Zeiss Ikon IIIa with Box – 1951

We were lucky enough to collect this wonderful Contax with an original box (we love old cameras and their boxes)!

The Contax IIIa (and IIa) are interchangable lens 35mm rangefinder cameras.


The Contax IIIa was made by Zeiss Ikon AG. Stuttgart, West Germany.


We haven’t run a roll of film through it yet but we hope to soon. The lens is a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/ 1.5 and the exposure meter (top) appears to be working after all these years.


Exposure meter flap in the open position. The meter has selenium cells that are powered by light – no batteries necessary. The only downside is that over time they do give out and they can be a bit fragile after nearly 70-years-old.

The Carl Zeiss f/ 1.5 lens is considered to be fast even by today’s standards.


Here’s the Contax IIa – same features but without the built-in exposure meter.

Here’s another camera in our collection that’s available to purchase. From 1955, the Minolta A2 (or A-2) 35mm non-interchangeable lens rangefinder camera.



The Minolta is available in our Etsy camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day! – 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.

Friday Fotos! – Classic Rangefinders


Image courtesy of Paul Sokk www.yashicatlr.com

Recently my good friend Paul Sokk added this wonderful Leica IIIc to his collection of 35mm rangefinder cameras from the late 1940s and 1950s. The Leica is an original design made in Germany and the Nicca and Leotax are considered copies or clones made in Japan.

The Leica IIIc (front) is from 1946-47, the Nicca 3-F (middle) is from 1956, and the Leotax K is from 1955-58. These cameras use what is known as L39 (LTM) screw mount lenses of which literally thousands were made and thousands are still available today in a wide range of focal lengths.

If you’re looking to get into film photography with a totally manual camera then these should be on your list to take a closer look at.


On the left, the Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa and on the right the Nicca built Tower Type-3.

Pictured above are a couple of contenders from 1951. The Contax is an original design from the 1930s and was manufactured in Germany. The Tower branded camera was made by Nicca in Japan and features a Nippon Kogaku Nikkor f/ 2 5cm lens. The Contax sports a Carl Zeiss Sonnar f/ 1.5 50mm lens. The Contax also has an attached selenium cell exposure meter that can be useful for setting the correct aperture and shutter speed. A word of caution about these 70-year-old meters, if they are working (responding to light) then assume that it’s not accurate until you can check it against a modern meter. Most of these types of meters have long since failed.


Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa with selenium meter (top center) flap opened.

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Paul’s beautiful Leica IIIc

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Paul’s gorgeous Leotax F with Topcor f/ 3.5 5cm lens.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope my post stirs some interest in these wonderful cameras. I do have a Tower (Nicca) set available in my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com if you care to take a look at it, pop on over.

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Take care and stay safe! – 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.

1951 Classics – Contax & Tower (Nicca)


Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa and Tower (Nicca) Type-3

Two extremely different cameras that accomplish the same thing – recording an image on 135 film. The Contax is a much bigger camera and for the most part, it is an original design by Zeiss Ikon of Stuttgart. The Tower was made by Nicca Camera for the Sears, Roebuck Company for sale in the US and Canada. The Nicca was inspired by an original design by Leica and it’s often considered to be one of the better Leica “copies”.

Both cameras feature interchangeable lenses and both are rangefinders. The Contax has an attached exposure meter (non-coupled) and with the Tower, you would use a separate meter for determining proper exposures.


The Contax is a slightly larger camera and it’s a tad bit heavier due to the additional weight of the exposure meter. The Contax weighs 773 grams and the Tower weighs 591 grams.


The standard lens on the Contax is a Carl Zeiss Sonnar f/ 1.5 50mm and the Tower has a Nikkor H.C f/ 2 5cm.


What’s interesting is that back in 1951 these cameras were considered to be “miniature” 35mm cameras per their advertising of the time.

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contax IIIa and IIa

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Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – 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.

New reflex mirror in my Rolleicord Ia Type 3 from 1938

After 80 years of use, the original mirror had lost most of its reflectivity and the view available in the viewing hood was greatly diminished.

I ordered a replacement mirror from hugostudio.com and I couldn’t be happier with the service and the quality of the product.

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With the viewing hood and focusing screen removed the view internally shows an abundance of the dirt and grime from 80 years of use. It’s pretty nasty in there!

There are only 4 screws to remove to be able to access the mirror chamber. The mirror essentially slides out from the 4 tabs that hold it in.

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Old and new mirrors side-by-side.


The mirror chamber with the original mirror removed. A quick dusting and it was ready for the new mirror installation.

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Before and after. What a difference the new mirror makes.

I highly recommend that you change out the original reflex mirror in your TLR if it shows signs of significant deterioration – the view in the focusing hood will be made much brighter and that will lead to more accurate focusing on your part. Most mirrors can be had for around $10 and there are a few sellers on eBay to choose from. The key is the accuracy of the cut as there’s little room for error. If in doubt trace the outline of the mirror that you are replacing and send that (or just the measurements) to the seller.

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Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your project! – 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 L AF vs. Kyocera T Scope

Round 1 – The Introduction

The Yashica-Kyocera L AF from 1986 and the Kyocera T Scope (Japanese name, T3 elsewhere). The L AF was assembled in Hong Kong with parts made in Japan and the T Scope was made in Japan.

Key feature – waterproof (more like weatherproof) – not a dive camera.

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N.A. Scope = “New Angle Scope”

The scope is just like a waist-level finder – pretty cool actually.

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I’ll be doing a side by side field test of these two cameras shortly. Is the T3 really worth the extra money over the Yashica? The T Scope features a Carl Zeiss T* Series Tessar f/2.8 35mm lens against the Yashica (Tomioka?) f/3.5 32mm lens. I have a hunch that the Yashica’s lens was also made by Zeiss at the Tomioka factory in Tokyo. We’ll see if the vaunted T* coating makes a noticeable difference.

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Not often seen outside of Japan – the Kyocera T Scope box. Not one mention of Yashica!

Thanks for stopping by!


Yashica’s L AF – good things come from plastic rectangles

A true plastic fantastic from Kyocera-Yashica. Released around 1986, this little gem is a modern classic. It gives much better-known (and much more expensive) point & shoots a run for the money.

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Poor man’s T* Series with Zeiss lenses (I’m pretty sure these lenses are Zeiss without the coating).

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Not much control over this camera – it was designed to take pictures without much fuss – and do it well.

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It says Yashica lens but I’m sure it’s a Zeiss – why wouldn’t it? By the way, the 32mm f/3.5 lens is as fast as the other T* Series lenses – with the exception of the Kyocera T Scope (Japanese market T3) which is f/2.8

Good condition Yashica L AF’s are not common on online auction sites but nice ones still go for less than $40 or so. This nearly mint one went for $20!

Sharp contrasty lens – quick but not super quick AF but excellent auto exposure – perfect pics nearly every shot!



Images were taken on Fujicolor Superia color negative film. No post-production on any of these outside pics.

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Headed our way from Japan!

Thanks for stopping by!


The Curious Case of the Yashica ‘Olympic’* Camera

*No, not those Olympics.

New to us, this neat little Yashica L AF 35mm compact point and shoot film camera is from 1986 and sports an Olympic theme. In all the years that Carol and I have collected Yashica cameras we’ve never run across a Yashica that featured a logo not directly related to Yashica – until now.

We’re big fans of the L AF and we’ve reviewed it before. Field Test of the L AF

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We haven’t been able to find anything that relates to this logo – no other Yashica-Kyocera camera has one. And what exactly is “Camera America”? It looks like (somewhat) an official Olympic logo but without the 5 rings. Did Yashica-Kyocera invent it purely for a marketing campaign? The timing is off as the previous Olympics were held in Los Angeles in 1984 and the next wasn’t scheduled until 1988. Releasing an Olympic camera in 1986 just doesn’t make sense.

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The colors and fonts match in our opinion (see below) – the reds and golds match so it most likely was applied by the factory. As was typical with Yashica and Kyocera, no documentation exists for a “Camera America” version of anything nevermind an “Olympic Edition”.

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As we’ve said before the Yashica-Kyocera L AF is a low priced version of the more recognizable T* series of 35mm compacts and is a great camera for the money. If you run across one in working condition, by all means, give it a try.

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This one is a tad beat up and it hasn’t been tested yet but we expect it to do well. Once we squeeze some time out of our busy schedule we’ll have a go at it.

By the way, here’s a clip from the instruction booklet for the L AF – more than likely the date depicted matches the release date of the camera (or pretty close to it).

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A sticky 1986 Yashica-Kyocera case for the L AF


Our first Yashica-Kyocera L AF


The image was taken with the L AF on Fujicolor film

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The much more expensive version

Thanks for your visit. Have you ever seen an Olympic Yashica? Please share your comments if you have!

Chris and Carol ^.^

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.





(Nicca) Tower Type-3 35 mm Rangefinder Camera… 1953

Nice little Tower Type-3 (or Type III) 35 mm rangefinder film camera from the early 1950s – made by Nicca Camera for the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog. The build quality of the Tower branded cameras are no different from the quality of the Nicca camera as best as we can tell. It appears that Sears didn’t ask Nicca to lessen the quality like one might imagine – Sears was known for good value but not necessarily the best quality in our opinion.

By the way, these images were taken with our Sony Cyber-shot  (model DSC-W170) from 2008. It’s a basic point and shoot but sports a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and 10.1 megapixels. It adds a nice “softness” to our studio shots especially of vintage gear and it’s fun (and simple) to use.


The Tower Type-3 (made by Nicca) is one of the best of the Japanese made Leica copies.

This camera appears to have been made in around 1953 – the serial number places it as a mid production model and the fact that the open-shut latch simply has ‘Made in Japan’ vice ‘Made in Occupied Japan’ engraved on it. The occupation of Japan ended with the adoption of the Peace Treaty signed in April 1952.


Open shut latch.

This camera works perfectly – the shutter appears to be spot on and the rangefinder-viewfinder is clear and accurate. We hope to be able to run a roll of film through it soon.


Super clean and free of significant signs of past use. A gem!


Designed to take the L39 screw-in lenses made by any number of lens manufacturers of the period.


Actually it’s an interesting logo – quite detailed and almost a retro look to it even for the early 1950s. 

As we’ve stated before, if you’re looking for a nice camera to experience the joy of using a vintage 35 mm rangefinder, then the Nicca and Tower cameras fit the bill nicely. Excellent fit and finish and they’re built like a tanks. You should be able to find well preserved models on various online auction sites for reasonable prices. If you see signs of corrosion or missing leatherette… run! Avoid these and buy the best you can afford. You’ll be happy you did.