Thread: Vivitar 28mm 1.9 Series 1 - Different Versions

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  1. #1 Vivitar 28mm 1.9 Series 1 - Different Versions 
    Senior Member Zack Birlew's Avatar
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    Hi, everybody, I recently came across another copy of the celebrated Vivitar 28mm 1.9 Series 1 lenses in Canon FD Mount and I made a little discovery upon disassembling and cleaning the lens! I had purchased a haze and fungus infected copy in Olympus mount some months ago for not much money and decided to give repairing it a go and ended up with a basically mint and beautiful copy of an optically and mechanically unusual lens. I was happy with my luck in cleaning and fixing the lens but didnít see enough magic in it that would make me want to rush to get another copy or try to find a Nikon Mount version, since I prefer Nikon, but I saw another copy show up recently for what I knew was too good of a price and would be, what I thought, a simple redux of my earlier disassembly experience. So, I bought the lens and even though I wasnít a fan of it being in Canon FD Mount, I just figured it would be for my Sony A7S and the Olympus would be my permanent EF adapter combined lens for other cameras.

    Upon opening it up, I could see it too suffered from an overall oil buildup problem like my Olympus one did so cleaning was simple and I happened to do it at the same time as my Soligor zoom lens repair so some parts sat next to each other overnight as I took my time. Upon reassembling the lens, I found that the second and third front capsule elements wouldnít stay in place even though I screwed the lock ring in and it definitely affected the image with too much smear and bloom since the elements were always out of place or jumbled around in the front capsule. I wondered if I had gotten a part mixed up from the Soligor lens, thinking it was simply my mistake for repairing them at the same time, but there seemed to be a ring that just matched with the front capsule that I wasnít sure about since I took it apart so quickly. In the end, it turned out to be a spacer that held the second element in place so the lock ring would tighten down over it and keep the second and third elements firmly in place.

    I found this to be an odd situation as I was sure I did everything just the same as my Olympus lens so I dug it out of my lens case and saw that there was a key difference between the lenses! I went online and searched about it and didnít see anything mentioning it but while optically the same, my first lens did have only one big ring holding the second and third elements in place. You can actually see this as you look at pictures of the 28mm 1.9 online, itís apparently a mechanical difference that occurred somewhere in the middle of serial numbers starting with 377. My Olympus copy with the big ring had a serial number starting with 376 and my new Canon FD with two rings starts with 378. Examining the rings in the lenses, the size is basically the same between ring setups with the big ring design pressing down on the second element glass directly and the newer two ring setup putting pressure on the new inner retainer ring instead. My guess is that the two ring setup would be better for preventing scratches or engravings in the glass over time. I know this was a long post about something so minor, however, for people that would want to maintain or repair these lenses or collectors who may be looking for such differences, there is now (officially, apparently) proof of at least two different versions of the Vivitar 28mm 1.9!
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  2. #2  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Yes it happens for sure. And before very recent history a lot of "versioning" occurred undocumented. There was one lens project I was working on that had optics from the 80s and I was delightfully treated by a notebook with hand written notes containing serial numbers obviously entered every several years where changes were made. Different pens, about 6 pages of notes. Probably 15 years worth of versions. Had no idea. Couldn't even make sense of some of it.

    My absolute favorite of these little discoveries I shared on stream. I have a few 80 year old Schneider lenses I've been tinkering with and I ended up getting a few copies of them as copy variation certainly was a big deal back in the day, but to my surprise some of these lenses even with similar serials had different iris designs, different blade counts, and certainly some other optical mischief. Nothing documented that I can find, most who worked on these lenses are long gone by now.

    But if you need an 80 year old lens with an Eye of Sauron iris, apparently I found two of those and none of the other ones so far are like that.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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