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Vivitar 28-85mm F/3.5-4.5 MC Macro Focusing Zoom on Sony Nex

This is a review of the Vivitar 28-85mm compact, variable aperture zoom lens when used on a Sony NEX camera. The version of the lens I have is fitted with a Minolta MD mount, although they were available (as all Vivitar lenses were) with other mounts fitted.

Images of the Vivitar 28-85mm

This is a small, compact wide angle to short zoom lens made for full frame 35 mm film cameras. It is of solid, well-made construction being fully metal with push-pull zoom, focus ring and aperture control. The thing I most noticed when I first used it is the remarkably short focus adjustment range. The lens moves from infinity to its closest focus in only about 45 deg of adjustment and even when macro is enabled on the longest 85 mm it is only about 25 deg more. This makes focus extremely rapid on a camera like the NEX which has focus peaking, and oddly enough doesn't seem to be imprecise.

My example of this lens was purchased as part of a kit with a Minolta XG-M/50 mm f/1.7 camera and a Vivitar Thyristor 2500 electronic flash. I paid £5-00 for the total kit and although the camera has some issues (probably requiring the replacement of some leaky electrolytic capacitors to make the shutter work again) this lens is in almost perfect condition. Apart from a couple of very light dust particles in the back of the lens, it is completely clean with the focus and aperture rings turning very nicely.

The focus ring is a large ring with a rubber grip which makes it easy to turn, and the aperture has click stops for the 6 steps from f/3.5 to f/16, which is the minimum aperture. The closest focusing distance at 28 mm is only about 5.5 feet, and this drops a bit when the macro focusing is engaged on the 85 mm setting, but I would describe it as a close focus setting rather than a macro lens.

In common with many older push-pull zoom lenses the lens creeps when it's held pointing up or down on the camera because of the weight. I don't know if this is the result of age or if these lenses always had a bit of creep.

  • Vivitar 28-85mm macro zoom
  • 42 - 122.5 equivalent on aps-c
  • 5 blade aperture
  • f/3.5-f/4.5 max aperture depending on focal length
  • f/16 min aperture
  • Very short focusing adjustment
  • Macro focus at 85mm
  • 62mm filter

Vivitar 28-85mm Samples

These samples were taken in Stevenage over my lunch break today to get a feel for how the lens handles and performs. As I've mentioned in other posts, I've taken so many pictures around Stevenage over the last few years that I find it almost impossible to find anything of interest or different to act as a subject, so I make no claims for the artistic quality - but these pictures do serve to show what the lens is capable of. They have all had a little bit of adjustment in Lightroom just to add a bit of clarity, and exposure correction.

In use the lens is simple to use - but I did find the lens creep a bit annoying. Whenever I pointed the lens more than about 45deg up or down the zoom would start to creep a bit.

Overall I think the lens is a reasonable performer for the type of lens it is - a slow standard zoom.

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