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LENS PORN: Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Auto Variable Focusing (Kino Precision)

Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Auto Variable Focusing (Kino Precision)
Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Auto Variable Focusing (Kino Precision)

My copy of the Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC was imported from the US, very hard to find! It was reviewed as one of the sharpest zoom lenses ever, especially for its time. It was made by Kino Precision, a lens maker well known for producing sharp optics. I also have the later Series 1 version by Komine, but this Kino lens looks better for me.

This lens was given a nickname of 'The Stovepipe Lens' because of its shape. Aside from being a fast f/2.8 all-around lens, it also offers more blurry backgrounds compared to regular kit zoom lenses. From my samples, you can see that it is already sharp, crispy, contrasty and has vivid colors at f/2.8. It is prone to flare at 28mm only, and when you set the aperture to f/11 or f/16. Other than that, image quality is at par with modern kit lenses.

There are only 2 things that might annoy you: 1) it's a varifocal zoom, and 2) the longer the focal length, the longer the Minimum Focusing Distance. So while you can get as close as 0.25meters at 28mm, MFD is 0.5 meters at 50mm, and 1 meter at 85mm.

A MUST-HAVE LENS, not just as collector's item, but also for its incredible functionality. I have this and the later Series 1 version made by KOMINE, and this is the better lens.


VIVITAR Serial Numbers

Vivitar was a marketing company who outsourced their lenses to manufacturers. Lenses made from 1970 to 1990 can be easily traced based on a systematic scheme. Let's track who and when my lens was made.

The serial# of my lens is #22222664 (that's alot of 2!)

The first 2 digits represented a code for the manufacturer.
22 = Kino Precision

The 3rd digit represents the year it was made
2 = 1982
Iit couldn't have been 1972 since lenses that time were not multicoated.
My copy comes in AI aperture ring, so it has to be at least 1977!

The 4th and 5th digits represent the week of the year it was made
22 = week 22, around May 9-15

The last digits that follow are the manufacturing serial number
664 = manufacturing serial number



Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8
MC Auto Variable Focusing

It was given the nickname of
'stovepipe lens' because of its shape.

Manufactured by
Kino Precision
(S/N starting at 22xxxxxx)

Years Produced
Late 1970s

Focal Range
Used on FX = 28mm - 85mm
Used on DX = 43mm - 130mm

Minimum Focusing Distance
28mm = 0.26 metrers
50mm = 0.5 meters
85mm = 1 meter

Focus Throw
90 degrees (1/4 circle turn)

Filter Thread Diameter

Aperture Run
28mm = f/2.8 - f/16
85mm = f/3.8 - f/22
(6 blades)

14 elements, 11 groups

Multicoated glass

Made in Japan

Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Auto Variable Focusing (Kino Precision)



All samples shot with Nikon D5200,
natural and unenhanced!

Vivitar 28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 MC Auto Variable Focusing (Kino Precision)



Vivitar 28-85mm Photo Album

Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5 (Komine)

Vivitar Serial Number Lookup

Service Manual for Vivitar 28-85/2.8-3.8

Quote: One of the sharpest and highest resolution varifocal lenses ever made

# # # E N D # # #


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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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