Yashica 44 LM – 1960

Yashica’s “pint sized” twin-lens reflex 127 film camera from 1960. Instead of producing typical 6x6cm negatives from a full sized TLR on 120 film, the Yashica 44 LM produces negatives and slides in the 4x4cm format from 127 film. A smaller negative means a slightly smaller camera. This model comes with a built-in selenium photo cell light meter (also known as an exposure meter). It reads reflected light from the subject – no batteries needed! After 57 years, this camera’s meter works just fine and is accurate too!

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Anyone who follows our blog on a regular basis knows that we’re a pushover when it comes to a pretty Yashica and if it’s in its original box – well so much the better. Fujifilm FinePix S9900W.

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The boxes normally don’t hold up this well after nearly 6 decades – this one has been stored properly and looks pretty close to new. The colors are bright and the box is solid. The studio camera for this shot was my Fujifilm FinePix S9900W.

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The star of the blog! The Yashica 44 LM from 1960. Mint new and in unused condition. Everything works just fine. The light meter is spot on and the shutter is accurate, The lenses are clean, clear and sharp. This shot was with our new Samsung Galaxy S8+ camera.

This camera is finished in dark gray on the metalwork and that contrasts nicely with the dove gray leatherette of the body.

Thanks for stopping by!

Be sure to check out our online store at https://www.ccstudio2380.com for some great Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers!

Some of our fine art images can also be found at https://society6.com/ccstudio2380

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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
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Was this beautiful lens, which was made exclusively for the Pentamatic II designed by Zunow Optical?

Simple Answer – Yes

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Yashica Auto Yashinon f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens designed exclusively for Yashica’s Pentamatic II. It appears for the first time in August 1960 and disappears from use by Yashica in January 1961. There’s no documentation about the lens and no hard evidence that Zunow made the lens. Hard evidence would be sales brochures or advertisements that specifically link Yashica and Zunow. Co-branding on the lens ring would have been nice but never happened. Unfortunately our claim that it was made by Zunow is, at this point in time, circumstantial and coincidental. Much more digging around needs to be done on our part.

The lens features the unique Pentamatic bayonet mount that couldn’t be used on any other SLR of the time without an adapter. That in and of itself could have been a major reason for the quick demise of the Pentamatic series of cameras.

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Two “clues” that link this lens to Zunow – the serial number style with its unique “No xxxxxx” vice the more typical serial number style that Tomioka used “No. xxxxxxxx” at the time (as did most lens makers). Another clue, the style of the lowercase “a” in Japan. Most Zunow lenses used a fat “a” vice the keyboard style lowercase “a”. We know, these are hardly the type of clues needed to link the two but they’re good ones for now.

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Close-up of a Zunow made f/ 1.8 4.5cm lens for the Yashica Lynx-1000 (1960). Note the fat “a” and distinctive serial number style.

Could the f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens have been made by Tomioka Optical? Of course, Tomioka was the almost exclusive lens supplier to Yashica since the beginnings of Yashica in 1953. We feel that Tomioka had their hands full making nearly 1,500 lenses per month for Yashica’s first Pentamatic model (which was still very much in production at the time), and then taking on this lens at about 1,000 lenses per month for the Pentamatic II may have been a bit much for Tomioka.

This lens is so radically different in design and function of other Tomioka made SLR lenses of the time (Tomioka only started making lenses for an SLR in September 1959 with no known examples found before that).

Here’s a peek inside of this lens –

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It features quality construction throughout and what we feel is another Zunow cue, 10 aperture blades. The Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens for the original Pentamatic has only 6 blades. We’ve yet to take one apart (soon).

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Pictured above is the f/ 1.7 5.8 Pentamatic II lens with its 10 aperture blades. Below, the front lens group removed from the lens barrel.

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Original sales brochure (below) dated February 1961 featuring the Pentamatic II and its very unique lens.

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Is All of This Enough to Prove a Connection to Zunow?

No of course not. Our claim is a merely a starting point for further discussions and discoveries. We hope to disassemble the Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens that was made for the first Pentamatic and compare it to this f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens for the Pentamatic II. By the way, the Pentamatic II was only available for sale in the domestic markets in Japan. There’s no evidence that it was ever exported. We do know that Zunow Optical and Yashica did have a working relationship by the mid 1950s with Zunow supplying high quality D mount cine lenses for Yashica’s 8mm movie cameras (see below).

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Thanks for your visit! Comments are always welcome and your input is important to us. This post is designed to stimulate discussion as to the validity of our assertions. Heck, we may have missed significant clues along the way that would either prove or disprove our claim.

By the way. A special shout out to my good friend and fellow Yashicaphile, Paul Sokk! Our frequent correspondence on this subject first planted the seed that this lens could have been made by Zunow. Paul rightly reminded me that the bankruptcy of Zunow in January 1961 coincided with Yashica stopping production of the Pentamatic II. Yashica is thought to have acquired Zunow after that and one would assume all of Zunow’s assets and debts.

Chris

Be sure to stop by our online store CC’s Studio Twenty-3 Eighty at https://www.ccstudio2380.com for some neat items of photographic interest! Thanks, C&C

More Lynx – 1961

Sharing a bit of our original Yashica Lynx sales brochure which is dated February 1961.

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This is one of our first sales brochures related to the Lynx which made its debut in mid 1960. The lens featured is a late 1960 version of the f/1.8 4.5cm Tomioka-Yashinon. This lens also appears in what looks to be the second version of the Lynx instruction booklet.

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The second part of the brochure shows the body serial number (NO. 650048) which would indicate that this camera was made in May 1960. This camera appears in other brochures and flyers throughout the camera’s run.

We believe there were two versions of the Lynx instruction booklet. The first would have been included with the release of the Lynx around May 1960. In the second version of the Yashica instruction booklet, the body serial number is obscured but the lens serial number shows clearly and it’s the same serial number as the one in this brochure. The lens SN would put it as made between September and November 1960. Thanks Paul!

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Front cover of the Yashica 35mm sales brochure dated February 1961. Note the use of the “Yashica Girl” in the lower right corner. She and two similar friends appear now and then on brochures during this period.

By the way, the listed selling price of the Lynx ( ¥22,000 ) equalled $62 USD in May of 1960.

Thanks for stopping by! Comments always welcome!

C & C

Yashica Pentamatic I & II – 1960

The original Pentamatic ’35’ and the Pentamatic II. The original Pentamatic made its debut in March 1960 and was first available for sale in  April 1960 (production started in December 1959). The Pentamatic II was rushed into production in August 1960 and was only for sale in Japan. The only change between the two cameras… was the lens!

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The P1 (left) came with the Auto Yashinon f/1.8 5.5cm lens. The P2 (right) came with the Auto Yashinon f/1.7 5.8cm lens. The goal of Yashica was to improve on the semi-automatic operation of the lens over the standard lens on the P1.

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Serial numbers. The SN on the top camera is on the original Pentamatic camera body. The number, NO. 126013189 contains a date code and production sequence number. This camera was made in December 1960 and was the 13,189th camera made. The bottom camera’s serial number (Pentamatic II), NO. 126004171 decodes to: December 1960 and it was the 4,171st made since August 1960 (the start of production on the P2). 

So both of the cameras were in production at the same time in the same factory. We’re highly confident in our analysis of the serial numbers. We have enough examples in our database and enough experience in decoding Yashica serial numbers to say that we are 100% correct.

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The whole process of releasing the Pentamatic II was rushed – the top plates were only slightly modified to accommodate squeezing in the “II”. The engraving was moved about 1 mm to the left so as to have room to engrave the “II”. On the back of the camera it only took a change in the serial number engraving to reflect the P2.

The Pentamatic II didn’t get any upgrades to the body… no self-timer and no hot shoe. The lens is a totally different lens and we’ll cover those differences in our next post.

Thanks for your visit!

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic

We haven’t had the opportunity to focus our attention on the Pentamatic lately. Carol is still working and I’m the retired one. I keep the home business rolling in our studios and lately most of my free time has been spent “rescuing vintage film cameras” – cameras that most people would probably throw away rather than restoring them. We just can’t bring ourselves to do that. Now let me be clear, restoring old cameras is as close to the most crazy thing one can do with their spare time. The amount of hours spent stripping old paint, chasing away rust and corrosion, cleaning lenses and restoring leather cases never equals a smart return on the hours and dollars spent. But we love re-imagining a 60 year old camera into a useful machine again and at the same time make it a work of art.

Anyway, we hope to be able to showcase one of our TLR restorations soon here in on blog. In the meantime, I ran across a few forgotten images of one of our Pentamatics today and I thought I would share them. They haven’t been posted elsewhere – when I first downloaded them I wasn’t sure that I liked them so they sat and sat. Today (after a few tweaks) here they are.

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Both images were taken on the same day in our ca. 1911 post office building here in town. The one hundred year old windowsill provided a nice setting for the modern lines of the 1960 Yashica. Strong light flooded the space via the very dirty windows which in turn diffused the light nicely. I reflected some light back at the Yashica via a white shirt I was wearing. The bottom image is the same camera placed on the floor about 10 feet away from the windows. I liked the color and grain of the wood (fir or southern yellow pine) and again the 100 year old wood provided a nice contrast to the Pentamatic.

The Pentamatic remains one of the most invisible of Yashica’s SLRs. I’m drawn to it because of its rather unique styling – a clean pentaprism design, front mounted shutter release button and of course its crazy big lenses.

Thanks for your visit and please feel free to share your comments with us.

Chris & Carol ^.^