Vivitar Series 1 90-180mm f4.5 Lens Review

Vivitar  made a number of high quality zooms under the Series I label. The 90mm to 180mm f4.5 flat-field VMC lens from 1978 is an one of them.

This Vivitar 90-180mm f/4.5 lens was really designed for medical photography needs. A ring-light flash unit was designed to mount on the front of this lens too. This original medical market niche explains some of the design features and range of this high quality zoom lens.

This lens is long, and pretty heavy. It produces excellent results in macro-work down to 1:4 at 90mm and to 1:2 at its 180mm setting.

On most modern zoom lenses, macro photography settings are a lower quality setup. Achieving macro capabilities means shifting some elements and so sacrificing some of the zoom's control over spherical and other aberrations.

Most current zooms only offer macro settings at either one end or the other of their range. Only a few zooms offer continuous macro-settings over their full range. Even the better current zooms generally only get to 1:4 to 1:6 reproduction ratios (.e., the object is one-fourth lifesize on film).

The Vivitar 90-180mm f/4.5 Series I macro zoom is designed to provide the highest possible quality continuously down to its closest macro settings. The Vivitar 90-180mm f/4.5 flat-field lens provides high quality macrophotography continuously from 90mm (to 1:4) to 180mm (to 1:2). That's unique, and useful, so you should expect to pay quite a price premium for such a  lens!

(Source:  Cult Classics in Third Party Lenses by Robert Monaghan )

This is a great lens with wonderful sharpness and colours , not reach prime macro lens quality, but very close for that. 


Fact Sheet

Vendor name Type Product year
Series 1
Focal Min(mm) Focal Max(mm) Focus Min(cm)
Aperture Max Aperture Min. Barrel length(mm)
Elements In Group Diaphragm action Weight (g)
Filter Size (mm) Push on diameter (mm) Angular field


User Comments

I just got back my first roll of slides taken using my 'new' Vivitar 90-180 flat-field and I am amazed... I shot Fuji RDP3 in my OM-4, outdoors, mostly of dead cactus and flowers, a couple portraits, and the sharpness is incredible. Comparing the slides to shots from my favorite lens, a Zuiko 90 macro, I have to say the Vivitar is as sharp, though not quite as punchy color-wise. At f11 the dirt and roots on the uprooted plants is so sharp I can count the grains of sand in the soil.


I have a friend who has two of these lenses, and I've used them several times (on Canon bodies). They're unbelievably sharp for a zoom.
Big, heavy, and slow, they're not for everyone (specially light travelers!), but a no-excuses optic.  You have a jewel there.





Comments (3)
Vivitar M42-Canon EOS Body EF Lens Adapter
3Monday, 18 February 2013 01:19
Raymond François
I am trying to find an adapter for Vivitar (series 1) 70-210mm 1:3.5 macro focusing auto Zoom lens. Is the M42 the right one to connect my cannon T1i to this Vivitar lens??
Vivitar series1 90-180 mm flat field zoom macro
2Sunday, 03 June 2012 02:03
I use it all the time and it never fails to amaze me . Just love this manual lens and the workmanship and very high quality .
If you get a chance to own one I think you will agree too.
vivitar series I 90-180mm f4.5 lens
1Thursday, 24 November 2011 21:41
Its heavy,though superbly made. I really like it.

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