Yashica TL Electro X – one of Yashica’s most popular 35mm SLRs – ever!

The venerable TL Electro X

Far left is the TL Electro X in silver chrome (it also was available in all black) and on the right the TL Electro X ITS which was only available in pro-black with the gold electron symbol on the pentaprism.
Not to overlook the quality of the lenses from Yashica which were made in-house by Tomioka Optical. Here’s an Auto Yashinon DS-M 50mm f1.4 – super sharp lens (and fast).

If you’re looking to acquire a true classic 35mm SLR that will ease you into film photography, then I highly recommend getting this model Yashica. They were produced in rather large quantities during the late 1960s through the mid-1970s and if you find one that looks as nice as this one (and is a one owner) then the likelihood of getting one in fully working condition goes way up. Avoid online sellers that provide fuzzy pics and vague descriptions – look for sellers that will answer your direct questions as to the functional condition of the camera. The good news is that this Yashica uses a very common battery – I’m using an Energizer A544-6V alkaline (also known as an LR44). The battery provides the correct voltage with no drop-off over time.

BTW, this one was made in the then newest Yashica factory in Hong Kong and is marked “Hong Kong” on the bottom plate vice “Japan” which would be marked on the right side back of the top plate. This one will be leaving my collection soon as I am currently downsizing my camera collection. You can watch for it in my online camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

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.

Yashica Pentamatic S – 1961

Yashica Pentamatic S with Auto Yashinon f/1.7 5.8cm lens made by Zunow (likely).

Pentamatic s with yulee

Pentamatic s body and lens

The Pentamatic S – the last 35mm SLR in the short-lived Pentamatic series. I believe that this rather odd lens was made by Zunow for Yashica and was sold exclusively on the Pentamatic II (Aug 1960 to Jan 1961). Here it’s pictured on the later model S. Most of the early Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses were made by Tomioka but a few were made by Kyoei Optical who was known for their Acall lenses.

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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica Electro AX – Yashica’s goofy automatic exposure SLR

Yashica was known to design many quirky cameras during its run of existence. Here’s what the New York Times had to say about the Electro AX on November 4, 1973.

“A NEW fully automatic 35mm single‐lens‐reflex camera with an electronically controlled shutter has recently been introduced by Yashica, Inc. in the United States. Called the Yashica Electro AX, the camera has actually been available for some time in Japan and Europe, but it is only now reaching the American market.

Unlike most of the fully automatic cameras currently being marketed, the Electro AX is designed so that the photographer selects the aperture he wants. An electronic exposure control circuit then automatically sets the shutter speed at any one of an infinite number of different settings from 1/1,000 of a second to a full 8 seconds. When set for manual operation (at the photographer’s choice) the user can manually select speeds in the usual gradations of from one second to 1/1,000 of a second, as well as a “B” setting for time exposures.

Because of the electronic focal plane metal shutter, the entire exposure system is solid-state without any delicate moving mechanical parts.

When focusing, the diaphragm is closed down to the aperture selected, but for dim light situations, the photographer can press a button on the front which opens the diaphragm while focusing, without affecting the actual exposure setting. One unusual feature of the Electro AX is a green signal light on top that glows when the shutter is open — a useful aid when the built‐in self-timer is used, or with long exposure shots.

The camera has a CdS solid-state sensor located behind the viewing mirror, in front of the shutter. The split image viewfinder has a microprism focusing spot in the center, and there are red and yellow exposure indicator arrows that light up in the viewfinder to warn of overexposure or very slow shutter speed (when on automatic).

Other features include a built‐in light shield operated by a lever on front to prevent light leaks through the viewfinder when the eyepiece is uncovered, an ASA range from 25 to 1600, a battery check lamp which also illuminates the exposure counter, and a double lock for the back cover which prevents accidental opening. The Electro AX is priced at under $600 with an f/1.2 lens, about $500 with an f/1.4 lens, or under $460 with f/1.7 lens.”

By serial number decoding, it looks like the first models were manufactured in March-April 1973 so as the article points out, there was quite a lag in releasing it in the US markets.

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A Japanese sales brochure dated early 1974 and I have another (not pictured) dated March 1973.

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The Electro AX was the second to the last M42 screw mount lens body cameras made by Yashica. It appears that the last model is the super hard to find Yashica FFT. BTW, I have no idea what if anything the FFT stands for.

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This Yashica FFT instruction booklet is dated June 1973. It would appear that this final M42 body came out just a few months after the Electro AX and they were in production at the same time and ended about the same time in early 1974.

An FFT in good condition is a very hard camera to find here in the US and I’m convinced it didn’t enjoy a long run in US camera stores. I would love to find some brochures in English and of course a good looking FFT.

Back to the Electro AX.

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The AX was one of the first Yashica SLRs to have the ability to shut a small curtain in the viewfinder to block light from entering during long exposures and “selfies”. It’s the little lever next to the eyepiece. It’s also the first Yashica SLR to have leatherette covering part of the pentaprism. An early prototype of the first Yashica Pentamatic had the same look before Yashica changed to an all-metal pentaprism.

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The big black button just above the self-timer lever is an Aperture Activator Button. Pressing it allowed the photographer to focus and compose at full aperture. The aperture would automatically close down to the selected setting once the Film Advance Lever was operated.

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On full auto, the camera would select the proper shutter speed given the aperture selected on the lens. A series of over and underexposure arrows would appear (when the shutter release button is pressed halfway down) in the viewfinder display indicating which f-stop to select.

The goofy comes in when switching to full manual. You would set the proper shutter speed and correct f-stop (aperture) on the lens based on readings from an external exposure (light) meter. In the manual mode, the AX can not meter thru the lens. Kinda dumb for an electronic camera with a computer brain.

Due to the design of the semi-transparent mirror, the following lenses can not be used on the Electro AX – Yashinon-DX 21mm f/3.3, the Auto Yashinon-DX 28mm f/2.8, and the Auto Yashinon-DX 50mm f/2, f/1.7, f/1.4.

The Electro AX was initially released with Auto Yashinon-DS lenses.

Thanks for stopping by. When I get the correct battery for it I hope to shoot a test roll and post the results. – 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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Pentamatic vs. Pentamatic S – Yashica’s Heavyweights

The Pentamatic was Yashica’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) and was released in 1960 (May-June) timeframe. The Pentamatic S was released about mid to late 1961. Not much changed between the two – the S model added a built-in self-timer and most notably, a provision for mounting an exposure meter to the top right of the camera that coupled with the shutter speed dial. Other small changes were to add lugs for holding the neck strap (moving them from the extreme right and left sides of the body on the Pentamatic to a more typical front mounting on the S). Unseen from the exterior is a change to the focusing screen inside the pentaprism. The original fresnel screen in the Pentamatic was replaced with a split image screen in the model S. For me, that change makes the Pentamatic S much easier to focus and improves the brightness inside the viewfinder.

A look at both models shows these changes and the tiny bit of extra weight that the S carries over the original Pentamatic.

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At 978 grams, the original Pentamatic is anything but a lightweight. (2.16 lbs)

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At 1,004 grams, the S shows the slight weight increase from the changes made between the two models. (2.21 lbs)

Both cameras are photographed with the same lens attached – Auto Yashinon 5.5cm f1.8 lens which was the standard lens that came with both models. Only the Pentamatic II (released in September 1960) came with a different lens. (5.8cm f1.7)

Compared to other SLRs from the same time period, the Pentamatic was a bit of a beast to tote around. The buying public never embraced these wonderful cameras and they ended their production run in less than 2 years.

Finding good looking (and still working) Pentamatics is a challenge for any collector with the Pentamatic II being especially difficult to find in any condition.

Of note, if you have an Asahi Pentax, Nikon F or Canoflex camera with the standard lenses from the late 1950s or early 1960s, we would love for you to let us know what their combined weight is. We could be way off in our assumption that the Pentamatic was significantly heavier than the other cameras of that era. Thanks!

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic Refreshed –

20160326_164016_richtonehdrThe beautiful, simple and clean lines of Yashica’s first SLR.

If you’re new to the Yashica Pentamatic then you’re in luck as this is the best place to be for the most accurate information about the mysterious Pentamatic. First envisioned when Yashica acquired the Nicca Camera Company in the summer of 1958. Yashica needed the technology and manufacturing know-how that Nicca had – focal plane shutters and the ability to build small complicated 35mm SLRs.

The timeline as best as we can tell looks like this – Yashica “invents” the Pentamatic in the summer of 1959. Yashica files for the trademark ‘Pentamatic’ in Japan September 18, 1959. The first Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses are made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica in October 1959. The first Pentamatic bodies roll off Yashica’s line by December 1959.

Yashica files for a patent/trademark in the US on February 12, 1960. The Pentamatic ’35’ is revealed at the ’36th Master Photo Dealers & Finishers Association Trade Show’ (St. Louis) in late March 1960. The lens shown on that Pentamatic is an Auto Yashinon 5.5cm f1.8 lens (SN 59100035). By April-May 1960, the first pictures appear in photography magazines in the US from the St. Louis show. The first Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ advertisements appear in both ‘Popular Photography’ and ‘Modern Photography’ magazines in their June 1960 issues. Ads within those publications have dealers in New York selling Pentamatics for $159.95.

JN Pentamatic SN 16000375Decoding serial numbers… Yashica has never been upfront with the dating of their cameras, lenses or printed materials. Instruction booklets and sales brochures are only occasionally dated and those were mostly in the 1950s and then again in the 1970s. Camera bodies and lenses (and accessories) remained a mystery until now. We believe we’ve finally decoded the serial numbers of Yashica’s first 35mm SLR, the Pentamatic. Look closely at this camera’s serial number… 16000375… knowing a little bit about when this camera was “invented” helped us decode the number. The trademark “Pentamatic” was filed by Yashica in September 1959 in Japan. The first lenses were built in October 1959 with the first bodies produced by December 1959. This camera (above) dates… 1 = January / 60 = 1960 / 00375 = 375th unit made since December 1959. The latest camera in our database has a serial number of 16115756. This decodes to… January 1961 and was the 15,756th unit produced since December of 1959.

16233739912_d43f6fb30f_oThis Pentamatic body (above) decodes to… 3 = March / 60 = 1960 / 01500 = 1,500th made up to that point.

Bold bright colors...

Clean simple lines. Show the customers that this camera was a SLR! Not your dad’s TLR.

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Inspiration and the technical know-how came from the Nicca Camera Company. Pictured on the left is an early Nicca 3-F.

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By May 1960, number 3,354 had been made.

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Earliest lens serial number (in our collection) decodes to – October 1959, the 92nd made. The ad behind it is a much higher serial number and appeared in a June 1960 ‘Popular Photography’ magazine ad.

The original Pentamatic ’35’ is a fun and challenging camera to collect. Knowing a little something about the serial numbers may add to your enjoyment of the chase. There was a short lived Pentamatic II (well less than 10K made) and another short run of the Pentamatic S which was the last model before Yashica ditched the Pentamatic bayonet mount in favor of the universal M42 mount.

Happy hunting! Questions? We’ve got answers.

Chris & Carol

 

Standard Lens for the Pentamatic II

The only difference we can tell between the original Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ and the Pentamatic II (which came out in August 1960), is the standard lens that came with the camera body.

The original Pentamatic came with the Auto-Yashinon, f/1.8, 5.5cm semi (fully?) automatic 6 element lens. Of course it has the unique Pentamatic bayonet mount and not the M42 screw mount. The Pentamatic II came with the Auto-Yashinon, f/1.7, 5.8cm lens (pictured below). The f/1.8 lens was made for Yashica by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo. New evidence uncovered by us (Oct 2017) indicates that the f/1.7 lens was made by Zunow Optical. It’s a beautiful lens and weighs a ton and is rather rare today at under 6,000 lenses made. It has 10 aperture blades.

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Update July 2017 – The Pentamatic II was only for sale in the Japanese home market and for only a short time (Aug 1960 to Jan 1961). Less than 6,000 cameras were made and of course about the same amount of these lenses. No English language sales brochures have been found that mention or feature the Pentamatic II. No advertisements either in English language newspapers or magazines.

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The Auto Yashinon f/ 1.7, 5.8cm lens mounted on a later model Pentamatic S.

If you find a sales brochure or advertisement in English that features the Yashica Pentamatic II, please bring it to our attention. Thanks!

Chris & Carol