Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Chinon CS-4

The Chinon CS-4 - Reliable Screw-Mount SLR

Chinon was a long-time manufacturer of cameras and lenses -- most often as a supplier for other brands. Chinon, Cosina, and Ricoh seem to be thought of as second-tier cameras as compared to the Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Olympus brands that dominated the 35mm SLR scene throughout the 1970s and 80s. Chinon, based in Japan, was a company from 1948-2004, and at some point late in their run was bought by Kodak.  However, during the 70s and 80s, they produced very competent SLRs that were often under the Sears brand, Revue brand, as well as their own.  As autofocus and electronic cameras began gaining popularity, Chinon produced some memorable, if not odd designs, such as the Chinon Genesis line of cameras.  Check out Butkus' many Chinon manuals.

The Chinon CS-4 is a basic, no-frills SLR that has an M-42 mount (Pentax or Praktica screw mount), which was popular in the late 1960s-1970s among second-tier manufacturers, since it was considered a "universal" mount. When Pentax finally switched to the bayonet K-mount, it became the defacto "universal" mount among the same manufacturers.  The CS-4, while it has the older screw-mount, uses a modern LR-44 cell for the meter (two cells required).  LEDs (red and green) in the stop-down metering let you know when your exposure is correct.  Shutter speeds range from B, 1-1/1000 sec, and the ISO settings range from 25-1600.  There is no self-timer. A hot-shoe allows any hot-shoe flash to be used, and 1/60 sec is the flash sync speed.  A pretty basic camera with a reliable Seiko metal focal-plane shutter.  The back has a film reminder slot, and the viewfinder visibility is 92%.

The Chinon CS-4 will accept just about any M-42 mount lens, so the user certainly has a large number of lenses to work with, and there are some desirable classic lenses that can be used to good effect with this camera.  The Chinon CS-4 that I purchased back in December 2015 came in a bag with the 55mm f/1.7 Chinon lens and a Lentar 28mm  f/2.8 lens, a JC Penney flash, filters, and manual -- for $10.  The camera works well, and like any fully manual SLR, it will give as good as a result as the skills of the person that is using it.  For a beginner into film photography, this camera would be highly desirable. The red/green LEDs for determining the exposure lie alongside the viewfinder and are easily seen.

While I paid $10 for the bag of stuff at a thrift shop, a CS-4 with lens in good working condition should be available for under $40 on ebay.

All of the images below were shot with this camera.


Christopher Smith said...

I have one of these, a very capable camera I like your Photos you took with it. What film did you use.?

Mark O'Brien said...

Thanks. Most of them were shot on Ilford FP-4+, and one may have been on Tmax 100.