Yashica Pentamatic Timeline… update 3 (Oct 2017)

Our best timeline for the development of the Yashica Pentamatic 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera… Pentamatic ’35’

Please note that this is a “dynamic timeline” and it will be updated as we discover new dates and developments…

  • Summer 1959… Yashica develops / invents its first 35mm SLR
  • September 1959… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in Japan
  • October 1959… Tomioka starts production of a new lens for the Pentamatic. f/1.8 5.5cm
  • December 1959… First Pentamatics assembled at the Suwa factory
  • February 1960… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in the U.S.
  • March 1960… Production reaches 1,500 units
  • March 1960… First showing of the Pentamatic occurs at a trade show in St. Louis… first images of the camera are provided by Yashica
  • April 1960… First published look at the Pentamatic in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography magazine
  • May 1960… First full page advertisements for the Pentamatic ’35’ appear in the June 1960 issues of Modern Photography, Popular Photography and U.S. Camera magazines and the Pentamatic is available at Yashica dealers by early May
  • June 1960… Production reaches 5,000 units
  • June 1960… First review of the camera appears in the July issue of Modern Photography magazine
  • August 1960… Production reaches 9,300 units
  • August 1960… The Pentamatic II goes into production. Sold only in Japan
  • August 1960… Zunow produces a new lens for the Pentamatic II. f/1.7 5.8cm
  • Winter 1960-1961… The Pentamatic I and II are are both sold in Japan
  • December 1960… Camera dealers in New York advertise new Pentamatics at under $110 (USD)
  • January 1961… Production reaches 15,700 units
  • January 1961… The Pentamatic S goes into production
  • January 1961… The Pentamatic II ends production at under 6,000 units
  • February 1962… February issue of Modern Photography has only two advertisements for the Pentamatic and NO mention of the Pentamatic II or Pentamatic S
  • Late 1961… The Pentamatic models are replaced by the Penta J
  • End of Production… About 30,000 Pentamatic cameras (all models) are made over 3 years
  • August 1963… ‘Pentamatic’ receives trademark registration in the U.S.
  • Pentamatic Advertisement

    By January 1961, some pretty strong discounts on the original Pentamatic I. No Pentamatic S advertised.

    First Look?

    First look at the new camera in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography.

5 thoughts on “Yashica Pentamatic Timeline… update 3 (Oct 2017)

    1. Hi John… thanks for posting your comment. I did just now read the thread that you provided the link to and as always, I try to read anything and everything written about the camera. I’ve been lucky enough to have read most of what has been published on the Pentamatic series of SLRs overall (both the English and Japanese printed materials). The Pentamatic ’35’ as it was first called, is obviously one of my favorite cameras. Like many others I enjoy the clean lines and feel of the body… it is just different enough to catch the eye and has enough “quirkiness” to hold my interest. Since the series had such a short run (unsuccessfully?) before Yashica switched to the M42 bodies and began the Penta J series of SLRs, I believe there is a ton of misinformation out there about the how and why’s Yashica developed this short lived series. You are correct that the Pentamatic carries in its serial number a production number (sequence number) and the month and year it was made. The only Yashica that I know of that does so. Some of the lenses contain the same information even into the M42 lenses. Please feel free to share anything you have learned about the Pentamatic with me. I enjoy the process of discovery. Regards, Chris

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  1. Chris – since that post on the camera collector, I have aquired 2 lenses for the Pentamatic. One is a 13.5cm f3.5 Super Yashinon-R. I have a similar lens for the Penta J which is identical, apart from the mount.
    The more interesting lens is a Komura 35mm f2.5 preset lens. This has what looks like a home made Pentamatic mount attached to it. The mount screws to an m42x1 (Pentax) thread. If the Komura is fitted to a Pentax, though, it focuses past infinity.

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    1. Hi John… Finding still functional Pentamatic lenses can be a shot in the dark to be sure. I picked up 3 good looking lenses from a collector in Hawaii… but you probably can guess what I’m going to say. Yep, mold, fungus and one was “frozen” tight. No movement on the focusing at all. Some 50 well spent dollars later a talented gentleman that I found on eBay rebuilt that lens for me… total take down and reassembly. I even sent him my Pentamatic S because he didn’t have a Pentamatic bayonet mount to test fit the lens on. The lens by the way, is the beautiful Tominon 3.5cm lens you see as my feature image on the blog. I was very lucky to find him. I can now slowly revive some of my lenses back to fully operational.

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