Happy SUNday! – Black, Silver & Fire

Yashica J3s and book

The book is ‘A Day in the Life of Japan’ published in 1985. The image is of a Buddhist monk illuminated by the burning of prayer sticks. Original image by Matthew Naythons and was taken on Mount Hiei near Kyoto.

Yashica J3 on book

Yashica J-3 single-lens reflex 35mm camera from 1962. Satin chrome finish contrasts nicely with the black leatherette. The lens is a Tomioka Optical made Auto Yashinon f/ 2.0 5cm beauty.

Yashica J3 black on book

A rather rare camera as it is Yashica’s first pro-black body in a 35mm SLR. Uses a CdS exposure meter located behind the small ‘light-gathering lens’ on the camera’s upper left side. The taking lens is gorgeous… super smooth focus and as clear as a bell. Made by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo for Yashica… Auto Yashinon 5cm f/ 2.0
Bonus pieces include the original black metal lens cap and Yashica lens shade.

The book, ‘A Day in the Life of Japan’ published in 1985 and printed in Japan, contains hundreds of images all taken on the same day on 7 June 1985. If you have a chance to find this book it is a fantastic documentation of the people and places of modern Japan.

Thanks for stopping by! Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.




Time Capsule – 1960

Another look at this post from last year. New evidence shows that the Pentamatic (original model) was released in Japan in January 1960 but as of this reblog still no instruction booklets found printed in Japanese – only English. The Pentamatic made its first appearance in the US around March-April 1960 with the first ads appearing in May.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

yashica pentamatic set The original Pentamatic.

A nice example of Yashica’s first 35mm SLR – the Pentamatic. Also known as the Pentamatic ’35’ in its earliest advertisements and sales brochures. This particular camera is from August 1960 – the same month that Yashica started production of the Pentamatic II – a model that was destined for the Japanese home market and not for world export. The Pentamatic II stayed in production only until January 1961 when it was replaced a few months later with the Pentamatic S. The original Pentamatic was first produced in December 1959 but widescale production didn’t begin until January 1960. As of this update (Oct 11, 2018), I still haven’t found evidence of an instruction booklet printed in Japanese – only English booklets so far. I would think that there must be booklets in Japanese and at least 2 or 3 other languages but none found. The Pentamatic II…

View original post 65 more words

Happy SUNday! – Silly Cool!

Under the heading of silly cool things to add to my collection, this one definitely fills the bill. Available during Expo ’70 which was held in Osaka, Japan between March and December 1970.

YSB Patch 1970

The “badge” is about 3 x 3 inches and is sewn onto a felt back with a pin for quick attachment.

Yashica was still promoting its first generation of electronic cameras in 1970. The famous Yashica TL Electro-X first hit the market in October 1968. The Electro 35 came out in 1966.



The original Yashica Sailor Boy on the left (1962) and his undated cousin on the right. My best guess is that the guy with the camera was fashioned after ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ spreading the word about Yashica’s new camera (the Electro 35) in this case. The sleeping cap, the slippers and his hand up to his mouth (not ear) to better shout the news.


I’m at a loss to explain the whys behind the apparent clown costume in this case. I get the partial reference to the previous Wee Willie Winkie design but can’t even begin to imagine why Yashica’s marketing folks took away his original sailor suit. This little figurine was pretty popular during the 1960s and 70s as the Sailor Boy was made in a wide variety of sizes from small 4 inch models up to a nearly 24-inch dealer model.

yashica www

Yashica’s possible inspiration. There are enough similarities to suggest that Yashica’s Sailor Boy was modeled after WWW.

yashica sailor boy big

Large dealer display model. I had the opportunity to acquire this guy a short time ago but apparently, I missed out.

Anyway, happy Sunday to all! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica TL-Electro

The TL-Electro was one of Yashica’s longest-running models in the very successful TL Series of 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. Don’t confuse this model with the better known TL Electro X or TL Electro X ITS. It’s a totally different camera but equally important to Yashica’s success during the 1970s.

By analyzing serial numbers my good friend Paul Sokk ( YashicaTlr.com ) and I have determined that the TL-Electro was in production from April 1972 to February 1978. There’s still a chance of finding a few cameras outside of these dates but at this time they look pretty accurate.


Original undated sales brochure for the TL-Electro.



Essentially the TL-Electro is an updated version of the Yashica TL which was first produced in November 1967. The TL used a meter needle centering system vice the lighted arrows in the TL-Electro (same side and location in the viewfinder display).


Cover of the instruction booklet dated 1974.


From the instruction booklet. These exact batteries are no longer made (due to mercury) but there are replacements available that may do the job. The alkaline replacement is APX-640 or PX-640A (at 1.5v). The batteries only power the exposure meter system and not the shutter.

Yashica TL-Electro Box Logo

Original box that was with a camera that was produced in July 1973.


Below is the Yashica TL from late 1967. The TL was the second camera in the TL Series right after the TL-Super (1966).


The very basic but highly functional Yashica TL from an undated sales brochure.

The Yashica TL and TL-Electro are almost exact matches with the exception of a few placements of the dials and levers. Of course, the TL uses a mechanical meter display system where the TL-Electro gains the IC Brain and lighted arrows for metering. I haven’t had the opportunity to weigh each body to compare them yet but I would guess that they are pretty close.

When shopping for the TL-Electro or TL obviously choose the best looking and most functional cameras that your budget will allow. The TL, Electro AX and the FFT are the hardest to find in good condition even though plenty were made over the years. All of Yashicas cameras during this period used M42 screw-in lenses so it’s easy to mix and match.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica’s TL Series of 35mm SLRs

Yashica’s evolution during the 1960s and beyond started with their first TTL (Thru-the-Lens) exposure metered cameras – the much loved TL Series which were introduced right after the successful J Series (Penta J, Reflex 35, J-3, J-5, J-P, J-4, J-7).

It began with the exceptional TL-Super in April 1966. The chronology is as follows based on serial numbers and not based on advertised or previously known release dates.

  • TL-Super          Apr 1966
  • TL                      Nov 1967
  • TL Electro-X    Oct 1968   Type 1
  • TL-E                  Jun 1969
  • TL Electro X    Jul 1969     Type 2
  • ITS                    Dec 1970
  • Electro AX       Mar 1972
  • TL-Electro       Apr 1972
  • FFT                   Jul 1973

The TL Series ended in 1978 with the last TL-Electro made. All of these Yashicas used the M42 screw-in lenses which were made by a variety of lens makers.

It’s easy to decode your camera’s serial number as Yashica used a 3 or 4 digit date code at the beginning of the serial number. As an example, here’s a serial number on a TL-E (90607952)  9 = 1969, 06 = Jun, 07952 = 7,952nd made that month in sequence from 00001.

Here’s a TL (2816946)  2 = Feb, 8 = 1968, 16946 = 16,946th made that month in sequence.

If you’ve got a serial number that you can’t quite decode send it to me at ccphotographyai@gmail.com

Thanks, Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica M42 Timeline – update 9.23.19

Yashica’s M42 screw mount 35mm SLR cameras were super successful and in some cases, groundbreaking. Yashica was known as a “Pioneer in Electronic Cameras” during the 1960s and 1970s with the TL Electro-X being the first electronically controlled SLR camera. My good friend and fellow Yashica collaborator Paul Sokk ( YashicaTlr.com ) and I have studied Yashica’s serial numbering system as it applies to their 35mm SLRs that used the universal M42 screw-in lens mount.

These dates represent the earliest finding of an individual model based solely on their serial numbers – not necessarily their release date. In some cases, the dates are still fluid as there is still the possibility of finding a stray in the wild that would prove an earlier production date.

Yashica often included a month and year in the first 3 or 4 digits of the camera’s serial number. By decoding these numbers Paul and I have come up with the following list.

  • Penta J            6/1961
  • Reflex 35        3/1962
  • J-3                    2/1963
  • J-5                    3/1964
  • J-P                    8/1964
  • J-4                    4/1965
  • TL-Super        4/1966
  • J-7                  11/1966
  • TL                  11/1967
  • TL Electro-X Type 1    10/1968
  • TL Electro X Type 2      7/1969
  • TL-E                 6/1969
  • ITS                 12/1970
  • TL-Electro     4/1972
  • Electro AX     3/1972
  • FFT                 7/1973

In some cases, the dates are from cameras that appeared in sales brochures and user manuals. We have a high degree of confidence that these dates are correct and that they reflect a true chronology of these cameras as of this post.

Here’s an example of a Yashica serial number during this period –

(81200636)   8 = 1968, 12 = DEC, and 00636 = 636th made that month.

Yashica Type 1 Back Logo

The serial number on my Yashica TL Electro-X Type 1

If you’ve found a camera that exists outside of these start dates, please feel free to let me know and if you have a serial number that you’re unable to decode send it my way. You can contact me at ccphotographyai@gmail.com

Thanks – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Undiscovered Yashica!

Well, “undiscovered” might be a bit of a stretch but at least unrecognized and undocumented as best as I can tell.

The very well known Yashica TL Electro-X but with a twist – no gothic “Y” on the pentaprism. No big deal really but it brings up some interesting questions. My good friend Paul Sokk (www.yashicatlr.com) and I have for years spent some of our free time exploring Yashica’s serial numbering system in hopes of decoding the numbers into some type of a recognizable date (if there was one to be decoded). Along the way, this version of the TL Electro-X would occasionally pop up.

Here’s the camera that’s now a part of my collection.

Yashica Type 1 Logo

The very familiar Yashica TL Electro-X except it’s just a bit unfamiliar and slightly different.

Yashica Type 1 Back Logo

Rear view of the Yashica TL Electro-X Type 1.

The serial number on this Yashica is 81200636. Here’s how it decodes: 8 = 1968, 12 = Dec, and 00636 is the sequence number for that month (December) assumed to start at 00001. Pretty simple once you’ve looked at hundreds of serial numbers.

This camera it turns out is from the first batch produced during a three month period of production (Oct-Dec 1968). I’ll refer to this as the TL Electro-X Type 1. When Yashica started making this camera again in July 1969, it saw a few changes – most noticeably the “X” was made larger and was now red, they dropped the hyphen between Electro and X and the pentaprism got its familiar gothic “Y”. I’ll call this second coming of the camera the TL Electro X Type 2 (pictured below).


TL Electro X Type 2

The camera did receive one operational change as the “FP” flash socket was added on the T2 which was not available on the T1. The other changes are mostly cosmetic and I would guess these subtle tweaks were driven by the marketing department although there could have been problems with obtaining parts or production issues.

So if these changes didn’t affect the operation of the camera then why were they done? I don’t know yet and I may never know but up to this point in time this version of the camera went unreported even though it appeared in almost two years of advertising by Yashica! It was hidden in plain sight.

Contributor Jens Erik from Denmark sent me this ad from April 1973. It shows the T1 (lower right corner) and T2 together in the same ad along with the newly released Electro AX.


Is it just a version of the original or is it truly a different type? Because there were visual and production changes made I’m calling it a different type – TL Electro-X T1.

I’ll be sharing a few more studio shots of this new Yashica soon so be sure to check back. Oh by the way, since Yashica only produced the Type 1 for a short time they’re a little hard to find on auction sites, actually quite rare when you start looking for one. Compared to the Type 2 which was in production from at least July 1969 to the end of the run in 1975, you’re looking for a camera with less than 5,000 made against hundreds of thousands made.

Check your collection… maybe this rare Yashica is hiding in plain sight!


Yashica on Broadway 1962

November-December 1962. Yashica billboard in NYC.

Yashica Ad NYC

Yashica Billboard NYC Xclose

Yashica ad from late 1962 features a typical TLR, rangefinder, and SLR popular at that time.

“Yashica Cameras, The World Over”

Yashica Billboard NYC 1

Loew’s State Theatre located at 1540 Broadway, was running the just-released “Mutiny on the Bounty” at the time these photos were taken.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris


Yashica TL-Super!

Another look at this groundbreaking camera from Yashica. This was the start of something big – very big!

Yashica TL-Super with Box

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

Another big step in Yashica’s growth was the groundbreaking introduction of the TL-Super in 1966. Yashica started making 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras in 1959 with the Pentamatic ’35’. The Pentamatic was a solid first offering by Yashica but it was a timid first step. On one hand, the Pentamatic was a beast but lacked some serious upgrades… no self timer and no built-in exposure meter. The self timer was not much of an issue as Yashica made an accessory timer that could be used on many of their camera platforms and was simple to use. There was an option to buy a separate exposure meter (more money) and slide it on the accessory shoe so that at least you didn’t have to hold a meter in your hand to take a meter reading. Awkward. What was groundbreaking for the TL-Super is the fact that two CdS resistors were mounted…

View original post 467 more words

Yashica’s Ultra Rare “Yasinon” Lenses

It appears (after further review) that Zunow Optical did make some of the very earliest cine lenses for Yashica’s movie cameras. The Yasinon name also appears on the early lenses for the Yashica 35 rangefinder but there is no evidence that Zunow made the lenses for that 35mm camera. It’s more likely that Tomioka made these lenses.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

Are these previously unknown lenses made by Zunow Optical?

My good friend Paul Sokk (www.yashicatlr.com) spotted a rather unique lens name in a Yashica catalog that I sent him. The catalog is from 1958.

yasinon lens box Look closely at the two boxes in the lower center part of the scan. Plainly marked is the name “Yasinon” and Yashica. Just to the right are two boxes made in the same style that displays the lens maker “Zunow”.

yasinon zunow lens From the same year Yashica catalog here’s a grouping of three 8mm movie camera lenses – two marked made by Zunow and one marked with the name “Yasinon”.

What’s the most interesting about this discovery is that the name Yasinon was unknown to us prior to seeing these catalogs.

yasinon yashica 35 bro 1 Yashica’s first 35mm camera – the Yashica 35. If you look closely at the camera lenses you’ll see that they’re marked with the Yasinon name.

View original post 197 more words