To us, a super find!
To others, a big “oh, okay”. The Yashica Penta J was Yashica’s first 35mm SLR camera to use the common m42 screw-in lens mount. Released around September (?) 1961, it was basically a continuation of the Pentamatic series but with the different lens mount. The Penta J appears to have at least 3 versions – Version 1 (image below) retains the closest design to the Pentamatic S (minus the self timer lever below the shutter release button, the small lens release button and the neck strap lugs discussed below).
Yashica Penta J version 1.
Please note as to where the neck strap lugs are on this version of the Penta J (pictured above). The strap lugs are on the sides of the camera vice on the front as in later Yashica SLRs. Notice where the strap lugs have been moved to on the Pentamatic S (pictured below).
The strap lugs have been moved to the front of the top plate on the Pentamatic S. This was a departure from the first two Pentamatic models (pictured below).
The original Pentamatic ’35’ (left) and its Japanese market only cousin the Pentamatic II. Note that the strap lugs are just like the first version of the Penta J.
One of the things that’s been troubling us about the Penta J, is where did Yashica come up with the “J”? Were they following a progression of the alphabet? Did they just like the sound and look of the “J”? We can guess that the “Penta” was lifted from the camera it was replacing, the Pentamatic. As it turns out, the answer as to what the “J” stands for has been in a Japanese ad that we’ve had for years (image below) and never noticed until now!
We think this is one of the first ads for the Penta J anywhere. We don’t know if the camera pictured in the ad has the “filled-in J” like the Penta J version 1 camera above. The clue as to what the “J” stands for is circled in red and underlined in green.
If you look closely at the Japanese characters that I’ve circled in red, ジャガー they represent the word “jaguar”. If you then go to either Google Japan or Yahoo Japan and search for “Yashica Jaguar”, you’ll see at least 3 different blogs that refer to the Penta J as the “Jaguar”.
With that mystery (to us) solved, I believe that the Penta J fits in nicely to another camera that Yashica released in the summer of 1960 – the Yashica Lynx-1000 which is a 35mm fixed lens rangefinder camera (image below).
The Yashica Lynx. Released about a year before the Penta J = Jaguar.
The ad states that the camera goes by the nickname of the “wildcat” hence the name “Lynx” and that it “catches the moving body agility like its name”.
So there you have it – a minor mystery solved… and the answer was staring us right in the face!
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