Wednesday’s Camera – Yashica Pentamatic

The original Pentamatic 35 with a rare Tominon branded lens.

In the field.
In the studio.

The Yashica Pentamatic is a very worthy camera to chase after. About 20K were made but since it wasn’t considered a collectors camera not many were saved in mint condition. The next camera was the Pentamatic II and it was only available for purchase in Japan. The final model was the Pentamatic S and only about 5K were made.

I’ve always loved the lines of the Pentamatic – so modern and uncluttered but so retro at the same time. BTW, there’s no self-timer on this model and the shutter button was mounted on the front – right where your pointer finger naturally wants to be.

Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan

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, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

(almost) wordless wednesday

yashica pentamatic big time

Have a beautiful and safe day and many thanks for stopping by! – Chris

I have some interesting new items in my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com which is hosted by Etsy.

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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Happy SUNday! – bluejeans and cameras

Happy Sunday everyone – I hope y’all are safe, happy, and with your families.

Yashica PS on jeans

This was taken in early 2015 shortly after a walkabout with my Yashica Pentamatic S and Yashica 135mm lens. There’s nothing quite like an outing with a favorite camera (c. 1961) and an old pair of comfortable jeans (c. 1999).

Shot with my then Samsung Galaxy S4 in natural light. This pic was recently favored on my Flickr photostream by a visitor to my site. It reminds me that we leave a long electronic trail on the internet (so be careful what you post).

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop by my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – 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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica Pentamatic S – 1961

Yashica Pentamatic S with Auto Yashinon f/1.7 5.8cm lens made by Zunow (likely).

Pentamatic s with yulee

Pentamatic s body and lens

The Pentamatic S – the last 35mm SLR in the short-lived Pentamatic series. I believe that this rather odd lens was made by Zunow for Yashica and was sold exclusively on the Pentamatic II (Aug 1960 to Jan 1961). Here it’s pictured on the later model S. Most of the early Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses were made by Tomioka but a few were made by Kyoei Optical who was known for their Acall lenses.

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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica Super Yashinon-R f/3.5 13.5cm Lens – Likely made for Yashica by Kyoei Optical

It’s come to my attention recently through correspondence with a reader of this blog that my Yashica lens may have been made for Yashica by a small lens maker, Kyoei Optical Company, Ltd.

I had assumed that most of Yashica’s early lenses were made by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo with only a few exceptions. Zunow made some cine lenses for Yashica in the late 1950s and it looks as though Zunow may have made the odd 5.8cm f/1.7 lens that was used on the Yashica Pentamatic II (August 1960 to January 1961) and the lens on the earliest Yashica Lynx 1000.

Pictured below is the subject of this post – my Yashica Super Yashinon-R f/3.5 13.5cm short telephoto lens with a Pentamatic bayonet mount. The lens is further marked with a “K.C. in red on the front lens ring. It’s a compact but heavy pre-set lens with click stops at f/3.5 to f/22.

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My Yashica branded lens from 1960

Below is a similar-looking lens that I found while surfing on Flickr.

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This image is used with kind permission by Mr. René Maly. You can visit his Flickr site by clicking here.

His lens is marked Kyoei Optical Acall f/3.5 135mm and is pictured with an Exakta mount while mine is for the Pentamatic bayonet mount (unique to the Yashica Pentamatic). The Yashica lens weighs 390 grams (13.7 oz.) without the lens caps and the Acall lens weighs 360 grams.

Pictured below is the complete set as I received it some years ago. The metal Yashica branded lens cap is 52mm and is felt-lined and fits the lens perfectly. The hood is unmarked and it simply screws into the filter threads on the front of the lens. I also have an unbranded Pentamatic mount plastic rear lens cap which is the only one in my collection. The Pentamatic family of 35mm SLRs were only sold with standard lenses attached. I’ve never seen just a body for sale in its original Yashica factory packaging.

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The lens has 12 aperture blades which appear to be common to the Kyoei Acall lens in this focal length.

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The serial number is NO. 1350927 which indicates that it’s a 135mm lens and it was number 927 made since the start of production. It’s unknown when the lens first went into production but some of the very first may have been made as early as December 1959 but more likely January and February 1960.

What’s interesting is that this lens has a red “K.C.” engraved on the lens ring while the Kyoei Acall lens does not. A big guess on my part, and at this point, it’s only a guess, is that it refers to the hard coating used on the glass surfaces. Typically the letter “C” is used to identify that a lens is coated (Canon uses “S.S.C.” for “Super Spectra Coated” as an example). The “K” in “K.C.” may identify that the coating is from Kyoei.

Here’s another image of the Kyoei Acall lens.

Kyoei Optical Acall 135

Kyoei Optical Acall 135mm f/3.5 lens. Image courtesy of René Maly.

So there you have it. Based solely on observation on my part between the two lenses I’ve made the connection to Kyoei Optical. I haven’t seen written information or anything in a Yashica sales brochure that links the two companies together. If you have additional info about Kyoei Super-Acall lenses made for Yashica please share it with me. Kyoei Optical also appears to have made SLR lenses for Petri and they made a bunch of lenses using their own name for use on L39 (LTM) rangefinder bodies.

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Yashica sales brochure from around September 1960 – shortly after the Pentamatic II was released in Japan. My lens is the third from the left. The other two lenses to the left are also likely made for Yashica by Kyoei Optical.

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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

A rare Yashica Pentamatic II instruction booklet surfaces.

Every now and again something new turns up in our never-ending search for the complete history of the Yashica Pentamatic series of 35mm SLR cameras. The first model of the Pentamatic was dated (by serial number) in December 1959 and the last, the Pentamatic S ended in March 1962. In between the Pentamatic II had a short run from August 1960 to January 1961. Fewer than 26,000 Pentamatics were made (of all models) during its brief run which makes the Pentamatic one of the hardest to find models in Yashica’s historical line-up of SLR cameras.

A recent online auction featured this never before seen instruction booklet (below).

Yashica P2 book lolo

It’s not much to look at as the cover is devoid of any attempt to market the camera.

My best guess is that the booklet is an English edition of the Pentamatic II instructions. The Japanese edition (below) is much more in keeping with the style of the other books. My good friend and Yashica collaborator Paul Sokk and I agree that the Pentamatic II was never released for sale outside of Japan which makes the discovery of this white cover booklet for the Pentamatic II that much more interesting.

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Front and back covers of the Pentamatic II instruction booklet. It’s the only manual found so far that’s printed in Japanese.

Here are all three of the instruction booklets for the Yashica Pentamatic (below).

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Up to this point, these were the only known Pentamatic instruction booklets.

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Here’s a scan of the first page inside the white covered booklet – pictured is a Pentamatic II with it’s Zunow sourced 5.8cm f/1.7 lens. The camera is still identified as the original Pentamatic in this image, however.

So the big question is why did Yashica print this instruction booklet in English when from all evidence the Pentamatic II wasn’t released for sale outside of Japan? A secondary question is why did they choose to not title the booklet as being for the Pentamatic II? Our best guess is that a few Pentamatic II models were in fact sold in Japan possibly in military exchanges and in duty-free shops and an English version was needed. It’s also possible that a few Pentamatic II’s were sold outside of Japan and the booklet was produced to supplement the camera. Nothing yet to prove that the Pentamatic II was sold outside of Japan but the existence of this book adds a new wrinkle to the history of this camera.

Thanks for stopping by and as always, if you have additional info about any of the three Pentamatic models please share it with us. 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.

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.

Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris

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

Pentamatic Microscope Adapter – 1960

I have yet to use a microscope adapter in nearly 50 years of 35mm photography – but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t collected them and enjoyed the thought of someday using one. I’ve had a few Canon adapters over the years too.

The first step would be actively looking for a microscope to purchase on one of the many online auction sites. Something I will do.

Here’s a nice adapter from Yashica with the Pentamatic bayonet mount. It’s one of the first accessories to appear in the early Pentamatic instruction booklets from 1960. List price was ¥2,500 which was fairly expensive back in the day.

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The adapter mounts directly to the body of the camera – no lens needed.

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A scan from an early Pentamatic sales brochure.

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These instructions are from a later booklet featuring the adapter for the M42 screw mount.

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I believe that the microscope depicted here is a Yashima microscope but it’s not made by Yashica. Yashima was the first name that Yashica went by in the early 1950s.

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Not made by Yashica but still a super cool vintage microscope.

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Typically you’d use a right angle finder such as this one to make it a bit easier to use the adapter on a microscope.

What’s always amazed me is just how many different camera manufacturers made microscope adapters – Canon, Olympus, Nikon just to name a few and how many are still available for purchase online from various auction sites that are unused, still new in their boxes.

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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.

Nicca Pentamatic!?

Stay with us and we’ll try to make our case. Recently discovered information has filled-in some of the missing links in the development of our favorite obsession camera. The mysterious and seldom seen Pentamatic ’35’… Yashica’s first SLR.

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A few interesting bits of info have come to our attention recently. We were alerted to an auction by our friend Paul Sokk (http://www.yashicatlr.com) that listed a 13.5 cm f/ 2.8 lens made by Taiho Optical Company –  Nicca Lens. Having never heard of the company, Taiho Optical, and knowing about Nicca’s history, we couldn’t figure out where and how there could be a Nicca connection.

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Let’s backtrack a bit with a quick history lesson. Yashima-Yashica was a very successful maker of high quality, low-cost twin-lens reflex cameras but hadn’t moved into the 35 mm market as of early 1957. It appears that the president and founder of Yashima-Yashica, Mr. Yoshimasa Ushiyama could see that although Yashica was successful building TLRs, the market for them would slowly diminish as new, smaller and easier to use 35 mm cameras would grab the marketplace. He wanted in but how?

Yashica had no experience with 35 mm cameras, especially rangefinder cameras with cloth focal-plane shutters. There were dozens of Leica copy cameras in Japan (and the world for that matter) but possible patents protected specific manufacturer’s shutter designs. If he could buy into an established company then he could use their shutter design and incorporate it with early Yashima-Yashica designs. In May of 1958, an opportunity presented itself. Nicca Camera Company was apparently experiencing financial difficulties and may have been on the brink of bankruptcy. Nicca cameras were well known and well respected – they made high quality 35 mm rangefinder cameras with focal-plane shutters. They used Nikkor lenses with the L39 screw mount. Mr. Ushiyama was in a rush to purchase Nicca before they went belly up. Advisers cautioned to wait until Nicca went bankrupt arguing that they would be able to acquire it for a better price. Mr. Ushiyama knew that that outcome of a bankruptcy could take longer than he was willing to wait and there would certainly be more suitors to compete with. So the deal went through… sort of. As best as we can glean from our research, a “religionist” “admonished” Mr. Ushiyama for rushing into the deal and cautioned that Yashica itself would suffer a “decline” if all of the transfer were made immediately.

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OK, OK! We give!!! We share your feelings dear reader –  what’s the connection between Nicca and the Pentamatic? Taking the advice of the religionist, Mr. Ushiyama created a new company. Nicca would become Taiho Optical Company. Say what? Nicca wasn’t absorbed into Yashica in May of 1958, instead, they became another company that could continue to operate with Yashica but without becoming Yashica. Simple. Confused? Mr. Ushiyama listened to his adviser so nothing bad happened. It appears that the former Nicca employees were now free to develop new processes and designs with the financial and technical support of the much larger Yashica. What did Yashica get for its money? Plenty it would seem. Access to years of 35 mm rangefinder manufacturing experience and access to a proven focal-plane shutter. Important steps in building a 35 mm single-lens reflex camera. We don’t know (yet) which one of the two companies came up with the design of what would become the Pentamatic. Was it mostly a Yashica design that had been kicking around for a while lacking a focal-plane shutter, or was it mostly a Nicca design that lacked the financial means to bring it to market? We feel that it was more than likely a 60 – 40 split with Nicca as the 60%. Just a hunch, no facts at the moment.

Yas Cover P1 bro (1)

Earliest known sales brochure for the Pentamatic ’35’. The best guess is that it was printed in the Spring of 1960.

Yas inside P1 bro

A machine translation of this page from inside of the brochure states clearly that Nicca and Yashica developed the Pentamatic.

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But what did the Taiho Optical Company make? Yashica didn’t make their own lenses, Tomioka Optical of Tokyo did. Was the former Nicca, now that it had become Taiho Optical, going to suddenly start making lenses? At the start of this blog, we mentioned that we were alerted to the existence of a 13.5 cm lens for sale with the Taiho Optical Company-Nicca Japan markings. Other than that, nothing.

So when did Mr. Ushiyama merge the two companies? He apparently listed to his adviser and waited eight long years before merging the two. From 1960 (when the Pentamatic was released) until 1968, when he not only made Yashica whole, but he also acquired long time lens supplier Tomioka Optical.

Now we know how the Pentamatic came to be and why it could be called the Nicca Pentamatic.

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Thanks for sticking with us. – 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.