Orchids with a Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 M42 on SD1M

Started Apr 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
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pntbll248 Forum Member • Posts: 66
Orchids with a Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 M42 on SD1M

During the course of testing several wide primes and zooms for the SD1 (I'll have some results within the next week or two), I took some time to shoot the Foveon Florals test scene with one of my favorite M42 lenses. So here's a quick, completely subjective review! YMMV.

I love orchids, and I love the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8. My particular copy was supposedly manufactured by Komine, according to the serial number scheme, but it has 8 aperture blades instead of the Komine 9 blades. This confuses me, but Vivitar is one of those jocular sorta brands. The Vivitar 2.8/135 isn't in the test report since, ya know, 135mm does not fall between 24mm and 35mm. But it's such a well-built, fun lens that I went ahead and shot it anyways.

The build quality is outstanding with an all-metal body, no-nonsense body. Even though it carries the Vivitar name, the whole construction screams quality. Weighty and solid, the Vivitar is suited for both photography and self-defense. Very fine ribs are machined into the metal tube surrounding the rear element, reducing any light scattering and bouncing around in the tube. The focus ring is comfortably wide and adorned with fine metal ribs. Focus is a silky-smooth, 3/4 turn action that is delightfully dampened. South of the focus ring are light etched and painted focus distances (accurate on the SD1 with JTAT) with acceptable sharpness range indicated for every aperture. The IR offset line is obviously helpful if you are so inclined. An integrated, retractable lens hood with a interior black felt lining is a simple, brilliant touch. Seriously, how hard would it be to add this to the design of modern lenses? I've found the hood to be effective at preventing any lingering flare, though the lens itself is quite resistant in the first place.

Sharpness is actually pretty good and holds up throughout most of frame. It's no Zeiss 2/100 Macro-Planar T*, but it keeps up with the SD1 well enough. Pretty impressive given that it's more than a decade older than I am. Colors are a bit subtle compared to some other lenses, but I find the palette quite pleasing. Contrast is delicate, but again, pleasing -- its my go to long lens for florals and portraiture. This isn't a lens that drips color and contrast, and that's okay! It's subdued, but neither dull nor muddy. On the SD1/M, this is actually somewhat helpful in taming highlights. Chromatic aberrations are present and visible at 100%. It's still well controlled when compared to some of the other lenses that will be in the lens report (Sigma 28mm f/1.8 didn't fair as well on the CA). Vignetting, green or otherwise, is a non-issue. There were no color artifacts in any JPEGS or RAW when used on a Sigma SD1 Merrill.

Price: $40
Mount: M42, A/M
Aperture: f/2.8-f/22, 1/2 increment clicks, 8 Blades
Manufacturer: Komine (Serial # 28xxxxxx)
Recommended: Absolutely
Recommended uses: Florals, portraiture, and any delicate subject.

Similar lenses: Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 Close-Focusing (Offers 1:2 Macro, but different optical design. I find its contrast muddier and colors to be sickly).

No charts or anything like that, but here are some orchids! Standard color, + - 0 contrast, shadows, or all of that jazz. Automatic white balance. Required +1 exposure, as the aperture was set at f/45 (from the previous lens test), which apparently ticked off the SD1's meter Sorry for any resulting noise!

Sigma SD1 Sigma SD1 Merrill
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