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.
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.
Stay tuned… more to come on these Yashica classics.
Many thanks, Chris and Carol
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.
By January 1961, some pretty strong discounts on the original Pentamatic I. No Pentamatic S advertised.
First look at the new camera in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography.