As I’ve updated my camera reviews this year, on my oldest reviews I sometimes find myself returning to my original negative scans. I have better tools and skills now that frequently let me breathe deeper life into the images. Also, I find that in my early days of reviewing I didn’t always upload every usable photo from those rolls to Flickr, as I always do now. It’s been fun to revisit those photographs and share some of them for the first time.

I’m working on an update to my 2011 review of the Olympus OM-1. That camera came to me in a big kit with several lenses, some Olympus and some not. One of them was a hulking Vivitar 70-150 mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom, pictured below.

Olympus OM-1

My dear friend Debbie had come to visit. We’ve known each other since the fifth grade; she’s my oldest friend. We both love the zoo, so we went. The OM-1 had only recently joined my collection and I figured this big, ugly zoom lens would be useful there. I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and off we went.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

Eight years is a long time ago but I remember the big Vivitar making the OM-1 heavy and unwieldy. But as these photos attest, it did the job for which it was made.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

I’m happy with this lens’s resolving power, but feel that it muted the saturated colors for which Fujicolor 200 is known.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

The overcast day could have played into these muted colors, too. Also, in these days I was sending my film off to Snapfish for processing and scanning. Looking back, I think there were better lab choices even then.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

You never know what you’re going to get with some third-party lens you get with an old camera. But this Vivitar did a decent job. You can almost count the hairs at the tip of this tiger’s tail.

At the Indianapolis Zoo

That said, I’m not sure I’d shoot that lens again. I have a very good long Pentax-branded zoom for my Pentax K-mount bodies that I’d turn to first.

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7 responses to “At the zoo”

  1. Stuart Templeton Avatar

    Lovely shots Jim. Those old manual telephoto lenses were beasts!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This Vivitar was for sure!

  2. P Avatar

    I’m not much of a telephoto lens user myself, but shots like these make me think I should spend a bit more time with them. Really nice work, Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They are really useful for subjects like these. I’m taking my team at work to the zoo next week and I’ll probably load film into one of my Pentax SLRs and mount one of my long zooms.

      1. P Avatar

        Have fun! If you upload them, I look forward to seeing the photos you take.

  3. Mike Connealy Avatar

    The zoom certainly helped you with your very good compositional choices. I’ve used telephotos a lot a our zoo, mostly to get close in to the subject, but also to eliminate the wire barriers by using large apertures. Of course in your examples you actually did a nice job of incorporating the fences into the compositions. I only started using a zoom at the zoo around a year ago, and I’m looking forward now to doing that again this Fall. Summer visits to the zoo are always problematic because of the crowds and that has been exacerbated this year by a new penguin exhibit.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m hoping that next week when I take my work team to the zoo it won’t be busy, and it won’t rain. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll take a Pentax body with my 80-200 SMC Pentax-M or my Nikon N90s with a 100-300 AF Nikkor I own but I don’t think I’ve ever shot. The 80-200 Pentax is surprisingly nice.

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