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Founded1938; 85 years ago (1938) (as Ponder and Best by Max Ponder and John Best)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
FoundersMax Ponder
John Best
ProductsCamera and photographic accessories
ParentSakar International

Vivitar Corporation is a manufacturer, distributor, and marketer of photographic and optical equipment originally based in Santa Monica, California.[citation needed] Since 2008, the Vivitar name serves as Sakar International's house brand for digital imaging, optics, mobile accessories, and audio products.[citation needed]


Vivitar logo until 2016
A Vivitar digital camera.

The company's product line has included 35 mm SLR cameras, zoom lenses, flashes, film enlargers, binoculars, digital cameras, night vision products, point-and-shoot cameras, tripods, underwater cameras, smart home technology, health and wellness accessories, and other audio/video equipment.[citation needed]

Point and shoot cameras[edit]

  • ViviCam 55
  • ViviCam 7122


Vivitar Series 1 200mm ƒ/3, mid-1970s

The company was founded in 1938 as Ponder and Best by Max Ponder and John Best. Max Ponder headed the sales department, while John Best ran the operations side of the company. Ponder and Best first imported German-made photo equipment. After World War II, the partnership began to import cameras and photographic equipment from Japan. They were instrumental in the introduction of many brands into the American market, including Mamiya/Sekor 35mm cameras, OM-System 35mm equipment, Kobena 8mm movie cameras, Sankyo/Komura wide-angle/telephoto adapter lenses and a full line of photographic darkroom equipment imported from many manufacturers throughout Japan and later Taiwan. They were also the sole U.S. distributor for Olympus products at this time. Ponder and Best were the first to gain acceptance for lenses with interchangeable mounts, allowing customers to use the same lens on different manufacturers' camera bodies.

In the early 1960s, the partners created the "Vivitar" brand to compete with major lens manufacturers. The company commissioned experienced lens designers and reputable Japanese optical lens manufacturers such as Kino Precision to produce their lens designs. By carefully positioning their limited product line with key photo retailers, they quickly built a reputation for good-quality lenses at modest prices. The retailers found that they could make good margins while giving good value. As their reputation grew, many contract lens manufacturers sought them out to carry their products under the Vivitar brand. In the 1970s, Vivitar introduced the Series 1 lenses. These computer-designed lenses were priced relatively low and claimed to out perform the optics of camera manufacturers of the day.

After the success of its aftermarket lens line, Vivitar later introduced its own line of 35mm film cameras manufactured by Japanese companies such as Cosina. These include the Cosina-made Vivitar SLR and the Vivitar 35ES/EE series of rangefinder cameras.

Vivitar also offered a new type of semi-professional flash unit from National/Panasonic called the Vivitar 260.[dubious ][citation needed] The flash was acclaimed[according to whom?] for its innovative design, but criticized for its use of expensive 9-volt batteries. Recognizing the problem, Max Ponder travelled to Japan to meet with the manufacturer, offering suggestions for improvements based on the feedback received from customers. The improved flash was introduced in 1970 as the Vivitar 283, which quickly became the number one professional and enthusiast flash unit, outselling all its competitors combined and selling 3,000,000 units by 1973. In production for over 30 years, it was twice returned to production in response to customer demand after having been discontinued. There was also the model 285, which featured a zoom head to cover different focal length lenses and a built-in variable power setting. Earlier made-in-Japan Vivitar flashes have a trigger voltage of 250 V, which can damage the circuits of some digital cameras. Newer units made in China and Korea are low-voltage units producing 5 to 12 volts. The 283 and 285 have a removable sensor; an optional remote sensor cord makes off-camera automatic flash possible.

After Ponder and Best[edit]

After the deaths of Max Ponder and John Best, company ownership was transferred to a variety of owners. Some digital compact cameras were launched but were not successful. In November 2006, the corporation was purchased by the public company Syntax-Brillian Corporation for US$26 million in stock and was operated as a wholly owned subsidiary.[1] On August 21, 2008, subsequent to its filing for bankruptcy, parent company Syntax-Brillian completed the sale of the Vivitar brand name and intellectual property to privately held consumer electronics maker Sakar International, based in Edison, New Jersey. Sakar did not purchase Vivitar's equipment, facilities or accounts receivable. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.[2]

Current Vivitar operations[edit]

Low-end digital camera sold in 2011

In August 2008, Sakar announced plans to position Vivitar as a brand for its current mass retail digital cameras in the midprice range of $70–$300, along with certain camera accessories. New Vivitar-branded products such as digital photo frames are also planned, as well as potential licensing opportunities.[3][4] In January 2009 Sakar introduced three new Vivitar-branded cameras and a digital SLR lens series. The products are Sakar's first Vivitar-branded items since acquiring the brand.[5] In addition to other electronics products, in 2013 they announced and then shipped the $150 XO Tablet, a 7-inch Android tablet designed for children, with a bilingual English/Spanish interface.[6][7]

Vivitar lenses[edit]

Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.4 Auto VMC

Manual focus prime lenses[edit]

Vivitar Series 1 90mm ƒ/2.5 macro
Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.8
  • Vivitar Series 1 7mm ƒ/3.5 Fish-eye CS (for APS-C digital sensors only, a rebadged Samyang 8mm ƒ/3.5 from 2009)
  • Vivitar Series 1 13mm ƒ/2.8 (rebadged Samyang 14mm ƒ/2.8, released in 2010)
  • Vivitar 17mm ƒ/3.5 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 19mm ƒ/3.8 (made by Cosina)
  • Vivitar 20mm ƒ/3.8 (82mm filter, made by Kiron)
  • Vivitar 21mm ƒ/3.8 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 24mm ƒ/2 (52mm filter version made by Komine, 55mm made by Kiron)
  • Vivitar 24mm ƒ/2.8 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 24mm ƒ/2.8 T4 (67mm filter, made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 24mm ƒ/2.8 TX (58mm filter, made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar Series 1 28mm ƒ/1.9 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2 "Close Focus"(49mm filter version made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2 (55mm by Kiron)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2.5 (62mm or 67mm filter, made by Kiron)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2.5 TX (58mm filter, made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2.8 T4 (58mm filter, made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar Close Focus 28mm ƒ/2.8
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2.8 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 28mm ƒ/2.8 TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 35mm ƒ/1.4 (made by Samyang, released in 2011)
  • Vivitar 35mm ƒ/1.9 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 35mm ƒ/2.5 TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 35mm ƒ/2.8
  • Vivitar 35mm ƒ/2.8 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.4 VMC (49mm filter made by Cosina)
  • Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.7 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.8 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 50mm ƒ/1.9 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 50mm ƒ/2.0 (49mm filter)
  • Vivitar 55mm ƒ/1.2 VMC (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 55mm ƒ/2.8 Macro (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar Series 1 85mm ƒ/1.4 Aspherical IF (made by Samyang, released in 2009)
  • Vivitar 85mm ƒ/1.8 T-mount
  • Vivitar 90mm ƒ/2.5 Macro (1:1 macro, made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 90mm ƒ/2.8 Macro (1:1 macro, made by Komine)
  • Vivitar Series 1 90mm ƒ/2.5 1:2 Macro, 1:1 achieved with dedicated extender, nicknamed the Bokina (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro (made by Kiron)
  • Vivitar Series 1 105mm ƒ/2.5 macro (1:1 macro, made by Kiron)
  • Vivitar 105mm ƒ/2.8 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/1.5 professional T-mount
  • Vivitar Series 1 135mm ƒ/2.3 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/2.5 TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/2.8 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/2.8 close-focusing 1:2 Macro (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/2.8 T4 & TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/3.5 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 135mm ƒ/3.5 T-mount
  • Vivitar 200mm ƒ/3.5 (early models made by Kiron, later models made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 200mm ƒ/3.5 T4 & TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar Series 1 200mm ƒ/3 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar Series 1 200mm ƒ/3.5 Auto Focus (made by Cosina)
  • Vivitar 250mm ƒ/4.5 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 300mm ƒ/5.5 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 300mm ƒ/5.6 (made by Olympus)
  • Vivitar 300mm ƒ/5.6 (made by Komine)
  • Vivitar 400mm ƒ/5.6
  • Vivitar 400mm ƒ/5.6 IF TX (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar 400mm ƒ/6.3 T4 (made by Tokina)
  • Vivitar Series 1 450mm ƒ/4.5 aspherical mirror T-mount
  • Vivitar 500mm ƒ/8
  • Vivitar Series 1 500mm ƒ/8 mirror T-mount (released in 2009, made by Samyang)
  • Vivitar 500mm ƒ/6.3 T-mount (non-mirror)
  • Vivitar 600mm ƒ/8 T-mount (non-mirror)
  • Vivitar Series 1 600mm ƒ/8 solid cat T-mount (made by Perkin-Elmer)
  • Vivitar Series 1 800mm ƒ/8 mirror T-mount (released in 2009, made by Samyang)
  • Vivitar Series 1 800mm ƒ/11 solid cat T-mount (made by Perkin-Elmer)

Manual focus zoom lenses[edit]

Vivitar manual focus zoom lenses
Ultrawide Wide Normal Telephoto Ultratelephoto Series Maker Notes Image
17-28mm f/4-4.5 Samyang
19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Cosina
24-48mm f/3.8 Series 1 Kiron
24-70mm f/3.8-4.8 Series 1 Cosina
28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 RL edition Kobori Macro focusing zoom MC, 62mm filter size
28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 Series 1 Cosina
28-200mm f/3.5-5.3 Kobori
28-210mm f/3.5-5.6 Cosina
28-50mm f/3.8-4.8 RL edition Komine
28-70mm f/3.5-4.8 Cosina
28-85mm f/2.8-3.8 Kiron Vari-focal zoom Vintage Canon AE-1 35mm SLR Film Camera With Vivitar 28-85mm Lens, First Microprocessor-Equipped SLR, Manufactured From 1976 - 1984, Both Lens And Camera Body Made In Japan (14966928393).jpg
28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 Kobori
28-90mm f/2.8-3.5 Series 1 Komine Vivitar Series 1 28-90.jpg
35-70mm f/2.8-3.8 Komine
35-70mm f/3.5 Komine
35-85mm f/2.8 Series 1 Kiron Vari-focal zoom
35-105mm f/3.5 Tokina Close focus, fixed-mount and TX versions available
35-200mm f/3-4.5 Kobori Macro
55-135mm f/3.5 Tokina T4 mount Vivitar 55-135mm F3.5 T4 lens 03.jpg
70-150mm f/3.8 Kiron 1 and 2-touch zoom
Tokina TX mount
70-210mm f/2.8-4 Series 1 Komine Early versions
Cosina Later versions. Lens review
70-210mm f/3.5 Series 1 Kiron 67mm versions
Tokina 62mm versions. Lens review Vivitar 70-210mm 7249.jpg
70-210mm f/4.5 Kobori Macro
70-210mm f/4-5.6 Cosina
75-205mm f/3.8 Kiron 1- and 2-touch Vivitar 75-205 mm f-3.8 MC Macro Focusing Zoom DB15.jpg
75-205mm f/3.5-4.5 Tokina Macro focusing
75-260mm f/4.5 Tokina T4 & TX mounts Nikon Lens on Canon Body- Vivitar 75-260mm ƒ4.5.jpg
75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Kobori
80-200mm f/4 Tokina TX
80-200mm f/4.5 Kiron, Komine, and Kobori Different models. Manufacturer distinguished by serial number.
85-205mm f/3.8 Kiron Preset T-mount and automatic diaphragm fixed-mount versions
90-230mm f/4.5 Tokina T4 and close-focus TX versions
90-180mm f/4.5 Series 1 Kiron Flat Field
100-200mm f/4 Komine
100-300mm f/5 Tokina TX mount
100-500mm f/5.6-8 Cosina
120-600mm f/8 Kobori Lens review
650-1300mm f/8-16 Samyang T-mount

Auto focus lenses[edit]

  • Vivitar Series 1 19-35mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 (made by Cosina)
  • Vivitar Series 1 28-70mm ƒ/2.8 (Sigma)
  • Vivitar Series 1 28-70mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 SC (self-contained; requires three AAA batteries to operate)
  • Vivitar 28-80mm f3.5-5.6
  • Vivitar 28-105mm ƒ/2.8-4.0
  • Vivitar Series 1 28-210mm ƒ/4.2-6.5
  • Vivitar 28-300mm ƒ/4-6.3 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 35-70mm f3.5-4.5
  • Vivitar Series 1 75-200mm ƒ/4.5 SC (self-contained; requires three AAA batteries to operate)
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm ƒ/2.8 (Sigma)
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm ƒ/2.8-4.0
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm ƒ/2.8-4.0 APO
  • Vivitar 70-210mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar Series 1 70-300 ƒ/4.5-5.6
  • Vivitar 100mm ƒ/3.5 Macro (made by Cosina)
  • Vivitar 100-300mm ƒ/5.6-6.7 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-6.7 (Cosina)
  • Vivitar 200mm ƒ/3.5 (self-contained; requires three AAA batteries to operate) (Komine and Cosina)


2x macro teleconverter for Nikon F-mount
  • 1.5× teleconverter
  • 2× macro-focusing teleconverter. This featured a ring which, when turned, changes the close-focusing distance, and will give a 1:1 magnification when used with a 50mm lens (similar to an extension tube, but variable and having lenses).
  • 3× teleconverter

See also[edit]


External links[edit]