|Black Chinon CS|
image by Gustavo Torossi (Image rights)
The Chinon CS, also sold as the GAF L-CS, is a 35mm SLR camera made in Japan by Chinon. The model identification, CS, stands for Chinon Screw, the Chinon designation for the universal M42 Praktica/Pentax screw thread.
Like a vast family of m42 SLR's from the mid-late-60's and to some extent the early 70's, the CS is designed for stop-down metering. The lenses do not communicate their aperture to the camera. Instead, the metering is taken with the aperture closed. The meter indicates whether the exposure is correct at the current aperture and shutter speed.
Metering is activated by the same switch that closes the aperture on automatic lenses. This locks down unlike on many similar cameras, but can be pushed back up. It will also automatically unlock and move up when the shutter is fired. This allows a smoother operation and is especially convenient with non-automatic lenses that also have to be stopped down by hand.
The meter indicator is a needle at the right of the viewfinder that will be centered between two brackets, marked "+" and "-" to indicate over- and underexposure. It resembles the viewfinder display of the Nikkormat FTn fairly closely.
A notable feature on this camera is that a red flag will rotate out behind the meter needle if the combination of shutter speed and film speed is likely to be outside the meter's accurate range. Moreover the needle will be mechanically raised if the user turns the dial past this point, as if to indicate that the value is a certain number of stops out of range.
The viewfinder is large and bright with sharp corners, and features a circular ground glass zone and a microprism focusing patch. The eyepiece has threading for diopters and eyecups, similar to but not matching standard Nikon threading.
The shutter is of the metal-blind Copal Square type, mechanically-timed, as on such cameras as the Nikkormat FT. This gives it a high sync speed of 1/125th, and is less delicate and less apt to distort fast-moving subjects than a slower-moving rubber-cloth shutter with a significantly longer travel time at the same shutter speeds.
The Chinon CS was designed to be powered by a 1.35 volt PX13 mercury cell providing a constant power source. These could last for years due to the fact that the meter on this camera is usually on for only a few seconds at a time.
Due to environmental reasons, mercury batteries are no longer readily available in many countries (they remain available in much of the former Eastern Bloc). Suitable replacements include a 1.35 volt WeinCell zinc/air battery, or a zinc-air hearing aid battery with an appropriate spacer ring; the downside of both being chemistry which can dry out over a matter of months (well before the battery is electrically exhausted).
image by Bracket ツ (Image rights)
- Type: 35mm SLR
- Image format: 36x24mm on 35mm film (full frame)
- Lens Mount: M42 screwmount with automatic aperture
- Shutter: Focal plane shutter, vertical-travel metal blind type, mechanically-timed
- Shutter speeds: 1/1000th s.-1 second.
- X-sync maximum speed: 1/125th s.
- Flash Sync: Hot shoe (X), PC sockets (X, M).
- Film transport: manual, lever-wind
- Viewfinder: Pentaprism, fixed, fresnel screen with ground glass collar and microprism patch
- Exposure: manual (metered)
- Metering: CdS cell, center-weighted, stop-down, center-needle indicator in viewfinder.
- ASA/ISO range: 25-800 (special indicator when exposure value out of accurate metering range)
- Self timer: mechanical, approx 15 seconds
- Battery: PX625 Mercury 1.35v.