Pentamatic vs. Pentamatic S – Yashica’s Heavyweights

The Pentamatic was Yashica’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) and was released in 1960 (May-June) timeframe. The Pentamatic S was released about mid to late 1961. Not much changed between the two – the S model added a built-in self-timer and most notably, a provision for mounting an exposure meter to the top right of the camera that coupled with the shutter speed dial. Other small changes were to add lugs for holding the neck strap (moving them from the extreme right and left sides of the body on the Pentamatic to a more typical front mounting on the S). Unseen from the exterior is a change to the focusing screen inside the pentaprism. The original fresnel screen in the Pentamatic was replaced with a split image screen in the model S. For me, that change makes the Pentamatic S much easier to focus and improves the brightness inside the viewfinder.

A look at both models shows these changes and the tiny bit of extra weight that the S carries over the original Pentamatic.

DSCF5402

At 978 grams, the original Pentamatic is anything but a lightweight. (2.16 lbs)

DSCF5403

At 1,004 grams, the S shows the slight weight increase from the changes made between the two models. (2.21 lbs)

Both cameras are photographed with the same lens attached – Auto Yashinon 5.5cm f1.8 lens which was the standard lens that came with both models. Only the Pentamatic II (released in September 1960) came with a different lens. (5.8cm f1.7)

Compared to other SLRs from the same time period, the Pentamatic was a bit of a beast to tote around. The buying public never embraced these wonderful cameras and they ended their production run in less than 2 years.

Finding good looking (and still working) Pentamatics is a challenge for any collector with the Pentamatic II being especially difficult to find in any condition.

Of note, if you have an Asahi Pentax, Nikon F or Canoflex camera with the standard lenses from the late 1950s or early 1960s, we would love for you to let us know what their combined weight is. We could be way off in our assumption that the Pentamatic was significantly heavier than the other cameras of that era. Thanks!

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Chris

6 thoughts on “Pentamatic vs. Pentamatic S – Yashica’s Heavyweights

  1. Hi,
    This seems to be the only place where I’ve seen someone decode the serial number on a Yashinon lens. I recently picked up a 50mm f/1.4 Auto Yashinon-DS for thirty euro and was wondering if you could decode the serial number because I haven’t been able to, the serial number is 1023005.
    Thank you for your time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thanks for your question. When Yashica moved the serial numbers to the lens barrel vice the lens ring they changed how they “dated” or identified the lens. I believe your “1023005” should be 10 = UNK, 2=1972 and 3005 should be the production sequence up to that point. My DS 50mm f1.4 is “1039272” which I interpret as 1973 and the 9,272nd made. My Auto Yashinon 55mm f/1.2 is “5520769” which is on the front lens ring. At that time Yashica didn’t hide a date code in there so this serial number decodes to 55=55mm 2=f1.2 and 0769 was the production sequence number since that lens was first made. Early on, the M42 lenses always had the focal length of the lens and maximum aperture contained in the serial number. Hope that helps.
      Chris

      Like

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