Aug 25 2019

Vivitar Ultrawide and Slim


The Vivitar Ultrawide and slim is one of those rare plastic cameras that have achieved a status beyond what could have originally been conceived.  This is of course due to its unique 22mm f11 lens.  And to a lesser extent how thin the camera is. This is also because of the lens and its construction.   Now I could have just left it as it was and it would have been fine but I wanted to see if I could “improve” things.  And by improve I mean risk making the already poor image quality worse while making the lens faster.  Technically what I did isn’t making the lens faster but if you consider the lens and fixed aperture as one I gave the entire system about 2 stops more light gathering ability.  First a warning if you plan to do something similar there are springs inside that want to get out. 20181231_105005 The spring that tensions the shutter took a flying leap never to be seen again fortunately I have enough random bits that I was able to replace it.

So how do you go from f11 to f5.6 you might ask.  First off apertures represent either the opening that light passing through a lens must go through or the light gathering ability of a lens.  A large aperture represented by a smaller number such as f1.4 lets in more light than a small aperture represented by a larger numeric value such as f4 simple right?   It is really I’m just trying to make it sound worse than it is.  There is a standard scale of apertures each one representing twice the light gathering of the previous one.  This list of full “f stops” go something like this f1.4,f2,f2.8,f4,f5.6,f8,f11,f16,f22.  The area that we are interested in is f11 – f5.6 which we can see is a separation of 2 full stops along that scale.  Again each stop represents twice the light gathering of the previous one.  Because the physical aperture is circular it does not corollate to twice the diameter just twice the area for each stop and since the area is determined by the formula pi * radius squared I needed to double the radius to make the area 4 times as large.  Anyhooo I measured the diameter of the hole with a micrometer at 1.4mm and drilled it out to 2.8mm which gives me four times the area and my f11 to f 5.6 alteration.

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And the impact?  Marginal it didn’t make the camera a low light monster. Granted I may have sped up the shutter speed with my spring replacement which would counter the aperture change but the image quality didn’t seem to suffer from allowing more of the lens to play a part in producing the images either.  In the end with an aperture of f5.6 and a shutter speed somewhere around 1/125 second this Vivitar Ultrawide and Slim still craves light.

* the photographer may have definitely used expired film, side effects could include graininess rash and blocked shadows.