It’s about time I constructed a little write up about my experience in modifying my vintage Chinon 200mm F3.5 Lens.
First some background on the lens…
I won this lens at auction a short while ago for a dead cheap price! The main reason for buying this lens in the first place is actually quite an interesting story. London based Cinematographer, AC and Photographer, Bradley Stearn entered a competition around 2-3 years ago on YouTube with (at the time) a little known YouTube face now known as Alan Besedin of Vintage Lenses For Video (Fantastic reviews and giveaways!). Bradley won a Chinon 200mm 3.5 from Alan, and as if by magic they stayed in touch ever since! Because of Alan, and Bradleys fantastic work with the 600D on YouTube, I found Bradley around the same time and we also stayed in touch. February 2014 the time came when we could finally all meet face to face at BVE (Broadcast Video Expo) in the ExCel, London Venue. Two fantastic guys, it was a pleasure meeting them both, especially together.
Bradley and I took a long day trip to the city and outskirts of London shortly after meeting at BVE, both shooting super lightweight, with merely 3 bags between us! Bradley shooting BMPCC / 600D, and I shot with the 5D Mark III. Bradley was experimenting with the Chinon 200mm on the BMPCC with the extraordinary crop factor on super 16. He captured some exceptional moving images which I highly recommend you take a look at here:
Because of the lovely results Bradley managed to get with the Chinon 200mm, my mind was swayed and I decided to make a purchase!
So to me, this specific lens has a history. It brought fellow film-makers together in the London area, and hopefully many more great things will come of it in the future. Not to mention Bradley and I’s super secret spontaneous trip to the Lake District very soon. But I shouldn’t have told you that so keep it quiet! 🙂
The Chinon 200mm is a wonderful lens, and although the version I purchased didn’t work properly, I had some great fun getting it to work! Due to the lens being stored whilst being stopped down to F22, the aperture blades had been stuck tight together and thus didn’t want to cooperate. Having never performed open heart surgery on a lens before, I cracked open the lens from the lens mount end right away and began to investigate!
Due to the nature of the mechanics of this particular lens, the aperture blades are held in place by springs which when stretched for long periods of time, lose their strength, and in this case that was enough to stop the aperture working properly. After many moans and groans. Hours later, and many rebuilds and bodges down the road, I managed to fix the lens (pretty much).
I ended up removing one of the spring levers which controls the switching mechanism between A (Auto) and M (Manual). This allowed me to use the spring from that, to hold in place the damaged spring from the aperture dial. Do this day I dare touch the A/M switch in fear that I may have to perform surgery again, so I may just tape that up for now! 😉
I successfully de-clicked the aperture ring whilst I had it in pieces numerous times, however I soon had to re-click it due to the new overpowering strength of the spring which meant when setting the lens to a smaller aperture, the blades would slowly creep open, so it was evident that the stronger spring requires hard stops for it to stay in place.
Here is the video I shot accompanied by Bradley, I hope you like it!
(Music by Erin K – No Control)