Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 auto telephoto m42 lens on Sony Nex
This is a short review of this vintage lenses which is another I inherited from my Dad who used to use it on a Zenith B camera in the 1970’s or 1980’s.
It’s a 135mm M42 mount lens with an auto/manual switch and a f/2.8 to f/22 aperture range.
There is an in-built lens hood which slides over the front element when required, although on my copy this is so loose that it won’t keep in place if the lens is pointed upwards. The aperture has 6 blades and operates quite smoothly in half stop clicks apart from the final one-stop click from f/16 to f/22.
The focusing ring is also smooth in operation, and is nicely damped. It is certainly easier to turn than the takumar 135 f/3.5, which if anything I find a bit too stiff. According to the focusing scale, the closest focusing distance is about 5 feet, so this would not be a natural choice for macro unless you use an extension tube or close focus attachment lens.
My copy has quite a bit of internal dust and also some scuffs on the inside of the back element which I haven’t bothered to try to remove. Sometimes on old lenses there is a small gap at the back near the mount which you can use to force air in with a blower and clean the internal dust out, but this lens is completely solid round that area, and the gap between the lens body and the internal focusing section is too small to use. I haven’t taken the lens apart to try to clean it although these type of lenses are normally of simple design so that is a possibility sometime in the future if it becomes necessary.
Vivitar lenses were made by a variety of different manufacturers, and the serial number of mine (28809118) indicates that this lens was made by Komine (because of the 28 starting serial number). The 8 as a third digit suggests it was made in a year ending in 8 which was probably 1978, since I would guess that by 1988 there wouldn’t be many M42 lenses being made.
Although I inherited my copy from my Dad, it is possible to buy a copy of this lens reasonably easily. A quick search on ebay uk reveals a price ranging from £30 to £50 on a ‘buy it now’ deal. That sounds quite expensive to me – I would expect to probably pay about £25 to acquire one in an auction.
The pictures below show some concrete bears which sit in my garden at home, used as a portrait subject to show the level of background defocus with the lens set from f/2.8 to f/22
As I said above the close focus distance of 5 feet doesn’t make this a natural choice for macro photography, but the shots below were all taken using a small extension tube fitted to the camera. This reduced the closest distance to about 2 feet and at least qualifies these pictures as close-up if not macro.
These are some general pictures taken with the lens in my Mum’s garden. I think they show a reasonable performance once the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 which puts this lens in the ‘certainly worth the money but not a super star’ class. These pictures, along with all the others in this post can be viewed at full size by following this link.