2016.05.02 - Original publish date.
2017.01.21 - Added more information, changed formatting.
Vivitar was a marketing company who hired third party lens makers like Tokina, Sun, Tefnon, Cosina, Olympus, Komura, Komine and Kiron. To add a little confusion, Vivitar made over 30 versions of this 28mm wide angle lens, which was made by different manufacturers as well.
This Vivitar 28mm f/2 MC has a serial number that starts with #22, indicating it was made by Kiron (aka Kino Precision). For those who may not be aware, Kiron lenses are generally known to be very sharp and have great contrast for its era. I myself have tried several Kiron made lenses and they are SSSSSSHARP even wide open!
Considering that many cameras nowadays are crop sensor, such as my D5200 -- then this 28mm lens is more like a 43mm normal/standard lens. What particularly struck me about this lens is the wide maximum aperture of f/2 (many 28mm's commonly come in f/2.8).
This lens had a reputation of being sharp in the center, soft on the edges. Fortunately for DX users like me, the crop factor means I'm mostly seeing the sweet spot of the lens.
Vivitar 28mm f/2 MC
Manufactured By: Kiron
FX = 28mm
DX = 43mm
Max/Min. Aperture: f/2 - f/16
Aperture Blades: 6
Minimum Focusing Distance:
1 foot / 30 cm
MC stands for Multi Coated
Made in Japan
The maximum aperture of f/2 makes this a great lens for low light photography, and for nice blurry background.
I like using this lens for indoor (scroll further down, you will know why).
The build is all metal and very sturdy.
Damped focus ring.
The Black and White photos I shot with this lens are beautiful.
What 50mm f/1.8 is to full frame users, 28mm f/2 is for crop sensor users.
Colors are beautifully vivid and saturated.
Supports Nikon AI metering, but also comes with the non-AI rabbit ear metal prong. It just looks nice that way.
Supports Auto diaphragm.
It is a fully manual lens. You have to focus manually. You have to calculate the exposure manually. I like it, you may not.
Flare. I know that many people don't like it, but to me it adds a certain characteristic that you can't fake with post processing.
The lens has a bluish color shift. It is easy to do a preset white balance, but if you change lenses often, this can be really annoying.
Contrast is really poor, even at f/16. Not a suitable outdoor/daytime/street photography lens. =(
The multicoated glass is not effective in improving image quality when shooting outdoor and on sunny scenes. Especially weak against backlit subjects, or when there is a light source in the frame.
It has a reputation of having oily aperture blades, which my copy eventually became after 2 months.
Ø = 55mm. For some reason, it's damn hard to find 55mm filters locally. You really need to hunt for them.
The paint finish of the lens is too glossy, it always slips from my hands while I'm mounting/un-mounting the lens.
A wide angle lens on full frame cameras, a normal/standard lens on APS-C, and a portrait lens on mirrorless. 28mm is a flexible lens! This lens gives you a wide f/2 aperture in situations where you need one. Like for creating blurry backgrounds or shooting in low lighting. It also lives to the Kiron standard of producing sharp images even wide at f/2.
The only big weakness that I see in this lens is that the multicoating is not efficient. In fact, when I look into the front glass, it's like I'm looking at a clear non-coated glass. Effective multicoated glass usually have a strong purple-green reflection. Goddamit, even at f/16, my images are still washed out when shooting on a sunny outdoor. A wide angle lens that cannot be used outdoor? Sounds bad to me!
It does create an aesthetically beautiful flare, which I personally like and do not consider a weakness.
Most of my samples here are unedited, while a few (especially the sunny outdoor ones) were given a little boost in contrast. I hope my samples are helpful to persuade/dissuade you to buy one. I clearly specify which images were used with a fisheye adapter. The additional glass caused a deterioration in the image quality, please remember this.
Low Light / Night Photography
Landscape / Architecture / Outdoor / Street Photography
Closeup / Product Photography
With Fisheye Adapter
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