Like many of the cameras that I’ll be testing for the First Roll project, I didn’t know this one existed. I just so happened to be scrolling through Depop one night and thought the design looked interesting. Knowing nothing about the specs or how the Chinon™ Monami performs, or if this particular point and shoot was even in working condition, I talked the seller down to $25 including shipping. I figured that was a reasonable price to take a gamble. The mysterious thing about gambling is, sometimes it pays off.

The first thing I noticed upon holding it for the first time was how everything turns on at once. You flip open the lens cover and the flash instantly pops out. It’s actually quite charming. Something about the simultaneous mechanics got me excited to shoot, which is one of the things that I hold in high regard when it comes to a compact camera. Now it was time to load a roll of Kodak™ Portra and see what this baby could do.

My initial impression after shooting a couple of frames was just how much fun this camera is. It’s really a no frills, here to do one thing.. captures moments, type of experience. The only mechanics that you have control of is the flash, which you have to push back into the body and hold it down with your finger when you want to use natural or ambient light. I could see how one might think this is annoying but for me I liked the interaction. The viewfinder was pretty accurate and the focusing seemed to hit almost every time unless I was closer than an arms-length to what I was shooting. I even snuck a shot from the window of a moving car (frame #6) when we were in Malibu and it surprisingly almost caught the shot fully in focus. Remember, this is a grip-it-and-rip-it camera, meaning, all of your shots are dependent on the cameras accuracy to hit auto focus and exposure. So for me, this little plastic gem was up there with the point and shoots that are well in the $100 range. More importantly, the fun factor of this little guy made the experience memorable. Add that with the capability that this camera has to output usable images and you have yourself a nice little tool to toss in your pocket (or bag if you wear skinny jeans like me). Time for the pros and cons.


  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • One-motion (flip) to turn everything on
  • Cool design
  • Pretty sharp 35mm lens
  • Somewhat rare
  • Reliable
  • Extremely easy to use


  • Have to hold the flash down to turn it off
  • Slow 4.5 lens
  • No settings
  • No close up shots
  • Not weatherproof

There’s my thoughts on the Chinon™ Monami point and shoot. Now, as predominant as the cons seem to be, this is the First Roll with the most usable frames so far. Out of the thirty-something shots that I got from the roll, I used twenty but that’s only because some of the frames were either identical or simply out of focus. I would say that says a lot about this little camera and the reason why I am definitely going to keep it. Not only am I keeping it, I even bought another one as a back-up and highly recommend anyone who wants a very easy to use camera to do the same. I’m sure the secret will get out soon and we all know what happens when cameras like this get popular.