Tripod Mystery

Yashica sold a line of excellent tripods in the late 1950s and ’60s which I always assumed were in fact made by Yashica. The ones that I own are of high quality and functionality and are a source of pride in my Yashica collection. Oh, there were moments of doubt when I would ask myself why a major camera maker like Yashica would “mess around” with something as small as a tripod when there were more important things to make. I guess one could argue that since Yashica already possessed machinery and forging capabilities why not make some branded tripods to sell alongside your cameras.

But it seems unlikely to me that someone who had just purchased a Canon or Nikon camera would then go on to buy a Yashica branded tripod unless there was something unique about it or it was a better value over the others. The marketplace during this time period was flooded with inexpensive tripods from an array of sellers. Why bother making something that has a slim profit margin? But who really made these tripods? I don’t have the answers to those questions yet but it’s been a fun little discovery up to this point. Here’s a look at something I thought was uniquely Yashica.

17871420824_780d90f37b_o logo

The Yashica MY-15 tripod from the late 1950s

18489773972_49e6212173_o logo

A wonderful little gem of engineering from Yashica – but is it?

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that these three tripods are related.

collage tripods

The Yashica MY-15 far left, the Manon center and the Velbon Deluxe far right.

The Manon claims to be the model 400 but that’s hasn’t been verified by me yet. It’s an exact match to the Yashica except for the legs being black. The Velbon is marked “V” and “Deluxe” but I’ve also seen them without the “V”. It’s an almost exact match to the other two except the center elevator shaft is round vice triangular.

So my question is who really made these? Velbon was founded in Japan in 1955 and was primarily a tripod maker. They’re still going strong today and make a wide array of tripods. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in the early 1980s and then promptly killed Yashica. I believe Manon no longer exists.

So, did Yashica make their MY-15 tripod for the others? Unlikely as that wasn’t their core activity then. Manon could be a player as tripods were right up their alley. But my best guess ATM is that the model MY-15 that Yashica sold was made for them by Velbon. Companies such as Gold-Crest, Holmar, Bogen, Sunset, Vivo and countless others could have been the makers too but these three are the only perfect matches so far.

Have you got a tripod that looks like one of these but it’s branded by another company? Please let me know as I’d love to find more. Thanks

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.


Fungus Among Us – “Is that a snow globe in your lens”?

A nice Nikkor lens from around 1951. When a lens is stored improperly you get a snow globe.


I’m calling it fungus but I don’t see the typical filaments associated with fungus. Mold tends to be spotty. Haze is, well hazy. This whiteout is on the surface of the last internal lens element and is not reachable without a teardown of the lens. I’m sending this one off to a professional camera and lens repair service shortly. No promises made but for $90 its worth a try. The lens is in nearly mint condition otherwise.

The seller did offer a refund of $40 on my purchase to help with the repair costs which was appreciated. A lot of problems could be averted by simply shining a bright LED light through a lens before listing it. But this lens is on a rangefinder camera so simply looking through the range/viewfinder wouldn’t have spotted these issues.

Below is a scan of a page from the Sears Camera Catalog from Fall 1952. It goes into an extensive background of the Nikkor lenses that were available for the Tower 35 – aka Nicca Type-3.

DSCF8385 logo

I’ll let you know how it looks when it’s back from service. 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 © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Historic Advertising Flyer – 1958

I’ll say 1958 because it looks like it was produced shortly after Yashima-Yashica acquired the Nicca Camera Co., Ltd. in May 1958. As best as I can tell this is the one and only time that a piece of advertising contained all three key players in the Nicca III-L. Nicca, Nikkor (Nikon), and Yashica. The address at the bottom of the page matches the address that Yashica used in 1958-1959.

Nicca-IIIL-Pub-1959-Jp-850 (1)

My translation app has the address as 1-8 Nihonbashi, Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

The lenses for the Nicca cameras were almost exclusively supplied by Nikon and branded as Nikkor. Since this was a transition time (end of the line) for Nicca, this flyer clearly indicates that Yashica is the new player in the picture. Yashica would operate Nicca as Taiho Optical Company for a period of time with at least a few lenses getting produced with that brand name on the lens.

Yashica eventually (in well less than a year) started to supply lenses with the Yashinon name for these Nicca-Yashica crossover models. It’s not clear if these lenses were made for Yashica by an outside company such as Tomioka or that they may have been made by the newly acquired Nicca operating under their new name Taiho. There are at least a few Nicca branded lenses that I’ve seen so it’s not an impossible thought.

As always, thanks for your visit. Do you have something to add? I’d love to hear and see anything related to this dynamic period in Yashica’s history. – 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 © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica Catalog from 1958

We’ve recently acquired a rather rare catalog from around 1958 – I think early 1958 as Yashica was still Yashima Optical at the time of the printing. It’s a large format catalog with practically everything Yashica offered at the time.

yascatalog logo

yascatalog logo 1

yas 635 logo 2

yas635 logo

Just a small sample of what’s inside. We love collecting these catalogs and brochures from Yashima-Yashica’s early days.

Thanks for stopping by!


Happy SUNday!

Happy SUNday and Happy New Year!

train logo

From my train collection that’s now gone.

Lionel Santa Fe ‘O’ gauge F3 diesel locomotive from 1958


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

Yashima Flex – 1954

Yashica’s first twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera to bear the company name – Yashica was Yashima at its founding. The Yashica name wasn’t adopted for the company until 1958.

This Yashima Flex is as close to its original condition as one could hope for. It’s fully functional and a joy to use.

Yashima Flex with film logo

A beauty from the craftspeople at Yashima – Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Thanks for stopping by! If you’re interested in purchasing classic cameras, please visit our e-commerce store at

You can visit our gallery of photographs at

Some of our art prints can be found at

We’re also active buyers of classic photogear – contact us at


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.

Nicca 3-S on location

1950s vintage Nicca rangefinder 35mm camera shot on location – c1911 post office.

Nicca at PO

After a day spent on a photowalk in our local historic district, our Nicca takes a break for a beauty shot. The mid afternoon lighting is always just right in this 100 year old post office – the table once held ink wells (the hole behind the camera) and the wood table top has such a wonderful patina and texture.

Our Nicca 3-S is fully operational – it’s considered to be one of the best Leica copy cameras produced in Japan in the early part of the 1950s. The 5cm f/ 2 lens is made by Nikon and is clear and sharp.

Of interest, the <E.P> mark on the rewind knob (extreme left) indicates that this camera was available for sale in Japan as an exempt purchase, meaning that it was for sale only to military personnel and their families, diplomatic personnel and their families and possibly available at duty free shops. Photogear marked with the <E.P> symbol was not for sale to Japanese citizens as it was tax exempt.

Thanks for your visit!


Shameless plug – stop by our e-commerce shop at for more great and interesting stuff! ^.^

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.

Nicca Type 33 and the Yashica YE… Mighty Morphing Classic Cameras!

Some background – Yashica acquired Nicca in May 1958. Nicca was well known for making high quality 35mm rangefinder cameras since the late 1940s.

Nicca cameras normally came with lenses branded as Nikkor. When the Nicca Type 33 was released in 1958, it came with a Nicca branded lens. We don’t know if Nicca was the actual lens maker or another company made the lens and Nicca had their name affixed. Either way, when Yashica took over the company the Nicca 33 was sold with the Nicca branded lens.

large nicca 33 ad

Cute original advertisement from July-August 1958 for the Nicca Type 33 35mm camera and lens.

If you look closely at the ad above, you can see that the lens is marked “Nicca Camera CO.” and is a 50mm f2.8 lens. The serial number isn’t completely clear but looks like a prototype number or some sort (maybe not)… maybe 8000 or something. The list price is interesting too at ¥28,000.

The serial number of the camera body is No. 157571 – which if it was recently made would put it about mid production. It’s claimed that only 1,000 units were made over a short period during 1958.

Nicca Lens

Beautiful condition Nicca branded lens that recently sold at auction in Japan. Note the 4 digit serial number.

nicca 33 owners book

Original Type 33 instruction booklet.

nicca book back date

The booklet is dated (33. 7. 1M.) which should be 1958 July.

The Yashica YE – with some minor physical changes to the top plate, the Nicca 33 is now the Yashica YE!


Note the significant price difference from the Type 33. This ad is from about March 1959.

There is some conflict over exactly when Yashica released (or started building) the YE. Our thought is Yashica would wait until all of the Nicca Type 33 bodies and Nicca lenses were used before building their version. Since the YE was Yashica’s first 35mm rangefinder camera, you would think Yashica would want to bring the YE to market as soon as possible. The YE has the “new” Yashikor 5cm f2.8 lens – we’re unsure if this is a redesign of the Nicca lens that’s on the 33 or another lens made for them by Tomioka Optical or, a new lens made by Nicca for Yashica. Confusing we know. It gets even more confusing since Yashica didn’t “officially” complete the transaction with Nicca until the late 1960s! In the meantime, Nicca became Taiho Optical… a name that Yashica bestowed upon its newly acquired company. Go figure.

So when did the first Yashica YE models roll off the assembly line? Well we think we’ve decoded the serial numbers that Yashica etched into the YE. If our interpretation is correct, Yashica assigned a simple date code to them. Some sites claim that the YE came out in 1959 and still others claim 1958. Exact months were not given.


Our recently acquired Yashica YE.  We’re not sure which lens we want to get for it yet. Of course it takes any lens with the L39 screw mount.

In our example below, the serial number (No. 392745) decodes to: 3 = March, 9 = 1959, and 2745 = 2,745th made since December 1958.

Why use December 1958 as the start date? We’ve seen a very nice Yashica YE with the following serial number (No. 128049) which decodes to: 12 = December, 8 = 1958, and 049 = the 49th made. We’re not in a position yet to conclusively claim that this is how to decode the serial numbers, but we feel very confident based on previous experience.


Our YE has a bit of surface corrosion here and there but it’s clean inside and out and has (not yet fully tested) a working shutter that sounds great at all speeds. The rangefinder windows are a bit cloudy but still viewable.

A note about the selling prices between the two cameras. The Nicca Type 33 listed for ¥28,000 and the newer YE for ¥23,800. Was this a perfect example of Yashica being able to deliver the same camera at a better price due to their sheer size or was it Nicca listing the camera at its fair price?

It’s claimed that the YE was produced at around 4,000 units during a short production run from December to June). We’ve seen the serial numbers go from a low of 128049 to 699821. If the production number is correct, then the serial numbers did not run continuous… or did they? If they did, then nearly 10,000 were made.


E.P Marked Photo Gear. Is it really worth more?

Photo gear made in Japan will sometimes carry a strange marking  <E.P>


In the above example, the <E.P> mark is engraved on the rewind knob of this Nicca camera. This camera is from the 1955 to 1957 period.

s-l1600 (23)

In the example above, this Nikkor 13.5cm lens has the <E.P> mark engraved on a small lever near the base of the lens. On the lens case below, the <E.P> mark is stamped into the leather just below the JAPAN stamp. The case belongs with the lens pictured above.

s-l1600 (22)

First time we’ve seen the mark on a lens case. To us that implies that the case was mated with that lens from the factory (or wherever the mark was applied).

So what’s up with the <E.P> mark anyway?

As we understand it, the Japanese government needed a way to identify which pieces of photo gear were sold through military facilities and duty free shops in Japan. We feel that the mark means “Exempt Product” – cameras or electronic gear purchased without paying taxes to the government of Japan and purchased by authorized personnel (military members and their families, tourists and by diplomatic members and their families). We’ve seen alternate meanings as “Post Exchange” (military base stores) but U.S. Navy stores are called “Navy Exchange – NEX” and U.S. Army/Air Force stores are “BX/PX or Base Exchange/Post Exchange”. It’s hard to make “NEX or BX” into “EP”.  Other explanations of <E.P> include: Export Permitted (or Export Permit), Exchange Program and Export Production.

The “Black Market”.

The majority of the photo gear we have in our collection that bears the <E.P> mark, was in fact purchased through military facilities and not at duty free shops. Another cause for concern after the War, and we know this first hand from having lived in Japan in the late 1970s, was the so called black market that may have existed (it did) in Japan. The difference between what a service member could buy a camera for at the Navy Exchange (reduced cost and no taxes) and what that same item sold for at a Japanese camera store was just too great not to tempt some selling on the black market. The military stores kept tabs on the amount of tobacco and liquor that a family could purchase and big ticket items (cameras and stereo equipment) included a statement on the receipt that the service member would check and then sign that the item was for their personal use. A direct reminder that you were not to resell the item to unauthorized individuals. Our guess would be that if a Japanese citizen had a camera in their possession with the <E.P> mark it would be easy to question where it was purchased. However, the <E.P> marks were normally on parts of the camera that could be removed and replaced with non marked parts. No system is perfect so if there’s a will they’ll be a way.


The <EP> mark on a Yashica-Mat from 1960.

So, does the mark make my photo gear more valuable? Yes. Collectible? Yes. Desirable? Yes. But to whom?

Like anything that’s collected, if someone wants it just because of the mark (in this case), then the <E.P> mark makes your item more desirable. In the real world, the gear is no different except for the mark. But – and it’s a big but – there are fewer of them out there. In the case of the nice Yashica-Mat pictured above, let’s say that Yashica sold 1,000 of them in 1960 throughout Japan. Maybe 5% were marked <E.P> (and that may be way high). So if you want to collect a mint condition Yashica-Mat made in 1960, there may be, let’s say only 10 available worldwide at any one time, and if one of those has the mark, well that adds a nice bonus of rarity to the mix. Another way to look at the mark is that the gear was less likely purchased by a professional photographer and therefore may have been better taken care of by its owner. Lots of exceptions to that line of thinking but it does have some merits.

So there you have it. Something of an explanation. If you have photo gear from the 1950s, 1960s and sometimes from as late as the early 1970s and you have the mark, well now you know a bit more about it. If you’d like us to appraise it for you we will be more than happy to. Just contact us here on the blog and we can get something going for you.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W


Nicca 3-S vs. Nicca 3-F

We’ve always assumed that the Nicca cameras were pretty much the same size from one model to another. The early 1950s models look for the most part, the same as the 1958 models. Now that we have two Niccas in our collection it’s time to do some comparisons.

Nicca 3-F on the left and the Nicca 3-S on the right.


First off, without the lenses attached, there is a slight difference in weight between the two with the 3-F weighing in at 445 grams and the 3-S weighing 432 grams.

There is however a difference in size which surprised us. The later model 3-F (left) is taller than the 3-S (right) by about 4mm.



The 3-F is also longer than the 3-S by about 7mm.


The 3-F is about 7mm longer and 1mm wider than the 3-S.


The 3-F is the top body with the 3-S on the bottom.


Since these Niccas share the same specs it’s surprising that Nicca expanded the body of the 3-F.

Our best guess is that the later model (3-F) uses its extra length to improve the film path. Measuring the distance between the spindles with the baseplates off, the 3-F is 5mm longer than the 3-S (108mm vice 103mm).

So nothing earth shaking – just some subtle differences. As we have stated before, these are high quality cameras with exceptional fit and finish. Adding a Nicca will enhance any collection of 1950s Japanese made rangefinder cameras.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W