Today we are going to be going over our ultimate Vivitar 135mm f2.8 review that we have seen a steadily increasing number of people reaching out for. Although it is an old school vintage manual lens, we have seen a sudden resurgence of that vintage look and the Vivitar 135mm has aged well and has a dedicated user base.
Before getting into the review, we just want to point out that this is a vintage lens! Over the years there is a very high chance that time has taken its toll on it meaning that it can be a risk to pick it up, especially from a thrift store or yard sale as the person selling it may not actually know the condition of the lens. This can be avoided if you choose to pick up a certified refurbished version (Click here to check for product prices and availability) of the lens up but the supply of these can be limited and often sell out quickly. Essentially the vendor stips the Vivitar 135mm down, cleans it, services it, rebuilds it, tests it and then lists it for sale helping to get you a serviceable lens in full working order.
Performance And Functionality
The aperture of f/2.8 allows decent performance in low light conditions as well as a snappy image capture with some owners of the lens using it to capture fast-moving subjects such as birds in flight. Being a manual lens you will have to tweak the focus as required via the manual focus ring on the lens but this is very easy to do in all fairness. Additionally, as it is a prime lens with a fixed focal length of 135mm it has no zoom capabilities at all so that is something to keep in mind.
The lens is based around the Minolta MD mount system so it will not natively attach to any modern camera bodies in circulation today. Thankfully, there are a number of MD adaptors (Click here to check for product prices and availability) on the market that can allow you to mount the lens on Sony, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Nex, M4/3 lens mounts. That said if you are using one of the vintage Minolta manual focus cameras (Click here to check for product prices and availability) the Vivitar 135mm will natively mount directly to it without issue.
The Vivitar lens market share was massive back in the day and they produced a solid lens with an excellent build quality that was designed to stand the test of time. In our opinion, their principal of building the lenses to be as robust as possible is the main reason that the Vivitar 135mm is one of the more popular vintage lenses on the market today.
One thing that we would like to point out is that the manual focus ring on the lens is a common fault on the non-refurbished versions as the build-up of dust and potential rust build up over the years can make the ring difficult to turn. If you are confident in stripping your lens down then you can usually clean it yourself to get it back in working order without issue. If not, then many local photography stores tend to offer a lens cleaning service that is usually pretty cheap but this will depend on your local area.
Again, this is going to depend on how well the particular lens that you managed to get your hands on has held up but the M42 mounting system on the lens tends to age very well. The metal allows it was originally made from does not tend to warp over time and it is very robust ensuring that you can easily mount or unmount the lens as required even to this day.
Although a rare fault with the Vivitar 135mm, we have seen a few reports from people commenting on their front lens element being chipped. There are some cheap glass restoration kits (Click here to check for product prices and availability) on the market these days that some people may choose to use to try and fix a cracked front lens element, it can definitely have an effect on the image quality that you are able to capture. If you are purchasing your lens from a thrift or second-hand store then double check that the front lens element is chip and scratch free!
That concludes our Vivitar 135mm f2.8 review, we have tried to stay as balanced as possible throughout the whole article while also point out the common issues with the lens. That said, if you get a good quality Vivitar 135mm then the lens can perform great and provide you with some excellent image quality while making the lens a great addition to your collection of camera accessories.
The video below offers an additional third-party, independent review for the Vivitar 135mm to offer our readers an independent opinion of the product.