Published June 29th 2006

Vivitar 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5


A lot of lens for the money. Not great, but good.

The Round Tower in Copenhagen
[Dynax 7, Vivitar 19-35mm f3.5-4.5, Provia 100]

This was a long shot. Buying a lens in this price range is always a chance to take. It's inexpensive OK, but there is no guarantee that it's any good.

Well, this lens is good!

Mechanically it stinks. It's loose, lightweight, poor materials and not impressing in any way. Mine has become increasingly loose in the zoom ring and rattles a bit. It also has a very short focus movement and the focus ring has very little resistance. So mechanically this is nothing near being good. But optically it's a small gem.

I have always loved wide angles, a passion that started with my Minolta MD 24mm f2.8 manual focus for film, and I have made sure that I carried as wide a wideangle I could get my hands on at all times. At 19mm on a 35mm film camera this lens is a very pleasent surprise. Stopped down to f5.6 or f8 it is a very good lens. Flare is fairly controlled, sharpness is good, and first of all: the perspective is stunning! There are no distortions worth mentioning. There might be some curved lines, but I don't remember once having adjusted that in Photoshop.

It works fine on a digital SLR where the 19-35mm corresponds to a 28-55mm or so. Not exactly really wide, but good enough to be useful and very good at the price.

There is nothing that will bring you into a scene like the detph of a good wideangle photo. It also gives you some great composition options when you are close to the subject, and at the same time captures a landscape with enough forground or sky to really convey the scene and suck you in.

As far as I have seen this lens is available in several makes, and even though mine is a Vivitar, I have also seen a Cosina, which is exactly like it. My guess is that both are OEM-products from one of the big manufacturers.