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Thread: Vivitar large format lens

  1. #1

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    Vivitar large format lens

    Has anyone seen a Vivitar branded LF lens before? Going by the serial number this is a prototype, but 180mm seems an odd focal length to start with so I wondered whether there where any others out there. I was also surprised to find out that Vivitar wasn't a manufacturer either, instead sourcing from a host of other companies. Schneider was one of those (they did a lot of contract work for other companies) but if it is the finish looks more like something from the twenties or thirties than the seventies. The cells aren't big enough to be a plasmat but I guess it could be a tessar that has been reduced slightly to fit the Copal 1 and thus has a f5.6 max aperture rather than the f4.5 you would expect.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    Whatever it is, it's not as old as you might think. Vivitar -- like Soligor, Osawa, Bell & Howell, etc. -- is a marketing firm and buys things from various other manufacturers, and then sells them. Vivitar started out as Ponder & Best which sold items under various names, like Mamiya-Sekor. When they changed their name to Vivitar in the 70's, all of their products were labeled Vivitar -- no matter who actually made them.

  3. #3

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Congo (whatever their OEM name is)...

    Steve K

  4. #4

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    In the latter part of the 1980s, in addition to their normal line of lenses, Vivitar offered their TX line of lenses, their Series 1 line of lenses, and their 600mm Solid Catadioptric Tele. I vaguely remember also seeing in a 47th Street? Photo catalogue that they also offered a limited range of view camera optics. Memory is unfortunately also equally as vague, but I think Tokina? also tried to enter into offering lenses for large format cameras.

  5. #5

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Whatever it is, it's not as old as you might think. Vivitar -- like Soligor, Osawa, Bell & Howell, etc. -- is a marketing firm and buys things from various other manufacturers, and then sells them. Vivitar started out as Ponder & Best which sold items under various names, like Mamiya-Sekor. When they changed their name to Vivitar in the 70's, all of their products were labeled Vivitar -- no matter who actually made them.
    Osawa owned the Mamiya factory, as well as some others.
    Bell & Howell made lots of photographic equipment. Look up the Foton, or look at all of the movie cameras and projectors that they made. They also were the importer of Canon before Canon went direct in the USA.
    Viviparous did market some photo products that were exclusive to them and sold under the Vivitar brand name, worldwide. The Solid Cat lens from Perkin Elmar was an example of one.

  6. #6

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    Tamron is another name not generally associated with LF lenses. The Color-Tamrons are very good Golden Dagor type lenses.

    Kumar

  7. #7

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    That Vivitar lens could be made by just about anyone! It's easy to assume that there were others under the Vivitar name, as well. Even Spiratone sold some LF lenses -- made by just about anyone, as well. At least one is up on EBAY right now.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Bell & Howell:Mamiya Company ("BHMC") was owned jointly by Bell & Howell Co. (in the USA) and Osawa & Co (in Japan).

    The two were distributors/marketers of photo gear just like Ponder & Best (Vivitar), Honeywell (Pentax), Allied Impex (Soligor), EPOI (Nikon), and Berkey (Rodenstock).

    In the 1970’s, Mamiya/Sekor cameras and lenses were marketed by the then-named Ponder & Best. Sekor is an “abbreviation” of the Setagaya Optical Company which made the lenses for the Mamiya/Sekor cameras and was dropped from the name when the two companies merged. After P&B changed their name to Vivitar -- and only sold products labeled “Vivitar” -- Osawa was hired to be the exclusive worldwide distributor of the then-called "Mamiya" cameras.

    But just like Ponder & Best and Vivitar, and other distributors, Osawa did not just market Mamiya cameras and lenses. Among the other things they did were marketing the many lenses made by Setagaya (as well as other optical companies) for Mamiya cameras -- but also for other camera companies (just like Vivitar and Soligor did). Some of these lenses were labeled “Osawa” which has led many to mistakenly believe that Osawa was an optical manufacturer – just like many mistakenly believe that Vivitar and Soligor are lens manufacturers.

    In 1979, Bell & Howell decided to withdraw from the consumer photography business; it thus transferred its interest in BHMC to Osawa & Co.

    Osawa marketed lenses under the name “Osawa” – made by various optical companies, such as Tokina. They also marketed cameras such as Mamiya. In 1984, plans for the expansion of Mamiya's popular Z-series of 35mm cameras were halted when Mamiya's main international distributor, Osawa (formerly BHMC) declared bankruptcy. It was the largest financial failure in modern Japanese history -- until the recent TAKATA bankruptcy -- and led to Mamiya declaring bankruptcy.
    Last edited by xkaes; 3-Feb-2018 at 13:53.

  8. #8

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    As Steve suggests, Congo (Yamasaki) would certainly be a possibility as there is a resemblance, but there isn't anything about the construction that is a dead giveaway for any company in particular. What little I could find about the Vivitar suppliers mentions that nobody seems too sure about the identity of one of their largest (or most prolific?) suppliers, Comine Co, Ltd. so who knows what they were capable of producing.

  9. #9

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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Ewins View Post
    What little I could find about the Vivitar suppliers mentions that nobody seems too sure about the identity of one of their largest (or most prolific?) suppliers, Comine Co, Ltd. so who knows what they were capable of producing.
    Judging from the serial # on the lens "10000" it was one of nothing. Most early Vivitar lenses used the first (and second) digit to show the manufacturer. For example, 22xxxxx, meant Kino (AKA Kiron). So we know a lot about where a lot of Vivitar lenses came from.

  10. #10
    (Shrek)
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    Re: Vivitar large format lens

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Most early Vivitar lenses used the first (and second) digit to show the manufacturer. For example, 22xxxxx, meant Kino (AKA Kiron). So we know a lot about where a lot of Vivitar lenses came from.
    This is not from any documentation from Vivitar, just what people on the 'net have put together. So there is an element of uncertainty to this. But the Komine-made stuff seems to be the most desirable of the Vivitar products, fetching several times the price of identical performers by other manufacturers. Sort of like Tomioka/Tominon lenses.

    The lens pictured above could also have been made by Topcon.

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