A Versatile Camera Allows You to Find Your Own Reasons to Love It.


Is it “the poor mans lomo”? or is it a great inexpensive toy and perfect partner for whatever camera you normally use? Here, I offer some reasons to exploit it’s fixed exposure and mechanical functions, there’s always beauty to be found in simplicity. And it weighs almost nothing!

This camera has a lot of fans, sometimes called “the poor mans lomo”, a lot of great comments can be found on various analog/photo websites.

Now that I’ve had it a while I tend to use it in a specific way. Because it has such a wide angle, 22mm, I keep B&W film in there most of the time and use it as an extra camera along with my LCA. The B&W (Kodak BW400BCN) is great for all kinds of weather, sunny or cloudy, which is necessary as the camera has a fixed exposure with no adjustments possible. My local mini-lab does a great job with this film; it’s C-41 so any mini-lab can process it.

Warning: Use 24 exposure films only, it can’t accommodate 36, if I use a 36exp roll I take it out after 24exp. I have tested this with the camera open and a dummy roll, there’s just no room for more than about 26 exposures to be wound onto the take up spool, after that you would break the camera. I just reload the 36 film into another camera and advance to past the 24/26 exposures, so no film is wasted.

Shooting into the sun with the UWS can give some great pics, the fixed exposure is an advantage here, and the lens flare is usually interesting and sometimes spectacular. I have even captured a cool ice halo with this cam, and shot thru a tourist telescope too.

Avoid getting too close, about 3 feet is the closest recommended. Architecture can be fun thanks to the super wide angle, especially if you shoot straight up, and the buildings will converge together so close!

Being completely mechanical, no need to worry about batteries dying on the chairlift at -10C. And when the airline says all devices with an on/off switch must be turned off (at takeoff & landing) you can happily shoot away out the window with no guilt at all (daytime only though, fixed exposure remember).

Lot’s of people love this camera and it seems many have their own way of using it. I’ve just shared my own ideas, but I’m sure if you get one you’ll find your own reasons to love this cam, that’s part of it’s beauty. It’s ridiculously lightweight too.

written by fash_on on 2011-01-12 #gear #review #user-review #vivitar-uws-b-w-flare-mechanical-22mm-lightweight-inexpensive


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    love the lens flare of this camera in bright sun! :)

  2. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Nice pics...

  3. rawrvictoria
    rawrvictoria ·

    Is any of this in Oregon?

  4. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Fun camera. Lots of mods for it. I've been looking for the extremely rare version of this that has a flash for quite a while now.

  5. fash_on
    fash_on ·

    btw: the dummy roll I tried was a slide film, maybe it's thicker than negative? because I've used a 36exp roll of Ektar recently which was able to wind on Ok up to 35exp, then I had to take it out because of impatience ;) So just be careful with slide films over 24exp.

    @rawrvictoria: Yes, some are at Portland and Cannon Beach.

  6. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    @fash_on I've used this camera fine with many films over 24 exposure, and I'm usually able to squeeze up to 40 exposures out of a roll! I have heard issues with wind on though and breaking it using more than 24 exposure film. Great galleries though, one of my favourite cameras, but it is always to dark to use here :-(

  7. mandykaotik
    mandykaotik ·

    Thanks for the review! I've been looking for a film point & shoot, specifically to keep b&w film, and this would do the trick.

  8. quaisoir
    quaisoir ·

    Great shots!this cam loves the sun.So far i've used many 36exp rolls on my vivitar uws without much problem.its 1 of my fav cams but also pretty fragile.i take extra care when winding the film coz that little lever can break anytime!great review!:-)

  9. clogged
    clogged ·

    I just got one! This review was super helpful - thank you!

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