Canon 5D Mark II vs Chinon CM4s

Just for fun I thought I would revert back to my childhood days and run a roll of Fujichrome Velvia through my first ever SLR, the “oh-so-basic” Chinon CM4s. This camera has just an aperture dial, a shutter speed dial, self timer, manual focussing and a shutter button…that is it in terms of creative controls!

Exposure with the Chinon is made using three LED lights on the back of the camera…top red = overexposed, bottom red = underexposed and middle green = correct exposure…simples!

The idea was to compare my first ever SLR with my current DSLR. I wanted to compare the quality of images taken with both cameras using the same ISO and the same exposure and lens focal length.

All images below were taken at exactly the same time mostly using exposure values taken from the 5D Mark II, i.e. I would take a shot with the 5D Mark II and then set the Chinon to the same exposure.

The first thing I noticed when shooting film for the first time in nearly 10 years was how conscious I was of the cost every time I pressed the shutter:

  • One roll of 36 exposure Velvia 50 = £6.79 ($10.50)
  • Processing and postage = £12 ($18.60)

Which gives a “cost per click” of 0.52p or 0.81 cents…would you think more about each shot if each digital photo you took cost this much? This really hit home and made me realise how many photos I take in this digital age…far too many.

For weddings in the 1990’s, I used to shoot around 8 rolls of 36 exposure 35mm film and about 3-4 rolls of 120 film, that’s about 320 exposures in total for the entire day. The couple would end up with 40 in an album and that was it!

Nowadays it is fairly common for a wedding photographer to fire off well over 1000 images in a day with some reaching the realms of 3-4 thousand images. Most shoot this many in the knowledge that they are bound to end up with a good proportion of acceptable “keepers”.

By shooting film again, I realised how much longer I was taking to shoot a single image. I would think about what I was shooting, how the light would affect the shot, what the best settings would be and so on. To be honest, I do this with digital when I can, but for the most part, I enjoy the speed and instantaneous results that digital gives us…I am quite impatient to say the least but I know I need to slow down more in everything I do.

The funniest thing that happened was that on almost every shot taken with the Chinon CM4s, I would instantly look at the back of the camera only to notice a hard, black plastic casing where the LCD screen “should” be!

Focussing was fun as I actually enjoy manual focussing when I have time…when I am shooting video for example, I shoot manual focus 99% of the time so I feel quite adept at this.

So let’s have a look at some photos.

I must admit, I didn’t look so much for interesting subjects, I just wanted to find situations that differed in each shot to make a wide range of comparisons, plus I wanted to make the most of the nice weather break we were having.

There are about 15 shots that I haven’t included as I made a lot of schoolboy errors such as forgetting that I had changed the settings on the 5D Mark II in between shoots. Also, I foolishly used the 5D Mark II with a polariser filter for some shots which reduced the light giving a slower shutter speed. When I used these same settings on the Chinon, they were wildly overexposed…doh!

It proved to me the importance of checking your camera and always being aware of what settings you have. The Canon was set to ISO 50, Neutral picture style and RAW for all shots below.

Another thing I noticed which is hugely relevant was that the quality of the 5D Mark II files when viewed up close was somuch better than the slide film shot with the Chinon and processed at a lab.

I am not sure if this was due to the processing technique, the conversion to JPEG or just the poor quality of the camera but the difference was massive. As for the way each camera dealt with the lighting…