Cosina Hi-Lite EC

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The Hi-Lite EC is an innovative SLR from Cosina introduced in 1972.[1] It is among the few models ever to offer aperture-priority autoexposure using plain-vanilla M42 screwmount lenses.

The shutter release plunger has a long travel, and partway through its stroke the lens stops down to shooting aperture and the metering circuit activates.[2] Fast-acting silicon blue photocells are able to read the scene illumination in the split-second before the user fully depresses the release button, and indicate the resulting shutter speed with a needle in the viewfinder. However there is no easy exposure compensation possible, aside from "lying" to the camera about the film's ASA/ISO speed. Rather the user can manually select a shutter speed different from the one indicated by the meter needle.

To return the viewfinder to its brightest image, a silver button on the front of the camera resets the lens to its widest aperture and deactivates the meter.

The autoexposure system is enabled with an electronically-timed vertically-traveling shutter which ranges steplessly from 2 to 1/2000 seconds. Flash sync is at 1/125th of a second. The shutter is dependent on power from the somewhat uncommon 6 volt silver-oxide battery, loaded through a cap on the back of the body; and there is a battery-check button to confirm the viewfinder needle reaches to or above the index mark in the center of the shutter-speed scale.

ASA or DIN are set using a collar below the shutter-speed dial. The collar around the rewind crank is simply a film-type reminder for the user, but does not connect to the meter system. There is a mechanical self-timer lever on the front of the body.

The followup Cosina Hi-Lite ECL model adds a couple of refinements. McKeown notes a Cosina Hi-Lite EC II adding a spot-metering option with AE lock in addition to the averaging pattern, but we have not seen it.[3] The original EC is also rebranded as the Argus/Cosina EC 2000.


  • Type: SLR body
  • Manufacturer: Cosina
  • Year of launch: 1972
  • Film: 35mm film with speeds 15 to 33 DIN
  • Lens mount: M42 screw mount with aperture release mechanics
  • Shutter: Copal electrically controlled focal plane shutter with manual speeds 1 sec. to 1/2000 sec. or B, or w/o battery: single speed
  • Metering: TTL metering
  • Exposure: shutter speed selected manually or controlled by meter
  • Viewfinder: pentaprism finder, focusing aid on screen, ocular with frame for finder accessories
  • Film advance: lever with analog exposure counter, rewind unlock button and rewind crank
  • Dimensions: 145×99×53mm
  • Power: Type 544 6V battery, battery check button, on/off-switch
  • Connectors: hot shoe and two other flash connectors


  1. Page 229, McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover).
  2. This scheme returned with Cosina's later M42 models the CSL, CSR, and CSM; but they are manual-exposure-only models unless the clunky & noisy motorized AEC adapter is attached.
  3. Also said to be rebadged as the Vivitar 650/SLX, a camera which indeed was announced and even profiled in Modern Photography magazine's 1974 "Annual Guide to 47 Top Cameras" but may not have reached production. This shows the spot/average selector replacing the film reminder dial, and the AE hold button replacing the battery check.