Bushnell 90-230mm Informal Lens Review
This is NOT a technical review, it’s more about its usability.
I inherited this lens from my friend Paul, he passed away a couple of years ago. The more I shoot with this lens, the more I love it. I haven’t been too keen on shooting vintage zoom-lenses, so this lens has sat on a shelf for a long time. I decided to take it out a few months ago. I figured I would give this lens a go while adapted to a digital body. Turns out this lens is pretty damn good. I have used it on my full frame DSLRs and Fujifilm X series cameras. I took it out today and had a great time with it.
I have not been able to determine which Japanese lens manufacturer actually built this sturdy and heavy lens. It seems that Soligor and Vivitar have a version of this lens and they all share some similarities. My best guess, this lens was made in the mid-seventies by one of the many third-party lens manufacturers in Japan of the time. I suspect that Tokina made this lens though. A lot of these vintage lenses are very nice, and very sharp.
This lens has a constant aperture of f4.5 and does not change length when the focal-length is changed. This lens also as a built-in lens collar, which is handy. It’s a long lens, about 8.75 inches (222mm). The filter thread of 62mm. I haven’t weighed it, but it is fairly heavy. My lens came with a padded pouch and it came to me in mint condition. The zoom ring and the focus ring are both extremely smooth. The aperture ring is very easy to reach and has positive click-stops. The minimum focus distance is a disappointing 7.75 feet (2.4m). Focusing this lens without a monopod or even a tripod could be troublesome because of the length. I have found that using a monopod with this makes focusing and zooming a lot nicer. I have found that it is still fairly easy to track a moving duck without the assistance of a monopod or tripod. The rubberized focus and zoom rings are very nice for this.
Using vintage lenses on modern cameras is not for everybody. It does present some challenges. Manual focusing can be an issue for many. The coatings on these old lenses are not as nice as modern lenses. However, vintage lenses have personality that a modern kit-lens doesn’t possess. Optically, modern lenses are “better” if you take marketing literature as gospel. Don’t feel bad if you do, I would guess that 90% of professional photographers believe as you do.
This Bushnell is NOT a perfect lens for all situations. It is a fun lens for a lot of situations. If you were to find one of these lenses, you could get it for as little as $15.00. I wouldn’t pay more than $30 for one in mint condition. I don’t believe they are rare, but I think people hold on to them.