Vivitar Auto 283

Check availablity: eBay.

This is a legendary flash, built like a tank. It was one of the first to offer “auto thyristor” power control. Introdu­ced i 1972 and discontinued around 2002. As it was in production for around 30 years, trigger voltages vary a lot. Early units may use more then 390 volts and may damage some modern cameras, later models use under 10 volts and should cause no harm.

No zoom head, but you could buy a set if Fresnel filters as a substitute for zoom.

Four auto aperture ranges: f/2.8, f/4, f/8 and f/11 @ ISO 100.

Fitted with BCC (Bounce Compensator Circuitry) that according to Vivitar provides extra power for bounce flash when tilted to 45°, 60° or 75° positions.

The flash uses four standard AA-batteries. The batteries fit into a plastic holder (Vivitar AP-1) that slips into the battery compartment. Vivitar sells extra holders and I find it very convenient to have the batteries already arranged in the holder when having to change quickly in the field. The Vivitar 283 uses the same battery holder as Vivitar 285 and 273. My unit is from 1973 and will only work with alkalines (not with NiMH rechargeables).

Has a proprietary Vivitar type socket and comes with a detachable 30 cm long Vivitar PC-1 short sync cord. The socket is also compatible with the optional 1 meter long Vivitar PC-31 coiled sync cord and Wein Peanut slave trigger.

It has a detachable sensor that can be used with an extension cord (Vivitar SC1 Sensor Cord) for off-camera flash.

Only full power available in manual mode, but you could replace the detachable sensor with a VariPower module (VP-1) for power control. Another optional extra is the Vivitar SB-4 AC power adapter.


Generic flash.
Head: Fixed 35mm coverage.
Swivel & tilt: no swivel, 0° to +90° tilt.
Exposure mode: Auto.
Manual settings: 1/1 only unless fitted with VP-1.
No built-in wireless modes.
Features: Sync. socket, Ext. power.
Trigger voltage: 9-390 volt.
Batteries: 4xAA.
Field upgradable: No.
Dimensions: 10 x 13 x 11 mm, 397 g.
Guide number (ISO 100, meter): 37.

Price: USD 70 (new, w/o tax).
Production: 1972-2002, replaced by: Vivitar Auto 285HV.

For a detailed explanation of the above specifications, see the guide.



Review links:

Brand profile

Key info

Established: 1938
HQ: Edison, NJ, USA
Web: US, man

Vivitar was the leading brand name of a manufacturer, distributor and marketer of photographic equipment founded in 1938 that operated out of Oxnard, California, USA. The Vivitar brand was introduced in the 1960ies, and became in the 1970ies associated with a series of high quality lenses labelled Vivitar Series 1, and a very successful line of auto thyristor flash units. After the death of the original owners, the company went into decline, and eventually bankruptcy. The Vivitar brand was acquired in 2008 by Sakar. Sakar has revived the Vivitar brand. However, the quality of the current crop of Vivitar-branded products is not very good and not on par with Vivitar's legacy.

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