A Tale of Two Twenty Eights.

I think the 28mm is often an unappreciated focal length. The 24mm is the darling among many photographers. For good reason I suppose. The 28mm lens was a very popular introductory wide-angle lens for a lot of beginner photographers. Today I am going to discuss two particular third-party vintage 28mm lenses. Both are branded Vivitar, both are very different.

Vivitar 28mm f2.8 manufactured by Tokina

I’ve had this lens for a little while. It is has the T4 version of Tokina’s interchangeable camera mount. I’m using the M42x1 mount and primarily use it on my Pentax Spotmatic. for this article, I have mounted on a full-frame Sony A7II.

Is it sharp? Sharp enough for me. Vignetting? Not bad at all. Distortion? Better than most lenses of this vintage. Color and contrast? Again, better than most. Lens flare? Ummm, of course, but it’s not terrible. Bokeh? It’s fine, a little blocky, but when stopped down to f4, it looks interesting. The aperture blades make a saw-blade like shape.

Ok, I got that stuff out-of-the-way. The reason I think this is one of my favorite lenses; it’s the way this lens handles.

It’s 5.2cm from flange to the front of the lens focused to infinity. Here are the specs from camera-wiki.org:

  • Badging: Vivitar
  • Manufacturer: Tokina
  • Manufacture Date: ca 1969
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/16
  • Diaphragm Type: Automatic
  • Diaphragm Blades: unknown ~counted eight
  • Filter Diameter: 58mm
  • Minimum Focus: 30.5cm (1 ft)
  • Mounts: T-4 (adapters for Canon FL, Exakta, M42, Nikon, Pellix, Minolta SRT, Miranda Sensorex)
  • Elements: 7
  • Groups: 6
  • Weight: 241g (8.5 oz)
  • Accessories: unknown
  • Example Serial Numbers: 379001097, 3713999
  • Original Stock Number(s): 19-1043

I really like the focus ring, it’s not rubber, it has metal ridges which is nicer with bare hands and thin gloves. The focus ring is a bit short, so heavy gloves this could be problematic. The focus throw is long and precise, making manual focus a little slower, more precise. I also like the aperture ring, it has the same ridges the focus ring has and slightly protrudes around the lens barrel. It’s easy to use. I like it.

I got this lens from a thrift store, and it was probably never used. My version is like new. It’s currently my go-to 28mm lens.

Here is a sample gallery of images I shot the other day.

Vivitar 28mm f2.5 manufactured by Kino Precision

This is a 28mm f2.5 Auto Wide-Angle with 67mm filter thread. This is from diamond rubber-ring family.

My version is a Canon FD breach mount, 6 bladed aperture. It’s almost 6.7cm flange to top of front of the lens focused to infinity. It’s a little bigger than the Tokina, they are close in weight, but I don’t have any other stats on this lens.

I don’t mind this lens, I use it often on my Canon AE-1 and have really liked it on my Fujifilm X series cameras. Today was the first time I took it out on the A7.

Image quality is pretty damn good, for a lens of this age. It’s sharp and contrasty, but I don’t like the flare with this lens, so I just have to make sure I don’t shoot directly into the light source. Bokeh is fine, it’s pretty smooth and renders the colors nicely. The vignetting is a little more pronounced, nothing Lightroom can’t fix. I like vignetting when it’s a natural artifact from the lens.

I’m not big on the rubber focus ring, and I don’t like the way the front of the lens flares out, giving me a 67mm filter ring. That’s just annoying. I also don’t like the way the aperture ring is laid out. It’s too close to the breach lock ring and it’s too thin. There are two thin and narrow ridged tabs on the left and right side of the lens barrel. When you want to change the aperture, you have to hunt for that damn thing. I don’t like it.

Here are some pictures:


The Tokina made lens is my favorite version, but I would like to have it in a FL/FD mount. The M42 is a little slow because you have to screw it on to the camera. It’s fine though. The Kino Precision lens is a fine lens, but it has some character to it. If you grab either version, I think most people would enjoy using them. These lenses are plentiful, so they ought to be cheap. I have seen these lenses labeled as rare on eBay, and that is just not true. I’m certain any of the nearly 20 Vivitar 28mm lenses, they should be easily just fine performers.

I’d like to try out a couple of the other versions at some point.

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