When I first started collecting cameras I decided to start with 1970s vintage compact rangefinders. This was because my first serious camera (given to me by my wife) was a Minolta 7sii (which bears more than a passing resemblance to the camera above. In fact the half case in the picture in from the Minolta and it fits perfectly). This is now the ninth in my series of “Monthly Film Camera” posts and looking back I was surprised to find that so far non of them have been 1970s vintage compact rangefinders, and only one (the very first: a Fuji GS45S was even a rangefinder). So to rectify this omission here’s a compact rangefinder from around 1978: the Vivitar 35ES.
There are already a few good reviews on the internet:
- Vivitar 35ES (1978) by Mike Eckman.
- Vivitar 35ES by Matt Denton.
- Vivitar 35ES – A Short Test and Review by Charles Higham.
- “Street” Review: The Revue 400SE/Vivitar 35ES/Prin 35ER/Minolta Hi-Matic 7sii/Konica Auto S3 (Note. This review tends to consider all of these cameras as being identical, which they’re not).
So I’ll try not to duplicate the information found in them.
The consensus of these reviews seems to be that this is a well built camera with a great lens, but which is otherwise uninspired. So why did I get get it?
It all goes back to my beloved Minolta 7sii. I loved this camera, but since I like black cameras I would have preferred it in black. At that point I didn’t even realize that there was a black version of the 7sii then one day I bumped into a picture of one. Wow! Unfortunately it’s quite scarce and rather expensive so I decided I’d have to get along without it. Then I came across this camera. It looked very much like the 7sii and offered a similar feature set (except for the fully manual operation of he 7sii, which I don’t recall ever using in any case) …and it was black and much less expensive. So I decided to get one.
My first attempt was a failure. Although advertised as being in working condition, in fact it wasn’t. I did much better with this, my second attempt. Cosmetically it’s in good shape and everything seems to be working. In fact the viewfinder is significantly clearer than that on my Minolta. The leather is lifting up in a couple of places, but that’s an easy fix.
I’m eager to give it a try. Results to follow.
Picture taken with a Sony Alpha 500 and Tamron A18 AF 18-250mm f3.5-6.3.