The Yashica Penta J – aka Yashica Jaguar

To us, a super find!

To others, a big “oh, okay”. The Yashica Penta J was Yashica’s first 35mm SLR camera to use the common m42 screw-in lens mount. Released around September (?) 1961, it was basically a continuation of the Pentamatic series but with the different lens mount. The Penta J appears to have at least 3 versions – Version 1 (image below) retains the closest design to the Pentamatic S (minus the self timer lever below the shutter release button, the small lens release button and the neck strap lugs discussed below).

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Yashica Penta J version 1.

Please note as to where the neck strap lugs are on this version of the Penta J (pictured above). The strap lugs are on the sides of the camera vice on the front as in later Yashica SLRs. Notice where the strap lugs have been moved to on the Pentamatic S (pictured below).

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The strap lugs have been moved to the front of the top plate on the Pentamatic S. This was a departure from the first two Pentamatic models (pictured below).

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The original Pentamatic ’35’ (left) and its Japanese market only cousin the Pentamatic II. Note that the strap lugs are just like the first version of the Penta J.

One of the things that’s been troubling us about the Penta J, is where did Yashica come up with the “J”? Were they following a progression of the alphabet? Did they just like the sound and look of the “J”? We can guess that the “Penta” was lifted from the camera it was replacing, the Pentamatic. As it turns out, the answer as to what the “J” stands for has been in a Japanese ad that we’ve had for years (image below) and never noticed until now!

pentaj ad japan

We think this is one of the first ads for the Penta J anywhere. We don’t know if the camera pictured in the ad has the “filled-in J” like the Penta J version 1 camera above. The clue as to what the “J” stands for is circled in red and underlined in green.

If you look closely at the Japanese characters that I’ve circled in red,  ジャガー  they represent the word “jaguar”. If you then go to either Google Japan or Yahoo Japan and search for “Yashica Jaguar”, you’ll see at least 3 different blogs that refer to the Penta J as the “Jaguar”.

With that mystery (to us) solved, I believe that the Penta J fits in nicely to another camera that Yashica released in the summer of 1960 – the Yashica Lynx-1000 which is a 35mm fixed lens rangefinder camera (image below).

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The Yashica Lynx. Released about a year before the Penta J = Jaguar.

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The ad states that the camera goes by the nickname of the “wildcat” hence the name “Lynx” and that it “catches the moving body agility like its name”.

So there you have it – a minor mystery solved… and the answer was staring us right in the face!

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Chris

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

Copyright © 2015-2017 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica’s Penta J and the J-P

Some minor updates… November 8, 2017

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

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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Rare Yashica Pentamatic S Box – c1961

The Yashica Pentamatic S was the last camera in the Pentamatic series of Yashica’s first ever 35mm SLR. We believe that the S model was first produced (by serial number) in April 1961. Approximately 3,200 units later, Yashica stopped producing the S in March 1962.

The Pentamatic S was sold in the US as we have a sales brochure (in English) that features the model S along with the Yashica Penta J and Yashica J-3 (Yashica’s first m42 mount bodies). We’ve never seen an advertisement for the model S in any of the major camera magazines of the period. We aren’t aware of any sales brochures in Japanese either for the model S and we’re not sure that it was available in Japan. No solid proof one way or another yet.

So with all of that said, the Yashica Pentamatic S was produced for an extremely short period of time in very limited quantities (about 3,200 total worldwide). That alone makes finding the original box for the model S quite a rare find. So here it is –

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It’s also one of the few Yashica camera boxes that feature a photograph of the camera on the box.

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Back of the box specs for the model S.

Another interesting item (to us) is the lens that’s pictured on the box. By serial number, it was made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica in October 1959 and it would have been first used on the original Pentamatic ’35’. The model S went back to using the original lens on its newest model – all part of the general confusion at Yashica during an extremely busy period in the history of the company.

If you have anything relating to the Yashica Pentamatic S, please feel free to share it with us. In addition to being Yashica researchers we’re buyers of almost anything relating to Yashica. Contact us here or at chriscarol@ccstudio2380.com

Thanks for your visit! Chris ^.^

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

Copyright © 2015-2017 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

 

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

Yashica Pentamatic Timeline… update 3 (Oct 2017)

Our best timeline for the development of the Yashica Pentamatic 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera… Pentamatic ’35’

Please note that this is a “dynamic timeline” and it will be updated as we discover new dates and developments…

  • Summer 1959… Yashica develops / invents its first 35mm SLR
  • September 1959… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in Japan
  • October 1959… Tomioka starts production of a new lens for the Pentamatic. f/1.8 5.5cm
  • December 1959… First Pentamatics assembled at the Suwa factory
  • February 1960… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in the U.S.
  • March 1960… Production reaches 1,500 units
  • March 1960… First showing of the Pentamatic occurs at a trade show in St. Louis… first images of the camera are provided by Yashica
  • April 1960… First published look at the Pentamatic in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography magazine
  • May 1960… First full page advertisements for the Pentamatic ’35’ appear in the June 1960 issues of Modern Photography, Popular Photography and U.S. Camera magazines and the Pentamatic is available at Yashica dealers by early May
  • June 1960… Production reaches 5,000 units
  • June 1960… First review of the camera appears in the July issue of Modern Photography magazine
  • August 1960… Production reaches 9,300 units
  • August 1960… The Pentamatic II goes into production. Sold only in Japan
  • August 1960… Zunow produces a new lens for the Pentamatic II. f/1.7 5.8cm
  • Winter 1960-1961… The Pentamatic I and II are are both sold in Japan
  • December 1960… Camera dealers in New York advertise new Pentamatics at under $110 (USD)
  • January 1961… Production reaches 15,700 units
  • January 1961… The Pentamatic S goes into production
  • January 1961… The Pentamatic II ends production at under 6,000 units
  • February 1962… February issue of Modern Photography has only two advertisements for the Pentamatic and NO mention of the Pentamatic II or Pentamatic S
  • Late 1961… The Pentamatic models are replaced by the Penta J
  • End of Production… About 30,000 Pentamatic cameras (all models) are made over 3 years
  • August 1963… ‘Pentamatic’ receives trademark registration in the U.S.
  • Pentamatic Advertisement

    By January 1961, some pretty strong discounts on the original Pentamatic I. No Pentamatic S advertised.

    First Look?

    First look at the new camera in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography.