As was typical with Yashica sales material, this brochure is undated. Our best guess would put it around late 1961. It’s fairly complete with all of the major accessories and lenses that were available for the Pentamatic line of cameras – the original Pentamatic ’35’, the Pentamatic II, and the final camera the Pentamatic S.
The Pentamatic S was available in the US but received only limited press – few advertisements and only 3 different brochures in English are known to exist.
The Pentamatic S was made starting in August 1961. By that time, the Pentamatic family of cameras were starting to show their age and lack of sophistication and were already having trouble in the world marketplace.
The Pentamatic is a well-made camera but was lacking in some important basics that were addressed with the S. Adding a coupled exposure meter and a self-timer were but a few steps Yashica took to make the camera more competitive. The original lens for the Pentamatic ’35’ was made by Tomioka Optical and the S went back to using it. The middle camera (Pentamatic II) was only released in Japan and was equipped with a Zunow made 5.8cm f1.7 lens.
The first known advertisement for the new Pentamatic – Spring 1960. Take notice that the lens serial number 59100581 is very close to the serial number on the lens in this late 1961 brochure (59100521). The Yashica marketing team must have held onto some of the first lenses made for them by Tomioka.
Thanks for stopping by! If you want to add a truly unique camera to your collection take a look at the Yashica Pentamatic S – if you can find a nice, clean working model go for it!
Please check out our online shop at https://www.ccstudio2380.com for some neat vintage cameras and some brand new modern classics!
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.
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.
At 978 grams, the original Pentamatic is anything but a lightweight. (2.16 lbs)
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
Yashica Pentamatic S with its no name clip-on light meter.
S fitted with its light meter, lens hood and the standard 5.8cm f/1.7 lens that came with the Pentamatic II.
Standard lens for the Pentamatic II here fitted to the S – Auto Yashinon f/1.7 5.8cm made by Tomioka Optical.
The Yashica Pentamatic S was available in 1961 and came with the Auto Yashinon f/1.8 5.5cm lens.
Every now and then as a collector of all things Yashica, you get a little lucky. In this case my luck was finding an accessory that I wanted so badly back in the day (early 1970s). It’s not actually an accessory – more of what I’ll call ‘studio support equipment’.
Pentamatic S on the copy stand.
I know. It’s just a simple copy stand. They’re for sale everywhere. But not a built in 1971 Yashica branded copy stand – and in its original box too! Collector heaven.
The grids are about 20 x 20 so it’s actually quite large.
It’s definitely from another time and place. No official name for it – just a copy stand. It’s built pretty well – lots of real steel parts and no plastic. I believe the plastic looking parts are Bakelite. I’ll need to modify the tripod screw bracket a bit for use by my digital Fuji.
A long neglected (not by us) Yashica Pentamatic S is getting a much needed restoration and some re-imagineering by us as a top-level professional SLR.
A few peeks before the color coats get applied. Stripped of its hardware and sanded to slickness – 2000 grit sandpaper – she’s ready to shine again!
We love the hints of brass that are showing through the factory silver finish after the wet sanding. The Pentamatic family of SLRs have one of the sharpest looking pentaprisms around. Without a clunky accessory shoe on the top of the finder, the Pentamatics have a clean, modern design. This one is from early in the production run in 1961. It’s number 237 off the assembly line at the Yashica campus in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture.
Stay with us as we will post updates along the way!
Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W
Thanks, Chris and Carol Photography
Our best timeline for the development of the Yashica Pentamatic 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera… Pentamatic ’35’
Please note that this is a “dynamic timeline” and it will be updated as we discover new dates and developments…
- Summer 1959… Yashica develops / invents its first 35mm SLR
- September 1959… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in Japan
- October 1959… Tomioka starts production of a new lens for the Pentamatic. f/1.8 5.5cm
- December 1959… First Pentamatics assembled at the Suwa factory
- February 1960… Yashica files to trademark the name ‘Pentamatic’ in the U.S.
- March 1960… Production reaches 1,500 units
- March 1960… First showing of the Pentamatic occurs at a trade show in St. Louis… first images of the camera are provided by Yashica
- April 1960… First published look at the Pentamatic in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography magazine
- May 1960… First full page advertisements for the Pentamatic ’35’ appear in the June 1960 issues of Modern Photography, Popular Photography and U.S. Camera magazines and the Pentamatic is available at Yashica dealers by early May
- June 1960… Production reaches 5,000 units
- June 1960… First review of the camera appears in the July issue of Modern Photography magazine
- August 1960… Production reaches 9,300 units
- August 1960… The Pentamatic II goes into production. Sold only in Japan
- August 1960… Zunow produces a new lens for the Pentamatic II. f/1.7 5.8cm
- Winter 1960-1961… The Pentamatic I and II are are both sold in Japan
- December 1960… Camera dealers in New York advertise new Pentamatics at under $110 (USD)
- January 1961… Production reaches 15,700 units
- January 1961… The Pentamatic S goes into production
- January 1961… The Pentamatic II ends production at under 6,000 units
- February 1962… February issue of Modern Photography has only two advertisements for the Pentamatic and NO mention of the Pentamatic II or Pentamatic S
- Late 1961… The Pentamatic models are replaced by the Penta J
- End of Production… About 30,000 Pentamatic cameras (all models) are made over 3 years
- August 1963… ‘Pentamatic’ receives trademark registration in the U.S.
By January 1961, some pretty strong discounts on the original Pentamatic I. No Pentamatic S advertised.
First look at the new camera in the May 1960 issue of Modern Photography.