The Vivitar 220/SL with the Vivitar 55mm f2.8

A Very Affordable Mechanical SLR That Delivers

I’ve been using a nice all black Vivitar 35mm SLR camera for the last couple of weeks. I have been enjoying this camera. It feels great in the hands. It has an average center micro-prism as opposed to a nice split prism. It seems this M42 camera was made Cosina, and there were various SL models with different features. This one for instance this does not have a shutter button lock like the 420/SL does.

As far as I could tell, they were all kitted with a decent Vivitar 55mm f2.5 lens. My camera uses an easy to find LR44 battery. Which is great, but it technically requires a PX675 battery. The LR44 works just fine.

Personally, I love the shutter sound of this camera. However, it is loud. A lot of people don’t appreciate that as much as I do. Since the one I have, has been hardly used, and the paint is still in great shape. Under the black paint is brass and as the paint wears away, that coveted “brassing” will be apparent. I do like that look.

When looking for one of these cameras, buyer should be aware these cameras were from the 1970s and a sticky shutter should be expected from time to time. My version does have a sticky shutter when it is cold out. Like I said earlier, this camera was hardly used. Nothing is worse for a mechanical camera, than not using it regularly.

Oddly, while writing this, I ran into a guy shooting a Vivitar 400/SL. It was very similar to the 220/SL, except the lens was a 50mm f1.7 of a completely different design.

At the end of the day, a camera is just a light tight box with film (or a sensor) with a lens. The real fun was this lens. It’s not a perfect lens, but it is a decent one. This is a 55mm f2.8 M42 lens. It is an automatic lens, but instead of having an A and an M switch, the aperture ring has an automatic side and a manual side. Let me explain, with the ring centered it’s f2.8 turn to the right the lens is in auto mode and will stop down when the shutter is fired. Turn the lens to the other direction, the lens goes into manual mode. As you stopped down, the iris closes. I’ve never seen that type of mechanism before.

I shot a roll of expired film and a roll of fresh film through it and I really like the results. I plan to shoot a few more rolls through this camera in the coming weeks. I will add more pictures as I get them scanned.


I think this a great camera for anybody looking for an affordable and easy to use mechanical SLR. I think this camera would be a perfect starter camera for someone just getting into film photography. I like this camera more than the Pentax K1000. It is certainly better built, that is for sure. The all black paint is nice too.

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