Vivitar 19/3.8 Information

Started Apr 21, 2018 | Discussions thread
darg Contributing Member • Posts: 504
Re: Vivitar 19/3.8 Serial Numbers

Alan WF wrote:

Anyone know when this lens was introduced by Vivitar and when it was withdrawn, to help me confirm the year of manufacture? The serial number starts "99", which I think means manufactured by Cosina (first 9) in 1979 or 1989 (second 9). Now, 1979 was more or less peak FD, but I guess the changeover to EF wasn't yet complete by 1989. So, while I favor 1979, I can't rule out 1989.

Basically, 99 means it probably doesn't follow Vivitar's older numbering scheme.

My Minolta MD mount copy's serial number is "99102xxx" which could mean "9" Cosina, "9" 1979/1989, "10" for 10th week of manufacture.

I suppose 1979 is most likely. MD started in 1977 and was replaced by AF in 1985, but I can't imagine they were making >2000 per week in 1989.

I've managed to find 13 serial numbers or partial serial numbers for the Vivitar 19/3.8 using, mainly, Google image search. I find:

  • All begin with 9. This is widely believed to mean that they are all manufactured by Cosima. No surprise here.
  • The second digits are 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 9. From such a small sample, I'd hesitate to use the missing numbers to suggest a limited range of years (e.g., 1979 to 1987 or 1977 to 1985). A larger sample will help here.
  • The third and fourth digits are 01, 05, 07, 08, 10, and 11. This looks like a month number rather than a week number. Again, the missing numbers might not be significant in such a small sample. A large sample will help here too.
  • The last four digits range from 0038 to 5670. This might be a monthly index number. Twice the mean of the last four numbers (which is an estimate of the upper limit under reasonable assumptions) is 5319. So, I'd guess that Cosina manufactured about 6000 per month or about 200 per day. Is that reasonable?

If you have a Vivitar 19/3.8, please send me a DM with its serial number, mount type, and whether I should keep the serial number private. This will help me to make this interpretation more firm. If you are worried about sharing the full serial number, please just send me the first four digits. Thanks.



Out of my head mine starts with 9903. I can check later the complete number and post it.

mount is Nikon.

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