View Full Version : Vivitar 283 Terminal Voltage

24th of February 2005 (Thu), 18:35
I've got a couple of 1970's vintage Vivitar 283's that served me well on my old film cameras and always gave reliable exposures. I checked the voltage on the PC cord and it runs about 255-260 vdc. My Canon 20D manual claims its PC sync terminal can handle 250vdc. I guess i'd prefer not to experiment on my 20D by even slightly going over Canons rating and I know Wein makes an adapter to drop the voltage, but does anyone know if Vivitars current 283 still runs a high votage at it's terminal? I downloaded their brochure, but it didn't mention this

25th of February 2005 (Fri), 15:51
You are playing russian roulette with your shutter, You would risk bar-b-queing a 1500.00 body with a "vintage" 283 flash? Use the newer 285HV flash if you must>

25th of February 2005 (Fri), 16:32
No matter which "older" flash you use, invest in the Wein Safe Sync. It's about $50 and it will protect your camera. The output voltage for digital is 6V. I wouldn't risk frying your nice new digital if you can invest in a $50 insurance policy.


25th of February 2005 (Fri), 17:31
I have no intention of using an older 283 with the 20D, unless as you suggest using the Wein Safe Sync with it. Mostly I was interested in finding out if the current production 283's have been changed in respect to the PC sync terminal voltage that it might be significantly less than the 255vdc of the older models.

Part of it is the economics of the the purchase of the Wein unit. The Wein is $50, a new Vivitar 283 is $67. And I already have 283 accessories which I could use.

Johnny V
25th of February 2005 (Fri), 17:32
Better to be safe...


Incase link times out...

It's called "Wein Safe-Sync Hot Shoe Mounted High Voltage Sync Regulator" B&H# WESSHSH

I use one on my Rebel.

25th of February 2005 (Fri), 20:35
I'd go the safe sync route as well...

FWIW, Here's a good site that lists strobe voltages and has a Yes / No opinion regarding using them on Digital cameras..


Ballen Photo
25th of February 2005 (Fri), 20:50
I too have the 283, except it's vintage is more like from the 90's(at least that's when I bought this one), I have accessories for it like the gel adapter that snaps on, as well as all the original colored gels, but I dont trust using it on my DSLR, so it's only use is via a flash sensing peanut slave. This way I can still use it, but don't endanger my cameras electronics. ;)

25th of February 2005 (Fri), 22:24
You may find that wein safe sync won't fire consisteltly when you tilt your camera.

It does not have any devices to tightly secure the contacts together.


Huckaback Photo
26th of February 2005 (Sat), 04:59
The 283 was a great system flash in its day & still used by many slr film camera users.
But we have moved on so much its difficult to keep up at times.

My advice dont buy the wein safe sync, instead put the $50 towards a new compatible flash canon or otherwise.
as Ballen pointed out above, if you need to use your old flash units buy an inexpensive small slave trigger and with your new flash (say canon 420ex ) the actual flash will trigger other units without any cable conections, therefore allowing some form of creative lighting.
as far as i'm aware the trigger volts on vivitar have not been changed,
if you still need to use old units Do Not Without a Wein safe sync.
and consider bracket mounting flash as the wein does not lock on hot shoe (as already mentioned contact may be lost with any movement)
Hope this helps
Martin (Huckaback Photo)

26th of February 2005 (Sat), 05:59
Dont count the 283 out due to its lack of modern day hi-tech.

I have two 283's and use them all the time as slaves with my digital rebel/550ex.

9th of November 2006 (Thu), 12:14
I don't mean to bring up an old thread, but it deals with my question. I have a Vivitar 283... I haven't tested the voltage yet, but before I knew about it having more voltage then my 20D could take I started using it with the 20. For some reason the one day the flash stopped firing. I can fire it manually (by pressing the button on the back), but I can't fire it with any of my cameras (20D, Nikon FE or Minolta rangefinder) I then tested out another one of my old flashes. The pc sync. Cord worked with the 20D, but not in the hot-shoe although it worked with the Minolta in the hot-shoe (didn’t test it with the Nikon). Does that mean that my 20D's hot-shoe is dead? If so wouldn't the pc sync. also be dead? How would I test this? Is my vivitar just dead? I'm not really sure what to do, and I don’t own a 580 speedlight to test it out with.... Your help would be greatly appreciated.

9th of November 2006 (Thu), 16:06
The 283 was a great system flash in its day & still used by many slr film camera users.
But we have moved on so much its difficult to keep up at times.
Photography is not an exercise of keeping up with the times, it is an exercise in getting results.

The purchase of one safe sync and an optical slave to garner the function of two relatively high powered battery powered flash units would seem like a good deal (total cost less than $75.00). Any Canon flash is likely to cost far more than this.

The older Vivitar 283 units have very high Voltage as you have discovered. I have personally tested units that are very close to 400 Volts.

The newer units have Voltages that are much lower, typically less than 20 Volts, but the only way to actually tell is test, and you seem to know how to do this (it is very easy).

The Vivitar 283 is no longer being produced. The Sunpak 383, for only $80.00, is a nice manual flash.

So, if you are content with the great performance/price ratio of manual flash units you might want to just get a Sunpak 383 as your "master flash" and a couple of inexpensive optical slaves (all over ebay for a song) for your Vivitar 283 flash units.

This would give you a three flash setup for less than $100.00.

A three flash setup using Canon gear exclusively would be in excess of $1000.00. True, the Canon gear is a bit more flexible, but is it $900.00 more flexible?

Enjoy! Lon