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Chinon CE-4 35 mm SLR camera

A look at the Chinon CE-4, a popular and quite well specified 35 mm SLR camera from the early 1980s, which was sold in large numbers by the Dixon’s high street chain.

My Chinon CE-4 camera

This Chinon CE-4 camera is one I found in a charity shop on a recent trip to visit family in Loughborough. It was in a large box of other  photographic paraphernalia and was priced at £7 so, although the shutter was locked, I bought it because of two reasons.

First the lens is probably worth £7 and secondly when I turned the rewind knob I could feel tension, so there was obviously still a film in it! I have had cameras in the past with film still inside, and find it fascinating to get them developed and see what’s on them. I assumed the locked shutter was simply because the batteries were flat, so I took it to the till and parted with my £7.

When I got the camera home and had a proper look there were two pieces of bad news and one piece of good news. The good news was that when I changed the batteries the shutter worked properly with all the speeds sounding about right, the aperture stopping down and the mirror flipping solidly.

The first bit of bad news was that the lens seems to have a patch of fungus growing on the inside of the front element which I’ve tried to take a picture of in the images above. Although it is a small patch, I obviously don’t want it spreading to any of my good lenses, so at the moment the camera is in quarantine.

The other piece of bad news was that the film in the camera was unexposed and still on frame 1, so there is no hope of any interesting finds there! Mind you, it’s a 36 exposure Kodak Professional Pro Image 200, so it’s probably worth the £7 by itself.

Pictures of the Chinon CE-4

Chinon CE-4 description

This is a manual focus, automatic exposure 35 mm SLR which was made by Chinon in Japan around about 1980 and was the first model in Chinon’s range which used the Pentax bayonet K mount for the lens rather than the M42 screw mount. I remember seeing Chinon cameras in the Dixon’s high street chain at the time, and as far as I recall, I think they were the only shop selling the brand.

When I first picked the camera up I assumed it was made by Cosina for Chinon because it seems remarkably similar to the various CT-1 models that Cosina badged for companies, but I can find no evidence that is the case.

In terms of features this camera is quite well appointed. There is a wide shutter speed range of 4sec to 1/1000 and a fully automatic (aperture priority) setting with a viewfinder which indicates the shutter speed chosen for the aperture selected.

There is also a depth of field preview, x sync socket and hot shoe, a multiple exposure lever on the top plate and an exposure lock button on the lens mount. The viewfinder has a split-level rangefinder in the centre of the screen to assist with focusing.

All in all this was probably a fairly good buy when the original owner purchased the camera in the early 1980s and was certainly worth the £7 I paid for it!

Chinon CE-4 Specification

  • Chinon CE-4 35 mm SLR
  • 4 sec to 1/1000 sec shutter speed + B
  • Fully automatic (aperture priority) exposure
  • ISO 25 to 3200 film speed range with dial lock
  • Vertical metal focal plane shutter
  • Multiple exposure lever on top plate
  • Exposure memory button
  • +/- 1 stop exposure compensation
  • Motor wind attachment
  • 3 SR44 batteries
  • 5 & 10 sec self-timer
  • Depth of field preview lever
  • 50 mm f/1.7 Auto Chinon multi-coated lens
  • x sync hot shoe and socket
  • Body Serial No: 221654
  • Lens Serial No: c673354
  • Manual available on line here

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I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

  1. Justin says:

    Nice find. I picked up a Chinon 55mm f1.7 (m42 mount) from ebay for 20USD, and I love it. Using it on the sony a6000.

  2. Alan says:

    Very posh, I have the cs4 fully manual version and I find it a beautiful camera.

  3. Heather says:

    Thank u for this. I was wondering what was in the eyehole when I looked through it. Maybe mold I’m unsure. I just wondered if I did try it would it affect any of my photos on the film.

  4. AM says:

    I’ve just inherited my fathers Chinon CE4 complete with 50mm lens, an additional 135mm lens, a Solitel 150mm lens and PMC X 2 converter plush a couple of flash units, the prinz 770 and 800CBS. I’m more into digital so I’ll probably sell the lot but solid camera in very god condition.

  5. Mike PENRITH says:

    Are Chinon SLRs Pentax fitting, as I want to replace my non working MZ5?

    1. Hi Mike – I think they were all either M42 for the older screw mount cameras or K mount for the newer bayonet mount. I remember them being sold in the local Dixons high street store.

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