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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Yashica Flex S Instructions

Yashica Flex S Inst (1)

Ultra rare and very early Yashica Flex Model S instructions. Not many of these leaflets survived their journey through time. This one is barely holding on to life. A small peek at Yashima’s early days before becoming Yashica. By the way… this camera was the first Japanese made TLR with a built-in exposure meter! A pretty modern concept in 1954!

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.

New camera in the house!

Yep – another new to me camera has arrived. A Yashima Flex twin-lens reflex (TLR) 120 roll film camera. It takes images that are square at 6×6 cm (2.25 x 2.25 inches). That’s a really big negative that lends itself to high-quality scans and awesome prints.

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From May 1954 (originally sold at Camera Onuki in Yokohama).

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Tomioka made lenses produce super sharp images.

I’ll do some gentle cleaning and restorative repairs internally. I’ll remove the focusing hood and do some cleaning of the reflex mirror and the rear elements of the glass lenses.

The shutter on this does fire at all speeds but they don’t sound accurate. Often with these older cameras, they start to improve with regular use. I would like to shoot a roll of film or two as it would be a blast to see the final images.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be providing updates as I go along. – 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.

Restoring a vintage camera box – carefully.

Collectors are a strange lot – for many it’s the thrill of the chase and the found item quickly fades into the background. For me, since I collect vintage cameras and photo gear, the items I purchase are often fifty or more years old and some like this box are as old as I am. In this case, this Yashima Flex box is sixty-five years old – vintage just like me.

When I collect items such as this, I enjoy not only the thrill of the chase but the history behind the item – where was it sold originally and if I can, when was it sold. In this case, Yokohama, Japan and 1954. I also enjoy restoring my cameras and associated bits as not only a way to preserve them but also to increase their value for when it’s time to pass them along to the next collector.

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“Fresh” from Japan – my 65-year-old Yashima Flex TLR presentation box complete with six decades of dirt, soot, DNA and grime. Although someone taped the box together years ago (I’m not a fan of doing that) it at least kept the box in one piece.

Step one (for me) is to clean the surfaces of all that grime. Often with these paperboard boxes, mold will grow in the layers of dirt and the mold spores will eventually break down the paper. In many cases, the mold (and mildew) will permanently stain and discolor the paper (not good). This box does have permanent staining but at least it should stop spreading.

***Please Note: I’ve cleaned about a dozen or so boxes like this one over the years, mostly boxes from the 1950s and mostly boxes made for Yashima-Yashica cameras. Your box may differ in its construction and the paper may respond to cleaning in a less than desirable way. One of the first things you should do is test this cleaning method on an inconspicuous part of the box.

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Mr. Clean is all you need (and a steady hand). The secret to cleaning the box with a Magic Eraser is to use a very lightly moistened pad (rinsed regularly) and to apply steady gentle pressure.  No scrubbing! It will take several passes with the pad to remove all of the grime. Do not let the paper get too wet and always give the surface a chance to dry before recleaning.

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Before cleaning. Pretty dirty – pretty nasty.

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After only a few gentle passes with the Magic Eraser (top part), things are looking much better. It’s not going to clean everything off the paper on your first attempt and you’ll likely need to repeat the process. Slow and steady wins the race – you’re only trying to remove the soil and not damage the delicate paper.

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Sixty-five years of grime – removed.

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Steps two, three and more I’ll cover in another post. For now, I’ll need to finish cleaning the remainder of the box. My future plans call for stabilizing the structure of the box (a bead of clear glue along the inner seams) and a go at removing the exterior tape.

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.