After the unsatisfactory experience of test shooting the Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 manual focus telephoto lens in Nikon mount, I decided that the reputation of the lens was not illuminated (heh) with the particular sample I used. I happen to have a second sample in my stable, but in Olympus OM mount. That’s OK, because I have an Olympus adapter for my Sony NEX-5N handy.
So, I mounted the lens on the tripod and waited for the birds to appear one morning. Of course, with the lens mounted and ready, there were no birds for several days. I finally gave up and shot the empty tree. The first image is the lens shot wide open, f/5.6. (Excuse the beschwitz in the upper right of the images — there was a bit of dust on the sensor.) Although not tack sharp, it’s definitely useable at the aperture.
The second image is at f/8. It’s much better than wide open. I would not call this tack sharp (again), but it’s quite useable.
Although I shot all of the apertures down to f/22, I think one more at f/11 will suffice. Again, it’s a bit sharper than f/8 (not a lot) and completely useable.
So, my sample of the Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 in Nikon mount is going to the shop for a check-up. I think it’s a little sick. The Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 is capable of producing solid images and is a bargain at its price point.
My friend Jimmy told me he produced good images from the lens and was surprised by its poor performance. I’d like a 400mm telephoto in my Nikon kit because I like to shoot wildlife and sometimes the 500mm and 800mm lenses are just a bit too much.