Vivitar - Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm lens Reviews
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Comments about Vivitar - Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm lens:
This lens, Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5, was made for several cameras (both manual and autofocus), yet mechanical and optical features are virtually independent of the mount. I used this lens with Minolta MD mount. I bought one in like new condition on ebay; the choices for ultrawide zoom with Minolta MD mount are very limited.
Optics: This lens performs really great when stopped down to f/8, its best performance seems to be at f/11 (at 19mm; correspondingly at ~f/14 at 35mm), and still sharp enough at the minimal opening (f/22 at 19mm, or ~f/28 at 35mm). However the image quality is significantly worse in terms of sharpness at f/5.6, which is easily seen on 4x6" prints. At f/3.5 (19mm) it produces really soft images, and even softer ones at 35mm at maximal opening (f/4.5). Surprisingly to me, vignetting is not really as big an issue even when wide open -- and of course one would hardly use this wide open under circumstances when vignetting is most noticeable (like shooting uniformly bright sky).
Mechanics: design: especially useful for manual focus is automatic keeping the subject in focus while zooming (changing the lens' focus distance). As to mechanics itself -- the lens is plastic, pretty flimsy, you can move (translate along the axis) and tilt the (rotating at focusing) front part in some limits (~0.5mm) without rotating focus ring, which is particularly bad at 35mm and wide-open diafragm when the depth of field is small -- you can easily defocus the lens unintentionally without rotating anything, plus aberations if tilted. Coating is ok, yet it can be scratched without much effort -- so be careful.
Summing up -- I use this lens successfully remembering its limitations in tems of usable f-stops, and tendency to flares (latter -- basically on par with other wide angle lenses). It produces virtually as sharp (and perfectly contrasty) shots as Minolta prime lenses when diafragmed to f/8. However in low light, or when I need long range of a flash I switch to primes sacrificing the ability to compose the shot perfectly, as the Vivitar 19-35's images are too soft at f/5.6 and wider.