a Yashica classic – Pentamatic ’35’

Yashica’s first ever 35mm SLR. Designed with the help from Nicca, the first Pentamatics were produced in late 1959 and made their debut in the US by the Spring of 1960. Tomioka Optical made a majority of the lenses that were used on all three models of the camera – Pentamatic ’35’, Pentamatic II, and the Pentamatic S. My good friend Paul Sokk has written an excellent piece about the development of this important camera for Yashica. Paul’s site can be found at http://www.yashicatlr.com/Pentamatic.html

Thanks for stopping by and have a happy and safe day!

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.

Buy Me A Coffee

Yashima Flex TLR – 1954

Made by Yashima which later changed its name to Yashica. This is one of the earliest TLRs made by them and this one is in mint condition inside and out.

The lenses were made for Yashima by Tomioka Optical which would later be acquired by Yashica.

A beautiful machine from another time – made by the talented craftspeople in Nagano Prefecture (on the shores of Lake Suwa). It’s getting close to celebrating its 70th anniversary.

This gem was worth chasing all the way to Japan. I was very lucky to buy this directly from the original collector.

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.

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.

20186770749_3906ae1138_o (1)

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 35 YL – 1959 Rangefinder

A classic 35mm rangefinder film camera from Yashica. This one was built in November 1959. I like the feel of this camera – it’s a tad heavy at just over 700 grams with no film loaded and it feels “heavy” in your hands. It’s “chunky” design with the prominent black top plate is either a love it or hate it feature. I will say this, the view through the large viewfinder is outstanding. Bright and clear with an easy to focus double image focusing spot.

DSCF8401 logo

I kinda like the feel of the odd and different black plastic rectanglar shutter release button – it has a nice touch. The film advance lever is silky smooth and it’s easy to load a film cartridge – lots of space in there for chunky fingers.

DSCF8410 logo

If you’re looking to get into using a late 1950s Japanese made rangefinder I highly recommend the YL or its similar cousin the Yashica 35 YK.

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 © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

My First Pentamatic – the quest begins

It was “love” at first sight! Well, kinda like love – more like a very strong attraction.

The starkness of the Pentamatic’s design caught my eye straight away. Here was a Yashica the likes of which I’d never seen before.

I thought I would share a very popular image of my first Yashica Pentamatic. I say popular because it’s been viewed more times than anything else I’ve ever posted on my Flickr page.

yashica p1 in blue

Designed in middle 1959, Yashica’s first 35mm single-lens reflex camera is a stunning beauty. It appears it was a collaborative effort between Yashica and Nicca with some “help” from the designers at Zunow. The first lenses for the Pentamatic were made by Tomioka and most carried the Yashinon name – a few, like this one, sported the Tominon branding along with Yashica’s Yashinon name. By the way, the serial number on this lens is fairly easy to “decode”. The first 2 digits indicate the focal length of the lens – in this instance, the lens is a 3.5cm wide angle so the first digits are “35”. The next 4 digits are a simple production number that I’m guessing started at “0001”. This lens would have been the 246th lens made (0246).

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this little tease is enough to cause you to explore my blog (and Flickr site) to learn more about the Pentamatic and its sister models – the Pentamatic II and the Pentamatic S. – 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.

An Elusive Camera – the Royal 35-M

When you don’t have one it’s considered to be hard to find. After you acquire yours it becomes rare.

When it comes to any camera made by the Royal Camera Company of Tokyo they collectively can be considered rare. They did, however, make cameras that were branded by other companies with either the exact same specs (as the Royal 35-M) or with exclusive features only found on that model.

Here’s our “rare” Royal 35-M from around 1958.

royal 35m logo

It’s a handsome camera and it has the feel of a very well constructed machine. The fit and finish are excellent. This model comes with a fixed 45mm lens made by Tomioka Optical and carries the Tominor name. It’s a fast lens at f1.9.

royal 35m logo2

It would appear that by serial number this camera is from about the middle of the production run. Royal looks like it used a simple sequential numbering system with no “hidden” date codes.

royal with flap

The light meter “exposed” – normally the flap would be closed but it can still be used with the flap down under bright conditions. The meter in this camera is no longer operating which is typical of a 60-year-old camera.

tomioka lens pair

A pair of Tomioka lens equipped old birds from the 1950s

Advertisement for the Royal 35-M in Modern Photography magazine from February 1960. The f1.9 lens is claimed to have a seven element lens whereas the f2.8 is a five element lens. There isn’t a ton of info out there on these cameras so these little bits of data here and there are helpful.


Modern Photography ad from February 1960

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit our “gift shop” at http://www.ccstudio2380.com


Was this beautiful lens, which was made exclusively for the Pentamatic II designed by Zunow Optical?

Simple Answer – Yes


Yashica Auto Yashinon f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens designed exclusively for Yashica’s Pentamatic II. It appears for the first time in August 1960 and disappears from use by Yashica in January 1961. There’s no documentation about the lens and no hard evidence that Zunow made the lens. Hard evidence would be sales brochures or advertisements that specifically link Yashica and Zunow. Co-branding on the lens ring would have been nice but never happened. Unfortunately our claim that it was made by Zunow is, at this point in time, circumstantial and coincidental. Much more digging around needs to be done on our part.

The lens features the unique Pentamatic bayonet mount that couldn’t be used on any other SLR of the time without an adapter. That in and of itself could have been a major reason for the quick demise of the Pentamatic series of cameras.


Two “clues” that link this lens to Zunow – the serial number style with its unique “No xxxxxx” vice the more typical serial number style that Tomioka used “No. xxxxxxxx” at the time (as did most lens makers). Another clue, the style of the lowercase “a” in Japan. Most Zunow lenses used a fat “a” vice the keyboard style lowercase “a”. We know, these are hardly the type of clues needed to link the two but they’re good ones for now.

zunow font

Close-up of a Zunow made f/ 1.8 4.5cm lens for the Yashica Lynx-1000 (1960). Note the fat “a” and distinctive serial number style.

Could the f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens have been made by Tomioka Optical? Of course, Tomioka was the almost exclusive lens supplier to Yashica since the beginnings of Yashica in 1953. We feel that Tomioka had their hands full making nearly 1,500 lenses per month for Yashica’s first Pentamatic model (which was still very much in production at the time), and then taking on this lens at about 1,000 lenses per month for the Pentamatic II may have been a bit much for Tomioka.

This lens is so radically different in design and function of other Tomioka made SLR lenses of the time (Tomioka only started making lenses for an SLR in September 1959 with no known examples found before that).

Here’s a peek inside of this lens –


It features quality construction throughout and what we feel is another Zunow cue, 10 aperture blades. The Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens for the original Pentamatic has only 6 blades. We’ve yet to take one apart (soon).


Pictured above is the f/ 1.7 5.8 Pentamatic II lens with its 10 aperture blades. Below, the front lens group removed from the lens barrel.


Original sales brochure (below) dated February 1961 featuring the Pentamatic II and its very unique lens.


Is All of This Enough to Prove a Connection to Zunow?

No of course not. Our claim is a merely a starting point for further discussions and discoveries. We hope to disassemble the Tomioka f/ 1.8 5.5cm lens that was made for the first Pentamatic and compare it to this f/ 1.7 5.8cm lens for the Pentamatic II. By the way, the Pentamatic II was only available for sale in the domestic markets in Japan. There’s no evidence that it was ever exported. We do know that Zunow Optical and Yashica did have a working relationship by the mid 1950s with Zunow supplying high quality D mount cine lenses for Yashica’s 8mm movie cameras (see below).

yashica zunow cine lens (2)

Thanks for your visit! Comments are always welcome and your input is important to us. This post is designed to stimulate discussion as to the validity of our assertions. Heck, we may have missed significant clues along the way that would either prove or disprove our claim.

By the way. A special shout out to my good friend and fellow Yashicaphile, Paul Sokk! Our frequent correspondence on this subject first planted the seed that this lens could have been made by Zunow. Paul rightly reminded me that the bankruptcy of Zunow in January 1961 coincided with Yashica stopping production of the Pentamatic II. Yashica is thought to have acquired Zunow after that and one would assume all of Zunow’s assets and debts.


Be sure to stop by our online store CC’s Studio Twenty-3 Eighty at https://www.ccstudio2380.com for some neat items of photographic interest! Thanks, C&C

“Is that a Zunow on your Lynx?” Connections: Yashica and Zunow – do you have one?

The web is a wonderful place as we all know – But like anything in life, it can also be crawling with nonsense and ripe with inaccuracies. Digging through mounds of data requires tons of luck to weed out what’s important and what’s not.

Every now and then something really neat happens!

While surfing through some photography blogs from Japan, I stumbled upon a seemingly casual and offhand comment about the Yashica Lynx. I read that there are some bloggers (from Japan) who have speculated that Yashica’s super popular Lynx 35 (released around May 1960) may have had two lens suppliers during its first half-year or so of production and that there may be a way to tell if your Lynx has a lens supplied by Zunow Optical or a lens made by Tomioka Optical. These Japanese bloggers (roughly 4 or 5) plus one eBay seller from Japan, claim to have read something somewhere online that a Lynx with a body serial number that begins with “NO. xxxxxx” has one type of lens and that cameras whose body serial number begins with a Lxxxxxxx” have a different lens. They’re not talking about the lens serial numbers, just the body numbers. Naturally I was intrigued by this so I wrote my Japanese eBay colleague and asked if he could provide some hard evidence to support his claim and to give me some insight as to why they would think that. What I got were links to what appears to be multiple bloggers copying one another – No references and no additional links. Still I pressed on. I scanned hundreds of images of Zunow and Tomioka lenses and poured over the details of dozens of Yashica Lynx cameras for sale on various auction sites. I even looked at every picture of the Lynx that are posted on Flickr. My conclusion? There’s something to this!


This Yashica Lynx was made in August of 1960 and it was the 723rd off the assembly line. This is our Lynx-1000 with the Zunow lens.

Why is any of this important? If it’s true that some of the Yashica Lynx cameras were delivered with a Zunow made f/1.8 4.5cm lens vice the more common Tomioka made f/1.8 4.5cm lens then that would make the Zunow-Yashica Lynx more valuable to collectors. Why? Rarity could be one factor. The biggest reason is because Zunow lenses (across the board) enjoy a cult-like following from collectors and those in the know. It doesn’t make sense because although Zunow made some groundbreaking lenses (f/1.1 fast!) and some very expensive lenses (LTM) they also made simple and inexpensive lenses for 8mm movie cameras and 35mm fixed lens rangefinder and viewfinder cameras too.


Zunow lens on our Lynx-1000. Many unique features – Fully grooved focus ring without a focus lever. Simple “F / M” for feet and meters. Scale begins with 20 feet vice a typical 30 feet.

Could a Yashica Lynx with a Zunow lens outperform its Tomioka equipped cousin? Should it be worth more?

I can’t answer the first question as I’m not a techie when it comes to lens performance and the final image that a lens produces is subject to an individual’s taste and preferences. The second part I can offer something of an answer. It should be worth more as it appears that Zunow equipped Lynx cameras are few and far between compared to the much more common Tomioka versions.

 Making the Case For Zunow

So how can you tell if you have a Zunow lens on your Lynx? Number one and the single most important thing is your Lynx must have a body serial number that begins with “NO. 6xxxx or x” AND have a lens serial number that begins with “No3xxxxx”. You must have both. The biggest clue to it being a Zunow made lens is the lens serial number. Zunow throughout its short history almost always used the “No” to begin its numbers. It didn’t matter who the lens was made for or if it was a Zunow branded lens – The “No” is the clue. If your lens has this type of serial number then you have a Zunow.


A Zunow lens on the left and a Tomioka lens on the right. Note the simple differences in the two serial numbers.


Close-up of the Zunow lens. The serial number will always begin with “No” and then 6 or 7 digits beginning with “3”. Also note the style of the “a”.


Close-up of the Tomioka lens showing a typical Tomioka (and Yashica) style serial number. Note the style of the “a’.

Examples of other Zunow Lenses

Here’s an example of a Zunow lens (below) for the Miranda T. – Same Zunow style serial number.

zunow26 miranda t

This is a 1956 Miranda T. Notice the fancy “f” in “f=5cm”. That was typical for Zunow in the first half of the 1950s. Sharp eyed readers will notice a small wrinkle in my theory. Look at the way “Japan” is written on this Zunow Miranda T lens and then compare it to the way “Japan” is written on the Tomioka Lynx lens above. Pretty darn close… But, both “a’s” in “Japan” are slightly different. Whew!

Here’s another example (below) of a Zunow lens on a Neoca-SV from around 1959 or so.


This is essentially the same lens as the Lynx lens. Note the style of the “a”.

How to Tell Internally Between Zunow and Tomioka

The lens of the left in the image below is the Zunow – on the right is the Tomioka. It’s fairly obvious that there’s significant differences between the two lens designs and some very similar design cues too. We admit that up to this point, these are the only two Lynx lenses that we’ve taken the front lens group out of the lens barrel. ***We don’t intend to keep purchasing additional Lynx cameras with the two different style lens rings to see if they’re all like this. We would encourage our readers to do so with their Lynx and to be so kind as to share their results with us.


The Zunow lens (left below) is about 3mm taller than the Tomioka lens on the right.


A close-up of the Zunow pictured below reveals a very distinct lens design. For lack of better terms, it is taller and more angular.


Tomioka lens close-up (below). For lack of better terms it’s obvious that the lens is shorter and more rounded.


A close-up of the Zunow front lens ring (below) shows a consistent height to the numbers. A typical Zunow feature and common to others as well.


A close-up of the Tomioka lens (below) shows a definite “high-low” style in the numbers. Small “8” and “5”. That same style is seen on some of Tomioka’s other lenses and it maintains this same style on this lens long after Zunow closed in early 1961.


Here’s our other Yashica Lynx (below). This one was made in July 1962 and it was the 1,184th made that month. Yashica reset the serial number sequence at the start of each month during this period. Many thanks to my friend Paul Sokk for that decode! 



L = Lynx and “2071184” decodes to: 2 = 1962, 07 = July, 1184 = 1,184th made that month.


So in Summary

The easiest way to know if your Yashica Lynx-1000 has a lens made by Zunow is to check the lens serial number found on the front lens ring. If the serial number looks like this one below then you have a lens made by Zunow Optical for Yashica.


If the serial number looks like the lens ring below, then your lens was made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica. Tomioka was at this time Yashica’s number one supplier of lenses going back to Yashica’s earliest days.


This is a bold statement on our part and a pretty exciting discovery too. We never want to mislead anyone and certainly we wouldn’t post this if we weren’t sure of our conclusions.

If you find that our post doesn’t hold water, let us know and share your input and support for your theory. We’re always looking to discover something new and exciting.

Many thanks!

Chris and Carol



Yashica Lynx – the ‘Wildcat’ in Yashica’s den!

We haven’t paid much attention to rangefinder cameras here on the “Fanatic” – it’s not that we don’t find them interesting – quite the opposite, many rangefinder cameras associated with Yashica are groundbreaking and historically significant and are worthy of further research.

The Yashica Lynx – aka the Lynx-1000. It was the first in a long line of successful fixed-lens rangefinder cameras from Yashica in the early 1960s. The first Lynx was made in May 1960 based on the serial number of the camera in an early sales brochure (in English below).


We find early sales brochures extremely helpful when attempting to place a date of production of a camera. In this case, the serial number NO. 650048 would indicate that the Lynx was first produced in May 1960 (6 = 1960, 5 = May, 0048 = number 48th made).

This early box (below) confirms that Yashica referred to the camera as just the Lynx vice Lynx-1000 when it was first released. The success of the Lynx paved the way for the subsequent versions of the camera.

Yashica Lynx Box

Yashica Lynx Box 1







We decided to get a Lynx mainly because of the reputation of its fast Yashinon f/1.8 4.5cm lens. The Lynx we received (below) has a working shutter and super clean glass. The camera’s exposure meter does not work which is typical for these nearly 60-year-old cameras.


An overall clean example but missing an important piece – the rangefinder window is obviously missing with some damage visible to the internal pieces of the finder (top center above the lens).


Our camera was produced in August 1960 and was the 723rd made.


This lens (our camera) features a unique serial number (only 6 digits long) and is in a font that’s not consistent with earlier versions or versions that came later. We feel that this type of lens was made by Zunow Optical vice Tomioka Optical.

The lens on the Yashica Lynx has earned high praise and its reputation amongst photographers is top-notch. For the time period having a fast f/1.8 aperture combined with a leaf shutter (Copal-SV) with a top speed of 1/1000 second was a nice feature in a low-cost rangefinder.

***There is some chatter on more than a few Japanese blogs that some of the earliest lenses for the Lynx were made by the Zunow Optical Company. The majority of the lenses were made by Yashica’s normal lens maker, Tomioka Optical of Tokyo. No verifiable references or links are given in these Japanese blogs as to the source(s) of this claim – it would appear that at this time it may be a case of one blogger makes the claim and others simply followed suite. We’re not disputing these claims, in fact, we’re intrigued by them and have set out to either prove or disprove them. Zunow has an interesting place in the Japanese camera industry of the 1950s. In early 1958, Zunow made one of Japan’s first modern 35mm SLR cameras with a semi-automatic lens and instant return mirror. Interestingly the Zunow 35 and the Yashica Pentamatic 35 (Yashica’s first 35mm SLR –  1959) share a related look and design style that goes beyond coincidence. More on this in another post.

Back to Zunow Optical and the possible connection to the Lynx. Below is an example of a very similar looking f/1.8 4.5cm lens from Zunow made in about 1959 and was fixed to the Neoca-SV.


Zunow f/1.8 4.5cm lens on the Neoca-SV. Compare the lens ring font with the font on the Yashinon lens pictured earlier in this post. To us, these were made by the same manufacturer.

One of the biggest clues for us that some of the Japanese bloggers claim that Zunow and Tomioka made the lenses for the Lynx are the similarities of the serial number fonts. The lens with the serial number No 40450 (Zunow pictured above) is in the same style as the serial number on our Yashinon lens (No359708). We have another Lynx headed our way with what we feel is a Tomioka version of the lens. We’ll take both lenses apart to see if there are differences in the design.

Thanks for stopping by! If you have additional information about anything we’ve blogged about please feel free to contact us. We’re never too old to learn something new!

Chris and Carol ^.^


Zunow lens on the Neoca-SV


Zunow? lens of the Yashica Lynx.