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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #1
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Default Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Ok, here's the background. I recently purchased a Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical lens (Korean-made, also under Sakar, Samyang, Polar and some other brands for marketing purposes) as a birthday gift to myself. I purchased it to use with my D700, but they make EOS-mount versions as well, so it is available to Canon shooters.

I have used the Contax 85/1.4 with a C/Y adapter back with my 1D2 and 5D, so I was hoping this lens might be almost as good as that lens. The surprise is that it actually outperforms the old Contax (by my memory), particularly wide-open. It handles nicely, but, of course, is manual-focus only. The focus ring is damped well, and it takes 135 degrees of rotation to go from MFD to infinity. The Polar and Samyang brands appear to have a more common design for the focus ring knurling, but the Vivitar handles fine for me. Purple-fringing is noticeably better controlled with this lens, in comparison with the Contax Planar, though it still shows up at times. The sharpness and contrast at f/1.4 is also significantly better than the Contax. At f/2, the contrast gets a very small boost, but the resolution is so good wide-open that it isn't really a noticeable change, unless you are zoomed in at 50%-100%. The bokeh is fantastic too. I would put it on par with my Sigma 50/1.4!! I'm not being overly nice, just realistic.

So here comes the best news: B&H sells this wonderful lens for $350!

I'll tell you this much: this lens is going to be in a lot of people's bags soon, just because its such a fantastic value. From the cross-section of the lens, it appears to be a straight rip-off of the Nikon 85/1.4 AF-D lens, but with an aspherical element near the flange-end of the lens.

As for some shots, here are some from the Dallas Auto Show, all at f/1.4, except one.

Enjoy:







They had some older classics too...





And the cops showed up. Thought this was cute...



And a beautiful car, though at f/2...



And no show is complete without.......Sham-Wow! LOL

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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #2
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

And her is a portrait of my wife at f/1.4 (click for full-size):



And some product shots...

The box it came in (coincidentally the ugliest product box ever!):


Comparison of size (against Sigma 50/1.4):








Small pic with the hood on:
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #3
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

For you L-snobs, there's a red-ring on the Vivitar!
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #4
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Wow it even has a red ring!

I agree about the product box. That's hideous. Reminds me of a Transcend card.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #5
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Woah woah woah woah what?? I must have fallen off the ball at some point. Did vivitary revive their 1-series or something? This is one of the 1-series right? Like the Polar 85 1.4, as you say ?

Auto aperture too? And available in EF mount? When did this happen?

Good stuff Tom, thanks for posting. What other lenses have they pushed out?

Edit: how's the build? That MF ring looks icky but the price is really good - it'll be interesting when these start hitting the used market.
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Last edited by Perry Ge : 22nd of February 2009 (Sun) at 17:05.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #6
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

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Originally Posted by perryge View Post
Woah woah woah woah - I must have fallen off the ball at some point. Did vivitary revive their 1-series or something? This is one of the 1-series right? Like the Polar 85 1.4, as you say ?

Auto aperture too> And available in EF mount? When did this happen?

Good stuff Tom, thanks for posting. What other lenses have they pushed out?
It's the only one I know of (except some mention of two mirror lenses), and I am not sure how the EOS variant functions. On Nikon, it is Ai-S, not Ai-P, which means the camera reads the aperture from the ring position (mechanical feedback and control to camera) and you get wide-open metering and focusing with stop-down pre-shutter. There are no electronics with it on Nikon-mount, but the Canon will need an electronic aperture (since EF has no mechanical interface) to get wide-open metering/focusing, so you may want to do some research on the Canon-mount to make sure all is kosher there.

Edit: The MF is good, IMO. The ring is soft-ish rubber so its grippy. It's very damped, but not stiff like an old lens that's poorly-lubricated. I have zero problem with the focusing, and I'm far from being the best with MF lenses, to be completely honest.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #7
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

The Polar and Samyang variants (see ebay for Samyang at $340-ish) have more defined knurling on their rings, and slightly different paint, but same barrel shape/design.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #8
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

This is cool, I'm surprised there's been so little news about this - there's almost no useful info on the internet about this, but it looks to be a fine lens!
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #9
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Looks like a hidden gem, cheap and impressive performance.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #10
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

*cheap* is relative:. My $25 50mm 1.8 outperforms my $600 Sigma 50 1.4, which is depressing - but that's cheap .
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #11
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

I want one, was about to decide between a 85 f/1.8, 100 f/2 and 100 f/2.8 macro, but now this is available those 3 look much less attractive.

How does the aperture control work? Is it manual or camera controlled? I noticed on the box it says "constant f/1.4 aperture" which is a weird thing to put on a prime lens box Obviously it can be stopped down somehow from your gratuitous full frontal shot!
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #12
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlosDaJackal View Post
I want one, was about to decide between a 85 f/1.8, 100 f/2 and 100 f/2.8 macro, but now this is available those 3 look much less attractive.

How does the aperture control work? Is it manual or camera controlled? I noticed on the box it says "constant f/1.4 aperture" which is a weird thing to put on a prime lens box Obviously it can be stopped down somehow from your gratuitous full frontal shot!
I wouldn't get too worked up - there are, and have always been superb 85mm manual focus primes that can be had for much cheaper than this one, so this isn't like a breakthrough lens that suddenly makes the other AF offerings look less attractive (after all, AF has its uses...sometimes ).

But if this indeed has auto aperture on the EF mount (the Pentax mount apparently has it, so I'm more hopeful about the EF), then that's a big plus, and it makes this lens a lot more attractive.
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #13
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

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Originally Posted by perryge View Post
I wouldn't get too worked up - there are, and have always been superb 85mm manual focus primes that can be had for much cheaper than this one, so this isn't like a breakthrough lens that suddenly makes the other AF offerings look less attractive (after all, AF has its uses...sometimes ).
On my EOS300 no lens ever wants to auto focus reliably. The auto focus system on that camera is more a guideline. I believe this is why FTM was invented as the camera would get you in the ballpark but you had to take it form there

I take your point, but the fact its native mount and f/1.4 (not 2.8 like a lot of old primes seem to be) is a bonus. It also looks very low key which is a good thing, should have an EOS 5 soon so maybe the perfect combo.

If you would like to tell me what the "best" in your opinion 85-100mm MF prime that is at least f/2 for equal or less cash than this, I would be eternally grateful. P.M. me if you like so we don't steer this thread to far off course
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #14
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlosDaJackal View Post
I want one, was about to decide between a 85 f/1.8, 100 f/2 and 100 f/2.8 macro, but now this is available those 3 look much less attractive.

How does the aperture control work? Is it manual or camera controlled? I noticed on the box it says "constant f/1.4 aperture" which is a weird thing to put on a prime lens box Obviously it can be stopped down somehow from your gratuitous full frontal shot!
First of all the three lenses you listed are a hard choice.
If you want a macro lens there is no better then Canons 100mm Macro.
Second just throw away your possible choice of the 100mm f/2
The 85 and the 100 macro are both very fast, sharp lenses. your decision is down to macro? aperture?

Having a really good manual focus lens is something cool to have in your kit but if you normally depend on FA you are going to find you don't use it much.
We have the Canon/Hasselblad converter and a Hasselblad 80mm which is an amazing lens but it is only used sometimes in the studio but hardly ever anywhere else.

Now Ziess makes two EOS lenses but they are made in Japan not Germany and the are still out preformed by Canons L lenses
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Old 22nd of February 2009 (Sun)   #15
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Default Re: Vivitar 85/1.4 Aspherical - Samples

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Originally Posted by perryge View Post
*cheap* is relative:. My $25 50mm 1.8 outperforms my $600 Sigma 50 1.4, which is depressing - but that's cheap .
I used to have that 50mm and I was always surprised by how good it was.

I've owned a few Sigma primes over the years and I've always been disappointed.

Currently the only one I own is the 10mm 2.8, Its good but I have nothing to compare it to.
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