So, You Want a Vivitar UWS?

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So you want to own a legendary Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim? Looking around the internet you'll find lots of tips, rumours, modifications and examples of this plastic wonder but it can be overwhelming for the newcomer. Here is my tutorial tipster for buying, owning and using a Vivitar UWS.

Buying

You can still find examples of the original Vivitar UWS for sale on eBay or if you’re lucky in charity and thrift shops, flea markets and car boot sales. The examples on eBay can carry high reserve prices though as people are becoming aware of the camera’s rarity and popularity. I saw one recently in the UK with a reserve price of £150!

Fear not though as there are plenty of clones available which perform just the same. They are manufactured currently so are available to purchase as brand new items. Prices tend to be around £20-£30 in the UK and in my opinion worth every penny. There are also clones available in the market like the Black Slim Devil / While Slim Angel. Apart from colour they look identical to the original UWS and feature the same 22mm lens.

TIP: Search charity shops and car boot sales for the original or buy a clone

Loading/Unloading

I have heard that opening the back of the camera can be very difficult making loading and unloading film frustrating. Some have even gone to the extent of modifying their UWS to make it easier.

TIP: Hold the camera upside down and let gravity do the work

The 36 Exposure Myth

When looking into buying my first UWS there were plenty of people online suggesting only 24 exposure film should be used to reduce tension on the spool and winder to avoid breakages. In truth I have almost exclusively used 36 exposure film and don’t find it to be a problem at all.

TIP: Don’t overwind the camera/film. When you feel tension, stop!

Best Film Choice

The UWS seems to do contrast by the bucket load. I have never been disappointed by the contrast and saturation every time I get my photos back from the lab i both colour and black and white. To push contrast and saturation further film choice is all important. Remember though that with the fixed shutter speed and aperture (I have been told approximately 1/125 and f/11) it’s an outdoor camera and unless it’s a really bright day stick to the higher film speeds e.g. ASA400.

TIP: Sensia, Velvia and E100VS cross-processed will produce plenty of colour saturation and T-Max 400 has bags full of contrast

Mind Those Fingers

It can be a surprise just how wide the UWS is with fingertips accidentally appearing in shots if you’re not careful. Finding a method of holding the camera without getting your fingers anywhere near the lens will keep your shots finger free.

TIP: Don’t grip the camera around the sides like a traditional camera but on the top and sides

Now go out there and shoot!

written by veato on 2011-08-12 in #gear #tipster #camera #top-tipster-techniques #vivitar-uws-eximus-rainbow-superheadz-wide-and-slim-veato-tutorial #tutorial

23 Comments

  1. mr-korn
    mr-korn ·

    Vivitar UWS is the best... You can always get fancy color Vivitar UWS clone from Superheadz.... ....Oops can I mention Superheadz around here?

  2. aroninvt
    aroninvt ·

    I've always wanted an UWS, or a clone of one, but I recently bought a La Sardina, which has a 22mm wide angle lens and is 35mm. Basically the same thing, only the La Sardina has a flash and is cuter in my opinion. But the UWS does take some awesome pictures!

  3. lee07
    lee07 ·

    Hey, awesome tipster! I let gravity do the work with mine too whenever I open my Viv :)

  4. veato
    veato ·

    Yeah I was always confused hearing people say they've fashioned an opening handle to make it easier. I thought "just flip it upside down"!

  5. russheath
    russheath ·

    Love my UWS!

  6. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    I have a Eximus clone, to tell the truth, the first time I used this black devil, I spent almost 10 minutes to open the back door, not joking...^_^. But the result fotos are just fantastic...<:)

  7. tomkiddo
    tomkiddo ·

    was thinking of getting one :)

  8. cwyeung
    cwyeung ·

    I have a clone from taiwan, called Rainbow V

  9. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    good tip!! i have the colorful Superheads UWS. it's white with green pink and yellow i think lol

  10. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    I learned how to hold my UWS like a hamburger! haha!

  11. domo-guy
    domo-guy ·

    More of a review than a tipster... But good tipster! And Superheadz UWS are cheaper i think. :D

  12. sophia_lo
    sophia_lo ·

    I got a blue ribbon. it is great love it!!

  13. dabai
    dabai ·

    £150?! i wanna sell mine! hahahah.

  14. ungrumpy
    ungrumpy ·

    haha @dabai...i have one too but seeing that it's quite rare now, it makes me cherish my UWS even more.:D

  15. jervisstar
    jervisstar ·

    Hey,any idea can we do multiple expose using this UWL ?

  16. gborin
    gborin ·

    I open the back of mine with a suction cup. It's a great camera (i have the blue ribbon clone), I keep it always in my backpack and loaded.

  17. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    @jervisstar, You need to hack your camera to allow a MX option.
    Here's a great manual for MX option, bulb option, and more!
    www.instructables.com/id/Bring-Your-Vivitar-Ultra-Wide-and-…

  18. billabong021
    billabong021 ·

    I've got the black slim devil, quite nice

  19. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    I've sneaked a couple from ebay for £5. My first I got for just under £15 before the BNIB stocks ran out! But the last one I got for £3 for a charity shop! My friend managed to get one for 60p but it broke not long after! I'm not sure when @veato wrote this, but La Sardina is a worthy competitor to the UWS, and while not a direct clone is definitely in the same vain!

  20. veato
    veato ·

    I wrote it very recently. Funnily enough when the La Sardina came out I looked at the specs and thought when my UWS breaks and you can no longer get them I'll replace it with one of those. I've also since bought my girlfriend a Marathon funnily enough. I really like it, especially the viewfinder, but I wouldn't swap my original UWS for one! :D

  21. thomas-matthew-wood
    thomas-matthew-wood ·

    I have an Eximus which is as beautiful little camera. I'm glad you mentioned about the fingers, I unfortunately have had the experience of seeing some of my little pink digits appear in a few of my photos. I have quite large hands anyway, but the "hamburger hold" is recommended for all!

    One thing I also love about it is that it is so light. I've stuck it in the back pocket of my cycling jersey before so I can take snaps on evening rides.

    Oh and one slight issue, has anyone ever had this? Sometimes I've not pressed the shutter firmly enough and found I've not taken a photo, then had to press it again harder. I've got a couple of mid-frame light leaks due to this.

  22. veato
    veato ·

    I've never had the half shutter press problem you mentioned. I agree with on the lightness. It weighs nothing. It will be the first camera I pack for Italy in September!

  23. jammy
    jammy ·

    I bought one from my local charity shop, brand new, still in plastic wrapping for 99p. I didn't think much of this until I saw it on the internet and realised how lucky I was! :-) I've got a roll of film in it, haven't seen the results yet, can't wait

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