Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Great Chinon Chimera

You're looking at the Chinon CE-4s, a humble 35mm SLR with handsome-but-undistinguished styling and a solid-but-plasticky build. In its stock incarnation, it's a functional and reliable 35mm SLR with a flexible Pentax K mount and aperture-priority auto exposure. No, there's nothing at all unusual about the Chinon CE-4s.

Until someone makes it mad.

That's because the Chinon CE-4s can transform from its unassuming standard form into one of the most bizarre agglomerations of SLR accessories I've ever seen. What you're seeing below is a CE-4s with Chinon's 50mm f1.7 autofocus lens and DP-520 Infoback 2, an unwieldy brick of retro-engineered technology:

Auto-Chinon 50mm f1.7 AF
The 50mm f1.7 lens is a standard K-mount prime lens with a built-in infrared autofocus system and motor, powered by two AAA batteries. It operates independently of the camera, so it can be fitted to any camera with a K bayonet. In use, it's surprisingly quick to focus, though it does occasionally miss the mark. A few taps of the big green AF button on its side will either correct the focus... or make it worse. When it's in focus, the lens is sharp, with good contrast and colour. It is also the size of an orange and looks like a weaponized fish.

Chinon DP-580 Info Back-2
The Info Back-2 is a sophisticated data back powered by a single 9v battery. Standard data backs automatically imprint date and time, but this leviathan works differently: you type a message up to 30 characters on its alphabetical keyboard and, with a series of switches and button presses, imprint it on the film with a dot-matrix light printer built into the pressure plate. The moving printer head means that you can advance the film while your text is printing, for, uhh, special effects.

We go through hundreds of cameras a month here in our shop, but it's things like this ferociously accessorized Chinon outfit that keep it lively. It's almost impossible to handle- it feels like taking pictures with a shoebox- but it's just too strange to put down.

You can see samples taken with this camera (and Info Back) on Flickr right here.


JER said...

"This person sucks the big one. ". LOL.

Neat camera, like something out of Blade-Runner.
"You not come here. Illegal!"

Le Phuong said...

Does data-back work with CE 4 ?