Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus review – by Sigurður J. Haraldsson

By Sigurður Haraldsson

Well this is my Chinon Auto 3001. A fellow film camera enthusiast was selling a part of his film camera collection few months ago on facebook and this camera was there. I liked the fact that the lens is a 35mm at f2.8 and as I was looking for a decent point and shoot to have with me most of the time so I contacted him. As I had just bought another camera from him before he gave me this one.

I googled it to try to find a manual for it online but found only a specifications sheet for it in french. But what I also found was a pleasant surprise. The Chinon Auto 3001 came out 1987 and was at that time sold for 350$ which was more than some SLR that where being sold at that time. There is an article on the New York Times written about the camera as the camera had a multifocus system sending out three focus beams instead of a one beam which so it could focus on the closed object which has a novelty at the time. There is also a an article in the popular photography from 1989 stating that the camera had been chosen the best of it class by a independent consumer testing company. The reasons being its good focus system, 16 focus zones, auto macro focus from 60 cm to 90 cm, superb 35mm 2.8 lens and a long lasting lithium batteries(2CR5).


Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus Review

The design looks like the boxy fashion of the eighties is starting to fade for a smoother lines but still it is clear from which era it is from. To start off it sit well in your hand and it is really quick and quiet just making a small sounds when it winds the film. There are small edges on the camera to make it easier to get a firm grip. The Chinon Auto 3001 starts up when you slide the front cover from the lens. The flash is small and is automatic but you can press a small button on the far left of the camera to turn the flash off if you like. You can also press a small button to start the fill flash if you have troubled by backlight. Loading a film is easy and there is a mark where you are supposed to place the end of the leader. The camera reads the DX coding from the film and you can use from iso 25 to iso 1600 film. I usually get about 37 pictures from the films. The lens is good and opens to f2.8 and the shutter speed goes from 1/45 to 1/250 and EV is from 8.5 to 19 at 100iso.

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I have really liked the result I have got by using tri-x in low-light photography with the flash and without. The Chinon Auto 3001 seems to give really good picture in those circumstances. I have also used it somewhat for landscapes. You can also half press the shutter button and focus on an object in the centre and then move the object to one of the corners of the frame without losing its focus. The 16 zone focus system seems to be working well and just few frames where it has not manages to zoom correctly and the pictures taking with the macro zoom come out nicely.

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The viewfinder has three spots in it each spot for one focus beam and is decent viewfinder a bit small but bright. You can also press a green button on the back which say “spot af” which turns the focus on to a centre beam. The viewfinder also has LCD lights to tell you what the camera is doing like a macro flower to tell you it is macro zoom is on, lighting to say it is loading the flash, and a green AF to tell you the autofocus has locked on target.

On top there is a LCD screen that counts the film frames, has a battery sign and if you turn on the fill flash or self timer there will be sign for them on that screen also. There is also a small LCD screen on the back where you can set the date onto your picture.

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To conclude I think the Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus is a cool camera, with a good lens, really quick and quiet. The macro makes it easy to take portraits of people with going close up but the biggest limitation is the shutter speed from 1/45 to 1/250 but it is a point and shoot camera. If I have a 400 iso film in it on a sunny day then I am on the camera limits and using an 800 iso or 1600 iso film would be overexposed. But that is not a big issue for film camera that is selling for 6 to 14 pounds on ebay. The Chinon Auto 3001 is a lot of fun to use and I find myself just holding it with one hand shooting with easy and without any care as I know I am getting my shots more than 90% of the time.

Sigurður J. Haraldsson
Film photographer in Iceland.

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Alex on Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus review – by Sigurður J. Haraldsson

Comment posted: 29/05/2015

there seems to be no sharpness at all in the pics, almost like they were paintings (especially in the landscapes).
is it the scans?

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 29/05/2015

It looks like the scans to me...


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ScottP on Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus review – by Sigurður J. Haraldsson

Comment posted: 23/02/2018

This is a great little camera. I had one that I used for street in the 1990's until a gentleman accused me of working for his wife's divorce attorney and grabbed the camera by the strap, which, not cleverly, is threaded through the plastic battery door. End of camera.
Great lens, quiet operation even with the auto-advance, compact but easy to hold. The sliding front protects the lens, turns the camera on, AND acts as a grip when open. After seeing this story, I bought another one.
. has a manual for the Chinon "Handyzoom 5001," which seems a lot like the 3001, but with a zoom lens.

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Manfredi on Chinon Auto 3001 Multifocus review – by Sigurður J. Haraldsson

Comment posted: 05/05/2020

Hi! I found this article time ago and just a month ago I bought a Chinon Multifocus 3001.
Yesterday in Italy it was the first day in which you can go out for a walk due to the COVID-19 problem and I tried for the first time this camera!
I just found a trick: If you hold the "spot af" button while you are pressing the fire button it looks like you're activating sort of a bulb mode that closes the shutter after you release the the "spot af" button!
I'll find it out after developing the film!

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