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Chinon CE Memotron SLR – A Hidden Jewel

Chinon CE Memotron
(Last Updated On: 07/12/2020)

The Chinon CE Memotron was not made by one of the big well known manufacturers like Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon or Leica and can be therefore purchased these days for very small money.

The Chinon CE Memotron

What makes the Chinon CE Memotron special, is the fact that it is one of the rare SLR cameras which works with almost every M42 SLR automatic lens in aperture priority mode. Every lens which has the small metal pin at the back for the automatic aperture will work with the camera in automatic (aperture priority) mode. With the shutter release pressed down half way, the meter reading can be stored/locked (that’s where the name memotron comes from) by pushing another button on the side of where the lens is mounted. Due to the involved mechanics, the shutter release has a quite long travel way which might be the only drawback of the camera.

Very well made

The camera is very well made with a brass top plate underneath the black paint. If you hold the camera in your hand, you can feel the quality since it is more on the heavy side.

The electronic shutter of the camera features speeds from B, 1 sec up to 2000/sec and a switch close to the shutter release button enables double exposures with disengaging the film advance gear.

The film advance lever has a very nice gear transmission ratio which leads to a short and distinct travel way.

Focusing with the viewfinder is easy due to the possibility to focus with open aperture when using automatic lenses.

All the nice M42 lenses

As much as I like the Bessaflex because of its tiny size and bright viewfinder, it has a big issue with several lenses where the rear element is hitting the mirror. The Chinon has not such problems. The camera just accepts each and every M42 lens and works flawless with them. …and there are some fantastic M42 SLR lenses being made!

Currently I use the following lenses with the Chinon aka Revueflex 5000EE aka Porst Reflex M-CE:

  • Pentax Super Takumar 50/1.4
  • Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4
  • Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135/3.5 MC

Pros

  • Works with all M42 lenses
  • Aperture Priority Mode with almost all automatic M42 lenses
  • Meter lock switch
  • Fantastic solid built quality (brass)
  • Double Exposure Button
  • Nice short defined film advance
  • Up to 1/2000 shutter speed
  • Very reasonable priced on the second hand market

Cons

  • Long shutter release travel way
  • Dependent on battery

Example Shots (Super Takumar 1.4/50 on APX100)

The Chinon CE Memotron Camera Series

There are three different types of the Chinon Memotron available. The CE, CE II and CE III. Below I’m giving a short overview of the similarities and differences of the cameras.

Common Features

  • M42 Screw Mount
  • Focal Plane Vertical Metal Blade
  • Multi Exposure Lever
  • Viewfinder: SLR pentaprism, Speeds Scale and Exposure Indicator Needle are visible in viewfinder
  • Hotshoe + dual PC M X sockets
  • AE Memory Button (Memotron): for holding the metered exposure in memory, on the lower left side of the lens mount, for this: in Auto mode, depress the shutter in half-way for metering then press and lock the Memory Button, then release the shutter on another frame composition

Chinon Memotron CE

  • 2 – 1/2000 seconds shutter speeds
  • Dual Silicon Blue Cell (SBC) TTL Center Weighted meters
  • 760 gr body weight
  • PX28 6v Silver-Oxide or Alkaline equivalent battery
  • 145 x 97 x 54.5 mm
  • ASA 25-3200

Other branding: GAF L-ES, Sears 2000, Revueflex 4000EE

Manual: https://www.butkus.org/chinon/chinon/ceii-metrotone/chinon_ce_memotron.pdf

Chinon Memotron CE II

  • 2 – 1/2000 seconds shutter speeds
  • Dual Silicon Blue Cell (SBC) TTL Center Weighted meters
  • Battery: 1x 4SR44 (6v silver oxide)
  • 760 gr body weight

Other branding: GAF L-ES/2, Revueflex 5000 EE, Revueflex 4004,  Porst Reflex M-CE, Alpa SI 2000, Argus CR-3E

Manual: https://www.butkus.org/chinon/chinon/ceii-metrotone/ceii-memotron.htm

Chinon Memotron CE III

  • Smaller Body than the CE and CE II
  • Seiko MFC-ES, stepless electromagnetic focal plane metal shutter, vertically travelling shutter with speeds from 4 to 1/1000. Manual: B, X, 4 to 1/1000.
  • Viewfinder: Eye-piece blind feature: a lid closes by a small lever, just left to the prism
  • Exposure meter: TTL CdS meter, two cells, centre weighted, aperture priority automatic exposure control
    • Auto exposure range: EV 1-18, at 100 ASA
    • Auto Exposure compensation feature: -1/2x to +2x EV, 1/3 F-stop increments
    • Metering is possible in Auto and Manual modes
  • Battery: 3v, two silver oxide 1.5v, eg.G13/S76, (accepts lithium Kodak K58L or two alkaline, eg. LR44)
  • External motor drive socket and connections: on the bottom plate
  • Body Dimensions: 140×88×50mm.
  • Body Weight: 620g.

Other branding: Revueflex AC 1

Manual: https://www.butkus.org/chinon/chinon/ce-3-illus/chinon_ce-3.pdf

Ressources

http://anusf.anu.edu.au/~aab900/photography/cameras/chinon.htm

http://blog.bkspicture.com/review_Chinon_CEII_Memotron.html

http://www.mieeckman.com

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nefotografas/sets/72157624974442535/

Please feel free to correct provided information and let me know if you know more Chinon CE Memotron re-branded cameras in the comments.

11 Replies on

Chinon CE Memotron SLR – A Hidden Jewel

  • Hey Torsten, thanks for the link to my review! I am glad you enjoyed the Memotron as much as I did. Since writing that review, I’ve come across other auto exposure M42 cameras and the Chinon remains my favorite!

    1. Hi Mike,
      Yes it’s truly a fantastic camera. I used also a lot of film cameras and own several Leicas but for some reason I love this camera. I just took some sanding paper and went around the corners to give it a LennyChinon look. Incredible quality the body and the shiny brass at the corners looks amazing. Maybe I need to get another one as long as they are so cheap available on eBay 🙂 ….

  • Mike, I am looking to get myself a memotron soon. Your blog has been very useful (and encouraging), thanks. I get the impression that the early lenses were made by Tomioka. Just discovered that the memotron was also branded Hanimex 35EE for the Australian market. Cheers, Rock

    1. Thx Mike! The camera is amazing. Such high quality with a brass to cap!! And this for very small money. You need to get a Super Takumar 1.4/50. Great lens.

  • Hi. Mike Butkus here. While looking for the CE II memotron manual to make a scan from the original manual I found in my collection a text version of the manual in German, Italian, French and Spanish. The link to that scan is on the main CE II page. I have been updating a number of the manuals over the past few years. Adding the additional languages if they were in the manual. I did combine split PDF files starting back in 2010 (now 9 years ago), now that most people are not on modems anymore. If the file was named xxxxx-01 and xxxx-02 I just took the xxxx-01 and added the other half. That should keep links to the PDF file active.
    I’m one of the few doing this anymore. My “links” list is getting smaller and smaller as people with specific sites just close up shop.

  • This camera was also branded in the US as the GAF L-ES and GAF L-ES II, not to mention Sears, Prinzflex and Argus having rebrandings of this camera as well. Yeah, a fantastic camera, well made, but boy is it heavy.

  • Thank you for the review. I am just about to load one up with some Fujifilm 200. I have a Pentagon 1.8 50mm lens attached which has in addition to the A setting a M. I understand that by setting the lens to A and the camera on auto the camera is in aperture priority mode. Would you know what happens if I put the lens in M and the camera in auto? The manual doesn’t seem to cover that, and it doesn’t appear to make any difference when I look through the viewfinder at the meter.
    Many thanks
    Andrew

  • The main difference between the models that you left out is that the CE3 has a split viewfinder. That’s enough on its own for me to prefer it to the other models, shame though the double exposure and 2000 shutter speed was dropped. The only cameras that goes lower spec with time.

  • Hello Torsten,
    Thought you’d like to know that I’ve added the link of this post onto my blog about my journey back into Black and White photography as I like the review you have given it.
    I bought it half halfheartedly initially and have used only 1 roll of film through it but growing very fond of it now.
    Unfortunately they over-developed the film (with huuuge apologies) so I need to try again.
    My blog is still in draft so it will be good to hear from you if you are okay with this.
    Many thanks
    Dinah

    1. Hi Dinah,
      thx for the link to my webpage. Yes, you should give the Memotron another chance. It’s really a great camera.

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