Yashica Tominon Lens – a hard one to chase

Shown here mounted on one of my Yashica Pentamatics – 35mm SLR camera from 1960.
Rare Tomioka Optical Tominon lens.
Preset lens, Yashica Pentamatic bayonet mount.

Not many of these dual-branded lenses were made and with no accurate data from Yashica, one can only guess the actual production numbers. Less than 3,000? Maybe slightly more or a lot less. This serial number can tell a bit of the story. The number on this lens is 350309. The ’35’ refers to the lens’s focal length, which is 35mm. the last 4 digits are simply the sequential number of lenses made up to that point. ‘0309’ means that this is the 309th lens made since the start of production (whenever that was). My guess is around mid-1960.

So, if you’re up for a challenge try tracking down this lens on the various online auction sites. You’ll quickly find out that you’ll be looking for quite a while – but it’s worth it in the end. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check me out on Instagram at @ccphotographyai – Chris

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, is this blog’s property and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2022 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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Yashima YashicaMat – 1957

Yashicamat, Yashica-Mat, YashicaMat – they’re all the same camera, and as was typical for Yashima (later Yashica) they had a difficult time staying consistent when it came to the way they named their cameras. At this point in time, Yashima had only been around since 1953 so I’ll cut them some slack. By 1958, Yashima became Yashica as the company adopted the name of its cameras.

So here is a super early sales brochure (Spring 1957) for the new YashicaMat 120 roll film twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera, the YashicaMat.

High-res scans are posted below from my own brochure.

Front cover.

What I find interesting is that the camera that’s depicted is the very first version of the model with a 75mm Lumaxar f3.5 taking lens (bottom lens) that were only available for a very short time before being replaced by the lens described in the brochure – 80mm Lumaxar f3.5 lens. There’s no written history to definitively know why the change was made so quickly or why they switched at all. It’s possible Tomioka Optical had difficulty providing enough 75mm lenses to meet the production demands of Yashima.

Inside centerspread. Look closely and you can just barely see 75mm on the bottom portion of the lens retaining ring (bottom lens). Both lenses say Lumaxar with the viewing lens (top lens) the clearest of the two.

Back cover scan below.

Back cover. Yashima’s camera line-up as of early 1957 (newest models).

If you look closely at this back cover you can see Yashima’s full corporate name – Yashima Optical Industries, Company, Limited, and their headquarters were located in Shibuya in Tokyo. The factory was in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, and later Shimosuwa.

Thanks for stopping by and if you chase down a nice Yashica-Mat that you like be sure to check out my good friend Paul Sokk’s excellent TLR site at http://www.yashicatlr.com to learn more about the camera that you’re about to purchase. – Chris

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, is this blog’s property and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2022 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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Modern Photography ad from February 1960

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

Chris

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

Simple Answer – Yes

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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.

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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.

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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 –

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

Chris

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