Vivitar Auto Wide-Angle 20mm f/3.8

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The Vivitar Auto Wide-Angle 20mm f/3.8 is a lens distributed by Ponder & Best in the early 1970s. It is known to have been designed and manufactured in Japan by Kino Precision based on both serial numbers and first hand reports from Ponder & Best employees. The lens is part of the first family of all-black, all metal automatic fixed-mount lenses distributed by Ponder & Best. This lens was marketed for several years by P&B and a large number still exist in the used lens market. The Konica mount version in particular was advertised heavily in magazines. Modern reviewers offer mixed opinions on this lens. Some reviewers say it compares favorably with other wide angles of the same era. Other reviews note that it suffers in comparison to more recent wide angle lenses.


Prototype - Marked 20mm f/4 with serial numbers in the 22970001 - 22970010 range (approximate). There were minor cosmetic differences from the final production version including a black aluminium mount on the prototype versus a stainless steel mount on the production units. Only a small number of prototypes were made, probably 10 or less. These were distributed to photographers and product editors at photography magazines for evaluation and review. One copy of the prototype for this lens is known to exist in the collection of Bill Swinyard, who was the Product Manager at Ponder & Best at the time the lens was under development.[1] See photos below.

Production - Standard production lens, marked 20mm f/3.8.


  • Badging: Vivitar
  • Manufacturer: Kino Precision
  • Manufacture Date: ca 1971
  • Focal Length: 20 mm
  • Aperture Range: f/3.8 - f/22
  • Diaphragm Type: Automatic
  • Diaphragm Blades: unknown
  • Filter Diameter: 82mm
  • Minimum Focus: 50.8 mm (2 inches)
  • Mounts: Canon FL, Konica, M42, Minolta, Nikon F
  • Elements: 9
  • Groups: 7
  • Weight: 368.5 g (13 oz)
  • Accessories: unknown
  • Example Serial Numbers: 22970003 (prototype), 22000839, 22002343, 22205827, 22207074
  • Original Stock Number(s): unknown





  1. personal correspondence between Bill Swinyard and Steve Rainwater, 1 Jun, 2012