This ‘Junk’ Lens I Was About to Throw Out is Actually Amazing


My collection of lenses grows each month; so much so that I recently had to accept the fact that I didn’t buy a big enough cabinet to store them all. In an attempt to free up some room I decided to conduct a culling.

In the process of getting exceptional lenses, sometimes I have to buy a batch in order to get the one I’m after. Recently, I bought such a box which had one lens I wanted and a bunch of “bonus” junk lenses. One of these freebies was an old Minolta SR mount Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5.

This lens is a one-touch, push-pull style zoom; slide the fat ring of the lens to adjust the focal length, and to adjust focus you simply rotate the same ring. Unfortunately, this lens’ ring is about as a tight as a 30 year old sock. With even the slightest tilt it sloppily slides forward or backward. There is a term for this condition which is called ‘lens creep’. Usually lens creep just means that the heavy front barrel of a zoom lens slowly drifts forward or backward, depending on which way it’s angled.

Mmmm yeah… on this lens, the zoom ring itself “creeps” about as smooth and quiet as a bowling ball thrown down a flight of stairs. This worn out 3rd-party zoom lens wasn’t about to take up any of the much-needed space in my lens cabinet.

I was about to just pitch it in the trash to make room for a proper lens when I decided I might as well hook it up to my camera and least have a good laugh at its failings. Please, take a look below to see just how pathetic this lens really is:

Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)
Sony A7RII w/ Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 (Minolta SR mount)

It’s a total piece of junk right? WHAT?! Are these images coming out of this lens?!?! I shot all of these wide-open at f/4.5.

This lens has amazingly smooth bokeh, the colors are fantastic, and the center of the frame is as sharp as a prime lens. What on earth is going on here? This was supposed to be an old junker lens. I guess the old adage holds the same truth in lenses: you can’t judge a book lens by its cover.

I will most certainly not be throwing this lens away. In fact, I plan on overhauling it to bring it back into good working condition.


About the author: Tom Leonard is an amateur photographer, engineer, and father of 9. You can read his musings and follow his travels on his blog. This post was also published here.





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