a Yashica classic – Pentamatic ’35’

Yashica’s first ever 35mm SLR. Designed with the help from Nicca, the first Pentamatics were produced in late 1959 and made their debut in the US by the Spring of 1960. Tomioka Optical made a majority of the lenses that were used on all three models of the camera – Pentamatic ’35’, Pentamatic II, and the Pentamatic S. My good friend Paul Sokk has written an excellent piece about the development of this important camera for Yashica. Paul’s site can be found at http://www.yashicatlr.com/Pentamatic.html

Thanks for stopping by and have a happy and safe day!

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
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Minolta Magic SR-1 at Paul Sokk’s Yashica TLR.com

My good friend Paul Sokk from Australia has complied a wonderful site dedicated primarily to the history (in great detail) of the Yashica TLR and its place in the overall history of this great Japanese company. Paul’s research has many branches and this is one of his latest.

Comparison of Yashica and Minolta SLRs

Yashica Pentamatic S
Minolta SR-1

(1961 Pentamatic S and 1962 Minolta SR-1, same body as 1958 SR-2 but with 1/500 top speed and by now, exposure meter mount like the Yashica plus fully automatic aperture.)

Why Minolta models? Similar specs, some parallels in market positions but an SLR success story at the time. Minoltas were made by Chiyoda Kōgaku (adopting its camera’s name in 1962) which was a much older photographic company than Yashica with it’s origins dating back to 1928. Yashica was Japan’s largest TLR maker, since 1958 looking to expand further into 35 mm. Chiyoda Kōgaku was probably Japan’s second largest TLR maker, a little more upmarket than Yashica but significantly lower volumes. On the the other hand, it was involved with other formats and had been making 35 mm rangefinder cameras since 1947. Neither were top tier makers at Nikon/Canon level but both had aspirations in that direction.

In 1958, Chiyoda Kōgaku released its first SLR, the Minolta SR-2. It offered no firsts but was noteworthy because it brought together all the advances in basic SLR camera design so far, except for the fully automatic aperture introduced by Zunow in the same year. In several ways, it was a more modern camera than the well-received Pentaxes from the period. Apart from including automatic film counter reset and a self-timer, the specifications were very similar to Yashica’s Pentamatic released in 1960 including a proprietary bayonet lens mount and the need to wind on the film to open the aperture again after it had automatically stopped down. In the late 1950s, even accomplishing the first half automatically was a major step so Minolta can perhaps be forgiven for initially calling their camera “automatic” but by 1960-61, it was marketing hyperbole for both makers.

Although well regarded and advanced for the time, it was expensive and competitors were challenging so Chiyoda Kōgaku followed up in 1959 with a budget version, the SR-1, which replaced the standard f/1.8 lens with an f/2 version (reverting to f/1.8 in 1962 as in the example above) and dropped the 1/1000 top speed to 1/500. Whilst the other specs and appearance remained the same, the lens line-up, particularly the auto lenses, was steadily increasing. The price of the SR-1 was much closer to the coming Pentamatic and whilst the sales of the flagship model were not earth shattering, the SR-1 sold truck loads. In 1961, the slightly updated SR-2 replacement, the SR-3, and the budget SR-1 both adopted fully automatic aperture diaphragms.

The table below compares features and price. In some respects the features are not all that different at first release. However, the Minolta SLR models had two years head start to establish themselves, as did other worthy competitors. In comparing the final 1961 cameras, the Minolta SR-3 with f/1.8 lens was the same price as the Pentamatic S. Both now had a self-timer and a mount for an external shutter coupled exposure meter (as did the SR-1 and Minolta even offered to upgrade earlier versions of the SR-1). The Minolta still had the advantage of the auto counter reset and later in the same year came the fully automatic diaphragm. It had 4 auto aperture accessory lenses and 7 preset lenses available, the Yashica just 5 preset lenses (the actual number of lenses is slightly rubbery depending on when they became available). The Yashica simply did not seem to offer enough at its price point to be a compelling newcomer.

FeatureMinolta
SR-2
Minolta
SR-1
Minolta
SR-3
Yashica
Pentamatic
Yashica
Pentamatic
II
Yashica
Pentamatic
S
Release195819591960196019601961
ApertureSemi-
auto
Semi, auto
in 1961
Semi, auto
in 1961
Semi
auto
AutoSemi
auto
Shutter1/10001/5001/10001/10001/10001/1000
Lensf/1.8f/2, f/1.8
from 1962
f/1.8
f/1.4
f/1.8f/1.7f/1.8
ResetAutoAutoAutoManualManualManual
Self-timerYesYesYesNoNoYes
Meter
Mount
NoFrom 1962YesNoNoYes
No. of
Accessory
Lenses at
Release
3 preset4 auto,
2 preset
4 auto,
7 preset
2 preset5 preset5 preset
Price USA$249.50$169.50$199.50
$229.50
$159.95n/a$199.95*

* guess, advertised at “under $200 plus case”

Paul’s entire site features this kind of detail with little known facts about some familiar and not so familiar cameras. Please give Paul a shout out by visiting his site at http://www.yashicatlr.com

Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful day!

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

Studio Fun – A couple of first’s from Yashica

On the left, the Yashica ’35’ released in 1958 was Yashica’s first 35mm rangefinder (fixed lens) camera and on the right the Pentamatic ’35’ which was Yashica’s first 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. The Pentamatic was designed in 1959 and released by the Spring of 1960. Up to this point Yashica was know for building high-quality value priced twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras. These two handsome examples are proudly displayed in my collection. The good news if you’re chasing these classics are that the rangefinder model is readily available online with many excellent examples for sale. The Pentamatic is not hard to find but chasing down a solid working model is a bit harder.

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.

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Friday Fotos! – Yashica Pentamatic lenses

These two lenses are by far the earliest lenses made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica’s new Pentamatic ’35’.

Decoding the serial numbers, the lens on the left was made in October 1959 and it was number 92 in the production run. The lens on the right was made in December 1959 and it was number 1,630 in the run.

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
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My first post…

First Look!

CHRIS AND CAROL

The exciting first look (in print) of the Pentamatic…

First official appearance of the Pentamatic occurs in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography magazine. In the June 1960 issues of Modern PhotographyU. S. Camera and Popular Photography, the first full-page ads appeared for the Pentamatic ’35’ reflex camera. The actual release date in the United States has almost always been considered by many to be March of 1960.

As of yet, I haven’t found evidence in print to support the March date. I do know that the Pentamatic was shown at the 36th annual ‘Master Photo DeaIers & Finishers Association’ trade show (MPDFA) held in St. Louis from March 21-25, 1960. I don’t know if the Pentamatic was released in Japan at an earlier date. From the progression of the serial numbers, by March 1960, about 1,500 cameras had been produced since production began in December 1959 at the Yashica Suwa factory. I doubt that there were enough cameras by March to support any widespread release in Japan or in Asia at that time. By June 1960, about 6,000 cameras had been built. There may have been enough to ship to the world markets starting in April and May. At their peak of production (summer 1960), it looks like Yashica was rolling out about 1,200 to 1,400 cameras each month.

Have a “Camera Holiday” in Japan. May 1960 magazine ad.

Part two of the “Camera Holiday” in Japan promotion. Very nice mention of Yashica’s factory in Suwa and the wonders of Japan!

Yashica provided this first ever look at their new Pentamatic SLR at the March 1960 MPDFA trade show in St. Louis.

First published look at the new Pentamatic from Yashica. May 1960

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.

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Yashica YEM-35 Meter & Pentamatic ’35’

The Pentamatic was unique in the fact that the accessory shoe was located on the camera’s left side just above the rewind lever. Since the Pentamatic didn’t have TTL metering adding a separate meter was as easy as simply sliding whichever model you wanted on. Of course, the meter wasn’t coupled with the camera so you would set the camera’s aperture and shutter speed according to the meters readings.

Vintage view with the meter attached to the accessory shoe.
Sears catalog ad from 1961.

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.

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Rare Zunow 35mm SLR Set

A very rare, no let me say, ultra rare Zunow camera and lens set is for sale via an online auction in Japan. The Zunow was made in extremely limited numbers in 1959 and few remain this complete in the present collector world. Yashica’s first 35mm SLR was designed in early to mid-1959 shortly after Yashica acquired Nicca camera in 1958. The Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ started production in December 1959 with the first units reaching the US market in the Spring of 1960. The Pentamatic and the Zunow share some similar DNA as Yashica purchased lenses from Zunow (mostly cine lenses) and they were for a time dual branded.

Not often seen together original box, lens cap, case with strap, camera body and lens.
Beautiful together.
Here’s a snip of a completed auction for just the brochure.
Here’s my first Pentamatic ’35’ with a super-rare Tominon and Yashica branded wide-angle lens.

Looking at the Zunow and the Pentamatic it’s not hard to let your imagination run wild that maybe Zunow, Nicca, and Yashica all shared some design features with one another over a drink or two at a local bar on the outskirts of Tokyo.

This could be another sales brochure or brochure and instruction booklet combination.
Zunow and Yashica branded box for an 8mm cine camera lens.
An advertisement for a rare dual offering from a well-known Japanese camera dealer a few years back.

If you’re so inclined to bid on the current set online, here’s the link https://www.easyauctionjapan.com/YahooAuction-Yahoo-607566-j736361126.html

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your day and please feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic II – The Phantom

The Yashica Pentamatic II is without a doubt the hardest camera to find in any condition in Yashica’s lineup. If you do find one, buy it at least for its standard lens. You won’t be disappointed.

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A new Pentamatic joins the family – this one was made in September of 1960.

DSCF7800 Seldom seen in the wild, Yashica’s “Phantom” camera – the P2

The Pentamatic II was fitted with a limited production lens made by Zunow Optical – a 5.8cm f1.7 Auto Yashinon with 10 aperture blades. It’s a massive camera with a ton (1,028 grams) of brass and glass.

It’s a distinctive design – very modern but classic at the same time. A clean pentaprism without the cold shoe mounted on it – in fact, the cold shoe (accessory shoe) is mounted on the camera’s left shoulder just above the hidden rewind knob.

DSCF7802

The serial number (NO. 96000944) indicates the “when” of this camera. The “9” is for September and the next digits, “60” is for 1960. The last 5 digits are the sequence number or production number. This one is the 944th made since production…

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Yashica Heavyweights – 1960s glass & brass

Here is a fun visual comparison between three early Yashica cameras.

Yashica’s first 35mm SLR released in early 1960. The Pentamatic 35 with its fast f/1.8 lens was a neck breaker to be sure.
Yashica’s first modern 35mm SLR released shortly after the end of the Pentamatic series in 1962.
First released in 1964, the Yashica Mat EM (Exposure Meter) was and still is a very popular TLR (twin-lens reflex) 120 roll film camera. It features a built-in exposure meter powered by selenium cells. The meter on mine is still working and is accurate when shooting negative films.

What’s the heaviest camera in your collection? Not pictured here I’d say my fully decked out Canon F-1 with a motor drive and big f/1.2 lens is crazy heavy. I’ll have to dig it out and post the results here soon.

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.

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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.