Tripod Mystery

Yashica sold a line of excellent tripods in the late 1950s and ’60s which I always assumed were in fact made by Yashica. The ones that I own are of high quality and functionality and are a source of pride in my Yashica collection. Oh, there were moments of doubt when I would ask myself why a major camera maker like Yashica would “mess around” with something as small as a tripod when there were more important things to make. I guess one could argue that since Yashica already possessed machinery and forging capabilities why not make some branded tripods to sell alongside your cameras.

But it seems unlikely to me that someone who had just purchased a Canon or Nikon camera would then go on to buy a Yashica branded tripod unless there was something unique about it or it was a better value over the others. The marketplace during this time period was flooded with inexpensive tripods from an array of sellers. Why bother making something that has a slim profit margin? But who really made these tripods? I don’t have the answers to those questions yet but it’s been a fun little discovery up to this point. Here’s a look at something I thought was uniquely Yashica.

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The Yashica MY-15 tripod from the late 1950s

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A wonderful little gem of engineering from Yashica – but is it?

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that these three tripods are related.

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The Yashica MY-15 far left, the Manon center and the Velbon Deluxe far right.

The Manon claims to be the model 400 but that’s hasn’t been verified by me yet. It’s an exact match to the Yashica except for the legs being black. The Velbon is marked “V” and “Deluxe” but I’ve also seen them without the “V”. It’s an almost exact match to the other two except the center elevator shaft is round vice triangular.

So my question is who really made these? Velbon was founded in Japan in 1955 and was primarily a tripod maker. They’re still going strong today and make a wide array of tripods. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in the early 1980s and then promptly killed Yashica. I believe Manon no longer exists.

So, did Yashica make their MY-15 tripod for the others? Unlikely as that wasn’t their core activity then. Manon could be a player as tripods were right up their alley. But my best guess ATM is that the model MY-15 that Yashica sold was made for them by Velbon. Companies such as Gold-Crest, Holmar, Bogen, Sunset, Vivo and countless others could have been the makers too but these three are the only perfect matches so far.

Have you got a tripod that looks like one of these but it’s branded by another company? Please let me know as I’d love to find more. Thanks

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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