Cosina CT–1

This is an amazing little camera. It was introduced by Cosina in 1979/80 and, amazingly, is still available new (rebadged as a Nikon FM10) in 2017. In those years, (nearly 40!), that the Cosina CT–1 has been produced, it has been sold in the slightly updated form of the CT–1 Super as the Nikon FM10, Canon T60, Olympus OM 2000, Voigtlander Bessa R and the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder.

Cosina CT–1 plus kit lens

lens:  Cosinon  zoom
focal length:  35 – 70 mm
apertures: f/3.5 to f/22
focus range: 0.5 m to infinity
lens fitting: Pentax K mount
shutter: metal focal plane
speeds: 1 second to 1/1000 seconds
flash: hot shoe and PC connector
film size: 35 mm

For these various forms, the chassis, metering, shutter, etc is identical. What changes is the lens mount, front fascia and the presence/absence of either the pentaprism and mirror  (SLR models) or rangefinder (Bessa R and Zeiss Ikon). If you look down on the top plate, the shape and position of all the controls is the same.

CT–1 and K mount

The chassis of this camera is metal – presumably an aluminium alloy – as is the hinged back but the rest is plastic. The camera feels plasticky but my specimen has lasted well (I don’t actually know the age of my camera but the CT–1 Super was introduced in 1983 and I assume that my CT–1 dates from before then).

My other Cosina cameras – Cosina CSM, Cosina C1

A description:

The layout of the top plate is standard. The film advance lever is on the right and is metal with a plastic tip. This will rest flush with the camera body. In this position, the film advance lever will lock the shutter release button. It does this by having a small protrusion that slides into a slot on the side of the shutter release button. and stops it moving. At the same time, the light meter circuit is turned off, saving the battery (that last is from the manual, not my own observation). So, to use the camera, the film advance lever must be moved to its ready position which is at an angle of about 45° to the closed position. In front of the film advance lever is a window showing the frame counter. this is reset to ‘S’ when the back is opened and counts up from zero (zero appears in the counter window once the film is loaded and advanced a couple of frames).

As always, the front of the camera is dominated by the lens mount. This is Pentax’s K mount which is still in use today with Pentax’s digital SLR cameras.

Next along is the shutter release button. This is black plastic and is threaded for a standard cable release. Beside this is the shutter release speed selector. This has the standard range of speeds starting at 1 second and rising in one stop steps to 1/1000. On this dial, the 1/125 speed is printed in orange as this is the flash synch speed.

In the middle is the pentaprism hump. This supports the accessory shoe which is a hot shoe synched for electronic flash (denoted by a red ‘X’). To the left of the pentaprism hump is the film rewind knob. This is a fold-out crank as became usual in the 1950s. This also stands duty as the catch for the back – the back is released by pulling the rewind crank upwards. Around the rewind crank is a milled ring which sets the film speed for the light meter. This is only in ASA (the old version of ISO) and ranges from 25 ASA to 1600 ASA.


As always, the front of the camera is dominated by the lens mount. This is Pentax’s K mount which is still in use today with Pentax’s digital SLR cameras.

This is the plain, vanilla, K mount. Later variations have electrical contacts in various positions and an auto-focus ‘screwdriver’ to allow lenses to be focused. Not here – the lens mount allows a lens to be attached and nothing else.

CT1 shutter

On the left side of the mount is a PC connector for flash – as with the hot-shoe, it is X-synch. This PC connector is to allow the flash gun to be used away from the camera body for more artistic illumination.

On the right of the lens mount is the self-delay lever. This rotated by 90° and is activated by the shutter release button. The delay on mine is 10 seconds. On each corner of the front are strap lugs.

The back of the camera is uncluttered. There is the viewfinder at the top – this is hard, black, plastic but has a groove so presumably something softer could be attached. In the centre of the back is a holder for the end of the film carton to serve as a reminder as to which film is in use – an essential item to my mind. Printed inside this is a conversion table between DIN and ASA film speed ratings.

Also on the back is the camera’s serial number which is over 90,000,000 – an indication of how successful Cosina have been. The base of the camera is also uncluttered. There is a standard tripod boss – 1/4 inch UNC thread – and a battery compartment for a single H-C 1.35v battery to power the light meter. These batteries are no longer available (they contain mercury) but a LR44 or similar should work fairly well. The meter does not work at all on my camera but fortunately this is an entirely mechanical camera and works just fine without batteries.

The lens the came with the camera has lost its front bezel so I do not know its designation. Having said that; the lens is Cosina’s own make and is a 35-70 mm zoom lens. It has an aperture range from f/3.5 to f/22 with 1/2 stop clicks. Apart from the glass, it appears to be made entirely from plastic. All the controls work well and smoothly. The lens claims a macro ability which offers 1.5 magnification which is not ‘true’ macro but not a bad facility either.

What haven’t I mentioned? Inside the viewfinder. Main thing you see is the focus screen. in most SLR cameras of this era you get a split image disc in the centre of the viewfinder to ease focussing. Not here. What you do get is a disc of micro-prisms which also help achieving close focus but in a different way.

Also, in the viewfinder is the light meter display. This is a needle which needs to be centred in the display. As mine does not work, I cannot really say much more about it.


Author: John Margetts

I am a keen photographer who also collects cameras. I am retired with about 50 years photography experience.

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