Cosina C1 SLR

 I got interested in Cosina cameras  while reading about the cameras they make for Big Name companies – companies like Canon, Nikon and Olympus. I started, many years ago, with the impression that Cosina only made cheap, low-spec cameras. That impression is now updated. My first Cosina was a CT1 (article coming) which is (still) sold by Nikon as their FM10 and was sold by Canon as their T60 and Olympus as their OM2000.
Cosina C1 – (C) John Margetts


lens: Cosina 35-70 mm zoom
focal length: 35-70 mm
apertures: f/3.5 to f/22 (nominally)
focus range: 0.5 metres to infinity
lens fitting: Pentax K-mount
shutter: metal focal plane
speeds: 1 second to 1/2000 seconds
flash: hot shoe, X synch
film size: 35 mm

This camera, the C1, is a much later camera.  The outside is plastic and so is (as far as I can tell) the chassis. This makes it feel to hold much like a modern DSLR. That is not a criticism of the cameras as a photographic device but as a collector of old cameras, the tactile component is important to me.

Once manufacturers turned to plastic mouldings, shape restrictions were removed. With this camera, while the internal chassis seems to still be rectangular (cuboid?) the outside has flowing curves. This is partially aesthetic and partially ergonomic. The camera is clearly designed to be held right-handed. There is a curved. raised portion on the front to give the middle two fingers a good grip and a second raised portion on the back to give a secure grip for the thumb. This leaves the index finger to comfortably sit  on the shutter release button. The curves continue around the pentaprism hump and in the junction between the body and the lens mount. my personal preference is for more classically designed cameras.
Cosina C1, top plate (C) John Margetts

The top plate has the standard layout – film advance lever, shutter release button and shutter speed selector on the right of the pentaprism hump and the rewind crank/door latch on the left. This camera has a standard hot-shoe accessory shoe (and no PC connector). The film advance lever acts as a shutter lock and light meter switch when the lever is flush with the body.

The front of the camera is unadorned apart from the Pentax K-mount lens mount and the name C1. This is the plain vanilla mount with no electrical contacts or autofocus screw. The rear of the camera is similarly unadorned – there is the viewfinder eyepiece and a window to allow the user to see part of the film cassette: ideal for those of us with virtually no memory.

Inside, the camera has no surprises. The shutter is a vertical travel metal shutter which is, I think, Cosina’s own make. This offers speeds from 1 second to 1/2000 seconds and is synchronised for flash at 1/125 – marked in red on the speed selector dial. The speeds on the selector dial go anti-clockwise from 1 to 1/2000 seconds (the opposite way to the Cosina CT1).

Cosina shutter

The plastic back fits without light seals. the technique of moulding the plastic allows for sufficient light baffles without the use of foam. there are two exceptions: a small piece of foam by the hinge and a larger piece around the window to the film cassette. These are in good condition and the camera should still be usable without replacing them.

This camera comes with a TTL (Through The lens) light meter. It is powered by two LR44 batteries which are still available. On this camera, the meter does not work.

The lens that came with the camera is, I assume, the kit lens that Cosina provided with the camera when new. It is Cosina’s own 35 – 70 mm zoom lens. It has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22 at 35 mm and f/4.8 to f/22+ at 70 mm. It is multi-coated and claims macro ability. This macro ability gives an image:subject ratio of 1:5 rather than the 1:1 ratio that is usually thought of as true macro. Focusing is from just under 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) and the focus scale is marked in both metres and feet.

The aperture scale is rather confusing. The aperture ring sets the size of the aperture (as you might expect) but the f-number is a ratio between focal length and aperture diameter. This means that the marked f/ stop depends on the zoom setting. For setting the aperture at 35 mm focal length there is a red dot for the aperture ring and at 70 mm focal length there is a green line (on the zoom scale, 35 mm is in red and 70 mm is in green). For zoom settings between 35 mm and 70 mm, neither mark will be quite right and you could be up to 1/2 stop out on your exposure, depending on whether you use the red dot or green line. in use, 1/2 stop + or – is neither here nor there. marked f/ stops are from f/3.5 to f/22 but this is clearly the case with  zoom setting of 35 mm. At 70 mm, the widest aperture is f/4.8 and the smallest is significantly less than f/22 – I would guess f/32.

The lens mount is Pentax’s K mount. It is the plain vanilla mount as introduced in 1975. There are no electrical contacts or auto-focus screw so the lens is fully manual. Any K-mount lens will work with this camera so long as the lens has an aperture ring, and this lens will work on any K-mount camera – but only manually.

The lens is entirely plastic and does feel rather ‘plasticky’ but the adjustments are all very smooth and the lens looks to be well made.

Posted in SLR

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