The Yashicaflex Rookie or more simply the Rookie, was released in early 1956 and was destined for the domestic market only. There is some evidence that it may have been initially designed as a super inexpensive camera that would be sold worldwide (mostly because of the name and the fact that the presentation box has ‘for Jr.’ on it which would have little or no meaning inside Japan). The camera was in fact only available in Japan and all of the literature is in Japanese with no English ads found.
Back to the case or as they are often referred to as an ever ready case. The marks on the bottom of the leather case have a very distinct K.K in a box design (image 1 below). We believe that in the early days of Yashima-Yashica that they did not have they capability to produce their own leather goods. Nothing we have proves that theory but it’s just a hunch on our part. We believe that this mark and other marks similar to it are the trademarks or makers marks of the leather goods company that provided them to Yashica. During this same time period Japanese tin toy makers had similar marks on them and the coincidence is not all that coincidental.
As Yashica grew it is possible that they did in fact take over the manufacturing of leather goods in their factory in Suwa as the cases of the early 1960s rarely if ever had these trademarks.
Distinct trademark on the bottom of the 1956 Yashicaflex Rookie.
Leather ever ready case for the Rookie.
Leather case for the Yashica Flex model S from the mid 1950s.
Another view of the ‘T.K’ trademark.
As we find others we’ll be sure to share them here.
Comments? Please feel free to add them as you see fit.
Many thanks… C&C
One of our favorite lenses in the Yashica family. A rather fast f/ 2.8 60mm macro lens made by Tomioka Optical Co., Ltd. of Tokyo for Yashica. 5 elements in 4 groups… it’s capable of life-size (1:1) macro photography. As Yashica describes this lens… “By far the most effective lens for close-ups, copying and macrophotography, as well as general photographic work. Features a new optical glass element, and is fully compensated for all aberrations. Designed to ensure maximum brightness and extremely sharp results. Particularly effective for close-ups of moving subjects (??) and macrophotography without using bellows.” Not sure about the moving subjects part as the depth of field is very shallow.
Weighs in at around 400 grams and can focus down to 0.235 meters. Filter size is 58mm and of course it has the versatile M42 screw-in mount (Praktica).
Macro Yashinon 60mm f/ 2.8 lens built by Tomioka Optical for Yashica.
Just a beautifully designed lens. Here the ’68’ represents the ‘model number’ of the lens and the ‘2840’ is the production sequence number… 2,840th made.
I believe an early 1970s designed box. Could be the late 1960s but it doesn’t line up well with other boxes from that same period. Yashica acquired Tomioka in around 1968. Always surprising that Yashica still had the Tomioka brand on their lenses (but Tomioka had a great reputation) so one could see why.
We were finally able to assemble our Yashicaflex Rookie ‘stuff’ for some studio shots. We’re still missing some items to make the set complete but so far the collection is looking good.
The outer box (or shipping box) for the camera and its leather case is on the left. Of course the camera is in the center with the Rookie leather case to its right. The Rookie instruction booklet is in the lower right of this image and a colorful Rookie sales brochure is just below the lens cap. A warranty (service certificate) card identifying that this camera is a Yashicaflex Model R is just below the box and finally another sales brochure that features the Rookie is on top of the box.
Original 1956 sales brochure.
Sales brochure from 1956.
Certainly an entry level twin-lens reflex camera with some nice features.
The Rookie could take standard 6×6 cm images or with a accessory kit take 3 more images on standard 120 film and produce 6×4.5 cm negatives.
The Rookie wasn’t popular in Japan and Yashima-Yashica gave it a very limited run. I suspect that some popularity exists today just because it’s seldom seen here in the U.S. and it’s rather hard to acquire a really nice example. We like the camera, the name is goofy and didn’t play well in the marketplace.
As always… we appreciate your visit! Thanks, C&C
The Yashicaflex Rookie holds a rather unique position among the Yashima-Yashica line-up of twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras during the decade of the 1950s. As discussed elsewhere here in our blog, Yashima-Yashica sold more TLRs during the 1950s than any other manufacturer in the world, Japan and Germany included.
The Yashica Rookie as it is more commonly known, was designed (we think) for purchase only within the domestic market of Japan. The focusing scale is in meters… not feet and meters as most export models were. There is plenty of advertising associated with it in 1956 and 1957 but everything we’ve seen is in Japanese including the instruction booklet. The price was an attractive ¥6,800… with leather case and lens cap included!
Rookies are not commonly found outside of Japan but are rather common on Japanese auction sites (1-3 per month). Due to the often harsh climate across Japan (hot, humid summers and brutally cold winters) and lack of modern climate controlled living spaces, many Rookies suffer from corrosion, mold, lens fungus and leatherette peeling to be blunt. Finding one that works and does not have these issues is a challenge.
This Rookie is from late 1956 as best as we can tell based on the serial number on the body. Here it’s presented with a Heiland ‘Tilt-A-Mite’ flash unit (from 1959) and age appropriate flashbulbs. If you look closely at the camera’s left side you can see a slight ‘bulge’ in the leatherette covering. Many Rookies lose their ‘face’ leatherette as the painted smooth surface underneath is not the best for holding glue for 60 years or so.
A close-up view of the Heiland flash as mounted on the Rookie.
Scan of the Rookie instruction booklet cover (1956).
Yashicaflex Model R (Rookie) service (warranty) certificate from Yashima Optical Industry Co., Ltd.
Three Rookies from 1956.
Rather hard to find Rookie lens cap.
Lots of stuff about this unique Yashica. Many thanks for your visit and feel free to ask questions or correct us if we are incorrect. Chris & Carol
Another of what we call the ‘littles’ that make collecting fun for us. Yashica-Yashima dual named item from around 1958. Shortly after this one was made most of the new silica gel packs used the new Yashica Co., Ltd. name on everything.
‘Sailor Boy’ displays the Yashica-Yashima silica gel pack from 1958. For reference the doll is about 4 inches tall.
Some time ago we purchased (through auction) what was listed as a rare black body Yashica J-5. The camera was sold by a well known camera dealer with a long ‘track record’ of prior excellent sales. We know from our research and hands-on experience that Yashica’s first ‘Pro-Black’ 35mm SLR was the J-3 as we own two of them and have sold others that were in our collection.
I (Chris) knew that there was about a 99% chance that this J-5 was faked and I don’t have a problem with buying modified or restored cameras as long as it is disclosed as such. But I took a chance on this one even though there were numerous red flags about its originality. The bidding was through an online auction site in another country and my desire to own this ‘rare’ camera got the best of me. My purchase bid went for much more than a typical J-5 should go for and I actually paid more for it (not including the over-the-top shipping fees) than one would pay for a genuine Pro-Black body (from the Yashica factory) J-3.
After looking at my new fake for some two years now, I’ve decided to remove the still fresh black enamel paint and reveal the satin chrome body underneath its black mask.
At this point the camera will get what I call an ‘interpretive restoration’ and will be reassembled in a way fitting a mid 1960s Yashica classic.
As you can now plainly see, the original satin chrome (silver) body is now exposed and in this image the ‘orange peel’ black enamel paint is obvious especially around the ‘YASHICA’. The leatherette has been removed and the residual adhesive remains visible at this point.
Upon closer inspection (now that the black is gone) it appears that the original satin chrome (silver) factory finish was heavily sanded almost to the point of the brass showing through. The enamel black comes off super easy with 91% isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab. For some strange reason the factory etching of the J-5 logo was filled-in with white paint before it was buried under the black. Silver body Yashicas were filled-in with black.
Another view (right rear of the body) of the original factory finish underneath the faked black top coat.
It will take a bunch of cotton swabs and plenty of isopropyl alcohol to rid this J-5 of its black top-coat.
So lesson learned for me… only trust in what you know exists… if it’s not documented elsewhere as existing then it’s been faked. But, and it’s a big but (pardon the pun), Yashica has never mentioned that they made a black body J-3 in 1963. I know they exist from the factory as I’ve studied it extensively and know they are real.
Watch as we reimagine this camera and give it a new life!
Many thanks, Chris and Carol