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No Stutter Shutter - In Praise of Chinon SLRs

Cha-klack! There's nothing stealthy about the camera. This is an SLR and that's it. And no frills.

If you want to use a mechanical SLR and don't care to pay extra for the name on the camera, Chinon is a viable choice for you. These cameras go for small amounts in flea markets or on the auction sites. And you get cameras equally competent to the task as with any one from the large brands.

This is not aimed to be a thorough review. This post is made on the basis of my experience of using these cameras and the information about them that I've picked up.
The one above is a mid-60's camera. It's Chinon's first SLR. As you can tell the body is big, and I can tell you it's sturdy. And I love it as a user since a heavy camera makes you hold it more steady, which grants for sharper exposures.
  Compared to a contemporary Nikon F or Petri Flex/Penta the body is bigger. I would argue that the closest comparison in size is Canon FT.
  The lens mount is the M42 which was very common at the time, and means you have many lenses to choose from. The shutter is of the vertical travelling metal type and is considered to be very reliable - a feature which these Chinon cameras all share.
The M-1 appeared some five years later and is more standard looking with the shutter speed control on top of the body. It is equally heavy - all metal feeling akin to the older model.
The CS model followed in the mid-70s. Not much has changed since the Chinonflex. Light metering through the lens (TTL) and a top speed of 1/1000th of a second. The camera still works without the use of a battery.
The CM-3 was issued in the mid 1970s. It is the last Chinon model which uses the M42 mount. The following models (CM-4 on) use Pentax's new PK breech-lock mount.
  A contemporary model was the CE Memotron, which had an auto-exposure lock function, which let you recompose the image after the exposure settings were set. The Memotron didn't work without a battery apart for B and flash mode. The CM-3, though, works at all shutter times without a battery.
The CM-3 is a bit smaller than its predecessors, though still hefty feeling. The shutter release has a rare design, which I find very useful. It is its own 'soft release' I would say.
From the CM-4 on Chinon redesigned their cameras. They are smaller and have more plastic parts, and the use of the PK mount means smaller lenses, so the whole feel of the camera is very different from the earlier M42 models.
  The CM-4 and later models don't work properly without batteries. The shutter fires only at B and flash shutter (1/125th).
  The pictured camera was used by me for a while. The self-timer is electronic, and utilizes the red light on the front right. I initially thought the big red light made the camera look like a toy. Especially since it turns on/flashes every time you expose a photograph. But after using it a while I came to appreciate its small size, especially coupled with my 40 mm pancake lens, and forgot about my first sense of aversion.
  Unfortunately the camera in question died after I'd dropped it straight on the lens on an outing. At least it taught me to bring a replacement camera next time. I've never again forgotten that lesson.

The CM-5 is almost identical. It has mounts for a winder grip, on the front right of the body.
  Variations include the CA-4 and CA-4s that are automatic exposure models for easier handling.
  We are now in the early 1980s and cameras begin to morph or include more automation. However, the first stage for Chinon was adding to existing models. See below:
Chinon SLR with autofocus. (Image from

Thanks for reading this post! Don't hesitate to comment, and check out my Instagram at #ourbooksmalmo. Visit my Etsy shop getOurBooks where there are cameras aplenty to choose from.


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