One For The Trash

My collection of lenses grows each month.  I’ve recently accepted the fact that I didn’t buy a big enough cabinet to store them all.  In an attempt to free up some room I decided to conduct a culling.  In the process of getting exceptional lenses, sometimes I have to buy a batch in order to get the one I’m after.  Recently, I bought such a box which had one lens I wanted and the rest were all “bonus” junk.  One of these freebies was an old Minolta SR mount Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5.  This lens is a one-touch, push-pull style zoom; slide the fat ring of the lens to adjust the focal length and to adjust focus you simply rotate the same ring.  The lens’ ring is about as a tight as a 30 year old sock.  With even the slightest tilt it sloppily slides forward or backward.  There is a term for this condition which is called ‘lens creep’.  Usually lens creep just means that the heavy front barrel of a zoom lens slowly drifts forward or backward, depending on which way it’s angled.  Mmyeah… on this lens, the zoom ring itself “creeps” about as smooth and quiet as a bowling bowl thrown down a flight of stairs.

This worn out 3rd-party zoom lens wasn’t about to take up any of the much-needed space in my lens cabinet.  I was about to just pitch it in the trash to make room for a proper lens when I decided I might as well hook it up to my camera and least have a good laugh at its failings.

Please, take a look below to see just how pathetic this lens really is:

 

 

 

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

 

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

 

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

 

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

 

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

 

It’s a total piece of junk right?  WHAT?!  Are these images coming out of this lens?!?!  I shot all of these wide-open at f/4.5.  This lens has amazingly smooth bokeh, the colors are fantastic, and the center of the frame is as sharp as a prime lens.  What on earth is going on here?  This was supposed to be an old junker lens.  I guess the old adage holds the same truth in lenses: you can’t judge a book/lens by its cover.

I’ll not be throwing this lens away.  In fact, I plan on overhauling it to bring it back into good working condition.  Perhaps another post is in order after that happens.

 

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18 thoughts on “One For The Trash

  1. I can’t believe that thing took such amazingly sharp photos! They really turned out beautiful! Yet another fantastic find in the “junker” bin! 😀

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  2. I enjoyed reading this post and it made me want to see how my “junk lenses” performance since I have not try them on Sony a7ii.

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  3. You got me all excited thinking you have some of your Minolta lenses to sell. What a bummer!!!!. Still, very impressed with the quality of the images you posted.

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  4. Hi Jon,

    I, too, have a few lenses that I’ve not bothered much with. I plan on going through them now just to make sure I’ve not blindly dismissed them simply because of their brand or supposed performance.

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  5. Hi Nino,
    If I ever do part ways with any of my Minoltas, I’ll let you know. I know I’ve at least a few duplicates in my cabinet: 35mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8, and 45mm f/2.

    Tom

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  6. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by OutFor30. In answer to your question: it isn’t impossible to do but it isn’t as simple as using an adapter like with a mirrorless camera. The reason being that the mirrorless cameras have a flange-focal distance (FFD) that is significantly shorter than an SLR. The only way to adapt a non-Canon EF mount lens to use on a Canon body is to actually remove the bayonet mount of the lens and custom machine an EF mount to fit it – with special consideration given to the final distance between the lens and the sensor. This can get quite costly, as I’m sure you’re imagining. To better understand why, I recommend a quick lookup on Wikipedia on the subject of Flange Focal Distance. I hope all of this helped you out.

    Cheers,

    Tom

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  7. Great pics. just a question to Tom Leonard: did you have to use an adapter to mount this old lens on your Sony A7RII ? I have a similar lens, the great Vivitar 70-210mm with Minolta SR mount, I wonder what type of Sonydigital camera I should get to be able to use it. Thanks for your help

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  8. Hi Ruben,

    I’m glad you stopped by OutFor30 and found some enjoyable content. In answer to your question regarding the lens mount adapters:

    The prevalence of mount adapters to Sony’s e-mout make adapting cheap and easy. Most of my adapters cost less than $20. For Minolta’s SR Mount, you’ll want to look for a “MD/MCmount to e-mount”. That will allow you to connect any lens from the vast selection of SR mount lenses to a Sony mirrorless. I prefer the brand, K&F Concept, which can be found on Amazon.
    As far as picking out a Sony mirrorless camera, that really just boils down to two things: budget and crop/no-crop field of view. If you buy any of Sony’s APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras (NEX or A6xxx) those will all have the effect of a 1.5x cropped field of view. In other words, if you connect a 50mm lens to it, it will have an equivalent focal length of 75mm (50mm x 1.5 Crop Factor = 75mm). This Crop Factor is not brand specific, rather it is just down to the size of the sensor vs the design of the lens. If the budget allows, a Full-Frame Sony mirrorless (any Sony A7 series camera) is without this crop factor so any lens attached to it from the 35mm film world will equal the same on the mirrorless camera. Another benefit/difference is the reduced depth of field you see as a result of the larger sensor.

    I have both APS-C (NEX-5T) and Full-Frame (A7RII) and they’re both fully capable cameras and a joy to use. My recommendation for an APS-C would be Sony’s A6xxx series and for Full-Frame any of the A7 series in MKII badge. The MKII cameras saw the maturing of excellent tech from the first generation cameras but with the addition of the sensor-based 5-axis image stabilization which steadies all lenses attached to the body regardless of their age.

    I hope the information was helpful. Feel free to ask away if you have any further questions I might be able to help you with.

    Cheers,

    Tom

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  9. Hi Tom
    Great find with an old lens ! I do use mainly zooms, (on m43 camera); all of them are of the rotational zooming type. I really do wonder, why these push/pull zooms are no longer made. They would be much faster, especially when shooting wildlife, e.g. birds in flight: aim first with wide angle, pull zoom in fast to close in on the subject, (auto-)focus, click ! Would be one natual flow of action, almost simultaneous ! Any ideas, why these push/pull zooms are “out of fashion” ?

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  10. Hi George, I’m glad to hear you found this recent post to be of interest. There are a lot more posts here related to the use of old lenses on modern mirrorless cameras, if you’re interested.
    I agree with you on the push-pull style MF lenses. On the matter of push-pull/one-touch zooms going out of style, I suspect a few reasons:

    * Most modern zoom lenses are now auto-focus which deemphasizes the fact they’ve require a second ring for manual focus.

    * Push-Pull zooms had a tendency to creep or sag when pointed up or down. Some tensioning (felt/plastic bushings) was added to sort of fix it but never really all that well. With the ring style zoom, you could put more tension in there and still be able to accurately change the zoom (focal length) setting. Push-Pull is faster but can be less accurate if it has enough tension to prevent creeping.

    I have a few old push-pull manual focus lenses and find them perfectly fine to work with. The only Auto Focus push-pull I’ve owned was the Nikon AF-D 80-200mm f/2.8. I don’t see these making a come-back since people have grown so used to the two-touch rings. This gearbox lens is really unique in that you can control the zoom and focus at the same time: pull lever with thumb while turning focus dial with finger. Aside from the awkward appearance of having a box hanging off the side of the lens, it really is a nifty, fun-to-use lens. It definitely is a conversation starter when around other photographers.

    All the best to you, and I hope you find your visit to OutFor30 a pleasant one.

    Tom

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  11. For those who don’t know, Vivitar never made any lenses; they had them all made by primary lensmakers such as Komine, Kiron/Kino, Tokina, and Tamron.

    Some of them are excellent, especially the Series 1 models.

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