The 6 Lenses on test are:
1. Tamron SP 70-210mm F3.5 #19AH.
This is the Tamron Adaptall "prosumer" 70-210mm, residing in the scheme of things
between the consumer 80-210mm's (03A, 103A) and the "pro" 80-200mm f2.8 (31A). As this
contemporary magazine review (pdf)
shows it was still one of the most expensive lenses of this range at the time.
Innovative one touch design with the large focus/zoom ring acting as a natural hood, fast constant f3.5 at all focal lengths,
unlike most zooms you push out to zoom in to 210mm. Given an adulatory write up on
adaptall-2.com where it is
described as "the best 70-210mm ever made" and a "Vivitar Series 1 beater". But is it?
My lens is in very good condition with no optical blemishes. Shown with PKA mount.
Tamron SP 70-210mm f3.5-4 #52A. Tamrons' adaptall "macro" 70-210mm, and the only 2 touch zoom in this group.
Also given a strong write up on adaptall-2.com
that emphahsises the optical achievement of producing a lens with continuous focus
from infinity to 0.75m, giving 1:2 reproduction at 210mm, and compares it with the Vivitar 90-180mm and Konica 80-200mm both of which also get to 1:2.
However online comment on this lens is lukewarm and it's rated much lower than the 19AH on pentax forums.
But is it really that bad - or is it something of an under-rated sleeper?
My lens is in good condition with just a slight sheen of haze on the edges of a rear element. Shown with PK-M mount.
Kiron "zoomlock" 70-210mm f4. Kino Optical produced this lens after Vivitar moved production of its 70-210mm series 1 away
to Tokina. The structural similarities between this lens and the Kino made VS1 are obvious. Optically it is slower, f4 vs f3.5,
has fewer elements/groups, and no dedicated macro mode so significant (cost cutting) changes had been made. There are two versions in fact,
these can be found with a focus limiter as well as the zoomlock.
Pretty well regarded by online cognoscenti but tends to be overlooked in favour of the VS1's. Unjustly?
My lens has just the zoomlock and is in excellent condition. PK mount.
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5 version one - kiron. Ground breaking zoom that offered
a new standard of optical quality for a non-oem name when it was introduced in 1975, and an innovative dedicated macro mode to a powerful 1:2.2.
Does it still measure up?
My lens is in decent condition, zoom is a bit stiff, I can see a couple of small spots on the second element and a hint of haze. M42 mount.
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5 version two - tokina. The tokina version is the smallest and
lightest of the three and its handling is excellent. However it has the weakest close focus capability (1:4), and
tends to be given less regard than its predecessor or successor.
However some online comment suggests it might be the sharpest. Others that it's a "blue fringing monster"! Who is right?
My lens is in good condition with no optical blemishes, however on purchase it had some fungus afflicting the front elements. In effecting removal of the fungus I accidentally maladjusted the infinity focus so the lens now focusses past infinity. This doesn't however affect IQ. PK mount.
I also now have a tokina RMC 70-210mm f3.5 zoom in M42 mount. This was the precursor to the VS1. The VS1 is slightly remodelled and the main technical difference is a closer minimum focus distance. Some test pics from this lens are included.
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f2.8-4 version three - komine. In the hand this is very similar to the version 2.
However the redesign moved to a variable aperture from the constant f3.5 of the previous versions, and greatly improved the close focus capability.
Variable aperture is generally considered to
be conducive to best IQ, especially for lenses of this era, and this version tends to garner the best online rap.
Does it measure up?
My lens is in very good condition, but I had to partially dissassemble on acquisition to clean the sticky iris (see here). PKA mount.
Other lenses looked at:
(1).Tamron SP Adaptall 26A 35-210mm f3.5-4.2; (2).Meyer-Optik Gorlitz 200mm f4 Orestegor;
(3).Takumar 200mm f3.5; (4).Tamron SP Adaptall 23A 60-300mm f3.5-5.4.
More technical details:
| Tamron |
|9 ~ 15||50-90|
|7.8 ~ 5||20-40|
|9 ~ 4||15-30|
|15e/10g||2m/78.5" 7; 0.8m/30" 8|
|8.9 ~ 13||20-40|
|9 ~ 9||30-50|
|14e/10g||1.6m/62"; 0.8m/31" 9|
|8.9 ~ 16||60-100 10|
Table - notes:
2. Closest focus from sensor/film plane; focus throw (rotation of focus ring).
3. Closest Working distance, actual, measured from front of lens. 4. Number of blades.
5. As on Pentax Forums lens reviews. x ~ y means x/10 rating from y reviews.
6. Typical average online auction price IME (UK) for PK mount examples (but lens alone in the case of the adaptalls). The vivitars and the kiron can be found in all the legacy mounts of the era and the price of the lens normally reflects the utility of the the mount. PK and Nikon mount examples always get the highest prices because these lenses fit and work on current DSLR's, next is the easily adapted M42.
7. Normal zoom.
8. Dedicated macro mode. All the other lenses have continuous focus and maximum magnification at 210mm zoom at closest focus distance.
9. 1.6m/62" at 70-100mm zoom. 0.8m/31" close focus becomes available at 100-210mm zoom.
10. PKA mount version, PK mount rather less.
I used two cameras: my Pentax K5 and my Samsung NX20 (afraid I don't have a full frame digital):
Using two cameras meant I could use the strengths of each to suit different image circumstances and
get a 2-fold perspective on each lenses performance, rendering and colour. I tended to use the NX20 when I needed
to be really sure of the focus: the 5× or 7× magnification in the EVF is a significantly clearer view of focus than the blurrier
10x live view magnification on the K5. I was using a 1.36x viewfinder magnifier on the K5 and
corroborating visual focus with live view and the cameras focus confirm cues.
Each of the images were taken using cable release, with the camera and lens mounted on a 12" macro rail on a tripod or placed on a bean bag on eg a wall. The macro rail allowed additional lens support using a wooden wedge - necessary with the NX20 because of bending/flex at the mount with the cheap PK-NX/M42-NX adapters I was using, and still desireable with these quite large and heavy metal'n glass lenses on the larger and heavier K5. I used aperture priority on the NX20 visually checking the shutter speed for consistency, but manual mode on the K5 to avoid "green button" inconsistencies, manually adjusting the shutter speed to match the f-stop. Images taken as RAW, the NX20's .SFR format converted to .DNG using Adobe DNG converter, jpg's exported from Lightroom 3.6, 90 quality. I tweaked exposure and white balance as necessary for consistency, other settings like sharpening and contrast left on default values. The main point is consistency for each image so that the comparison between the images reflects the lenses rather than other variables.
Test image opportunities were sought to look at performance across both the zoom range and the focus range. For each image I took test shots at f3.5, f5.6, f8 and f11 for the f3.5 lenses. While it might have been informative to take test images at the click between f3.5 and f5.6, the VS1 tokina doesn't have a click so I would have been guessing. For consistency and practicality I skipped it. I took test images at each f-stop f2.8 - f11 for the komine VS1 and f4 - f11 for the Kiron ZL. Note that the actual f-stop on the komine VS1 depends on the zoom. I checked how shutter speeds changed on my G1. At 1/500th at f2.8 and 70mm, the shutter speed dropped to 1/400th zooming through ~ 90mm, to 1/320th at ~ 135mm and to 1/250th at ~ 190mm.
I tried to find photographic subjects that would both have some interest and highlight aspects of the rendering, colours, contrast and/or bokeh of the lenses. I am just an amateur, I don't have a studio or lights, however I have managed to avoid chimneys and brick walls. I have made comments about each image on the image comparison pages. Click on the images to the right to go to the page for each image.