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Vivitar 285


New Member
Could some throw some light on this - Im sitting in a dark and need to do some indoor studio type portraits.

- Is Vivitar 285 a good companion for Canon EOS Elan IIE?
- If yes, what do I need to keep the flash off the camera to bounce the flash off an umbrella. Looking for something like PC - Hotshoe adapter and PC Cord and such. Would like to get some detail list of things that I would need.
- Heard some stuff about 6V power and hurting the shutter? I am lost on this one.
- Is it a good idea to use this way? Or You have some cheaper solution to this problem. Looking to hear some alternate ideas.

Thanks in advance


Active Member
The Vivitar units 283and 285 earlier production have been reported to have very high voltage which will fry your camera. Do a search under flash voltages. I read it before but do not have the site. Be careful, they say that anything over 4-6volts will fry new cameras, so read before you act. Good luck.


Subject: vivitar varipower 285 v/s speedlight 420 ex comparison

Recently i shot a trial role (kodak 200 gold print) for comparison of speedlight 420ex and my 10 yers old (probably more, cause i bought it used then)"Vivitar 285 varipower" on my eos elan2. The lense in trial was 100-300 f/3.5-5.6 USM, so u can imagine that the both the guns had to compete for the tele end.The 420ex used its default ETTL mode while vivitar 285 was set to 5.6 semi-auto mode. The results were good and comparable (exposure-wise)for about the focal length of 170mm, beyond that VIVitar 285 took-over completely uptill 300mm.The average distance of the subject shot was 15 feet, the both the guns were synced at 1/90 sec.285 recharging time was about 2secs while that of 420ex remained >5 secs.No bounce effect were tried by either of the guns.
Canon (and other brands) make a lot of hue and cry for TTL>ATTL>ETTL modes, which might be true at ultra-pro levels where transparency films become the standard, but at the dominant consumer level its just a bull-shit, at least i think so. Do we need these "150 USD+ tech wonders" while the "60 USD vivitar" does it far better??? I wonder why vivitar don't go for a remake of 285 classic???

Triggering voltages of 285 can fry your camera??? Earlier when i didnt know about the issue, i once mounted 285 on my eos500n and kept shooting...nothing happened (which i discovered a lot later). So i wasnt shy to mount it on Elan2 and go buzzing....nothing went wrong. Please keep in mind that there are other 285 version like HV which might or might not behave the same way. I do plan to get another mint 285 vari-power.


FYI the 283/285 are still in production. In the UK they can be obtained from Speed Graphic and probably other sources. I'm sure they must be available in other markets too. You'll pay more than 60 USD for a new one, though.


-= mike =-