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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oldschool Zoom Minireview: The Vivitar 85-205 Screwmount Lens

A while ago, L. got me some awesome old m42 lenses at a yard sale - the S-M-C Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and the S-M-C Tak. 28mm f/3.5. Also in the bag was a Vivitar m42 screwmount 85-205 f/3.8 zoom which I've pretty much ignored till now, as it's a bit unwieldy to use, and to carry.

First of all this beast is long and heavy. It seems to zoom internally and keeps a constant f/3.8 throughout it's zoom range, which is pretty fast for a 205mm zoom.

Ironically, the reason I decided to go out and shoot with it and review is that I've decided to sell it (I know it wont bring in much money, but why keep it on the shelf if someone else might shoot with it) If only it were the close-focusing model, I'd have to keep it.

The downsides for use on a Pentax digital body:
  • You have to use stopdown metering with any digital camera.
  • You have to manually reset the focal length on your camera as you zoom if you want the image stabilization to work, since the camera receives no information from the lens.
  • Heavy / Ugly - though this can be an upside I suppose.

The upsides:
  • Reasonably fast throughout the zoom range at f/3.8.
  • Pleasing bokeh (at least to me, in my limited test run).
  • Cheap.
  • Burly.
  • Doubles as a weapon / doorstop / workout aid.

I've posted a quick album of today's mediocre test shots here (I think I focused poorly on some of them, and motion blur got some others). After you've perused that, you're welcome to download any individual frames at full size here.

If anyone out there has better examples of actually using this lens, let me know, I'd love to link to 'em.