Vivitar Series 1 – Macro Mode

I finally coupled my D5100 to a recently acquired Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm. It is a serial number starting 22, meaning it was made by Kiron, the rest of the serial indicate it was made in 1975 and is a 1st version of the 70-210mm.

This is what it looks like, as taken with my less glamourous Galaxy S.

The condition of the lens is pretty good to say it is about 37 years old (at the time of writing this) It has the usual signs of use, white markings are cream or partially rubbed away, there are a few scratches on the barrel. The worse damage looks like a hard scratch on the last element before the sensor. After careful cleaning and close examination this is the scratch to the multilayer coating that the seller spoke of and I dont expect it to effect image quality to drastically. Worse that might happen is i get a weird ghost or lens flare in specific light conditions.

Macro Mode

The mode is selected by pulling back the push – pull slide to the 210mm focal length position, then pressing the white button on the side and rotating the collet clockwise (looking towards the camera). The lens will then close focus only. Here are a few sample shots taken during my first outing.


As the lens is a non-AI mount, there are very few modern Nikon cameras that will provide you with metering. I have read that in many cases trying to mount a non-AI lens to a modern DSLR can damage it, so please, if you like the Vivitar Series 1, please do some research before mounting a $50-100 lens on your nice $500+ body and breaking it. Here is a good place to check. The D5100 is capable of mounting a non-AI lens, but will NOT provide you with any metering! So when I say it is full manual from here on, I really do mean full manual. The DX format chip also changes things slightly, the field of view is approximately 2/3rds what it would be for the 35mm film format the lens was designed for. This effectively means that the field of view of the lens is 2/3rds or another way of thinking about it, the focal length is 1.5x that listed, so the 70-210mm becomes 105-315mm.

The shots and write up

Probably not the most glamourous subject to start with, but a good one none the less. This was shot at 70mm, f/5.6, fairly narrow dof but a pretty good shot taken from a range of around 4 inches. OK now for something a little prettier than a hairy fly.

A quick google couldn’t tell me the type of flower, so i am going with “Blue wild flower in the lawn” Taken with similar settings as above, and from the sizes of the blades of grass, you can see it is a very close shot.

The last one is of a ladybird that was clambering around on some flowers.


Macro Performance

I like it, the macro mode is a nice feature though it is a little tricky to use since the focusing range is obviously brought much closer in. I found the best way was to set the focus as close as possible and then change the focal length to bring the subject into focus. While all these images where taken at 70mm, I do have some others taken at 210mm. Once you have gotten past the quirky operation in this mode, the results are very satisfying and once in correct focus, the images can be very very sharp. The 1:1 zoom on these are quite impressive, it is certainly no wonder the 70-210mm Series 1 lens got a great reputation back in the day.

Future tests

I did do some limited tests with my cheap 2x teleconverter, though the degradation of the image quality for the shooting conditions was not optimal. Iv found that the conditions have to be perfect and I have to be very very steady to get sharp pictures when using it. That said, the 2x teleconverter pushes the lens out to 600mm and so, you would expect to have some difficulty unless you are shooting with very very fast shutter speeds.


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