Auto Chinon 55mm F1.7 is an interesting lens.  There appear to be so many versions of this lens. The one I’ve tested is a Multi-Coasted version with greenish coasting tint which actually looks very nice and for that reason I’ve now had it as a backdrop along with Zeiss 135mm F3.5 on my tweeter account for a long time now.  It’s also very well built lens, fully metal body, very smooth long throw focusing ring and loads of aperture adjustment settings for precise adjustment of your exposure. The M42 mount means that it’s very easily adaptable to just about any camera. But nice looking glass and great built quality means nothing if is the lens doesn’t perform well.

Chinon is a long forgotten brand, not many people even know about these lenses and even fewer care about them.  All this suggests that this lens is not worth looking at, but I think that it’s actually a rather nice lens with plenty of character that most modern lenses lack. People commenting on youtube seem to agree. It’s not the sharpest wide open, but still usable even at F1.7, especially in “video mode” which as you can see in the video above is so much more forgiving to lack of sharpness wide open, unlike the comparison between some stills at different F-stops. The flares are beautiful and so is bokeh, which nice and swirly around edges.  The lens reminds me of Helios 44-2, which is my favorite vintage lens.  I was asked which one I would recommend. Both are really cheap, but I would still always recommend Helios over almost any cheap vintage prime, which doesn’t mean this Chinon is not worth a place in your kit bag, especially if you can snap one up for around $20.

I highly recommend this lens to anyone who wants to add a bit of character to their videos.

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  1. Well it still exist today, they make many of the Kodak cameras. They bought Alpa and even bought and rebadged Leica lenses. The 1.7 is often considered the older style and the 1.9 the newer, Tomoika and Alpa. Chinon manufactured tubes and mechanisms for lenses but owned no glass foundry. They were unique because they brought to the tables manufacturing management skills and necessary and well regarded tubes and assemblies. They also had the ability to provide larger scale assembly lines. Collectively these things made Chinon a noted company worthy of other companies from Europe to work with.

    • Hi Chris sorry a reply has taken so-long ,totally agree with you the lenses are better than OK, been using a gift lens,a 1.7 50mm on my pentax k100d camera and I have to hand on-hart report it is a cracking lens ,sharpness of which Ive not seen since my ziess days of using contax cameras,best thing is I can pretend my images are taken using a mega expensive lens and no-body can tell the difference,yep my gifted chinon 1.7 50mm is with me to stay.

  2. Chinon had no known Glass Foundry, made no elements, and only manufactured tubes – essentially a Chinon lens can be a sort of Heinz 57 flavors lens…
    It’s both probable and arguable that Tomioka supplied the elements to many early versions. The bottom line is “no one” has presented a single piece of
    supportive evidence to prove or disprove anything said about these lenses and their origins. Logical assumptions or other reasoning is not fact, educated or otherwise.

    All we are left with is the opinions of others, sadly many people chime in with things to say while at the same time offer no support or evidence or even examples. So what
    makes this sad is the fact that other people read these unqualified reviews and apply these unsupported words by making comments like this later…..”I have read many reviews
    where people say xxxxx and I agree”. The moderator of a well known manual focus group is guilty…..he claimed; “it stays on the shelf where it sits with other average lenses I don’t use stay”

    People, A; don’t have one, never use one, feel the need to chime in anyway. B: confuse what lens is being discussed and assume they have one, too or close enough… C: form an opinion based
    on the reviews they read and qualify themselves as experts on one.

    A camera manufactures name headlines a forum well known for rating lenses in screw mount and K mount has opinions calling this lens soft in the center wide open (which screams at me as a lens
    obviously out of alignment, “center softness”?)

    If you read everything posted on this lens I hope what you come away with is how misaligned most opinions are involving this lens and it’s many variations that were available….

    Moral of the story, there are far too many chiefs and not enough indians using these…… use a lens, be honest, and make up your own mind otherwise you are developing skills based on the BS that flows freely from egos everywhere…..

    The Auto Chinon 35 2.8 in orange lettering is the most under rated 35mm I’ve ever used – and I use a Fuji 35 1.4, Takumar 35 3.5 and a CZ Flek 2.4 and with any samples I have found the Chinon 35 2.8 in natural light landscape settings outperforms them (the Flek is not a good distance lens and prefers close ups) – however the Chinon gets close and produces just as noticeable 3D effects – a better overall lens in my book

  3. je pense que REVUENON et HANIMAR ont badgé ce même objectif d’origine TOMIOKA.
    pas le plus piqué, mais j’aime son bokeh : la poésie de l’Helios 44-2 en 1.7 mais un peu plus piqué à 1.7 que le russe à f:2. Un de mes favoris dans cette focale avec l’Helios (sur capteur µ4/3).
    I think REVUENON and HANIMAR 55/1.7 are the same lens made by TOMIOKA.
    Not the most sharp, but I like its bokeh: the poetry of Helios 44-2 in 1.7 , and sharpest in 1.7 than Russian in f:2. One of my favorites in this focal with Helios (on sensor µ4/3).

    (mes/my 50-58 mm : Konica 50/1.4, Revuenon 50/1.4, Pentax 50/1.7, Minolta 50/1.7, Chinon 50/1.7, Olympus 50/1.8, Pentacon 50/1.8, Yashica 50/1.9, Zenitar 50/2, Industar 61, Jupiter 8, Revuenon 55/1.7, Takumar 55/1.8, Yashica 55/2, Konica 57/1.4, Helios 44-2, 44-4, 44-7)

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