The Yashica Pentamatic – Our 8 Year Search – Some Conclusions & Wild Speculations

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Some Conclusions

The first Pentamatic was “born” in December 1959 but wasn’t available for sale in the U.S. until April 1960. The Pentamatic was Yashica’s first 35mm single-lens reflex camera and was designed with the help of technology obtained from Yashica’s acquisition of Nicca Camera in 1958 and with some involvement with designers from Zunow Optical in 1959. Of course, Yashica designers were involved too as well as collaboration with Tomioka Optical for the first lenses.

Below is a scan of what appears to be the first sales brochure for the Pentamatic found in Japanese. A machine translation of it proves that Yashica and Nicca designers worked together to jointly develop the camera over a 3-year period. The exact date of this brochure has not been established but it appears to be at least issued in the Spring of 1960. Many thanks to my good friend Paul Sokk for his efforts in researching the Pentamatic with me over the years. His fabulous site can be found at www.yashicatlr.com

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Below is a scan of the cover of that first sales brochure that features the new Pentamatic.

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The original Pentamatic was a failure. A beautiful, sleek and modern camera at a great price, but still a failure. A replacement for it (Pentamatic II) was released by September 1960 – just a few short months after the original Pentamatic debuted.

The Pentamatic and the Pentamatic II were both out of production by January 1961. The Pentamatic S didn’t appear until around April 1961. Little was significantly changed over the course of these 3 models during this short timeframe. The Pentamatic II and its one-off lens improved on its semi-automatic capabilities. The body stayed the same with the exception of adding the engraved “II” after the name. No logic to this as Yashica could have simply made the new lens available as an option to the original Pentamatic. There had to be another reason to call it the model II and it appears that there were some internal changes made to accommodate the new lens.

The standard lens that was available for the Pentamatic II was designed and built (quickly?) by Zunow vice Tomioka. Our best guess at this point.

The Pentamatic II was only available for sale in Japan.

The Pentamatic S essentially was the replacement for the original Pentamatic – not the Pentamatic II. The model S added a lug for attaching an accessory exposure meter that coupled to the shutter speed dial. The S also added a self-timer and the body got a redesign (the strap lugs were moved to the front and the shutter release button was no longer at a 45-degree angle).

The Instruction Booklets

The booklets have been an additional source of fun separate from the camera searches. The booklet for the original Pentamatic was relatively easy to find. The first Pentamatic saw about 16,000 units made so the booklet is much more available. The Pentamatic II booklet was the hardest to locate since only around 5,000 cameras were made. The Pentamatic S booklet is even rarer – only around 3,000 cameras produced.

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Inside the booklets…

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Wild Speculations

Wild Spec 1 – The first Pentamatic was not initially released in Japan. Yashica had a slow go with its early production so only a limited number were available for the April to June debut in the U.S. There were only about 4,000 cameras made by then and that just didn’t support a wide release of it in their home market. However, with the discovery of the as yet undated sales brochure found by my friend Paul Sokk it does appear that some of the first Pentamatics were in fact distributed in Japan. We do feel that Yashica had a suspicion that the original model would not go over well at home. Why do we feel this way? During our quest of all things Pentamatic, we’ve yet to find an instruction booklet for the original Pentamatic in Japanese (or any other language besides English). We’ve seen no early 1960s advertisements either. Although we’ve yet to find these items that does not mean they don’t exist.

Wild Spec 2 – The Pentamatic II was only available in Japan and was never intended for widespread availability in the world marketplace. We further feel that the Pentamatic II was the camera Yashica intended to release in Japan vice the original Pentamatic. Why? Same thing… in over 8 years of searching, we’ve never seen a Pentamatic II instruction booklet in English and the only sales brochures we have are in Japanese. No English ads or brochures anywhere (yet). Update: As of April 2019 still no English ads or books.

Wild Spec 3 – The Pentamatic S wasn’t available in Japan. Crazy right? The same thing applies here – no Japanese advertising or brochures and no instruction booklets in anything but English. Again, not finding them does not translate to not being produced but the likelihood looks slim.

Wild Spec 4 – As we stated in the conclusions section above, the standard lens for the Pentamatic II (5.8cm f/1.7) was made for Yashica by Zunow Optical vice Tomioka. This flies in the face of what’s known and we don’t have solid written proof (yet, if ever). Both the original Pentamatic and the Pentamatic II ended production in January 1961. By coincidence, that’s the reported date of Yashica’s acquisition of Zunow (or their bankruptcy). Once Zunow went bust they no longer make lenses for the Pentamatic II.

Wild Spec 5 – Once the Pentamatic II stopped production, Yashica started selling the original Pentamatic in Japan (or at least increased its availability in Japan). We would still like to find a Pentamatic instruction booklet in Japanese to validate this thought.

Wild Spec 6 – Since the Pentamatic S wasn’t sold in Japan, there was a rather large gap in Yashica’s SLR availability. The next camera to be sold widely in Japan (and the U.S.) was the Penta J but that didn’t come out until the Summer of 1961.

These marketing and production missteps led to a less than stellar debut for Yashica in the world of 35mm SLRs. The competition during this same period was “inventing” much more sophisticated (and mostly more expensive) cameras which had a wider range of interchangeable lenses and accessories. It took Yashica a long time to establish a “foot in the door” with their Penta J and their first internally coupled exposure metered SLR, the Yashica J-3 (Jaguar).

Things we would like to find…

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The first thing we would like to discover would be an ad, sales brochure or instruction booklet in English for the Pentamatic II. We don’t think we will as we feel that they don’t exist.

We would like to find a Pentamatic instruction booklet in Japanese. They must exist but we’ve yet to find one.

Pentamatic S instruction booklet and a sales brochure in Japanese. Don’t think they exist but time will tell.

Pentamatic II box!!! They must exist – someone’s got to have one in their collection! Update: Finally found one but we missed acquiring it for our collection so we “borrowed” this image –

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Pentamatic (any model) in its original boxes in factory fresh condition. WooHoo!

***Solid proof that the standard lens for the Pentamatic II was made by Zunow Optical.***

Other than these things, I think we’re good! ^.^

Thanks for your visit! If you’ve made it this far in the post give yourself a big pat on the back! You just may be on your way to becoming a ‘Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic’!

Please stop by our online shop at https://www.ccstudio2380.com and check out some of our classic cameras available for sale.

We are active buyers of quality cameras and equipment – especially anything Yashica, Nicca, Fujica or whatever! Contact us at chriscarol@ccstudio2380.com

Please stop by our camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

a man, a watch, a camera

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Mr. David Yulee as seen in downtown Fernandina Beach

Yashica Pentamatic S 35mm SLR mated with the sharp 5.8cm f/1.7 lens which I believe was designed by Zunow. No direct written evidence to support that claim but the design cues are clearly more Zunow than Tomioka. The camera is from 1961 and the lens is from 1960.

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Yashica Pentamatic S with attached exposure meter.

Yashica’s first SLRs represented a steep learning curve for the company.

The original Pentamatic ’35’ was co-designed with Nicca Camera starting in 1958. The camera was groundbreaking for Yashica to be sure but a miss overall against the competition (think Nikon F). Yashica’s best was yet to come. I happen to appreciate the rock-solid construction of this often overlooked camera. The lens was only in production for six months and disappeared from Yashica’s lineup at the same time as Zunow’s demise (January 1961). It was the standard lens for the Pentamatic II. This was not the lens that was supplied with the S – Yashica went back to the 5.5cm, f/1.8

Shot with my Samsung Galaxy S4 – January 2015

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com for some great cameras and photo gear. – 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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

 

Yashica Pentamatic S Sales Brochure

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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 Man

yulee and ps

Yashica Pentamatic S and Mr. David Yulee – downtown Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island – Florida

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.

Early Yashica Sales Brochure & the Debut of Miss Yashica – all 3!

We’re always trying to determine exactly when Yashica did something – whether it’s exactly when Yashica released a camera or when Yashica printed a sales brochure – we always want to know when.

Sales brochures can be a great source of information for uncovering some of the “whens” associated with Yashica – unfortunately Yashica’s marketing folks weren’t big fans of dating their pamphlets, booklets or brochures (almost never).

Another way to date a brochure is to look at the cameras featured in them. Below is a good example. The cameras featured (front bottom to back right) are: Yashica Minister f/2.8, Nicca-Yashica YF, Yashica YK and the Yashica 35. The “newest” of the four cameras pictured here is the Minister. It was released in February-March 1960. The camera pictured (still on the Minister) was made in January 1960 (going by its serial number). The other cameras were released from late 1958 to middle 1959.

So the earliest date that this brochure could be is the January to March 1960 time frame.

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Early sales brochure from Japan. Take note of ‘Yashica Girl‘ on the bottom right of the brochure. 
My translation of the title – ‘Yashica 35mm Camera Group Guide’. The bottom left translation – ‘Yashica Products That Always Make Full Use of Your Dreams’. The “newest” model featured (bottom front) is the Yashica Minister (Feb-Mar 1960)

So was this the first appearance of Miss Yashica? She does appear on what may be a few earlier brochures but we’re going to say she made her first public appearance in January 1960 (new year, new decade and Yashica had a ton of new products to introduce). Plus she looks like a girl of the 1960s!

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Not one but three Miss Yashica’s! The one on the far right appears frequently in sales brochures during 1960 and early 1961 while the two on the left are variants that we’ve never seen before (clearly different). The ladies pictured here appear on the side of a vinyl shopping bag – Of the camera… ‘Camera Matsue Ota Weight Shop Izunokuni’? Not completely sure about the translation here.

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Could be the very first flyer/ad released in Japan for the original Yashica Pentamatic.

It would appear that in this flyer/ad Miss Yashica was paired with the Pentamatic shortly after the release of the Pentamatic in Japan (early 1960). We don’t have the flip side of this flyer/ad so we don’t know if it was a one page presentation or two pages or part of a brochure. Since it has the address of Yashica’s headquarters in Tokyo on the bottom, one could assume that it’s the back page.

Thanks for stopping by! If you can provide a better translation or have more information please let us know!

Remember, Carol and I are always interested in buying interesting items for research and for our collection. If you have something to sell, please contact us at chriscarol@ccstudio2380.com

Please stop by our online store at https://www.ccstudio2380.com

Chris & 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.

First Look… Yashica Pentamatic II – Finally!!!

After years of searching, we’ve finally acquired our first Pentamatic II. A rather rare camera that was only released in Japan and only for a short time. It’s estimated (by us) that less than 6,000 bodies were made. How many of those survived to the present day is of course unknown.

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Much more detail about this Pentamatic coming soon.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9000W

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ vs. Pentamatic II

Why did Yashica bring out the Pentamatic II less than a year after releasing the original model?

The only difference we can tell between the original Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ and the Pentamatic II (which came out around September 1960), is the standard lens that was mated with the camera body. The original Pentamatic came with the Auto-Yashinon, f/ 1.8, 5.5cm 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). Both lenses were made for Yashica by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo. We imagine the 58mm, f/ 1.7 lens was a bit faster than the f/ 1.8… but we don’t see why Yashica changed from the model I to the model II and why they changed the lens… we may never discover the reason either.

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The standard lens for the Pentamatic II – 5.8cm, f/ 1.7

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Gorgeous lens for the Pentamatic II.

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The first sighting of the Pentamatic II in a sales brochure for the Japanese home market.

We’ve yet to find an advertisement for the Pentamatic II in English and along those same lines, have yet to find the Pentamatic II in a sales brochure in English. The Pentamatic S replaced the model II less than a year after its release. The model S went back to using the original 5.5cm, f/ 1.8 lens that was on the original Pentamatic.

That makes the Auto-Yashinon 5.8cm, f/ 1.7 lenses one of the rarest of the early Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses.

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Happy hunting!

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic S & a “new” old school copy stand –

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’.

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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.

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The grids are about 20 x 20 so it’s actually quite large.

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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.

Pentamatic in ‘Explore’

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This simple studio shot made it to Flickr’s ‘Explore’ group recently. It may be the first and only Pentamatic in ‘Explore’.

Natural window light on an overcast Florida afternoon. Camera used? Samsung Galaxy 4S. No post production by me but the Galaxy may have been on HDR. Sometimes simple is better.

Yashica Pentamatic 35mm single-lens reflex from early 1960.

Chris