Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Spiralite Proxivar

I don't recall when, where or why I acquired this Spiralite Custom Proxivar.  I'm sure the accessory close-up lens did not fit on anything I had at the time.  I came across it in a box recently and realized the Proxivar would screw onto my Nikkor lenses.

The instruction sheet in the box provides a good description of the capabilities:

The SPIRALITE CUSTOM PROXIVAR is a most remarkable auxiliary close-up lens which provides a continuous focusing range from about 30" to under 4" simply by rotation of its calibrated focusing mount.

The Custom Proxivar performs the function of the entire series of close-up lenses ranging from +2 diopters to +8 diopters while still maintaining any existing auto diaphragm feture and without affecting exposure.

I had half a roll of Kentmere 400 left in my Nikon F, so I screwed the Proxivar onto the Nikkor 1.8/50mm and shot some pictures around the house.

The Proxivar's magnification adjustment is very smooth and the pictures it makes show no diminution in the quality which is expected of the Nikkors.  At small apertures there is a tiny bit of vignetting apparent in the corners.  For close-ups with maximum depth of focus a tripod is essential, but it is feasible and fun to explore the selective focus capability provided by the Proxivar with the camera hand-held.

The Spiralite Custom Proxivar was a typical offering of Spiratone, the importer and distributor of camera accessories and lenses whose ads were featured in camera magazines for the half-century up to 1990.  The company's founder, Fred Spira, started his company by processing film in his bathroom and built up from there into a multi-million dollar operation based largely on his early realization of the potential of the Japanese photographic industry for building low-cost, high quality photo gear.

Spira was also a collector of photographic gear.  His vast assemblage of over 20,000 items became the basis for his book, The History of Photography As Seen Through The Spira Collection. I was pleased to find used examples of the book online and am looking forward to reading it.


JR Smith said...

I so remember the Spiratone ads in the photo magazines of the time. Thank you for this trip down memory lane!

Mike said...

I recall the ads well, though I don't think I ever purchased any of their gadgets directly. Spira was an interesting fellow and I'm looking forward to reading his history based on his collection. It seems a substantial part of the collection was purchased by Sheikh Saoud Al Thani and many of the objects are currently on display at the Museum of Islamic Arts in Qatar.

Mike said...

I got the book today in the mail. It looks great; published by Aperture and originally priced at $75.