An Afternoon With a Chinon 35mm Lens

AUTO CHINON 1:2.8 f=35mm

This is a fun little lens that I acquired with an old Chinon CS 35mm camera. This lens is an M42 mount and I’ve had it for a couple of years, but I’ve only used it a few times. I love this focal length for street photography. It sits nicely between 28mm and 50mm, but I tend to only carry those to lenses.

So I’m gonna break it down to a couple of points. I’m going to touch on image quality. I don’t usually get too technical, this will be in the same vein.

How’s the build quality?

The build quality is pretty nice. The focus ring is very smooth and tight. It’s a little heavy but very manageable. The aperture is nice and has positive click stops, with half clicks. (except between f2.8 and f4). It’s all metal and doesn’t seem to have any plastic. The focus ring has a faux-leather band around it. I would prefer to have that knurled metal, but it’s fine.

Focusing this lens

The lens has a long focus throw, I bet it’s more than 300°. Mounted on the Sony A7, this lens focuses very nicely. It’s a little more difficult on my Pentax Spotmatic, but because of the field of view and the lack of a split prism. Minimum focusing distance is about 20 inches / .5 meters. I would like it to be a little closer.

The image quality.

The image quality is pretty good. The color and contrast are quite nice actually. When the lens is wide open and focused on an object that is under 3 feet, distortion is quite noticeable. When the lens is focused further out, that distortion gets a little better. There is also some vignetting, it’s not that bad though. I really like the bokeh, it’s smooth, a little swirly, and dreamy.

Final thoughts.

I like this lens, on the full-frame more so than on the APS-C crop camera, like the Fujifilm X series cameras. I think that is more of a matter of field-of-view preference. This lens is a joy to use for casual shooting but the lens is a little slow in t-stop. I have not shot this lens in very light because of that reason.

There are several versions of this lens. I’m not sure if Chinon made their own lenses and they also come Pentax K-Mount. I think I just got lucky with getting this version.

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