E.P Marked Photo Gear. Is it really worth more?

Photo gear made in Japan will sometimes carry a strange marking  <E.P>

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In the above example, the <E.P> mark is engraved on the rewind knob of this Nicca camera. This camera is from the 1955 to 1957 period.

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In the example above, this Nikkor 13.5cm lens has the <E.P> mark engraved on a small lever near the base of the lens. On the lens case below, the <E.P> mark is stamped into the leather just below the JAPAN stamp. The case belongs with the lens pictured above.

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First time we’ve seen the mark on a lens case. To us that implies that the case was mated with that lens from the factory (or wherever the mark was applied).

So what’s up with the <E.P> mark anyway?

As we understand it, the Japanese government needed a way to identify which pieces of photo gear were sold through military facilities and duty free shops in Japan. We feel that the mark means “Exempt Product” – cameras or electronic gear purchased without paying taxes to the government of Japan and purchased by authorized personnel (military members and their families, tourists and by diplomatic members and their families). We’ve seen alternate meanings as “Post Exchange” (military base stores) but U.S. Navy stores are called “Navy Exchange – NEX” and U.S. Army/Air Force stores are “BX/PX or Base Exchange/Post Exchange”. It’s hard to make “NEX or BX” into “EP”.  Other explanations of <E.P> include: Export Permitted (or Export Permit), Exchange Program and Export Production.

The “Black Market”.

The majority of the photo gear we have in our collection that bears the <E.P> mark, was in fact purchased through military facilities and not at duty free shops. Another cause for concern after the War, and we know this first hand from having lived in Japan in the late 1970s, was the so called black market that may have existed (it did) in Japan. The difference between what a service member could buy a camera for at the Navy Exchange (reduced cost and no taxes) and what that same item sold for at a Japanese camera store was just too great not to tempt some selling on the black market. The military stores kept tabs on the amount of tobacco and liquor that a family could purchase and big ticket items (cameras and stereo equipment) included a statement on the receipt that the service member would check and then sign that the item was for their personal use. A direct reminder that you were not to resell the item to unauthorized individuals. Our guess would be that if a Japanese citizen had a camera in their possession with the <E.P> mark it would be easy to question where it was purchased. However, the <E.P> marks were normally on parts of the camera that could be removed and replaced with non marked parts. No system is perfect so if there’s a will they’ll be a way.

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The <EP> mark on a Yashica-Mat from 1960.

So, does the mark make my photo gear more valuable? Yes. Collectible? Yes. Desirable? Yes. But to whom?

Like anything that’s collected, if someone wants it just because of the mark (in this case), then the <E.P> mark makes your item more desirable. In the real world, the gear is no different except for the mark. But – and it’s a big but – there are fewer of them out there. In the case of the nice Yashica-Mat pictured above, let’s say that Yashica sold 1,000 of them in 1960 throughout Japan. Maybe 5% were marked <E.P> (and that may be way high). So if you want to collect a mint condition Yashica-Mat made in 1960, there may be, let’s say only 10 available worldwide at any one time, and if one of those has the mark, well that adds a nice bonus of rarity to the mix. Another way to look at the mark is that the gear was less likely purchased by a professional photographer and therefore may have been better taken care of by its owner. Lots of exceptions to that line of thinking but it does have some merits.

So there you have it. Something of an explanation. If you have photo gear from the 1950s, 1960s and sometimes from as late as the early 1970s and you have the mark, well now you know a bit more about it. If you’d like us to appraise it for you we will be more than happy to. Just contact us here on the blog and we can get something going for you.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Chris

Fujicaflex Automat – Fuji Photo Film’s 1st TLR – 1954

Vintage camera wish list item 101.

The Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., Fujicaflex 

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Designed to incorporate the best features that were available in the medium format twin-lens reflex camera market, the Fujicaflex debuted in 1954 – at a very premium price we might add. While surfing today, we stumbled upon this wonderful site from Fujifilm Europe. You can check it out here

It’s nice to see a large corporation like Fujifilm blog about some of the really cool cameras that helped make their company great. I another blog they go on to talk about the amazing Fujipet from 1957.

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For more about this wonderful camera, take a trip here too to see Mr. Yoshinobu Koyasu’s camera collection… it is not to be missed!

It’s certainly interesting to read (Fujifilm Europe’s blog) – the older posts that pay tribute to the cameras of their roots are so interesting.

Enjoy!

Chris

Pentamatic S on a walkabout.

Here’s one of our nicer S models outfitted with the “no name” add on light meter (clip on exposure meter) from Yashica.

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Another in Yashica’s short lived series of the Pentamatic 35mm SLR. This one c1961. Yashica’s first SLRs had a steep learning curve for the company. Groundbreaking for Yashica to be sure but a miss overall against the competition. Yashica’s best was still to come. We happen to appreciate the rock solid construction of this often overlooked camera… the Tomioka Optical “normal” lens focal length of 5.8cm was a bit odd but the bayonet mount lenses were sharp and attached very solidly to the body. This was not the lens that was supplied with the S – Yashica went back to the 5.5cm, f/1.8 lens. No batteries needed for either the camera or meter.

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The Pentamatic S wasn’t made in large quantities over a long period of time. Nice working examples are still available and some very nice collector quality examples are still out there. You are much more likely to find a Pentamatic S for sale than a Pentamatic II – probably by a 4 to 1 margin.

Happy hunting!

Chris

Recent Pentamatic Auction Action

As you know, here on the Fanatic we are constantly searching for new and exciting Yashica Pentamatic gear that becomes available on various collector auction sites. Here are some interesting pieces that sold recently.

First up this little gem! Unloved but working well, this ugly duck sold for just $12… shipping included! Turns out to be fully working with super nice glass and clean guts. It was made (the body) in June of 1960 and is the 5,843rd Pentamatic to roll off the factory floor.

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From June 1960. It cleaned up rather nicely. (here still dirty)

Tominon lenses were hot on the auction block – here’s what appears to be a new in the box (unverified) Tominon 10cm, f/2.8 lens with a sharp looking box.

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Very low serial number on this beautiful lens… 336!

Very nice looking original box with what looks like a complete set. This brought a solid $250 at auction. Not bad if it’s really unused and has no issues.

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And here’s another Tominon 10cm, f/2.8 lens mated with a good looking body. This lens is a tad newer (serial number wise) than the one above but still a low number… 611

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The body was made in January of 1960 so it’s part of the first wave of Pentamatics to come off the line. It has the honor of being only the 669th made since December 1959 (when the P1 was first built).

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This combo did well at auction with aggressive bidding by many bidders. It brought just over $300! Not bad for such a nice early set.

So there you have it. From $12 to over $300… a busy period for the Pentamatic.

Thanks for your visit!

Chris

Canon Sure Shot Zoom S – S AF (1989)

Part of the “Modern Classics” series of our collection. This one is from mid 1993. One of the more sophisticated AF point and shoot (click) plastic fantastic 35mm cameras of the 1990s. There were two versions of this camera – this one, the Sure Shot Zoom S and the Sure Shot Caption Zoom (with removable remote control).

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As released from the factory – still new in the box.

The zooming range covers 38-60mm. Other features include auto focus, auto film load, advance wind, auto flash and auto macro. Canon claims it has an improved autofocus control – ‘Evaluative Active System’  that looks at the entire frame and recognizes the main subject based on its distance to the camera (sounds pretty standard to me). Anyway they made a big deal about it in the owner’s manual.

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The Canon lens is Spectra-coated and is constructed with 6 elements in 6 groups. I assume it’s glass.

Canon recommends using DX-coded film. The camera automatically sets ISO 50-3200. Non DX-coded film will set to ISO 100.

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Well placed shutter release button and large LCD. The auto flash feature can be turned off. What I found surprising was that there was no “Red Eye” reduction system available. Probably too early for that.

The Canon Sure Shot Zoom S features a 3-zone metering, AE programmed system that focuses from about 60cm to infinity. It uses one 6V lithium battery (2CR5) which is still readily available (I just purchased one for $7 with free shipping).

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Nice centered viewfinder that is bright and well marked. Super simple back with easy to find and use on-off button.

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The TILT lever is pretty cool – it has two positions when you pull it out. When setting the camera down on a flat surface (like a table) for taking selfies, it tilts the camera slightly upward so as not to get the table or whatever in the pic.

The camera is large for a point and shoot – weighs in at 384 grams with the battery and compared to the 1980 model Canon A-1 35mm SLR, almost as large!

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The Sure Shot is a large camera – it fits very nicely in my hands and feels solid. The buttons are all recessed so it does take a bit of finger olympics to push them all the way in. By the way, the A-1 with my FD 24mm lens weighs in at 934 grams!

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As you hear us say all the time, if you want to collect modern film cameras from the 1980s and 1990s, the best way is if you can find a complete original set, new in the box. Why not if they’re still out there and available. They don’t make them anymore and some of these cameras are quite capable of outstanding images – some would spend crazy money on the more well known cameras for almost unnoticeable differences in the final image (especially since most people don’t enlarge and print images anymore) and scanned to a PC they’ll look just fine on a high quality monitor.

Pick up one of these Sure Shots and I’m sure you’ll be impressed with it.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Chris

Turtle Power!

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Along the banks of our backyard pond. There’s actually two turtles here. Known locally as Florida cooter or river cooter. These two are about football sized (American football).

Canon A-1 with Canon FD 500mm f8 Reflex Mirror lens on Fujicolor Superia.

Chris

Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 Lens –

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I hadn’t used my Canon A-1 in quite some time – months if not a year or more in fact. I had two rolls to send off for processing but needed to shoot the last few exposures. I threw on my favorite lens – my Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 S.S.C. from 1978 – Fujicolor Superia 400.

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I enjoy using this 24mm lens over the 20mm and the 17mm. It could be that I’m just so used to it that the other lenses haven’t had a chance to grow on me. Great perspective, relatively fast and good depth of field. Easy to focus too (and forgiving).

Chris