Using a different lens every week (ahmm… well) for 70+ weeks (or more)… ;)

Week 9: Vivitar Series 1 2.8-3.8/28-105 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom

Trying to catch up. The holiday season was not really helpful in writing this blog. LOL

This week’s lens is the “Vivitar Series 1 2.8-3.8/28-105 VMC Macro Focusing Zoom”. What a name!
Vivitar put several rather fast zoom lenses on the market that were built by different manufacturers. Especially those lenses made by Kiron or Komine are said to be excellent. I can confirm that and add that those made by Tokina are also very good! “Series 1” lenses were the high-end line of Vivitar, the same way that the “L” labels the top lenses of Canon. So most experts claim that a “Series 1” lens made by Kiron must be the top-of-the-pops. My 28-105 apparently was built by Cosina which is not the worst manufacturer either. Zeiss has their modern ZE lenses built there as well.

With a max aperture of 2.8-3.8 these zoom lenses are some of the fastest universal-zooms around. Apart from the 28-105 there also was a 2.8-3.8/28-90, a 2.8/35-80 and a non-Series 1 2.8-3.8/28-85. The 28-90 is said to be the best model, but I also like my 28-105 a lot.

Here you can find an ongoing discussion about which version might be the best one.

OK, my 28-105 not really a beauty, it’s not downright ugly, but the looks is not all that counts anyway, right? My Flickr-friend Alf Sigaro also owns that lens and also seems to like it. OK, what about it?


– Surprisingly sharp even wide open
– Contrasty (stopped down) and nice color rendition (for a zoom)
– Beautiful bokeh (for a zoom that is very surprising)
– Useful focal range 28-105 on fullframe with a neat f/2.8-3.8
– Solid build


– Heavy copared to today’s zoom lenses (which is not really a “con” for me, personally, though) šŸ˜‰
– Push pull zoom (you have to get used to it, it can be a good thing, but somtimes it is annoying)
– It’s a varifocus lens, so you have to re-adjust the focus after zooming (bad for filming)
– Some vignetting wide open at 28mm (but hey, it’s a zoom lens after all)
– contrast wide opened


11 responses

  1. zainordin md noor

    Ive bought vivitar series 1 28-105 1:2.8-3.8 a few week ago with the price >US50.00. It is a bargain for a secondhand len. I used manual mood with my D300s Nikon .
    As it turned out the pictures was plain sharp comparable with original more expensive nikon len. My lens start with the series no 09236808, I m not sure it was made by cosina or kiron.

    March 1, 2011 at 14:52

    • I think your lens was made by Cosina.

      August 20, 2011 at 16:29

  2. david marshland

    Hi, I’ve had 3 of these lenses, both the Pentax fit having been stolen and only the Minolta non-autofocus mount surviving. The reason for their quality was always stated at the time to be that they were not technically zoom lenses at all, but rather Varifocal, which meant that the elements moved into the right positions for a prime lens of that length, instead of the compromised zoom arrangement. It also meant that you had to refocus them whenever you altered the length. Since I always seem to twist a zooms lens when I zoom it and always have to refocus I never found this a problem. Others apparently did. I’m still looking for another to fit my Pentax digital even though I have compatible modern autofocus zooms. I’m also looking for the Vivitar Series 1 200mm autofocus lens as it’s a nice quick lens.

    August 15, 2011 at 19:52

  3. Russ Butner

    The Vivitar Series 1, 200mm f/3.5AF is a very good lens. I use it often.


    Vivitar Series 1 200mm f/3.5AF @ f/5.6 – Portra 800 film

    November 7, 2011 at 06:47

  4. walt d.

    I am trying to get a profile on the vivitar series 1 28-85 mm 2.0 lens.

    December 14, 2011 at 01:37

  5. Russ

    Vivitar never marketed a Series 1, 28-85 lens. However, they did market a non-Series 1, 28-85 f/2.8-3.8 lens, made by Kiron (Kino Precision Industries). And, they also marketed a Series 1, 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 lens, which is superb. A favorite of mine.


    December 31, 2011 at 21:02

    • Russ

      The superb Vivitar Series 1, 28-90 that I speak of, was made by Komine. Well built, close-focusing, etc. A favorite lens of mine.

      December 31, 2011 at 21:43

  6. Truly a good deal of valuable tips.

    June 2, 2016 at 04:54

  7. R Allen Corzine

    can anyone help me out??

    1. what is the macro ratio on the 28-105?

    2. I have 3 Vivitar Series 1 lenses:

    Vivitar Series 1 1:3.5 200 mm prime af in lens 67 f (Cosina) 09xx…

    Vivitar Series 1 1:2.8-3.8 1:28 – 105 mm macro zoom mf 67 f (Cosina) 09xx…

    Vivitar Series 1 1:28-4.0 70 – 210 mm macro zoom [1:25] mf 62 f (ver. 3, Kosine) 28xx..

    left over from shooting film/slides

    and I am trying to see how they would fit in with my other lenses:

    Pentax-DA 1:1.8 50 mm 52 f

    Pentax DA 1:3.5-5.6 16 – 85 mm wr 72 f

    Pentax dal 1:4-5.6 50-200mm zoom ed wr 49 f

    Pentax dal 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm zoom wr 52 f

    Pentax da 1:3.5-5.6 18-55 mm zoom al 52 f

    HD Pentax -DA af rear converter 1.4 AW

    Vivitar 2x manual rear converter

    as my wife and I plan our first trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks first week of June 2017. I will be carrying a K 3 and a K V II

    I also plan on renting a Pentax 150-450 for the trip

    any thoughts or comments welcomed. All equipment will have to be carried onto the plane.

    I will have a monopod and tripod with me.



    September 12, 2016 at 14:25

    • Hi! You are kind of lucky that I have read your comment, since this blog is no longer maintained any more. šŸ˜‰
      Sorry, I do not own the 28-105 any longer and cannot tell you anything about it, really. It just apperas to me that all that gear will be quite a lot to haul around for travelling, especially if you are on a plane. IMHO a set consisting of
      the Pentax 16-85
      the Pentax 50-200
      the Pentax 1.8/50
      and the 2x converter
      should be sufficient.
      And if you really want to buy the 150-450, you can also leave the 50-200 at home.
      Have a great trip!

      September 12, 2016 at 19:03

      • R Allen Corzine

        thanks, no you misunderstood, I will be choosing from among my lenses to take on the trip. I don’t intend on hauling the entire collection.

        I will have k 3 and k 5 II camera bodies and a rented pentax 150 – 450 zoom the rest is “in the air”


        September 12, 2016 at 20:32

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