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

Unique Yashica TL Electro-X from Denmark – Update 1

I’ve added some changes to my original post. It appears that there are two versions of this popular camera – the Type 1 and Type 2. I’ll share another post soon to cover the details. – Chris

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

Many thanks to reader Jens Erik at http://www.jebsign.dk for sharing a photo of his Yashica TL Electro-X with me recently. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it appears that a distributor of Yashica cameras and photo gear (Kirk) in Denmark had a rather neat twist on this popular SLR. Here’s the ad that ran in 1969 –

1969 April, Yashica TL Electro-X

Here’s Jens Erik’s Yashica – his TL Electro-X matches the one depicted in the Yashica ad from 1969 and it clearly shows that the “X” is black vice the typical red and that the gothic “Y” that would normally be on the pentaprism is “missing”.

tlelectroxdk An example of an early version of this popular Yashica. The lens is not the lens that would have been on the camera at the time of its release. I’ll call this version the Type 1.

Updated info as of September 2019. It now appears that…

View original post 315 more words

Yashica 35 – Yashima’s first 35mm camera!

Yashima Optical Industries Company, Limited (Yashima) released their first 35mm rangefinder camera in April 1958. The camera was in development for at least a year (no proof of that but it seems reasonable to assume that an established TLR camera maker didn’t just pull this camera out of thin air). It could have been developed totally in-house as there is only speculation that Yashima received outside assistance in its development.

Here’s my earliest example of this historic camera. Note that the lens is marked “Yasinon” vice “Yashinon”. Yashima released at least two months of cameras (April and May 1958) with those markings before changing to what we now know as Yashinon.


My recently acquired Yashica 35 with 60 or more years of dirt! Straight from an online seller in Japan. Note the unfamiliar “Yasinon” lens. These super early examples are rather hard to find since there were only two months of production.


The good news is that it appears the camera lived most of its life in its leather case so there’s no damage to the surfaces of the body and lens. The bad news about living in a leather case is that it tends to support the growth of mold and fungus on the glass elements of the lens and in the rangefinder.


The dirt is mostly made up of dust and fibers from the felt lining of the leather case and not soot and finger grime – which is a good thing. Sometimes this type of dirt actually keeps the surfaces protected from metal corrosion as long as it’s been stored in a dry environment.

Yashica 35 Japan

What it looked like on the Japanese auction site.

After some initial cleaning of the exterior (see below) with a bunch of Q-tips and some Windex, the camera is looking a whole lot better.


I use Q-tips and a bit of Windex to gently clean the surfaces of the camera. The Windex leaves no residue and doesn’t harm the leatherette, metal or glass (I’ve safely used that for years). I use the super soft toothbrush to gently clean those hard to reach crevices and to polish the surfaces to a nice sheen.


Looking sharp but not perfect. If I want a totally clean and usable camera I’ll have to remove the top plate and clean the rangefinder and viewfinder elements. The rangefinder is accurate and focus is easy to obtain but it’s just a little dim inside. If you look closely at the center of the lens you will see the patch of fungus. Unfortunately, that is not cleanable.


The serial number, No. 843945, decodes to 8 = 1958, 4 = April, 3945 is the production sequence number 3,945 since production began in April.

This is one of the earliest examples of this fine camera having been built sometime in April 1958. Yashima used quality materials and production techniques as the fit and feel of the camera are of a much more expensive camera.

IMG_20180615_0005 logo

Earliest sales brochure for the Yashica 35. The serial number of the camera pictured is just a bit earlier than my new camera. Here it’s No. 843002 and mine is No. 843945.


Same brochure as pictured above. The f1.9 lens model is on the left. The serial number on the lens is No. 18275. Mine is No. 20254.

If you look closely, the lens is described as a Yashinon F1.9 even though the lens says Yasinon. Yashima was in the process of changing over or was it them catching a mistake?

IMG_20180625_0001 logo

BTW, 17,000 JPY was about $47 USD in April 1958

By the way, it’s generally believed that these two lenses were made for Yashima by Tomioka Optical. Yashima did have a relationship with Zunow Optical by there’s no proof that these lenses are from Zunow.

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.

Exploring the early days of Yashima (Yashica) – 1954

From 1950 through 1955 literally hundreds of photographic startups were hoping to capitalize on the booming post-war camera craze sweeping Japan and the United States. Many would fail and fail quickly but many went on to prosper and achieve phenomenal success by the end of the decade. This was Yashima’s first camera to carry the company name – the Yashima Flex.

I’m going to focus on what would appear to be just a simple thing – something that would be thrown away as soon as the camera was unboxed. This inspection tag and the guaranty document can tell us a lot about the company that went on to become an international innovator of quality cameras at an exceptional value. Her’s the story.

YashimaFlex Tag Paul Version (1)

Original “Inspection Form” that came with my Yashima Flex TLR. This is the earliest one found so far and it’s amazing that it made it the 65 years since it was first filled in.

For such a young company, Yashima looked as though it cared about producing a quality camera that would function as designed right out of the box. This tag was with my recently acquired Yashima Flex TLR which was sold in May 1954 at a camera shop in Yokohama. I’m going to speculate that the tag was completed and the various tests performed while the camera was still on the factory floor. My translation app hasn’t done a very good job with translating all of the tag but I do get “Inspection Form” across the top and of course, the company name, address, and phone number across the bottom. The camera’s serial number has been entered but not the Showa date info (what a shame). It’s interesting to note that the different tests are written in English for a camera that probably wasn’t meant for export. The red stamps are from each stage of the process and identify each inspector.

The reverse side of the tag has the word “Guaranty” clearly stamped with the company logo just beneath it. I don’t know the meaning of the “EP” and I don’t have a clear translation of the kanji across the bottom half.

Later in the process of readying the camera for distribution to the trading company, the formal Guaranty Certificate was included (see below).

Yashima Flex Guaranty Card

Original Guaranty Certificate that accompanied the camera set.

What I find most intriguing is that the camera received another round of tests with a different group of inspectors. Back in 1954 in such a new company that’s impressive and previously undocumented. This certificate does carry a date indicated by Showa 29 which is 1954. I’m further impressed by the fact that they had a stamp for the name of the camera and that the certificate has a line for an Electric Exposure Meter Test when no camera existed yet with a meter. The Yashica Flex model S (first TLR with a meter) was not yet released but must have been close to being finished.

Admittedly none of this is world-shaking info but to a lifelong Yashica collector and researcher, this is BIG. Every little clue sheds more light on the earliest days of this famous company.

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.