Can This $30 Camera And Lens Rock Your World?!: Vivitar V3800n Review!

Good morning you awesome camera geeks! A couple of years ago I posted a video on YouTube called “Benefits Of A Cheap Camera.”

Now in that light hearted and cringe worthy video, which was filmed very badly on an old iPad, I went on to jokingly point out why using a cheap camera could be beneficial.

Before YouTube began hiding dislikes, I recalled that video get quite a fair number of dislikes although there were, fortunately, more likes than dislikes.

I chalked it up to people not “getting” my light hearted, comedic style of camera reviews. I truly think some of my best ad lib camera jokes are on that video! 😍😂

This video was one of the reasons why, for a long time, I viewed the audience on YouTube as “stiffs.” Meaning, I felt they couldn’t take a joke, they couldn’t read between the lines because if they did, they would see that I was actually offering some solid advice!

Seriously, in that review, I mentioned that the Vivitar V3800n (which was the featured camera), was a very affordable, all manual film camera that uses the very popular and iconic Pentax K mount which opened the doors to an abundance of great and affordable lenses.

The Vivitar V3800n and 50mm f/1.7 which I got as a combo for $30. Today, this outfit can still easily found for under $100 dollars.

All this started because a friend had asked about getting into film photography and was asking if he should get a Leica, Contax, or Nikon? Which led me to the thought…why does a film beginner need to spend a lot of bucks?!

Now I’m not here to tell anyone how to spend their money but having been down this path before I felt it wouldn’t hurt to try and help someone save some money!

Another factor is the real likelihood of someone like my friend, who has been shooting digital exclusively, will end up giving up on film and be stuck with a bunch of expensive gear that he’d have to try to eventually sell. And guess who he’d come to, to help him sell it? 😂

THE CHEAP CAMERA CHALLENGE

I’ve seen a bunch of “cheap camera challenges” and although entertaining, I never thought of doing a video on it until now.

Part of the reason is that, as someone who has admittedly been spoiled by using Leica, Contax, Nikon, etc, it was very hard for me to contemplate “wasting” a roll of film on a cheap camera. Now I know that sounds elitist but honestly with the rising prices of film these days, I really only want to use this precious commodity on something I’m interested in.

So with that kind of thinking, I realized I had lost my roots. I started photography with a Minolta X-700 and a cheap Vivitar point and shoot in the 1980s. I have documented this fact many times here.

So considering that I had only used the Vivitar V3800n once or twice in all the years that I’ve had it, I figured this would be a good time to use it again and document the results with you guys here and on YouTube!

So I put in a roll in early January and just finished the roll near the end of last month and here are the results.

SAMPLE PICS

All photos in this set were taken with the Vivitar V3800n, 50mm f/1.7 Vivitar lens and shot on Ilford HP5 Plus and developed in Xtol.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Vivitar V3800n is cheap and still easily found on the used market. Prices can range anywhere from $10-40 USD for the body only and same for the Vivitar 50mm f/1.7 MC lens. Sometimes you might even be able to find them for free! 😍

If you can’t find the V3800n, any of the V series bodies will do for basic shooting.

The V3800n was made by Cosina and uses a Pentax K mount so lenses are plentiful and can be very cheap. You don’t need to use a Vivitar branded lens if you do not want to.

CONCLUSION

The Vivitar V3800n and 50mm f/1.7 Vivitar lens were the most fun I’ve had with a film slr in a while!

It’s not perfect, I’m not going to lie. It feels cheap and there are some issues that might be detrimental to beginners. I explain all that in the video.

But once you learn how to use the camera you will see that it’s capable of taking good pictures. And there’s just a “cheap thrill” (pun intended) to getting satisfying results on cheap equipment, like you got more than your money’s worth!

I’ll even go out of my way to say that it’s perfectly capable of taking pictures as good as any equivalent combo. By that I mean, for example, a Pentax K1000 with 50mm f/1.8 or Canon AE-1 with 50mm f/1.8 FD lens or Minolta X-700 with 50mm f/1.7 MD lens. These are just some examples but you could add your own and as long as you’re being fair, I can say the Vivitar will match up to it! No it will not beat a $5000 Leica or Zeiss 😀

In conclusion, my main point of doing this cheap camera challenge is to show, especially beginners, intermediates, or anyone wanting to get into film photography that it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can have a lot of fun with film photography without paying a lot!

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“Patriots” 2015. Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 EF lens clone. The Yongnuo deserves a review in its own right! 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2016. Canon EOS-1D Mark III, EF 85mm f/1.8

Hello my friends, I hope you are enjoying your Fourth Of July weekend! Just quickly a couple of items.

About ten years ago, 2006, Canon released perhaps their most controversial 1D body and that body is the 1D Mark III. Many of you will remember the whole AF “controversy” which involved the camera not focusing correctly, sometimes even on easy shots. This was a no-no for a pro sports/journalism market that had come to rely on Canon’s renowned autofocus.

Anyway, people sent in their cameras for a fix, sometimes multiple trips to Canon repair. It was a mess. Although Canon apparently fixed the issue, many are convinced even today that the camera was never “right.”

Well, you know I’m probably the king of doing the unexpected, so I got one about a year ago as the prices have come down to a price one could afford. I plan to do my own review of this camera shortly after having ample experience with it.

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“Say Cheese” Sony A7R and Vivitar 35-105mm f/3.5 low budget lens.

I’ve also been trying out a lot of oddball lenses such as the Vivitar 35-105mm f/3.5 on my A7R. I got this lens for $5 dollars and was attracted by the constant f/3.5 aperture and of course, the low price 🙂

I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it! It may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it is sharp and has a surprisingly useful “macro” or “close range” mode which I used for the portrait above. The lens flares like crazy outdoors however and not necessarily the prettiest flare.

The lens was apparently built by Tokina, which may explain its hefty build. It’s the current “in” lens on my A7R so I hope to post more pics from it soon.

Anyway, please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and don’t let it pass too fast! 🙂

 

The Lowly Vivitar PS-20 Point & Shoot Camera

Vivitar PS-20

We live in a different age, different time. Everything is better. Cars, television sets, cameras. Heck, even the camera on your phone is likely better than many of the high end cameras you once had. Here’s a camera I wrote about in 2009:

This is my Vivitar PS-20 from 1987. Bought it for $20 bucks at a now defunct chain store called “Caldor”. This camera took me through the late 80’s and half of the 90’s, providing some of the most memorable (if techincally poor) images of my life.

It was part of my two camera kit in my simpler (and poorer) days of the 80s when I had only the Minolta X-700 and one lens, the MD 50mm f/1.7 plus this camera, the Vivitar PS-20. Somehow, I feel like I was much more focused than I am now with the countless cameras I have used. I long for those two camera days, and who knows, maybe that’s going to be a project for me…get rid of everything, use two cameras, and be a happy photographer again 🙂

Ladies and gentlemen, this camera is the quintessential point ‘n shoot. It is what I would call a “SLC” or a “Super Low Class” camera. It is the ULTIMATE “Poor Man’s Camera!” It is poor, it is cheap, it is what people used to think of when they think of a point ‘n shoot camera. In fact, it says “Point ‘N Shoot” on the top of the camera! 🙂

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE CAMERA

Today, lucky us, we have point and shoot cameras that can do so much more than this old Vivitar. Yet in some way, these new point and shoot cameras seem to have lost track of what it means to be a point and shoot!

That’s why I love this old Vivitar PS-20. It can’t do 30 megapixels. It doesn’t have a Zeiss or “GR” lens. It can’t do HDR. It can’t do HD Video. It’s not a “luxury” point and shoot. It makes no pretenses about being anything other than a point and shoot camera 🙂

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“Joy Of Point ‘N Shootin” 2009. Baby Z gets a kick out of Papa’s old camera 🙂

While this article is about the Vivitar PS-20, it is really not about the camera itself. It’s a tribute to the lowly point and shoot cameras of yore. To the thousands of lousy, but charming old point and shoots out there. The ones that are worth next to nothing, but have more heart and soul than a $3000 point and shoot.

The Vivitar PS-20 “Point ‘N Shoot” may never be a Camera Legend, but taken as a collective with its thousands of peers, they all could be considered Camera Legends.

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THIS CAMERA

This is the funniest thing, except it’s really not funny. A few years ago, some seller on Amazon apparently decided to swipe (steal) this pic from my Flickr stream and use it. You can see the Amazon ad in this link HERE.

I never made a big deal out of it because it’s not an award winning picture or anything and this camera is worth next to nothing. In fact, before I wrote about this camera back in 2009, I don’t believe there was any information on it anywhere on the web because I always do a little research before writing about anything.

As I said, I’m not mad or anything, but I do find it humorous. But if I, by some chance, had an award winning shot and someone used it without my permission, sure I would be pissed.

But this, nah, it’s something I’ve accepted as part of the deal when you post pics on the internet. When you post something to the internet, remember this is part of your “contract.” I’m sure the person who used the photo didn’t know any better.

The main thing people should remember here is, just as Napster once opened the MP3 Pandora’s box, so too do you when you post pictures to the internet.

I’ve always accepted that once you post something, it’s subject to theft or anything by anyone. So please, if you feel you have an award winning picture, DO NOT post full sized images. Put some kind of watermark or something.

If it’s just an average, everyday picture no need to do anything, no one will care. I hate watermarks or copyright logos actually. The only reason I put them here is so that people can remember the website, which is always a wise thing when you’re running a relatively new site.

More cameras to come, have a great week! 🙂


The Rise Of The “Cheap” Brand Lenses

There was once a time, not so long ago, when brands like Samyang, Rokinon, Bower, Quantaray, Promaster, etc, etc, were laughed at by more “serious” enthusiasts and pros.

Well today, some of them may still be laughed at, but not many are laughing at the lenses being released by Samyang, and also sold under the brand names of Rokinon, Bower, or Vivitar. I’m sure the “Big Boys” of camera lens makers are not laughing at these lenses 🙂

In the past few years, Korean lens maker Samyang has been producing some amazing lenses from ultra-wides to fast telephotos that rival or exceed equivalent lenses from Canon, Nikon, or Sony.

And these lenses are also sold under a variety of other formerly “no name” or “cheap” brands such as Rokinon, Bower, and Vivitar.

Many of these lenses use exotic glass, aspherical elements, and special coatings that were once only seen on lenses from Canon or Nikon. And the best thing? Their prices are significantly lower than the Big Boys. For example, if you look around, the original 35mm f/1.4 Samyang can be found for a little over $300, whereas the Canon equivalent is over $1000.

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“Not Funny” 2015. Sony A7R, Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC. Baby Zay, quite serious and not finding me amusing any more, just like the “Cheap Lenses” from Samyang, Bower, Vivitar, and Rokinon are offering serious performance for the money and no longer something to be laughed at 🙂

But there is a hitch. Well, maybe a few. First of all, these lenses are not built nearly as well as the Canon, Nikon, or Sony equivalents. Not to say the build quality of the Samyang/Rokinon lenses are bad. They’re quite good actually, but I’m not sure how durable they will be. Secondly, as of this time, the lenses being offered are manual focus only. That’s not a problem for me and many others, but surely some would prefer autofocus. And lastly, there have been reports of sample variation and quality control issues.

Still, on the whole, people seem to rave about these lenses. If you get a good copy, you will be pleased. My copy of the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 is excellent and really surprised the heck out of me when I got it. I was a skeptic at first, but not any more.

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“Superfly” 2013. Sony Alpha A99, Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC. Please double click to see best quality.

This is truly the “age of the people” where nearly everyone can have access to great equipment, not just pros or the “elite” 🙂

Two new Rokinon lenses have been released for those using mirrorless systems, including an incredibly fast and wide 21mm f/1.4 and a super fast 50mm f/1.2. The prices for both are $499 which is really quite a feat. I’m sure their optical performance will be amazing and I hope some of you report back if you get one of these lenses before I do.

Thanks to Samyang and all the “cheap” brands. Power to the people 🙂