Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The User's Review: Vivitar V3800N 35mm Film SLR Camera (Released in 2000), One of the Last Manual-Focus Film Camera

As I see and hold this camera, it reminds me my Yashica Fx-3 that my dad bought me from Hong Kong when I was in college more than 25 years ago. Since V3800N is one of the last manual bodies designed and manufactured, it keeps most essential features of 35mm SLR cameras. By this time I am writing the review in mid 2012, V3800N is among a few (2 - 3) new manual bodies still available in the market of USA.

In my eyes and hands, V3800N has the following features:

1. All manual. Two batteries are used only for the light meter that is not coupled with the shutter and aperture.
2. Simple-to-use light  meter with red '+' and '-' for over and under exposure and green 'o' for right exposure.
3. Multiple exposure button and mask.
4. Pentax K mount for lens. You will find many excellent lenses/zooms compatible with this body.
5. Two buttons for both left and right hands to activate the light meter, although, personally, the half-way shutter button is ok with me.
6. Rubber skins of front and back. These are much durable than those on the old version of Yashica Fx-3/7 and Fx-D.
7. DOF lever.
8. Plastic bottom plate, battery cover and tripod screw socket. They are easy to be scratched or damaged. At least, the socket should be made of metal.

In the kit I bought, there is no eyepiece cup. I happen to have several Canon eyepiece cups. They fit onto V3800N.

The plastic frame of battery cover is too thin to be durable.

The light meter button near the M in Multi-exp sign is for you left-hand usage. It's marked wrong in the manual coming with the kit. And other users said 'the manual is understated'.  

The chrome button near V3800N sign is for multiple exposure. I suggest, the signs of V3800N and Multi-exp should be switched positions for easy use.

There are two color versions of V3800N: All black and Dark Grey Top/Bottom Plates (See the image on the box in my images). On the market, there are two kits of V3800N, one with 50mm f1.7 lens at USD 195 and the other with 28 70mm zoom f3.4 - 4.8 at USD 230. To me, they are overpriced because  there are so many used manual bodies at USD 10 - 20. However, there are not many choices if you want new. As I know, Promaster 2500PK Super (very similar to V3800N, the two share a lot of parts, but the build quality is lower in 2500PK) and Kenko KF series (with different lens mounts of Nikon F Ai, Contax/Yashica and Pentax K) are the only available new in USA at present.
Multiple exposure mask and shade/hood (52mm)

Collapsed rubber shade/hood
If you want a V3800N, but can't find one, you may get a Hikari 2002, which is believed to be a clone of V3800N and has two identical versions with only different labels "2002 HIKARI MULTI-EXP" and "MULTI-EXP HIKARI 2002".

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