Recently bought, on a whim. Actually, not really, no. I bought this camera because I wanted to gift it to my 12 yrs old daughter, who starts into film photography these days. She already has a SLR, my old Canon AV-1, but as that camera is an aperture priority machine, she would like to learn the basics on a manual camera, where she can set her own shutter and aperture. I could have chosen anything else, but as this camera came in black (just like my FM3A, which she secretly covets), I said why not. After all, we all appreciate the appearance of a camera.
This camera is actually a rebadged Cosina CSR, sold under Porst name in Germany (and elsewhere, I guess). It’s a single lens reflex machine, with a very cool design and feel to it. True, the price is lower compared to others, but this is a good camera, highly usable and also a good looking one. Its functions are almost on the par with some found on more expensive cameras in this class, which surprised me pleasantly.
The lens is a very good (or so I’ve heard) and sharp enough Porst Color Reflex Auto, with a focal of 50mm/1.7, in a 42 screw mount. A bit slow in focusing, as the ring can take a bit to turn from min to max distance, but nonetheless a good lens, from what I’ve read so far. Future use of this camera will tell the truth, I believe. Also, the lens has a side lever, switching between automatic and manual modes; these relate to the automatic aperture locking thing. If you disengage the automatic aperture lock, the diaphragm will operate without the locking feature, which means you will not need to reset as explained here in this article. I understand this manual setting of the lens is needed when you use some non-automatic accessories, such as bellows, etc.
There are two functions that I never seen on any other SLR’s I own or have used before: the diaphragm lock and two different metering methods. When you half press the release button, the camera reads your chosen diaphragm and locks it. Press the button fully and you take the picture, in which case the diaphragm resets for the next shoot.
If you change your mind however, and you are not shooting that frame, you will need to unlock the diaphragm by pressing that button under the lens, a button that very much looks like a lens mount/dismount lock. In doing so, the diaphragm is unlocked and resets. Very clever, although you’ll need to remember that when shooting with this camera. I am not certain if this is fully understood, so please have a look onto the manual, which is pretty much self-explanatory in this direction.
The second surprise comes from the fact that this camera has two methods of metering the scene. Of course, the metering is a through-the-lens method. Now, if you look on the left side, near the rewind crank, you’ll see two settings and a lever, S and A. The S stands for “Spot” and A for “Average“, set and indicated in turn by the lever.
Spot metering is very useful, in certain cases; the meter accurately reads the portion of your scene which needs to be metered more efficiently, light wise (or lack thereof). There is a cross sign right under the circle in the lens which, pointed to the portion of the scene you’re interested in, acts like a pointer.
Average metering mode is what it says on the tin; use this when you feel that the entire scene has no hard lighting differences. No deep shadows or hard lighted areas? Your scene is an “average” scene and use this setting.
A word about this meter: reading the meter is not difficult, as it consists of 3 LED lamps, two red arrows left and right, plus a green lamp in the middle. I am more accustomed with the old style metering scale or just “+” and “-” type. Just to be clear, this LED system is using a meter stop-down method. The arrows indicate which direction you should turn you aperture ring or indeed, your shutter speed button. Right red arrow? Turn your aperture ring towards right, turn your shutter speed knob clockwise. Green lamp blinks, you’re good to go.
Other than that, this camera is functioning on the more-or-less the same principles of a regular SLR. Power wise, you’ll need to use two 1.5v cells. The cells not only power the meter, but also the camera, shutter and whatnot being magnetically controlled. If no power is available, the camera will shoot in 1/90s mode only.
The release button can lock, which is a good option, you do not want to accidentally waste a frame. There is an exposure counter near the film wind lever, resetting every time you change the film. The viewfinder is bright, although shooting in the darker days or environs can be a bit challenging, but the LED lamps are bright.