For a few years now, I’ve had in my collection one very strange lens. I bought it primarily for it’s value as a collectible so, up until now, I haven’t really spent much time playing with it. Made in 1975, this manual focus Minolta MC Rokkor-X 40-80mm f/2.8 lens is one strange puppy. When it was first introduced, no other zoom lens could top its image quality and it really didn’t have much competition until more recent years. This is largely due to its very unique Gearbox design that sought to overcome the problem with zoom lenses that we still face today.
My collection of lenses grows each month. I’ve recently accepted 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 the rest were all “bonus” junk. 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. The 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. Mmyeah… on this lens, the zoom ring itself “creeps” about as smooth and quiet as a bowling bowl thrown down a flight of stairs.
The winter sun was low to the horizon as I steadied myself upon a rather uncomfortable wooden perch. My back to the sun and downwind, target in clear sight, I drew in a deep breath then slowly exhaled as I prepared to take the shot. At the bottom of my breath I waited for that brief moment between heart beats as I took up the slack in my finger. Thump thump… Thump thump… squeeze. The sharp report from my mouse-click heralded the confirmation of success. “Congratulations, you won! OLYMPUS OM-SYSTEM S ZUIKO AUTO-ZOOM 28-48mm F/4 MF Lens W/HOOD (HAZE)”.