Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim

Piece of junk, or astonishing bit of kit?  The Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.

Hunk of junk

Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim
24 exposures max
No focus
Single aperture
Single speed
22mm focal length
Total: £17.00

How much!?  £17 for a camera that looks like it came free sellotaped to a magazine in the 1990s?

The Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim is a basic camera, it is true.  It is almost entirely plastic.  The lens is plastic and tiny.  It has no focus controls.  It has a fixed shutter speed of 1/125″ and a fixed aperture of f/11.  It is recommended you only use 24-exposure films as anything longer puts too much tension in the cog when winding on and it is liable to break.  There is no tripod thread.  There’s no flash, or even a flash shoe.  The back is fiddly to open and the whole thing feels utterly flimsy.

It’s Awesome

It is about as small as it’s possible to get for a 35mm film camera, so that explains the ‘slim’ in the name.  As for the ‘Ultra-wide’, well that’s completely justified too.  The lens has a focal length of a mere 22mm.  For a full-frame 35mm camera this does indeed qualify as Ultra Wide Angle – which in a camera this basic is quite remarkable.  Typically for an SLR camera you would be paying more than you did for the camera to secure yourself an ultra wide angle lens, quite a lot more…even if you paid quite a lot for the camera.  Of course you’d be getting a bit more than 5mm of plastic for your money, but the point is with the Vivitar Ultra you’re getting a feature that’s normally prohibitively expensive.

So it’s wide angle, then?

An ultra wide angle lens gives you two things you don’t normally get in a camera,  a larger field of view and more depth perspective.  That means it you can stand closer to objects and still get them in shot and pictures seem more like you would see them if you were inside the frame.  Of course a camera is like looking through a cardboard tube in comparison to the field of view of a human eye, but it isn’t possible to get very much wider angle views without introducing fish-eye distortion.

Cheap film

Kodak 200
Cost: £0.88
Expired: 2002
ISO: 200
Format/Type: Colour Negative
Exposures: 24
Processing: £0.66
Full Total: £1.54
Cost per shot: £0.06
My Rating: 7

Well wide-angle is as wide-angle does.  Meaning it was a lot wider that I was anticipating and my finger features on a number of shots.  The viewfinder doesn’t curve like the lens does and you see probably less than three-quarters of what the camera can see.  I didn’t have any decent shots to demonstrate it, but it’s worth remembering that “wide-angle” works in all directions – so you can hold the camera vertically and get some great shots of things like tall streets.  In all though, these are some pretty nice pics given the rather basic nature of the camera, it’s bright light or nothing of course, but work within the boundaries and it’s possible to get some interesting shots.  I’m really looking forward to trying another film in this camera soon!

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