1954… Yashica Flex Model S

When Yashima started making twin-lens reflex cameras in a small factory along the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, they were but one of hundreds of “start-ups” entering the already crowded Japanese camera manufacturing business. Many would fail – and fail quickly they did. But little Yashima, with two brothers from Nagano at the helm, managed to take a big step – to make a second and then third camera.

The first was the Pigeonflex (great name but how do you grow with a name like that), then came the Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B. In 1954 (late) they built the now famous Yashica Flex Model S. The first TLR in the world with an attached exposure meter! Yep, in the world! None of the already established players had produced one like that. The meter was supplied by Sekonic and screwed to the side of the body and hidden light sensors under the name flap sent electricity to the meter. Bingo. Meter and camera merged! 1954

img_20161129_0004

Cropped scan from a rather rare (in the US) Yashima sales flyer for the Yashica Flex Model S. It’s one of the earliest pamphlets around for this camera.

The light sensing cells were built-in under the flap that was the nameplate. You would open the flap and the maximum amount of light would strike the cells and send an electrical signal to the meter  (#1 above). You then used # 2, 3, 4, and 5 to “compute” your exposure settings. Simple except that you needed the eyesight of an eagle to actually see the numbers on the scale. It it was real sunny out, you didn’t need to lift the flap to get an accurate reading – there were 12 holes in the flap that would let in enough light to set the exposure.

In a testament to the designers, many of these early exposure meters still function even after 6 decades of use. But, many have fail too mostly caused by a failure of the wire to meter connection. The cells are fine (no batteries, sun powered).

As always we appreciate your visit. We’re glad to share some of our collection of early sales material and of course to chat up our Yashima-Yashicas. In the spirit of fair play, we ask that you do not copy or post our images in your blog or post without our permission. Thanks.

Chris & Carol

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