A little while ago I got this Vivitar 28mm f2.8 lens second hand. This is the M42 version, but apparently, there are over a dozen of different versions of it available.

The lens is surprisingly high quality. For instance, below is a picture I took with it mounted on the sd14:

vivitar 28mm f2.8

And now, below is the 100% crop of this image, showing great sharpness all over the areas of the plant that are in focus.

vivitar 28mm f2.8

The aperture ranges from f2.8 to f16, and I tend to keep it somewhere in the middle of that. Image quality is quite decent at f2.8, but I find that starting from f4 my images get really good. At f5.6 to f8, the corner sharpness becomes excellent, and I will happily use it on my full-frame Canon 5D.

(Click image to view full size)

vivitar 28mm f2.8

Build quality

The focus ring is perfectly smooth, which is a quality of old metal lenses that never ceases to amaze me. Every budget modern prime I have has annoyingly grippy manual focus action, and I know that modern lenses are built with auto focus in mind, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s weird a 30 year old lens to outperform its modern successor so strongly.

Both focus and aperture ring have a lot of text on them. The most useful to me, is that the focus distance is expressed in feet as well as meters.

Another plus, is that the (52mm) filter mount doesn’t turn with the focus ring. This allows me to keep re-focussing without having to adjust my polarizer filter settings.

Finally, the Vivitar is one of the smaller 28mm lenses I’ve seen, which might be nice if space is an issue.

The only bad thing I could say about the build, is that the manual/auto aperture knob has broken off at some point. Since I was shooting outdoors at the time and couldn’t find the knob anymore, I simply jammed a small piece of wood in the place of the button. Not a real fix, but since it keeps the aperture mode stuck in manual now, I just leave it alone.