Zunow SLR – 1958

One of the rarest early Japanese 35mm SLR cameras ever made. The Zunow SLR (below).

zunow beauty

Zunow SLR 1958.

This gorgeous Zunow sold for a cool ¥ 1,880,000 (about $16,700 USD)!

The Yashica Pentamatic (below) just sold for $16,598 less!


Yashica Pentamatic 35mm SLR. Yashica’s first ever. A cousin to the Zunow? We think so.

We believe designers and engineers from Zunow and Nicca played a big part in bringing the Pentamatic to market by early 1960.

Thanks for your visit! To find out more about Yashica and the Zunow connection stay a bit and check out our blog here on the ‘Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic’!

Chris and Carol ^.^

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.

New Yashica Pentamatic Set – all the goodies too!

We’re always on the lookout for interesting Pentamatic sets. This was purchased from the original owner who purchased it in March of 1961 in Philadelphia. It’s the first Pentamatic set that had the “dealer price card” included.

It’s a beautiful camera in nearly mint condition – hardly any signs of use and of course it works perfectly. This particular camera was made in August 1960 and the lens is from around the same time.


The interesting negative holder from Kodak (upper right) is from the first roll of film that the original owner shot (high contrast B&W copy film). I’m not sure of the exact period the Kodachrome film is from but I do know that I’ve shot more than my share of Kodachrome in my life.

The dealer price card was designed to slip into the cold shoe of the camera (by folding the little tab on it and inserting it in the shoe).

Carol and I are always looking for nice examples of all models of the Pentamatic (Pentamatic, Pentamatic II and Pentamatic S) so if you have a nice one to sell please feel free to contact us through our blog or at chriscarol@ccstudio2380.com

Be sure to stop by our online store at https://www.ccstudio2380.com

Thanks! Chris and Carol ^.^

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.

Yashica FR II – the camera that made me buy the Canon F-1

I know – the FR II and the F-1 are miles apart in features (and price). I purchased my first Yashica, a TL Electro-X in 1971 and used it faithfully through much of the 1970s. Being a young (and married) US Navy Sailor and money deprived, the TL suited me just fine – until I was transferred to Japan in 1977. If you were ever stationed in Yokosuka then you know what Building A33 means. It was the Navy Exchange camera and stereo heaven!!! Reps from all of the major camera manufacturers were present and demonstrated their latest gear to the now cash flush Sailors. Upstairs was a branch of Navy Federal Credit Union… if you couldn’t afford it, finance it! Pure bliss.

I’m so easily distracted.

So it was time for me to upgrade my trusty TL Electro-X, so naturally I looked at what Yashica had to offer. The FR was out but it didn’t do it for me and quite frankly, the Contax RTS didn’t either. So I waited and saved some money and started reading the Navy Exchange catalog every day (and night). The Canon F-1 looked promising but was expensive. The TL needed to hold me over as I was diverted to purchasing stereo equipment. Sansui pre and power amps, Teac reel to reel, Dual turntable and some killer Kenwood speakers. A small fortune so a camera upgrade would have to wait.

Now it’s the summer of 1978. My ship was inport (finally) long enough for Carol and I to spend some quality time together and to focus our attention on replacing the Yashica. Another visit to A33 and another visit with the Yashica rep. Now the FR II was the camera of the day (and he was still pushing the RTS too). No way. The friendly Canon rep was all too happy to take my money and hand me a bright new F-1 with 55mm f/ 1.4 lens and Canon 80-200mm zoom. The Yashica was sold off to a friend and that was it for Yashica (for the next couple of decades).


Oh happy day! July 1978 – my new Canon F-1 and Canon FD 80-200mm f/ 4 zoom lens.

Present day now and I’m finally an owner of a Yashica FR II.


I picked up this beauty recently because it looked to be in near perfect condition and I figured, why not. Well I gotta say that I’m impressed. Not impressed enough to regret my F-1 purchase back in 1978, but impressed.


The camera feels good in my hands – well balanced and the viewfinder is super bright. What a big difference over the Yashica TL Electro-X. The Contax/Yashica lens is crisp, clear and focusses easily (split-image). The meter is simple (this is a aperture priority camera) so you’re only messing with the f stops.


With the power winder attached it’s a tad on the heavy side but would be useful as a weapon (or anchor).


Simple lines and layout. The meter switch (upper right) is a bit awkward but the meter is accurate and that’s all that matters.


Uses all of the C/Y bayonet mount lenses which can be had for a song today. Here is a 135mm, f/ 2.8 lens that came with it in basically unused condition.


We have so many cameras in the queue right now I have no idea when we’ll get a chance to run a roll through it.

Verdict. I’ve waited nearly 40 years to shoot with it so I’m excited to see how it does out in the field. If you find a nice one for sale (mint condition) then give it a try. Stay away from the ones that look rough – these don’t hold up well with abuse. Prices are all over the place – you may be able to strike a nice deal with a seller who’s ready to part ways. Best of luck!

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W


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.

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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


Recent Pentamatic Auction Action

As you know, here on the Fanatic we are constantly searching for new and exciting Yashica Pentamatic gear that becomes available on various collector auction sites. Here are some interesting pieces that sold recently.

First up this little gem! Unloved but working well, this ugly duck sold for just $12… shipping included! Turns out to be fully working with super nice glass and clean guts. It was made (the body) in June of 1960 and is the 5,843rd Pentamatic to roll off the factory floor.

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From June 1960. It cleaned up rather nicely. (here still dirty)

Tominon lenses were hot on the auction block – here’s what appears to be a new in the box (unverified) Tominon 10cm, f/2.8 lens with a sharp looking box.

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Very low serial number on this beautiful lens… 336!

Very nice looking original box with what looks like a complete set. This brought a solid $250 at auction. Not bad if it’s really unused and has no issues.

s-l1600 (11)

And here’s another Tominon 10cm, f/2.8 lens mated with a good looking body. This lens is a tad newer (serial number wise) than the one above but still a low number… 611

s-l1600 (12)

The body was made in January of 1960 so it’s part of the first wave of Pentamatics to come off the line. It has the honor of being only the 669th made since December 1959 (when the P1 was first built).

s-l1600 (13)

This combo did well at auction with aggressive bidding by many bidders. It brought just over $300! Not bad for such a nice early set.

So there you have it. From $12 to over $300… a busy period for the Pentamatic.

Thanks for your visit!


Fujifilm Discovery S100 – 1999

Another Fuji for our “Modern Series” collection. Why collect plastic cameras from the 1990s? Because they’re out there and they’re still in the box new!

If you’re a collector of vintage camera equipment, how many times have you wished that you’d kept all the original boxes that came with your then new Canon, or Nikon or whatever? The old saying, “they don’t make them like they used to anymore” is as true today as it was 50 years ago. Yeah, in 2021 the original Canon F-1 will turn 50 years old! Amazing for me to think that I remember reading about the new F-1 in the photo mags of the day and looking for it at my favorite camera dealer’s shop. If only I had kept the boxes! If only I had bought two instead of just one and kept the second one locked away unused! Wow, that would be nice but it would have been a really bad return on my initial “investment”.

More to the point of this post. Someday these plastic fantastic, point and shoot 35mm compact cameras of the 1980s, 1990s and even the 2000s, will be worth collecting. Notice I didn’t say “worth something”. It’s a chance to have a collection of cameras that represented some pretty amazing technological breakthroughs of their era. And if you start collecting them now, you’ll be able to still get them absolutely new in the box unused. We happen to find collecting these inexpensive cameras a whole lot of fun – it’s like Christmas morning never ends!

Here’s our latest find –


From 1999 – this little Fuji came as part of a neat kit that included a fresh roll of Fujicolor, a case and coupons for up to $10 off on film and processing.




When the lens cover is slid open the flash automatically pops up.


Takes 2 AA batteries and a flat watch battery (CR2025).


Original battery still going strong 17 years into the future!


Super nice case and a fresh roll of Superia that expired in 2000.


Fuji Photo Film Company made millions of these type of cameras in the 1980s and 90s. Finding them still in the box new is what makes collecting them fun.

“Tech Specs” – Fujinon Lens 32mm, f/ 4.5, 3 elements in 3 groups – autofocus 1 meter to ∞ – programmed electronic shutter (1/30 to 1/250 sec) – DX coding – auto film advance and auto rewind – built-in flash – self-timer – date function – about 185g

Oh and the date function is good up until 2049! No worries there!

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W