Vivitar 75-205mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom

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ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 8,813
Vivitar 75-205mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom

Since I dug-out my Vivitar 100-300mm f/5 Close Focusing Auto Zoom, I figured I might as well also unearth its cousin: the Vivitar AF 75-205mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom.

Overall, it is a very similar lens: separate focus and zoom rings, with close focus on the short end of the zoom ring. However, this one is made by Kino (22 serial number) and is a bit lower spec. First off, it isn't really f/3.8, but goes to f/5.6 at 205mm. Second, there's no built-in sliding hood. At 156mm long and 830g, it is almost as long as the 100-300mm and actually is a bit heavier. Still, it is well built. Let's see what the image quality is like.

First, let's see if it has the PF problem the 100-300mm has. Scaled-down unprocessed JPEGs from my A7RII...

Vivitar 75-205mm f/3.8 at 205mm @ f/3.8

Well, I've seen worse. There's actually not much PF here, but things are just very soft, perhaps due to SA... but the bokeh don't look as smooth as SA would normally yield. There is quite strong cat's eye visible in the upper right corner and, as is often the case, that seems to be enhanced by significant curvature of field. Overall, not a strong performance.

In fact, let's look at a distant shot wide open at 205mm:

205mm @ f/3.8

And then stopped down:

205mm @ f/11 or so

Well, that's definitely a big improvement when stopped down!

In closer, it does look better wide open:

205mm @ f/3.8

205mm @ f/3.8

Close focus @ f/3.8

I would still say the field curvature is evident and bokeh are a touch busy in the non-close-focus shots, but things get better in close focus mode.

So, what's the verdict?

Well, the build quality is really excellent, but I have to take points off for size and lack of a hood, so I'd call it a "B+." As for the image quality, it's good, but very soft wide open at a distance It is definitely better close up, where I'd call it a "B+" or even "A-," but overall I have to give it a "B" on FF. At most distances and focal lengths, it's not really sharp enough to do great on APS-C, so I'd say "B-." I didn't try it with a focal reducer, but the field curvature is likely to make that a bit hit-or-miss depending on the focal reducer used. Probably a "C+" on MFT.

Overall, not as compelling as the 100-300mm f/5, but still a decent choice for 24MP or less on FF.


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