Vivitar Corporation was founded in 1938 as Ponder and Best, a distributor and retailer of lenses and cameras based in Oxnard, California. Many Vivitar cameras such as the 35ES/EE series and lenses were built under contract by their primary manufacturer; Cosina Co., Ltd., an original design manufacturer (ODM) of cameras and lenses based in Nakano, Japan.

The Vivitar 35ES is a compact, fixed-lens, 35mm, shutter priority, rangefinder camera introduced in 1978. The camera is very similar in many respects to the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII, Revue 400SE and Prinz 35ER.

The 35ES has a fast (f/1.7) 40mm, six-element optic that quickly garnered a reputation for extraordinary resolution power and accurate color rendition.