Budgetographer trips over a new favorite: Vivitar M42 mount 200mm f/3.5

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Start of week: I need to sell some of these lenses (In the double digits on varying Pentax mount lenses alone, not counting other brand mounts).

End of week: One YouTube video on 3 vintage video lenses for under $80 led to:


What led me to but this lens? Glad you asked:

  • Just look at the thing! It is a banged up, built in lens hood, tripod collar, screw mount, built from spare tank parts vintage thing to behold.
  • Works flawlessly on all my K mount cameras.
  • Cost $30.
  • Has a built in lens hood. I love built in lens hoods. Ok, I did not realize it until I tripped over it yesterday, but I add it to this list retroactively
  • Has this bizarrely awesome modular mount thing happening (That I found on accident obsessing over a mystery button. Fortunately for me I dumped the adapter on to a bed while holding the lens instead of the lens on the ground when fiddling with it while holding the camera earlier that same day.).


  • It did this during the test spin.


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I liked the shots I got messing around with it a little, stuck to my trusty game night Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 most of the night, but Friday night (same event where the aftermarket adapter acted up)…


…but the real surprise was Saturday. As I mentioned I had swung by the camera shop to get the infinitely better Pentax M42/K mount adapter and was still playing around with the Vivitar 200mm up until the time we left to go to the band competition. As I headed the door I threw the Tamron 70-200mm in the bag intending to swap lenses once we arrived. But I neglected to bring the removal contraption that came with the garbage adapter (that worked fine) or a mechanical pencil like Chris and Dennis used in the shop. After Friday night’s episode I was in no mood for being experimental in the field so the Vivitar would have to do. On paper I should have been at a loss since the Vivitar lacked AF, it was night and not as bright at f/3.5, was at the mercy of one focal length, and it was likely made when Gerald Ford was President. Such was not the case however. Notes on the experience:

  • To my surprise focusing was a breeze and sharp to reasonable shots were no problem at all. Very easy to see what is in focus. Relatively stiff focus throw that would unscrew the aftermarket adapter was no problem at all with the factory adapter. I was even able to maintain focus on moving targets (marching band walking speed as opposed to running).
  • Colors were amazing and the pictures look clean even though ISO was pegged at 6400 the whole night.
  • Although some of my older lenses (and older lenses in general) can exhibit a bit of “character” in the form of flares and/or chromatic aberrations I could see no problematic levels of either. What little bit of chromatic distortion I did see was easily dealt with a checkbox selection in Lightroom.
  •  To my surprise It was no hindrance at all to shoot with. Even at night this lens was great. While one cannot ignore the benefits of AF, zoom range, and a brighter aperture I must say I am very pleased with the photos I came away with Saturday night. I will be using this lens for events like this again.

The only odd thing is while I would like to recommend this lens I am not able to find this exact lens sold online. When I enter the specs on eBay, Amazon, or even Pentax forums I cannot find a lens that resembles this one exactly. Most have no tripod collar, mention a built in hood, and none mention that funky modular screw mount. I will keep looking in hopes to find out more about this lens. I must imagine however that the lens formula and results would be similar on these other similarly spec’d lenses. I can’t imagine Vivitar would have a wildly different set up for the same spec. Plus at these prices what is the harm in trying one out?

Flickr gallery for this lens can be found here.


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