5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Vivitar 35ES – By Howard Dale

March 13, 2018

​​​​​​​​​​Internet reviews of the Vivitar 35ES seem to agree that it’s a well built camera with a great lens, but which is otherwise uninspired. So why did I get it?

My first serious camera (given to me by my wife back around 1980 and which I still have) was a Minolta 7sii. It bears more than a passing resemblance to this camera. In fact the half case in the picture is from the Minolta and it fits perfectly). While I love the 7sii I would have preferred it in black. I later discovered that there was a black version. Unfortunately it’s quite scarce and rather expensive so I decided I’d have to get along without it. Then I came across this camera. It looked very much like the 7sii and offered (apart from full manual operation) a similar feature set …and it was black and much less expensive. So I decided to get one.

Cosmetically it’s in fairly good shape and everything works. In fact the viewfinder is significantly clearer than that on my Minolta. The leather is lifting up in a couple of places, but that’s an easy fix.

Although I made a few “rookie” mistakes (e.g. forgetting to take off the lens cap for one frame; placing my thumb on top of the camera in a way that stopped the film advancing properly and leading to inadvertent double exposures) I was pleased with the results.

My website – www.aheadworld.org

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  • Reply
    Terry B
    March 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    With any camera, if it has a half decent lens, fairly accurate exposure and it doesn’t leak light, does it really matter what name is on the face plate? Pocket the difference, and enjoy it.

    Howard, a great mini portfolio. In days gone by, Vivitar was better known for its Series 1 lenses and some excellent flashguns (283 and 285, for example) but those in the know could also pick up a more than decent camera, too, if they knew what to look for. I remember this camera, but know nothing about it. A lot of compact cameras sporting an f1.7 lens were more about bragging rights. However judging by your pics it is an admirable performer indeed, and the rangefinder seems to be doing its job, too.

    • Reply
      Howard Dale
      March 13, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Hi Terry. I couldn’t agree more. I used to have one of the Vivitar Series 1 (in Canon FD mount) lens and one of the flashguns, the 283 I think. I rarely throw anything away so unless they got lost during one of our many moves they’re probably around somewhere. And yes, I was pleased that I got a camera that I really liked for much less than I would have paid for a black Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII.

  • Reply
    Dan Castelli
    March 14, 2018 at 2:58 am

    Hi Howard,
    I stopped by your website before commenting. Your work is nice and you’ve got a great variety of pictures.
    Lately (mostly while digging out of one of our frequent nor’easters here in Connecticut) I’ve been thinking of the difference between a photographer and someone who takes pictures. You fall into the photographer category – visually engaged with your world. I’m the same. The camera is more of a tool to us, rather than a status symbol. We may have our personal (camera) favorites, but it’s the act of observing and capturing what we see that’s important. Much like an artist who carries a sketchbook everywhere, or a writer jotting down seemingly random notes. I’d feel naked going out without my camera.
    Dan (flickr.com/photos/dcastelli9574)

    • Reply
      Howard Dale
      March 14, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Dan. Thank you very much for your kind words. “Great variety of pictures” is right. My photography is all over the place. I wish I had a single overriding passion to give some focus to it, but so far I haven’t been able to discover what it might be. I think of my site as being a kind of online journal where I record some of what I see as I go about my daily life. Like you I carry a camera with me all the time. I took a look at your Flickr photostream (which seems to have the kind of focus that I’m looking for). Nice pictures.

      • Reply
        Terry B
        March 14, 2018 at 11:22 am

        Hi, Howard. I believe you’re doing yourself down. Your style is what it is now – it’s the way you envision your photos; it’s how you see, even if personally, you see it as “all over the place”. (You can tell I’m very old school as I refer to photos!) I don’t know how it could be otherwise, unless you deliberately set out to copy the style(s) of the great photographers that have carved out a unique place for themselves, and in the totality of photography, they are relatively few and far between.

        Our photographs are what we saw at the time, and there was a reason we took them. Sometimes it’s family and friends, with possibly little interest to third party viewers, but our other photos may provoke thought or empathy, and this is what can make them interesting.

        35mmc is a good platform to showcase some of the work of its many contributors. Some I have a lot of empathy with, as yours, others I like, and there are some that don’t push my buttons at all. This is quite normal.

        I’m going to stick my head above the parapet with an article I’ve submitted to Hamish and which may get published. There will no doubt be a varied response to the images but, like yours and others, they are what appealed to me at the time. They were never intended for subsequent publication. I may have to develop a thick skin. :D)

        • Reply
          Howard Dale
          March 14, 2018 at 2:05 pm

          Terry. Again thanks for the comment. I’m pleased that you like some of the photographs. I’ll look forward to reading your article.

      • Reply
        Dan Castelli
        March 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm

        I hope you don’t take my comments as a criticism; I need to open up more in my photography. I just enjoy those little ‘slices of life’ that appear for an instant, then are gone. I see them everywhere, but miss many of them.

        • Reply
          Howard Dale
          March 14, 2018 at 1:54 pm

          Not at all! Your comments are most useful. Definitely food for thought. Maybe I overthink this issue of more focus. Incidentally two of the five photographs (the flaky paint and the couple descending the stairs) were taken in Connecticut – specifically walking around in the parking lot at the Danbury Fair Mall while my wife was shopping.. Just goes to show that there are photographs everywhere if you’re just open to the possibilities.

  • Reply
    Chris Pattison
    March 14, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Howard, there’s nothing wrong with being an all rounder. I have relaxed into that over the years and have given up wondering if I am a street, landscape or whatever photographer. I just take photographs of what catches my eye. Sometimes that leads onto a project.

    • Reply
      Howard Dale
      March 14, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Chris. You’re probably right. I think I worry about the lack of focus in my photographs because everything photography-related that I read (and I read quite a lot) says something along the lines of: ‘shoot what you’re passionate about’. I’m not a terribly passionate person. I’m British (and I see from your email address that you’re probably British too) and they force that out of us at an early age 🙂 and when I look at my photographs I see that they cover a lot of ground. Surely I can’t be passionate about everything. As I think about it now I’m starting feel that perhaps I’m looking for too narrow a passion (e.g. the person who is passionate about trains and takes photographs of nothing but trains). I live in NY’s Hudson Valley and the majority of my photographs are taken there. I love living in the Hudson Valley so maybe that’s one of my passions? If so then that opens up an entire spectrum of possibilities e.g. Hudson Valley Wildlife; Hudson Valley Buildings; Hudson Valley Landscapes; Hudson Valley History etc. My thanks to you guys for helping me make some progress with this.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2018 at 3:31 am

    I really like the peeling paint picture – fantastic how the colors on the bits of (probably lead) paint pop out at you. In my opinion, film does this better than digital. Any idea who made the Vivitar Camera? I would be surprised if Minolta made it, but possibly a big company like Minolta was glad to keep their production line running. Some of the big companies made branded cameras for Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

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