Vivitar, a once storied camera brand known for quality flashes and third-party lenses, isn't what it used to be. The imprint is now owned by Sakar, a company that has built its reputation on low-cost products of questionable quality, manufactured to spec and imported from China. I'd like to say the action cameras it had on display at New York's CE Week event bucked that reputation, but that's simply not the case.
It has more cameras in its lineup, but was only showing three off at CE Week. All are under $100—there's the DVR783HD at $50, with 720p video and 5.1MP stills, the $80 DVR789HD with 1080p and 12.1MP, and the DVR917HD, which sports 4K recording and 14.1MP imaging for $99. They're all bundled with some accessories, including a waterproof case.
The 917HD is the only one of the trio that's recently announced—it debuted late last year. The other two models have been around for a couple of years. I asked about trying out the cameras, but it wasn't possible at the show. They were locked down on the display stand; I couldn't even pick them up and take a closer look. A representative promised to send the 917HD over for review.
My suspicions are that the 917HD is a clone of a lot of the other low-rent action cameras coming out of factories in China. We looked at a bunch last year, including ones with weird names like the MGCool Explorer Pro. We found some diamonds in the rough (the MGCool was not one of them), so there's a chance that Vivitar's line outperforms expectations.
But it's not a chance you should have to take, and it's certainly not one you would have taken when buying one of the legendary Vivitar Series 1 macro lenses or the 283 Auto-Thyristor flash, both reliable tools for professional photographers…40 years ago.
@rockinrobyn59 Vivitar Experience with a software cd called image manager. Sony is a good brand. Why does Sony ring a bell? Oh yeah, Casey.— Kathy B Rainwater (@SteamPoweredDM) Mar 17, 2011
Sadly, the case of the Vivitar isn't unique. Two other storied photo brands, Polaroid and Kodak, share the same zombie existence today. They're broken up under several licensees—Sakar also sells things under the Polaroid brand, for example, and one of the ghosts of Kodak decided it would be a good idea to get into cryptocurrency at CES. (It wasn't.)
If you are in the market for a new action camera, check out our favorites. We've found some good ones at very low prices, if you aren't up for paying full freight for a GoPro.
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