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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