The Rise and Fall of Vivitar

Several months ago, I bought the new Vivitar 285HV flash unit. For a hundred bucks, it seemed like an inexpensive solution for some off camera lighting techniques. It has automatic options, but more importantly, full manual capability. In addition, it features a convenient little slot to slide color correction gels into.

Yet, there were problems with the flash right from the start. It's plastic construction felt very fragile, and took up a good deal of space in my bag. The recycle times were very slow, and there were even a few times when it didn't fire at all. Despite these drawbacks, I reasoned that "light is light, and this one costs nearly four hundred dollars less then the newest Canon model". Well...now I know why. Last night, after just a few short months of gentle use, the Vivitar 285HV died. As a result, I just picked up the Canon Speedlight 580 EXII. It's like going to a Porsche after driving a Hyundai. I'll write about the Canon after I use it for a while. For now, let me get back to the point of this post. Photographers need to know that the new Vivitar 285HV is poorly made, and should be avoided.

Unlike most hair bands, Vivitar flashes were built to last in the 70's and 80's. However, this is no longer the case. These new flash units were not made with a photographer's best interests in mind. In fact, it has recently been reported that Vivitar was struggling financially, and had to sell the company. Read more about it here.