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Review: Vivitar V4000 SLR Camera with Ricoh Lens – A Surprising Gem

A review of the Vivitar v4000 with a Ricoh 50mm lens – find out why this camera would make a good option if you are considering buying your first single lens reflex 35mm film camera. For those who already own an SLR, this would make a more than decent secondary shooter!

A while ago, I bought some second hand photographic equipment. What I was really interested in were the accessories (colour filters, etc.), rather than the 35mm film camera that came with them. After all, I have quite a few cameras already. The new addition was a Vivitar v4000 SLR (single lens reflex) – it had a crack on the back, and I had no idea if it would even work!

A roll of Rollei Retro film I had lying around would soon address my curiosity. I loaded it into the camera and made a few test shots. Being eager to see the results, I didn’t even use up the whole roll before processing…

Wow, not having expected much, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the images!

The 50mm Japanese Ricoh lens that came with the camera made the images really crisp, with nice sharp definition. (I think these cameras originally came with a Vivitar lens, so this must have been a modification by the previous owner.)

The Japanese 50mm Rikenon lens made by Ricoh

The bokeh from this lens can create quite an eye-distracting background, as seen in the next photo. But that wouldn’t bother any Lomographer! Who knows, maybe I can put it to good use as an effect in certain shots.

A bokeh effect that looks (to me) like it was painted with streaks of moving light:

Photo by digitaljunk

To help spice up my film choices, the focussing ring has an extra red mark for use with infra-red films.

Infra-red light focuses at a different point to normal visible light. The infra-red focussing mark is the small red dot above the numbers 8 and 4, to the left of the red line.

The camera attaches to the lens via a ‘K mount’ – a standard lens attachment mechanism developed by Pentax. Many lenses use this standard, which means there is a wide range of lens options out there in the second-hand market that you can use with this camera.

For Lomographers, plastic is always fantastic. This Vivitar has a plastic body and therefore an advantage of being lightweight compared to the heavy-duty metal body SLRs. The camera itself weighs only 370g (excluding the lens), which suits me because I hate dragging a heavy bag around town!

A possible down side of the plastic housing is that it is not as rugged. A search on the internet showed that the crack is not an uncommon problem with this camera. But mine, repaired with glue along the crack by the previous owner, presented no problem whatsoever.

The red arrow shows the repaired crack on the plastic housing

Shooting with this camera is a breeze. It has a built-in light meter with an LED display in the viewfinder; it’s so simple to use, it frees you from getting bogged down by technicalities. The split image viewfinder makes focussing quick and easy.

The decent ranges of shutter speeds (bulb, 1s to 1/2000s) and ISO (25 to 3200) gives a lot of versatility in the choice of films you can use and the types of shot it can handle.

Shutter speeds (with flash sync at 1/125) and ISO settings all in one dial

Having a window at the back (so I can see if there’s a film inside the camera and what film it is) is an extra bonus. The standard hot shoe mount on the top will let me fit on different flashes, including the Lomo ringflash.

All kitted out and ready to catch the action (note: the ergonomic grip on the camera body!)

If you are looking for your first SLR, I can recommend this as a good value for money option to consider; or as a secondary camera that’s a decent full-size SLR you can carry everywhere in your bag without feeling much extra weight. Having overlooked this camera initially, I guess I will be using it more often!

Summary features at a glance

  • Shooting modes: aperture priority/shutter priority
  • TTL (through the lens) exposure metering
  • Shutter speeds: bulb, 1 to 1/2000 second
  • ISO 25 to 3200
  • Uses two LR44 or SR44 batteries

written by digitaljunk

4 comments

  1. superlighter

    superlighter

    I love this Rikenon lens!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. brandkow93

    brandkow93

    Great review, but in the case of any camera especially SLRs plastic is not a good thing, there are lots of moveing parts in the mechanics of a camera again especially in an SLR, over the years the mechanics are worn and become very used, and you dont need to be a genius to realise that parts made out of metal will last much longer than those made of plastic, thats the reason you see so many M42 mount bodies on ebay,2nd hand shops etc, they have metal parts so have lasted. GET A SPOTMATIC :)

    cheers

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. brandkow93

    brandkow93

    I have 3 fantastic analogue for sale check the listings kiev 4 with 3 lenses http://www.ebay.co.u(…)1400wt_1183 Lubitel 2 http://www.ebay.co.u(…)_871wt_1170 and Minolta X-700 with amazing 50mm 1.4 http://cgi.ebay.co.u(…)_1633wt_932

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. ledscreenz

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    over 1 year ago · report as spam