Kiron 28mm f2.0 – Fast Prime Lens on a Budget

I wrote about this lens in my old blog here, and here, but this one I am writing about has an Olympus OM mount instead of the Nikon and MD mounts that I used. Also, I believe this is the first time I used or write about this lens on full frame, despite having the lens for many years.

Vignette Test – This was shot at f2, and as you can see, it’s not so bad. The red cross you see, normally would have a float and stick, but I noticed most of these are missing. Maybe they remove them for the winter.

On the Canon body, this lens looks small and compact, but on the Sony A7, with the adapter, it looks disproportionally large, as the adapter is almost as long as the lens itself. But, fast lenses are always large, so it’s a compromise, and the short flange distance of the mirrorless cameras exacerbate the size issue when the adapter is used. ¬†As far as I know, Kiron made 3 nice fast primes: 24mm f2, which I used with the Canon 5D years ago and I really liked it. I wrote about it here; 28mm f2, the subject of this post; 105mm f2.8 Macro, a very nice lens indeed. Interestingly, Kiron mad a 100mm f2.8 1:1 Macro for Vivitar, but never market it under their own name. I have a copy of this Vivitar 100mm f2.8 macro lens, and will review it in a future post.

Little Oasis in a Big City – Sugar Beach. Shot at f8 with Sony A7

If you own a Kiron lens, especially the 28mm f2 or the 24mm f2, you probably encounter the dreaded sticky aperture problem. My Kiron 24mm f2’s aperture is completely stuck. The oil the leaked into the aperture blades is very sticky. Fortunately, this copy of the lens does not have this problem, yet. If you are looking to buy one, be sure to check and make sure the aperture is free of oil. If you see oil on it, even though the aperture still works fine, it may get worse, so beware. This include the Vivitar versions, with serial numbers starting with 22.

Despite the oily aperture issue, many people like this lens, including myself. The fast f2 aperture really comes in handy in dim light situations, where you need to photograph without flash. The wide angle lens itself as a great tool to be used for shooting in bar, parties, concerts, etc. I believe a fast lens is quite useless if it’s not sharp wide open, at least at the center. That’s why we buy fast lens in the first place, so that it can be used wide open. Fortunately, this one is actually quite sharp at f2 in the center. The edges won’t be acceptably sharp until around f5.6. When you need to use f2, edge sharpness is normally not important, as most of your subjects are probably near the center.

Green chair, red chair – Sugar Beach. Shot at f2 with Sony A7

One aspect of this lens I am not thrilled about, is its busy/nervous bokeh in most situations. The lens can focus very close at 0.3 meter (or less than 1 ft), but the bokeh could make your head spin. The picture of the bike bell was shot close to its minimum focus distance, and the effect is nausea inducing. But if you look at the next picture, taken at a slightly further away from the subject, the effect is not so bad. You can see, that the sharpness is very good at f2 at the center.

Bokeh – Leaves much to be desired – Shot at f2 with Sony A7.

Fancy Bench – shot at f2 with Sony A7.

Most people do not buy a 28mm lens to shoot bokeh images as their primary use, so for the majority of users, this bad bokeh is not really an issue. Being usable wide open at f2 is more of a concern, and this lens fulfills that promise. 28mm is a versatile focal length, if a bit boring; it sure will not have the same impact as a 20mm, or even 24mm lens, in terms of angle of view, but it’s also much easier to control. Wide angle lenses are not easy to master, as they suck in so much into the frame, making it hard to compose and isolate the subject of interest. 28mm, on the other hand, offers relatively wide angle, compared to the 35mm, but not so hard to use as a 24mm. I am not really a wide angle person, as I find myself having difficulty controlling the lenses 24mm or wider. But to me, 28mm angle of view is almost comfortable, and shooting with this lens was a joy.

Unknown object – Shot at f8 with Sony A7.