Point & Shoot

Vivitar PZ3815 DB – It Gets the Job Done – By Thang Nguyen

September 18, 2020

If you have ever gotten a hand on a Vivitar compact 35mm camera, there’s a high chance that it’s a rebranded from other brands. The camera I am reviewing today is no different: the Vivitar PZ3815 DB.

First, you might be thinking: “What kind of naming scheme is that?”. Well, the PZ (which may stand for picture “easy”) indicates the camera is flagship tier, the number “3815” means it starts at 38mm and zooms to 15(0)mm. Lastly, the DB stands for “Date Back or Data Back”, which means the camera can imprint date on your pictures.

The Vivitar PZ3815 DB is a camera released in 2003, and it’s rather pricey for the brand Vivitar. I did some research and found out that this camera is a rebranded Minox CD150 DB, but the Minox CD150 DB is a restyled version of the Konica Z-up 150e. Along with the Minox CD 150 DB, the Vivitar PZ3815 DB being the latest iteration, these cameras now has the additional date back feature, which the standard Minox CD150 and Konica Z-up 150e lack.

Vivitar PZ3815 DB’s back, the red eye reduction button was replaced with date button on the Vivitar.

Because this camera was released at the end of the film era, it pretty much has everything you’d expect from a camera in the early 2000’s. It has the typical shooting modes plus red eye, +1.5 exposure compensation and slow sync flash. Along with the versatile zoom lens, this camera is suitable for most occasions.

The great thing about the Vivitar PZ3815 DB is that when you turn on the camera, it will reset your setting to auto but pressing the mode button once will revert to your last setting. This is a nice touch as you don’t have to cycle through a bunch of modes with one button. The date back also works until 2052, a nice bonus. The LCD is also always on, so you can see the date, battery status and number of exposure taken.

Vivitar PZ3815 DB’s top.

Here’s some pictures taken with the Vivitar PZ3815 DB using Fujifilm Superia 400.

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

Superia 400

There’s something about the design of the Vivitar PZ3815 DB that I really like, it’s very industrial, the stainless steel plate reminds me of modern appliances like a fridge you would find in store today. The built quality is surprisingly nice, the plastic is solid and feels good in the hand. The buttons are responsive, the shutter button is deep and has a positive half press. The viewfinder size is decent, it’s very clear and has framing guidelines. The Vivitar PZ3815 DB lens is a 38mm-155mm f/4.5 – f/13.8, it has a rather long range, the optics is decent, it can produce pleasing photos with balanced exposure.

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  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    September 18, 2020 at 11:54 am

    I’d imagine that was PZ as in “easy-peasey’…

  • Reply
    September 18, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Ooof. Love me a rebranded P&S, but those photos leave me a little cold – There’s an odd dullness/lack of sharpness and lack of contrast in my eyes. It’s a pretty camera, which Would make me want to take it out on a walk, but that film/lens combo just isn’t bringing out the best in either – Have you tried it since with a film like the Ilford XP2 Super?

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      September 18, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Hello, I don’t usually shoot Black & White because I really like the color of film and color rendition of the lens is also important when testing out the camera. Regarding the Vivitar’s image quality, I’d say I agree with the points you’ve made, the lens is not the strong suit of this camera. But Considering the price point, the built quality, the pretty design and how fun it was to use, I’m completely okay even if the lens isn’t mind blowing. Here’s some additional photos if you want to take a look at: https://imgur.com/a/CTbeEtt .

  • Reply
    Timm Kerwin
    March 3, 2021 at 10:27 am

    What makes you think “picture easy” is what the “PZ” means? There are so many Vivitar models that have both “PZ” and “Power Zoom” in their name that I’ve just always assumed that’s what it stands for.

  • Reply
    K Quilao
    December 15, 2021 at 6:26 am

    What other point and shoot cam do you recommend with longer date imprint.

    • Reply
      Thang Nguyen
      December 15, 2021 at 7:24 am

      The Minolta Freedom Zoom 160 can print up to 99′ and it’s an amazing camera. Canon z155 is another good alternative as it can prints the date up to 49′.

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