Any love for Vivitar?

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KerrKid

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I just bought a Vivitar 420/SL body for $5. Looks in perfect shape but I’ll see when I get it.

No lens. Would a Vivitar prime be ok or should I look for something else? Which one(s)? Would the Super Takumar 55mm M43 lens that I have for my Pentax SV work on it?

Scant info on the camera other than it was made by Cosina around 1975 and has a good shutter.

Could anyone provide more info on it and otherwise weigh in on Vivitar cameras and lens?

Thanks!
 

BobD

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I've owned cameras from this 400-series. I liked them. Rugged construction and accurate shutters. Your Takumar lens will work fine on it.
 
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KerrKid

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I've owned cameras from this 400-series. I liked them. Rugged construction and accurate shutters. Your Takumar lens will work fine on it.

Thanks! Good to know. That will save some money on lenses.

Is the build quality similar to a Minolta SRT series or Pentax K series camera?

Did your meters work and do you know if they generally do on these cameras?
 

Austintatious

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I just bought a Vivitar 420/SL body for $5. Looks in perfect shape but I’ll see when I get it.

No lens. Would a Vivitar prime be ok or should I look for something else? Which one(s)? Would the Super Takumar 55mm M43 lens that I have for my Pentax SV work on it?

Scant info on the camera other than it was made by Cosina around 1975 and has a good shutter.

Could anyone provide more info on it and otherwise weigh in on Vivitar cameras and lens?

Thanks!
As you may know, Vivitar makes no gear but puts their brand on it. The camera was made by Cosina and has a decent reputation. Some info here:


AS for glass, most any M42 you get will be useable. Again, Vivitar made no lenses. If you do go for that brand, look at the serial number of the lens. If it starts with 22 it was made by Kiron, 28 made by Komini, 32 Makinon, 37 Tokina, 47 chinon. These were the better third party lens makers of the day.
 

BradS

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I had a few Vivitar bodies from that era. Seems like I had a couple of 220/SL and a 400/SL. I remember them all being rugged and somewhat reliable. I remember something getting jammed but it was easy to remedy.

The Vivitar lenses are a mixed bag. Generally speaking, the 50mm and 28mm options with serial numbers that strart with 28 are very good, if unloved. I also current have several 135mm f/2.8 with serial numbers that start with 37 that are optically excellent.
 
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KerrKid

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As you may know, Vivitar makes no gear but puts their brand on it. The camera was made by Cosina and has a decent reputation. Some info here:


AS for glass, most any M42 you get will be useable. Again, Vivitar made no lenses. If you do go for that brand, look at the serial number of the lens. If it starts with 22 it was made by Kiron, 28 made by Komini, 32 Makinon, 37 Tokina, 47 chinon. These were the better third party lens makers of the day.

Of those third party lens makers, are there ones who are consistently better than the others or does it depend on the lens?
 

Austintatious

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Of those third party lens makers, are there ones who are consistently better than the others or does it depend on the lens?
All of them have some that darn good.
The most noteworthy ones I would say are Kiron,Komini and Tokina. Yashica also made some fine lenses. Don't forget the German and Soviet glass as well.
 

BobD

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Is the build quality similar to a Minolta SRT series or Pentax K series camera?

Did your meters work and do you know if they generally do on these cameras?

Similar size and heft to an SRT. You'll have to check the meter.
 

Austintatious

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Here is a video on good bargain M42 lenses. This photographer also has many other good videos on vintage cameras and lenses. I think highly of him. He has loads of example photos on his Flickr site.

 
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KerrKid

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Here's the Vivitar serial number list with makers:
https://www.cameraquest.com/VivLensManuf.htm

My favorites are the Tokina-made prime lenses but I don't doubt that the others can be very good too.

Most Takumar lenses are also very good usually.

I have so little knowledge of these third party companies. It’s nice to know which ones are best.

I have my eye on a Super Takumar 35mm lens.
 
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KerrKid

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Here is a video on good bargain M42 lenses. This photographer also has many other good videos on vintage cameras and lenses. I think highly of him. He has loads of example photos on his Flickr site.



Thanks for this video! I’ll watch it again with Pen and paper in hand.
 

Autonerd

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Fuzzitar!!

I have a K-mount 28/2.8 that I bought as a youngster, because it was all I could afford. Durable little thing -- I took it everywhere. Now that I'm back to film, I've still been using it, and it looks just fine to me. (Mine is a 9-series, so apparently a Cosina.)
 
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KerrKid

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Fuzzitar!!

I have a K-mount 28/2.8 that I bought as a youngster, because it was all I could afford. Durable little thing -- I took it everywhere. Now that I'm back to film, I've still been using it, and it looks just fine to me. (Mine is a 9-series, so apparently a Cosina.)

That sounds like a good lens for the 420 although not in K mount.
 

momus

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I had a Sologor 70 200 4.5 5.6 zoom that had been thrown in w/ a camera as a body cap. Pretty sure it was a rebadged Vivitar, it may have been a macro, can't remember. It was a big 'ol thing, slow and heavy. But the one roll of film I shot w/ it was very good! This was Tri-X shot at EI 1000 and developed in Rodinal at 1:40. No complaints, I should have kept it. I've said that about a lot of things photographically. This is rezzed way down for the web, it's actually very sharp for wide open.

U1XEAiM.jpg
 

Bushcat

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Thanks for this video! I’ll watch it again with Pen and paper in hand.

To get a faster start: watch the video on Youtube. Go to the three dots menu icon under the title. Click on "Show transcript". Read/copy the autogenerated transcript at your leisure.
 
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KerrKid

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To get a faster start: watch the video on Youtube. Go to the three dots menu icon under the title. Click on "Show transcript". Read/copy the autogenerated transcript at your leisure.

Good tip. Thanks! I have already written down the different lens and did some research on pricing. Some are in the $300 range. Long and short of it seems that the Pentax glass is very good for the money.
 

xkaes

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I had a Sologor 70 200 4.5 5.6 zoom that had been thrown in w/ a camera as a body cap. Pretty sure it was a rebadged Vivitar,

Neither Soligor nor Vivitar actually made anything. They were photographic distributors. Soligor never distributed anything that was marked "Vivitar", just as Vivitar never distributed anything that was marked "Soligor".

There are, however, many instances where the same lens was sold by Vivitar and Soligor, and labeled as "Vivitar" and "Soligor" respectively, but made by an optical manufacturer, often Tokina and Komine.
 

Paul Howell

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Later Vivitar Series 1 and Soligor CD lens were designed in house and made to specs. I have both early Series 1 and Soligor CD in various mounts, all are good performers. By the 80s and 90s most 3rd party lens were pretty good, M42 were still being made. I tend not to use them as they are heavy, all mental.
 

xkaes

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Later Vivitar Series 1 and Soligor CD lens were designed in house and made to specs.

Just like their earlier lenses, all of the Vivitar Series 1 and Soligor CD lenses were manufactured by various outside optical manufacturers -- for example:

Tokina (37 for Vivitar, 1, H7 or 8 for Soligor)
Kino (22 for Vivitar, H5 or H6 for Soligor)
Perkins-Elmer (44 for Vivitar)

Vivitar and Soligor would send out RFPs (Request for Proposal) to optical firms, and pick the ones they liked.

Some of the lenses were also sold under labels other than Soligor C/D and Vivitar Series I -- and sometimes it was under the manufacturers' name, such as Tokina, Tamron, and Kiron (Kino).
 
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tokam

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I've used some Tamron primes that gave excellent results such as their AdaptAll 105/2.5.
+1 for the Tamrom Adaptall 105/2.5. I bought this lens new around 1981 and used it until 1985 when I traded it on an Adaptall-2 SP90/2.5.

I didn't need to trade it but the similarity in focal lengths led me to think that the 105/2.5 was superfluous and, of course, the SP90/2.5 was a macro focussing lens. The SP90 is also a lot larger and heavier than the 105/2.5 and I've often regretted not keeping the 105/2.5.
 

Paul Howell

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Just like their earlier lenses, all of the Vivitar Series 1 and Soligor CD lenses were manufactured by various outside optical manufacturers -- for example:

Tokina (37 for Vivitar, 1, H7 or 8 for Soligor)
Kino (22 for Vivitar, H5 or H6 for Soligor)
Perkins-Elmer (44 for Vivitar)

Vivitar and Soligor would send out RFPs (Request for Proposal) to optical firms, and pick the ones they liked.

Some of the lenses were also sold under labels other than Soligor C/D and Vivitar Series I -- and sometimes it was under the manufacturers' name, such as Tokina, Tamron, and Kiron (Kino).

The early Series 1 were designed in house or by contracted providers, but as you are right over the years the vendors then later the designs changed. PerkinElmer designed and made the Series 1 600 and 800 Cat lens, the 70 to 200 was made by many makers, the early models are really good, later models not as good. The first version was designed by an American designer.
 
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