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06-04-2019, 07:23 AM   #1
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Is the Chinon CM-4 a good alternative to the Pentax MX?

I recently broke my Chinon CE-5 by dropping my camera bag and further cracking an already cracked top deck on the CE-5. While I figure out what I want to do with that camera (it's probably going to hang around as a parts donor) I figured I should probably just buy more cameras. A Pentax that has always interested me is the MX. But then I thought, what about the CM-4 (and related derivatives and rebadges)? Three LED exposure indication vs. five on the MX, and I doubt the viewfinder is as amazing, but what else is missing? They're both mechanical cameras with batteries only required to run the light meter and they seem largely similar outside of the meter display and viewfinder.

Anyone used both of these and can comment? Do you have to pull the film advance lever away from the CM-4 body to take a shoot (fingers crossed that the answer is no, the user manual content on the butkus site doesn't mention having to do this, but I still want to be sure)?

06-04-2019, 12:14 PM   #2
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I have a camera similiar to it (a Kalimar K-90), you dont have to pull out the lever to meter/take a shot.
Just by pressing the shutter button half way meters the scene.
06-04-2019, 12:31 PM   #3
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What are your thoughts on the K-90? I looked at specs and saw that the shutter operates at up to 1/2000th of a sec which is a step up from the MX or CM-4 and all shutter speeds are supposed to be available without battery power.
06-04-2019, 01:02 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
What are your thoughts on the K-90? I looked at specs and saw that the shutter operates at up to 1/2000th of a sec which is a step up from the MX or CM-4 and all shutter speeds are supposed to be available without battery power.
Any of the cameras based on the Cosina CT1 Super are worth using. Nikon had the FM10, Canon had the T60, Kalimar the K-90 (but be aware there is a C/Y mount version of the K-90), Chinon CM-7, Ricoh KR-5 Super II, etc. I have a Hikari 2002...

06-04-2019, 01:09 PM   #5
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Overall I like it, it is fully manual & needs battery's (2 sr44, easily found for cheap onoine) only for the meter.

The only minor things for me at least are:
- It has a plasticy feel of cameras that came out in the late 80's & 90's (not like "break if you look at it wrong" type of look/feel)
- It's light as it weighs only 15.5 ounces

Neither are really bad, it's just more of me nit-picking since I'm not used to the feel & weight of it, I'm more used to the older 60's & 70's style SLR cameras (I also have a Sears TLS & Sears TLS 1000 MX, both M42 mount), of which both are quite hefty boys being ~11 ounces heavier of the K-90
06-04-2019, 01:18 PM   #6
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boris: Ah yeah, another CT1 rebadge, okay. That Hikari 2002 looks... very inexpensive. But if it works, it works.

disconnekt: Yes, I've a Ricoh Singlex TLS which was the "mother" of the Sears TLS. Compared to my early-80's k-mount cameras, the TLS is quite hefty. I'm seeing K-90's on evilbay with what I assume is a kind of poor performing 50mm f1.7 Kalimar-branded lens for *cheap*. Not sure what I'm going to end up with but these have my interest up. Thank-you for the feedback.
06-04-2019, 01:18 PM   #7
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Also with the K-90, theres 2 body styles. One looks like Vivitar V3000s, and the other body style looks like this one: Kalimar K90 1000 Film Camera, Accessories - shopgoodwill.com

---------- Post added 06-04-19 at 01:22 PM ----------

Also, by the looks of it the lens is a rebadged Vivitar
06-04-2019, 01:33 PM   #8
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There are many interesting off-brand K-mount cameras. I own a few.
Unless you are skilled in camera repair buying one can be a gamble.

If you want a Pentax MX suggest you get a Pentax MX.
Working chrome MX bodies regularly sell for under $100.

Eric Hendrickson has serviced several MX bodies for me at very reasonable cost.
Who will fix your Chinon?

Chris

06-04-2019, 01:48 PM   #9
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Chris: I've a shop local to me that would probably fix it if the top deck wasn't so badly cracked that I don't think it's worth messing with baring I buy a parts CE-5 which doesn't make financial sense. I don't know that I want an MX specifically, it just seems like one of the best Pentax cameras to fit my general requirements (an LX would probably be tops but I cannot justify the cost for a good one and I imagine purists would rather I not take an LX out on runs in a backpack).

Everything is a gamble with 20 to 40 year old equipment. The whole point of this was to figure out, again, different alternatives. Right now I could see myself buying an MX and a K-90 or maybe an MX and a CE-4s as my plan all along was to get a pair of cameras to replace the single broken CE-5.
06-04-2019, 02:40 PM   #10
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For me, I was lucky 2 out of 3 of my slr's.

#1 My Sears TLS (rebadged Ricoh TLS, m42 miunt) that I got ~5 years ago works fine, viewfinder just happened to be dirty & just needs a good cleaning (will get a CLA, since I dont know when it had last got one before I got it)

#2 My Kalimar K-90 (Kmount) works fine. Same issue with the Sears TLS, works fine but some debrie in the viewfinder, will get a CLA just to be safe.

#3 My most recent win is a Sears TLS 1000 MX (rebadged Mamiya 1000MSX, M42 mount). In need of a CLA due to the slowest shutter speeds (1s, 1/2s, 1/4s, & 1/8s) all hanging (need to move the shutter speed to B to get the mirror down), other speeds work fine, and needs new light seals.

---------- Post added 06-04-19 at 03:27 PM ----------

Also body wise theyre all in good shape, just some very minor scratches & scuff marks.
Except for the Sears TLS (The rebadged Ricoh), it has a small dent by the prism, but doesnt seem to effect the metering or anything (well, to me at least).
06-04-2019, 04:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Anyone used both of these and can comment? Do you have to pull the film advance lever away from the CM-4 body to take a shoot (fingers crossed that the answer is no, the user manual content on the butkus site doesn't mention having to do this, but I still want to be sure)?
Just to clarify, you don't have to do this with an MX (apologies if I've misunderstood).

- Half pressing of the shutter activates the meter, although it only stays on while your finger is on the shutter.

- Pulling the lever out activates the meter and leaves it on (without needing to touch the camera)
06-04-2019, 05:39 PM   #12
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nick: I know you don't have to pull the lever away from the body of the MX. I asked about this on the CM-4 specifically. Novels are written about using the MX but the CM-4 isn't very well documented in comparison.

Thank-you, though, for making sure I was informed.

disconnekt: My Singlex TLS has a dent in the prism housing as well! I think this is not uncommon with these cameras. At least it dents instead of going straight to cracking...
06-04-2019, 09:43 PM   #13
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Yeah, I figured as long as it aint cracked all the way through & isnt effecting anything Im fine with it
Plus I never even noticed it until recently lol
06-05-2019, 01:10 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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The CM-4 will surely does it's job as manual camera. I have the CM-4s (rebranded as Revueflex SC-3) and it is a good, easy fully manual camera.

However the MX (which i also own) is a much more sophisiticated camera.
You already mentioned the 2 more LEDs which is a real advantage.
In the viewfinder are shown f-stop and time selected.
The camera has a DOF preview.
You can mount a winder or motor drive (if you get one) and loads of other stuff.
You can change the matte.

The CM-4 is a enty level camera.
The MX was aimed at professional photographers.

So the answer is:
NO it s not an alternative to the MX, if you want a really smooth professional workhorse.
YES it is an alternative to the MX if you are just looking for a very basic, very reliabel manual camera.

There is one advantage of the CM-4 in terms of reliability. The MX shutter is a cloth-shutter, while the CM-4 uses an metal-shutter. The shutter of an MX might have/get holes just from aging. Although I can not say how probable that is.

Having used a CE-3 as my first SLR for over 10 years, I think you will not be happy with the CM-4 as your sole film camera. Losing the DOF preview alone will make you unhappy. Also working in manual mode with a CE-5 is much easier then with a CM-4 or even the MX. If you really want only one manual film camera get the MX.

My advice: Try to get a similar replacement for your CE-5 like a CE-3/4/5, a Ricoh XR-6, a Cosina CT-3 (without DOF preview) or a Pentax P-30T/N (auto ISO only !, no winder) and buy a CM-4 or MX as second body.
06-05-2019, 07:25 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Papa_Joe, thank-you for the well written reply. Understood, agreed. I think I'll try to end up with an MX and a CE-4s or similar (lot of clean Revue AC3's on evilbay for cheap in what seem like great condition). CM-4 sounds like a serious K1000 competitor perhaps but not up to MX levels.

Good replies, all.
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