2 more f/4.0 shots with the L zoom just to be sure. The Canon can’t be softer than a $110 lens can it? Yep, the Vivitar is sharper wide open 🙂

I like this little lens. If you want a fun and inexpensive lens with a nice creamy bokeh and a decent 8 blade aperture diaphragm, this is hard to beat. The only complaints are the ocassional flat contrast in difficult lighting situations and the fact that this lens only focuses down to about 30 inches. I would like to have it 20-24 inches, but this lens was under a $120 delivered to my door. I think it gets a pass on that.

My manual focus skills have lost their edge as you can see the animal shots are just a tick off focus. I’d like to say it was dark (it was for the Lab shot) but the cat shots are clearly in bright sun 😦 Oh well, such is life when you’re in your fifties; the ‘ole eyeballs aren’t as snappy as they used to be.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Liberty or Death

An Intellectual Conservative View

SUPER MOVIE MANIAC

Latest facts, news and predictions for every Super Marvel movie nerd. Are you nerd enough? Click the Menu tab at the side for more!

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Idrona

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

The Tech Column

One guys opinion on the tech that's all around us.

SW Washington Land

Opportunities in residential, recreational, and commercial land

'Couv' Commercial Properties

Retail, Industrial and Office properties in Vancouver, USA

New Homes

Clark County Washington: Rod Sager, Realtor® Vancouver, USA

PhotoFair Camera Shows

Modern and Vintage Cameras and Photo Gear

Heidy's Online Wonderland

MMORPGs, Entertainment, Random Musings and Stuff

Comics A-Go-Go! Comics, Movies, Music, News & More!

Irresponsible blogging at its best

blurppy

Purveyor of pop culture...burdened with glorious purpose...

Holodeck3

"Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise."

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

After Dark Gaming

the red eye gamer

The One-Man Trekker

And our trek has only just begun...

3 Quarters Today

A synopsis of my passions in life including pets, photography, food, and marketing

Funk's House of Geekery

Movies, Comics, Books, Games and Other Things Geeks Love

digitaldtour

A photographic journey through the Southern California car culture

Star Trek Online

Beaming in from The 'Couv'

The Scorpion and the Frog

Fiction - Poetry - Photos

LuxuryHomeMagazineBlog

In Print, Direct Mailed, Online

Journey Into Awesome

A critical look at comics and culture

Robert Jackson Bennett

Speculative fiction author, science fiction and fantasy fan, accidental horror writer, Shirley Jackson Award winner.

The Evergreen Times

More than twenty years of commentary and it just keeps coming

The 'Couv' Life

Musings of life in Vancouver, Washington U.S.A.

Wolf Shirt Extremist

The musky scent of success.

clouddomains

Just another WordPress.com site

Custom Skins by Jodi Tripp

Don't let your phone go Naked!

Portland Flooring Blog

Your flooring source for carpet, hardwood, tile and green surfaces in Portland Oregon

Broachs's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Donna's Ink Well

The source of expressed thought

Voice of the People

We, the People seem to agree on most everything...

The Lipstick Liberal

the liberal who still enjoys bein' lady-like.

fredperkins

A fine WordPress.com site

searching4serenitydotorg

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Washington State Short Sales

A fine WordPress.com site

Matt on Not-WordPress

Stuff and things.

Clark County Real Estate Guide

An Insider's Guide To Real Estate, Mortgages and The Heartbeat Of Clark County, WA

annetterlane

Just another WordPress.com site

thefairybookmother

A topnotch WordPress.com site

clarkcountyhousetalk

SW Washington real estate talk

Kay Hunt 4 Homes

Kay's Food 4 Thought

Clark County Weather Blog

cameras, lenses and photography

'Couv' Camera

cameras, lenses and photography

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: