Yashica’s last TLR – Chasing a True Classic!

Yashica’s (Kyocera by this point) last TLR model. This one was part of the last run of the model before production shut down in 1986. Yashica (originally named Yashima) started off in 1953 with the obscure Pigeonflex TLR followed by the Yashima Flex and then continued to build TLRs way longer than the market could bear (or need). The good news is that the 124G can be found today in great quantities and cameras as “young” as 35 years-old.
It’s a very affordable way to get into medium format photography and in the case of this model, be able to use both 120 and 220 roll film giving you either 12 or 24 exposures.

After about 33 years of making TLRs, this was Yashica’s best.
A beauty – here’s what a modern TLR looked like back in 1985.
The design of the last box that held the 124G (1985-1986).
This gorgeous camera was the first to carry the company name – Yashica Flex made in 1954.

For contrast, compare the Yashima Flex to the Yashica Mat 124G. Their excellent build quality remained throughout the decades. If you’re chasing one of these for your collection you’re in luck because Yashica made a bunch of 124Gs and there’s a bunch still out there. Expect to pay a premium for mint examples but be careful, they’re still older cameras and a host of bad things can happen to them from lack of use and improper storage. Ask lots of questions of the seller if you’re buying online and look for sellers with excellent reputations for selling quality classic and vintage cameras. BTW, not too many of the original Yashima Flex cameras will look like my example pictured above. I was so very lucky to buy mine from the original owner in Japan who obviously kept it in pristine condition both physically and mechanically.

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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Yashima Flex TLR – 1954

Made by Yashima which later changed its name to Yashica. This is one of the earliest TLRs made by them and this one is in mint condition inside and out.

The lenses were made for Yashima by Tomioka Optical which would later be acquired by Yashica.

A beautiful machine from another time – made by the talented craftspeople in Nagano Prefecture (on the shores of Lake Suwa). It’s getting close to celebrating its 70th anniversary.

This gem was worth chasing all the way to Japan. I was very lucky to buy this directly from the original collector.

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.

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.