I had purchased the OM-10 camera because of the interesting looking lens that it was attached to – I was purchasing it online, and the dealer only had a blurry picture and just mentioned it was a Vivitar 55mm. However, I could make out from the picture that it had a deep front element well, which indicated that it was a close-focus lens. Research indicated that it was most probably the Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 macro. I could not be sure of the condition of the lens, but I took a chance.
I was lucky this time, the lens was in pretty good condition, minor scratches, glass elements were fine though there is a tiny, tiny scratch on the front element. Scratches can cause flaring when photographing in bright sunlight, but not in this case. The front element is so deeply recessed, it’s like having a hood, there’s no chance of flare. Besides, I always use a polarizer for outdoor sunlight photography.
The Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 is a is a true classic. It’s a real 1:1 macro lens, made as an answer to the Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 and other OEM lenses – but this was even better, it can go to 1:1 without any other accessories, while the Olympus Zuiko 50mm macro has a magnification of 1:2 and needs the OM extension tube to go to 1:1. The Vivitar 55mm lens can focus as close as 6 inches.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, this Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 was not cheap by ANY standards – it retailed for $275 back when an OM-1 with a 50mm lens could be purchased for about $150. It was as expensive as any OEM lens. These days, it’s pretty hard to find, but usually retails for between $50-75 if you’re lucky. Ebay has one now and then, but the prices fluctuate quite a bit, since there are a lot of knowledgeable macro photographers out there who would recognize this lens’ true value. For me, it more than qualifies as a ‘cheap awesome lens’.
The Vivitar 55mm lens was built by Komine (serial number starts with 28xxxxx) for Vivitar and resembles the Kino Precision made Panagor 90mm f/2.8 1:1 macro and Panagor 55mm f/2.8 1:1 macro a great deal, down to the filter diameter of 62mm. I guess thats because Kino Precision made a similar 90mm macro lens for Vivitar. (Vivitar lenses made by Kino have a serial number starting with 22xxxxx).
Here’s the roll I shot with the OM-1 and the Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 macro. I will get a lot more use from this lens when I finally get a Digital SLR. That’ll probably be another few months at least.
|Vivitar 55mm macro
||Vivitar 55mm macro
Photographed with an OM-1, Vivitar 55mm f/2.8, Fuji Superia 400 film, Polarizer