Was this beautiful lens, which was made exclusively for the Pentamatic II designed by Zunow Optical?

Simple Answer – Yes

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Yashica Auto Yashinon f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens designed exclusively for Yashica’s Pentamatic II. It appears for the first time in August 1960 and disappears from use by Yashica in January 1961. There’s no documentation about the lens and no hard evidence that Zunow made the lens. Hard evidence would be sales brochures or advertisements that specifically link Yashica and Zunow. Co-branding on the lens ring would have been nice but never happened. Unfortunately our claim that it was made by Zunow is, at this point in time, circumstantial and coincidental. Much more digging around needs to be done on our part.

The lens features the unique Pentamatic bayonet mount that couldn’t be used on any other SLR of the time without an adapter. That in and of itself could have been a major reason for the quick demise of the Pentamatic series of cameras.

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Two “clues” that link this lens to Zunow – the serial number style with its unique “No xxxxxx” vice the more typical serial number style that Tomioka used “No. xxxxxxxx” at the time (as did most lens makers). Another clue, the style of the lowercase “a” in Japan. Most Zunow lenses used a fat “a” vice the keyboard style lowercase “a”. We know, these are hardly the type of clues needed to link the two but they’re good ones for now.

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Close-up of a Zunow made f/ 1.8 4.5cm lens for the Yashica Lynx-1000 (1960). Note the fat “a” and distinctive serial number style.

Could the f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens have been made by Tomioka Optical? Of course, Tomioka was the almost exclusive lens supplier to Yashica since the beginnings of Yashica in 1953. We feel that Tomioka had their hands full making nearly 1,500 lenses per month for Yashica’s first Pentamatic model (which was still very much in production at the time), and then taking on this lens at about 1,000 lenses per month for the Pentamatic II may have been a bit much for Tomioka.

This lens is so radically different in design and function of other Tomioka made SLR lenses of the time (Tomioka only started making lenses for an SLR in September 1959 with no known examples found before that).

Here’s a peek inside of this lens –

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It features quality construction throughout and what we feel is another Zunow cue, 10 aperture blades. The Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens for the original Pentamatic has only 6 blades. We’ve yet to take one apart (soon).

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Pictured above is the f/ 1.7 5.8 Pentamatic II lens with its 10 aperture blades. Below, the front lens group removed from the lens barrel.

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Original sales brochure (below) dated February 1961 featuring the Pentamatic II and its very unique lens.

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Is All of This Enough to Prove a Connection to Zunow?

No of course not. Our claim is a merely a starting point for further discussions and discoveries. We hope to disassemble the Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens that was made for the first Pentamatic and compare it to this f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens for the Pentamatic II. By the way, the Pentamatic II was only available for sale in the domestic markets in Japan. There’s no evidence that it was ever exported. We do know that Zunow Optical and Yashica did have a working relationship by the mid 1950s with Zunow supplying high quality D mount cine lenses for Yashica’s 8mm movie cameras (see below).

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Thanks for your visit! Comments are always welcome and your input is important to us. This post is designed to stimulate discussion as to the validity of our assertions. Heck, we may have missed significant clues along the way that would either prove or disprove our claim.

By the way. A special shout out to my good friend and fellow Yashicaphile, Paul Sokk! Our frequent correspondence on this subject first planted the seed that this lens could have been made by Zunow. Paul rightly reminded me that the bankruptcy of Zunow in January 1961 coincided with Yashica stopping production of the Pentamatic II. Yashica is thought to have acquired Zunow after that and one would assume all of Zunow’s assets and debts.

Chris

Be sure to stop by our online store CC’s Studio Twenty-3 Eighty at https://www.ccstudio2380.com for some neat items of photographic interest! Thanks, C&C

Fujifilm GF670 Professional

Fujifilm GF670 Sales Brochure

Super hard to find sales brochure from Fujifilm for the popular and desirable GF670 Professional 6x6 / 6x7 medium format film camera. Full color large format about 21x30 cm. All specs, features and accessories. In mint new condition with only the slightest bend on the lower right cover. Add this beautiful brochure to your photographic collection. Mails to the USA for free! International buyers please request a quote for shipping.

$25.00

One of Fujifilm’s most popular (and expensive) modern film cameras. This rare brochure will enhance any photographic library and make a nice addition to your Fujifilm GF670 collection.

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We have a rather large collection of photographic sales brochures. Let us know if there’s one we can find for you.

Thanks,

Chris

Fujifilm Klasse

Fujifilm Klasse Sales Brochure

Beautiful all original sales brochure from Fujifilm (dated April 2012). This large brochure (about 21 x 30cm) is in full color and opens to a large centerfold. Packed with tons of information and features the specs direct from Fujifilm. It’s in mint new condition. Perfect for your reference collection. Mails worldwide. Ask for a shipping quote. Mails to the USA for $6.75 via USPS Priority Mail.

$20.00

 

A beautiful “wish we had” camera from Fujifilm. 

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Thanks for looking!

Chris

More Lynx – 1961

Sharing a bit of our original Yashica Lynx sales brochure which is dated February 1961.

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This is one of our first sales brochures related to the Lynx which made its debut in mid 1960. The lens featured is a late 1960 version of the f/1.8 4.5cm Tomioka-Yashinon. This lens also appears in what looks to be the second version of the Lynx instruction booklet.

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The second part of the brochure shows the body serial number (NO. 650048) which would indicate that this camera was made in May 1960. This camera appears in other brochures and flyers throughout the camera’s run.

We believe there were two versions of the Lynx instruction booklet. The first would have been included with the release of the Lynx around May 1960. In the second version of the Yashica instruction booklet, the body serial number is obscured but the lens serial number shows clearly and it’s the same serial number as the one in this brochure. The lens SN would put it as made between September and November 1960. Thanks Paul!

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Front cover of the Yashica 35mm sales brochure dated February 1961. Note the use of the “Yashica Girl” in the lower right corner. She and two similar friends appear now and then on brochures during this period.

By the way, the listed selling price of the Lynx ( ¥22,000 ) equalled $62 USD in May of 1960.

Thanks for stopping by! Comments always welcome!

C & C

Yashica Lynx – the ‘Wildcat’ in Yashica’s den!

We haven’t paid much attention to rangefinder cameras here on the “Fanatic” – it’s not that we don’t find them interesting – quite the opposite, many rangefinder cameras associated with Yashica are groundbreaking and historically significant and are worthy of further research.

The Yashica Lynx – aka the Lynx-1000. It was the first in a long line of successful fixed-lens rangefinder cameras from Yashica in the early 1960s. The first Lynx was made in May 1960 based on the serial number of the camera in an early sales brochure (in English below).

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We find early sales brochures extremely helpful when attempting to place a date of production of a camera. In this case, the serial number NO. 650048 would indicate that the Lynx was first produced in May 1960 (6 = 1960, 5 = May, 0048 = number 48th made).

This early box (below) confirms that Yashica referred to the camera as just the Lynx vice Lynx-1000 when it was first released. The success of the Lynx paved the way for the subsequent versions of the camera.

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Yashica Lynx Box 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to get a Lynx mainly because of the reputation of its fast Yashinon f/1.8 4.5cm lens. The Lynx we received (below) has a working shutter and super clean glass. The camera’s exposure meter does not work which is typical for these nearly 60 year old cameras.

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An overall clean example but missing an important piece – the rangefinder window is obviously missing with some damage visible to the internal pieces of the finder (top center above the lens).

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Our camera was produced in August 1960 and was the 723rd made.

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This lens (our camera) features a unique serial number (only 6 digits long) and is in a font that’s not consistent with earlier versions or versions that came later. We feel that this type of lens was made by Zunow Optical vice Tomioka Optical.

The lens on the Yashica Lynx has earned high praise and its reputation amongst photographers is top-notch. For the time period having a fast f/1.8 aperture combined with a leaf shutter (Copal-SV) with a top speed of 1/1000 second was a nice feature in a low cost rangefinder.

***There is some chatter on more than a few Japanese blogs that some of the earliest lenses for the Lynx were made by the Zunow Optical Company. The majority of the lenses were made by Yashica’s normal lens maker, Tomioka Optical of Tokyo. No verifiable references or links are given in these Japanese blogs as to the source(s) of this claim – it would appear that at this time it may be a case of one blogger makes the claim and others simply followed suite. We’re not disputing these claims, in fact we’re intrigued by them and have set out to either prove or disprove them. Zunow has an interesting place in the Japanese camera industry of the 1950s. In early 1958, Zunow made one of Japan’s first modern 35mm SLR cameras with a semi-automatic lens and instant return mirror. Interestingly the Zunow 35 and the Yashica Pentamatic 35 (Yashica’s first 35mm SLR –  1959) share a related look and design style that goes beyond coincidence. More on this in another post.

Back to Zunow Optical and the possible connection to the Lynx. Below is an example of a very similar looking f/1.8 4.5cm lens from Zunow made in about 1959 and was fixed to the Neoca-SV.

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Zunow f/1.8 4.5cm lens on the Neoca-SV. Compare the lens ring font with the font on the Yashinon lens pictured earlier in this post. To us, these were made by the same manufacturer.

One of the biggest clues for us that some of the Japanese bloggers claims that Zunow and Tomioka made the lenses for the Lynx are the similarities of the serial number fonts. The lens with the serial number No 40450 (Zunow pictured above) is in the same style as the serial number on our Yashinon lens (No359708). We have another Lynx headed our way with what we feel is a Tomioka version of the lens. We’ll take both lenses apart to see if there are differences in the design.

Thanks for stopping by! If you have additional information about anything we’ve blogged about please feel free to contact us. We’re never too old to learn something new!

Chris and Carol ^.^

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Zunow lens on the Neoca-SV

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Zunow? lens of the Yashica Lynx.

Nicca Type 33 and the Yashica YE… Mighty Morphing Classic Cameras!

Some background – Yashica acquired Nicca in May 1958. Nicca was well known for making high quality 35mm rangefinder cameras since the late 1940s.

Nicca cameras normally came with lenses branded as Nikkor. When the Nicca Type 33 was released in 1958, it came with a Nicca branded lens. We don’t know if Nicca was the actual lens maker or another company made the lens and Nicca had their name affixed. Either way, when Yashica took over the company the Nicca 33 was sold with the Nicca branded lens.

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Cute original advertisement from July-August 1958 for the Nicca Type 33 35mm camera and lens.

If you look closely at the ad above, you can see that the lens is marked “Nicca Camera CO.” and is a 50mm f2.8 lens. The serial number isn’t completely clear but looks like a prototype number or some sort (maybe not)… maybe 8000 or something. The list price is interesting too at ¥28,000.

The serial number of the camera body is No. 157571 – which if it was recently made would put it about mid production. It’s claimed that only 1,000 units were made over a short period during 1958.

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Beautiful condition Nicca branded lens that recently sold at auction in Japan. Note the 4 digit serial number.

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Original Type 33 instruction booklet.

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The booklet is dated (33. 7. 1M.) which should be 1958 July.

The Yashica YE – with some minor physical changes to the top plate, the Nicca 33 is now the Yashica YE!

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Note the significant price difference from the Type 33. This ad is from about March 1959.

There is some conflict over exactly when Yashica released (or started building) the YE. Our thought is Yashica would wait until all of the Nicca Type 33 bodies and Nicca lenses were used before building their version. Since the YE was Yashica’s first 35mm rangefinder camera, you would think Yashica would want to bring the YE to market as soon as possible. The YE has the “new” Yashikor 5cm f2.8 lens – we’re unsure if this is a redesign of the Nicca lens that’s on the 33 or another lens made for them by Tomioka Optical or, a new lens made by Nicca for Yashica. Confusing we know. It gets even more confusing since Yashica didn’t “officially” complete the transaction with Nicca until the late 1960s! In the meantime, Nicca became Taiho Optical… a name that Yashica bestowed upon its newly acquired company. Go figure.

So when did the first Yashica YE models roll off the assembly line? Well we think we’ve decoded the serial numbers that Yashica etched into the YE. If our interpretation is correct, Yashica assigned a simple date code to them. Some sites claim that the YE came out in 1959 and still others claim 1958. Exact months were not given.

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Our recently acquired Yashica YE.  We’re not sure which lens we want to get for it yet. Of course it takes any lens with the L39 screw mount.

In our example below, the serial number (No. 392745) decodes to: 3 = March, 9 = 1959, and 2745 = 2,745th made since December 1958.

Why use December 1958 as the start date? We’ve seen a very nice Yashica YE with the following serial number (No. 128049) which decodes to: 12 = December, 8 = 1958, and 049 = the 49th made. We’re not in a position yet to conclusively claim that this is how to decode the serial numbers, but we feel very confident based on previous experience.

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Our YE has a bit of surface corrosion here and there but it’s clean inside and out and has (not yet fully tested) a working shutter that sounds great at all speeds. The rangefinder windows are a bit cloudy but still viewable.

A note about the selling prices between the two cameras. The Nicca Type 33 listed for ¥28,000 and the newer YE for ¥23,800. Was this a perfect example of Yashica being able to deliver the same camera at a better price due to their sheer size or was it Nicca listing the camera at its fair price?

It’s claimed that the YE was produced at around 4,000 units during a short production run from December to June). We’ve seen the serial numbers go from a low of 128049 to 699821. If the production number is correct, then the serial numbers did not run continuous… or did they? If they did, then nearly 10,000 were made.

 

Japanese Pentamatic II Brochure

Sales brochure from early 1961. Rather rare (here in the US and I’m sure everywhere now) sales brochure for the Yashica Pentamatic II. It appears now, after much research and blind luck, that the Pentamatic II was for sale only in Japan and only for a few months. Studies of the body serial numbers and of the serial numbers of the exclusive lens for the Pentamatic II (many thanks to my friend Paul Sokk of http://www.yashicatlr.com fame) confirms this finding.

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The Japanese market sales brochure from February 1961. Also pictured is the Pentamatic S from our collection.

It’s still a mystery to us as to why the Pentamatic II never made it to markets outside of Japan and why it was only available for a short time before the model S was released. Short of being able to interview a former member of Yashica’s marketing team, we may never know. We’re still searching for a Yashica sales brochure in English with the Pentamatic II featured. Obviously we’re also interested in sales brochure from any country outside of Japan for proof. Do you have one? We’d love to see anything – even an ad would be nice.

Many thanks!

Chris & Carol

Yashica Penta J and the J-P

Yashica’s first 35mm single-lens reflex camera with the Praktica-thread (M42) mount lenses was the Yashica Penta J… at least here in the United States and in Japan. Elsewhere (most of the world) the camera was known as either the Yashica Reflex 35 or Reflex J (Australia and possibly the U.K.). As best we can tell, they were all the same cameras with different top plates to accommodate the different names (logos).

Part of the demise (lack of sales success) of the well-built Pentamatic series of cameras that preceded the Penta J, was that Yashica decided to go with a Pentamatic exclusive bayonet mount lens system. Sturdy and well designed to be sure, but being unique limited the available lenses that could be swapped between cameras. The Praktica design M42 screw thread mounting system was in widespread use at the time and Yashica’s bayonet design just went against the flow.

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Now fast forward to 1965 ish… Yashica introduces the new J-5 AND the J-P! In between those years Yashica had introduced the J-3 and J-4. Why would Yashica go back in time and bring out another 35mm SLR in 1965 that was the cousin to the 1961 Penta J? Notice we say cousins… not brothers. They shared the same platform with one another but as you can see in the image below the top plates were of a different design.

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Yashica J-P 6-27-15 Papers

Stay tuned… more to come on these Yashica classics.

Many thanks, Chris and Carol

Yashinon Lenses – 1962*

That date* might be a bit misleading as the sales brochure this was scanned from is undated (as is most Yashica marketing stuff). Our only clue as to the date is that it (the brochure) features the newly released J-3 and doesn’t include any other Yashica SLR. No Penta J or Reflex 35 (same camera different markets) and no J-5.

We like it because it features the Yashinon lenses available at that time. If you look closely at the mounts of the lenses, you’ll see the M42 screw-in mount. Yashica does state in the brochure that all of these lenses are available in both the Yashica Pentamatic bayonet mount and the M42 mount. My friend Paul, see An Interview with Paul Sokk – Site Author of the popular YashicaTLR.com , has proposed that Yashica may have distributed these lenses to dealers (market dependent) with both mounts – meaning that they were shipped with the “new to Yashica” M42 mounts but could be converted easily at the dealer level to bayonet mounts for the Pentamatic. Sounds very possible. At this time, Yashica also sold adapter rings for mounting their M42 lenses to Exakta mount bodies and for mounting Praktica mount (M42) lenses to their Pentamatics. Confusing? Yes. Yashica guessed incorrectly when they choose to design their own bayonet mount for the Pentamatic back in 1959. Was it Yashica or was it Tomioka’s designers? How about the ex Nicca and Zunow designers? We may never know but it doomed the Pentamatic right out of the gate.

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Excellent snapshot of the lenses that were available at the time. The dual mounts (bayonet and M42) reflects Yashica’s indecision as to which mount to embrace.

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Cover of the sales brochure that was included with our Yashica J-3 when new.

It is generally believed that all of these lenses were made by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo.

While some early Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses bear the Tomioka and sometimes Tominon names, most only carry Yashica and Yashinon. The same applies to the M42 mount lenses. Some can be found with Tominon but most simply have Yashinon. We don’t have positive proof that some lenses (both types) may have been made by another lens manufacturer. But whom? Taiho Optical (which was the former Nicca Camera hidden away in Suwa) but was really Yashica, or or or. We just don’t know. Pure speculation to think that another company did, but then again, no proof that there wasn’t another maker.

Thanks so much for your visit! If you made it this far you just may be a “Yashicaphile” or just Yashica junkies like us. Do you have something to contribute??? We’d love to hear from you and would love to include your info in our blog. Thanks! ^.^

Chris & Carol

Cute or uncomfortable by today’s standards?

Is this image from a mid 1960s Yashica camera instruction booklet simply cute or does it make you feel a tad uncomfortable?

Is it a fun reminder of how the world was in 1965 – a bit “western obsessed”? Was it a little out of line even then? If this image were to be posted to a social media site today, what would the reaction be?

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The original full context image from the booklet.

Weigh in if you’d like. We’d like to know your feelings.

Thanks, Chris and Carol