Vivitar (Komine) 400mm f5.6

I am a nature photo/videographer on a budget.
Yes, I am aware that, in most cases, it is better to have very good glass and a decent camera than the other way around.

Six months ago I invested in a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k. I have some good glass and a handful of vintage lenses. By the way, the Blackmagic is a formidable camera, and its image quality extremely good.

I own a Panasonic 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 and I’m happy with it. On my BMPCC 4k, this means having a 600mm and, using the HD Windowed crop even a little more.

I want more though. Like a 400mm or a 500mm. Or the Tamron or Sigma 150-600mm.
My daughter’s studies at university are far more important. Besides, she lives with me.
So forking out about 1000$ for a lens, well, not any time soon. Maybe next year.

A few weeks ago, while browsing a well-known second-hand site I came across a vintage Vivitar f5,6 400mm with an Olympus OM-mount. I still use an Olympus OM-1n occasionally, so that’s a bonus.

I checked a few online reviews, a few YouTube clips, and examples on Flicker and wasn’t very convinced but, well, who knows.
I offered 80 bucks for the lens and my bid was accepted and a few days later the lens arrived.

This is really a heavy lens and made for full-frame cameras. It weighs 1277 grams (2.8 pounds). The filter thread is 77mm. The iris is an 8 blade one and it had internal focussing.
The closest focus is about 6 meters.
It has a retractable lens hood and the lens measures 28cm in length.

Fortunately, it has a built-in tripod collar because there is no way you’ll be shooting handheld.
Obviously manual focus, basic lens coating, if coated at all, and it goes all the way to f32.

On my BMPCC 4k, this is a whopping 800mm lens. Best part? I have a 2x Tamron teleconverter for OM mount lying around giving me 1600mm shooting pleasure.
Well, no.
Not really except if you have an extremely sturdy tripod and a smooth head.

I haven’t used it much yet but I tested it out filming ducks on a pond.
At used it without and with the teleconverter. Focus peaking and a decent monitor are a plus. I did not shoot wide open but around f8 to f11 at 400 or 800 ISO.

The results?
Well pretty good actually. Soft, even at f8 or f11 but using some overall sharpening in DaVinci Resolve helped.
I tried adding some USM in Fusion and together with the sharpening in the color tab of Resolve I did get reasonably sharp images.
It is good enough to be viewed on mobile devices.


Monday, May 11th.
Still at home.
Last week it was lower back pains. I’ve learned to live with it since a kid but it becomes worser.
Now it is a bacterial respiratory infection.

I don’t like to think about it but it is hard not to. After all I am getting older and thus my time I have left is shortening. Guess I have to try to make the best of it.

Past Saturday I picked up an Olympus OM-1 (1973) for 10 euro. The seller told me it was in a closet when he bought the house 10 years ago. He said he had never touched the gear.

I pushed the shutter button and the camera reacted. This means the shutter had been ready for release for a decade. Not that good. I had also some thoughts on the light sealing. The back of the camera was sticky because it’s case had leaked molten glue. There was a distinct smell of age and mould too.

This morning I went to the drugstore and got some 1,4V hearing aid batteries to fire up the light meter of the Olympus OM-1. The OM-1 takes in fact 1,35 V mercury batteries but they are banned.

Loaded an old and expired Kodak Tri-X 400 and made some shots and developed the strip. The negatives were extremely thin. Age of the film? Bad light meter?

Later this afternoon I loaded the remainder of the Tri-X rating it at + 1/3 and developing it at 10 minutes and got some workable albeit thin negatives. I am not sure if it is the expired Tri-X or a faulty camera but I’ll be shooting some Ilford FP4 Plus very soon with this camera.

No light leaks and the exposure very consistent.

A shot of a couple of ducks. Nothing special and, in my opinion, not an ideal subject for black and white.

Ducks (2015) Olympus OM-1 with G.Zuiko 65-200mm at 200 mm and loaded with expired Kodak Tri-X
Ducks (2015)
Olympus OM-1 with G.Zuiko 65-200mm at 200 mm and loaded with expired Kodak Tri-X