Cosina CX-2 Review – The Grandfather of Lomo ?

Lomography’s Mythology¹ describes this quirky zone focus shooter as the progenitor of the camera that started Lomography, the LC-A. But how does this camera that the Russians so slavishly copied, stand up on its own ?

Cosina CX-2 film Camera
Cosina CX-2 35mm film Camera. The alleged inspiration for the LC-A

The similarity with the LC-A is striking in spec and first appearance. Just looking at the 2 cameras you’d be forgiven for thinking they were made in the same factory. The top plate bar the CX-2 swing mechanism is near identical and spec wise these cameras are quite comparable.

cousins
Lomo LC-A & Cosina CX-2 in comparison

In fact the only major differences are in the lens opening mechanism (the whole lens bezel twists with the CX-2) and the focus lever is beneath the lens. The camera launched in the early 80’s and probably was intended as a rival for the Olympus XA series. You wonder if a XA type rangefinder was intended given the focus switch and certainly Cosina had some form for compact rangefinders in the 70’s. The camera has a near identical predecessor the CX-1 (which Lomography also describe as the influence for the LC-A !! ¹) which is more lower spec and even rarer. The CX-2 was sold as rebadges under Porst (CM-135 Auto) and Petri (PX-1).

Spyglass
Dumfries, 2015. Cosina CX-2 with Expired (’14) Kodak BW400CN

Cosina CX-2 Specs

  • Lens: Cosinon 35 mm 1:2.8
  • Focus Range: 0.9m to ∞
  • Focus: 4 zones
  • Aperture : f/2.8-16
  • Shutter: 1/500 to >2sec
  • Metering: CdS
  • Film Speed: 25-400ISO
  • EV (100ISO) :  2-17
  • Flash : X sync 1/45
  • Battery : 2xSR44
Red and Obey
Dumfries 2015. Cosina CX-2 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

I got mines cheap on eBay and whilst pretty grotty and with some corrosion in the lens casing. It arrived with a slightly corroded but salvageable dedicated winder unit (CX-W, powered by 2 AA) something that never got beyond the prototype stage for the LC-A (and no it doesn’t fit yer LC-A). I didn’t get the dedicated flash (CX-11) that was originally supplied with the camera but you can use any conventional one  as it has a flash aperture setting like the LC-A. Obviously the camera comes with Japanese glass (5 element in 5 Groups) versus the (in)famous Mintar-1 of the LC-A. It also benefits from a mechanical timer but like the LC-A there is no cable release point.

20 Sky
Dumfries 2015. Cosina CX-2 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

As well as a timer it also features 3 ways of visualising the focal setting. As well as the markings on the focus lever beneath the lens and the viewfinder pictograms when the bezel is turned a small window shows the distance pictogram on the lens bezel when viewed from above making this handy if Lomo style shooting from the hip.

Post card de jour
Dumfries, 2015. Cosina CX-2 with Expired (’14) Kodak BW400CN

It is spooky shooting the camera especially when using side by side with an LC-A. The full automatic exposure system on paper should be a bit better and the images should be crisper and indeed it turns out to be the case. Using 400 ASA C-41 B&W it is incredibly crisp and well exposed (within usual P&S limits). There is obviously less chromatic issues too. . Vignetting is also less than you get compared to the LC-A but still there in bright conditions

Mid Steeple
Dumfries, 2015. Cosina CX-2 with Expired (’14) Kodak BW400CN

So should you buy over the LC-A ? Thats a  hard decision as bar a few things like the winder and timer, the only real difference is the lens with the CX-2 offering a sharp Japanese shooter versus the Lomo classic.

It’s also cheaper too as although rarer than a LC-A but usually sell for less (Oxfam’s website listed one that had sold with winder, flash and manual for £45 and Oxfam ain’t cheap but that’s often what you’ll pay on ebay for the full set – budget £20-30 for the camera & just winder)

Why Buy ?

  • Sharp lens
  • Shoot from the hip
  • Cheaper & Rarer than the LC-A

Why not ?

  • Pricey
  • No cable release point
  • Iconic but out Iconed by its copy

What I Paid

  • Paid £21  + P&P camera and winder on eBay

Alternatives

Helpful links

 

¹ The CX-2 is listed as the progenitor on the LC-A+ microsite but the main Lomography site history mentions the CX-1. Wikipedia lists the CX-2 as the progenitor on its LC-A page but the CX-1 on the lomography page !! Confusing but a relatively moot point as the CX-1 & CX-2 are largely the same camera

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3 thoughts on “Cosina CX-2 Review – The Grandfather of Lomo ?”

  1. Don’t forget the Minolta AF-C as an alternative, and almost identical in looks ( apart from the lens cover sliding down) auto focus, 35mm 2.8f lens in 6 groups, even rarer, but if you see one, get one, not needing to focus is a street shooters dream, a real point an shoot.

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