Pentamatic S – 1961

Yashica Pentamatic S with its no name clip-on light meter.

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S fitted with its light meter, lens hood and the standard 5.8cm f/1.7 lens that came with the Pentamatic II.

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Pentamatic S

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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.

Chris

Yashica Pentamatic Refreshed –

20160326_164016_richtonehdrThe beautiful, simple and clean lines of Yashica’s first SLR.

If you’re new to the Yashica Pentamatic then you’re in luck as this is the best place to be for the most accurate information about the mysterious Pentamatic. First envisioned when Yashica acquired the Nicca Camera Company in the summer of 1958. Yashica needed the technology and manufacturing know-how that Nicca had – focal plane shutters and the ability to build small complicated 35mm SLRs.

The timeline as best as we can tell looks like this – Yashica “invents” the Pentamatic in the summer of 1959. Yashica files for the trademark ‘Pentamatic’ in Japan September 18, 1959. The first Pentamatic bayonet mount lenses are made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica in October 1959. The first Pentamatic bodies roll off Yashica’s line by December 1959.

Yashica files for a patent/trademark in the US on February 12, 1960. The Pentamatic ’35’ is revealed at the ’36th Master Photo Dealers & Finishers Association Trade Show’ (St. Louis) in late March 1960. The lens shown on that Pentamatic is an Auto Yashinon 5.5cm f1.8 lens (SN 59100035). By April-May 1960, the first pictures appear in photography magazines in the US from the St. Louis show. The first Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ advertisements appear in both ‘Popular Photography’ and ‘Modern Photography’ magazines in their June 1960 issues. Ads within those publications have dealers in New York selling Pentamatics for $159.95.

JN Pentamatic SN 16000375Decoding serial numbers… Yashica has never been upfront with the dating of their cameras, lenses or printed materials. Instruction booklets and sales brochures are only occasionally dated and those were mostly in the 1950s and then again in the 1970s. Camera bodies and lenses (and accessories) remained a mystery until now. We believe we’ve finally decoded the serial numbers of Yashica’s first 35mm SLR, the Pentamatic. Look closely at this camera’s serial number… 16000375… knowing a little bit about when this camera was “invented” helped us decode the number. The trademark “Pentamatic” was filed by Yashica in September 1959 in Japan. The first lenses were built in October 1959 with the first bodies produced by December 1959. This camera (above) dates… 1 = January / 60 = 1960 / 00375 = 375th unit made since December 1959. The latest camera in our database has a serial number of 16115756. This decodes to… January 1961 and was the 15,756th unit produced since December of 1959.

16233739912_d43f6fb30f_oThis Pentamatic body (above) decodes to… 3 = March / 60 = 1960 / 01500 = 1,500th made up to that point.

Bold bright colors...

Clean simple lines. Show the customers that this camera was a SLR! Not your dad’s TLR.

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Inspiration and the technical know-how came from the Nicca Camera Company. Pictured on the left is an early Nicca 3-F.

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By May 1960, number 3,354 had been made.

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Earliest lens serial number (in our collection) decodes to – October 1959, the 92nd made. The ad behind it is a much higher serial number and appeared in a June 1960 ‘Popular Photography’ magazine ad.

The original Pentamatic ’35’ is a fun and challenging camera to collect. Knowing a little something about the serial numbers may add to your enjoyment of the chase. There was a short lived Pentamatic II (well less than 10K made) and another short run of the Pentamatic S which was the last model before Yashica ditched the Pentamatic bayonet mount in favor of the universal M42 mount.

Happy hunting! Questions? We’ve got answers.

Chris & Carol

 

Earliest Pentamatic Lenses Found… Yeah!

Nerd heaven! After years of speculation and almost constant searching, we’ve been able to confirm that Tomioka Optical began making lenses for Yashica’s new Pentamatic 35mm SLR camera in the latter part of 1959. The two lenses pictured below confirm (via serial numbers) of an October 1959 start of production. Yashica had filed for a trademark of the name ‘Pentamatic’ in September 1959 (in Japan). Since their new camera used an exclusive mount for its lenses, Yashica designers had to have shared their design with Tomioka as early as the summer (August ?) of 1959.

Using the rule of twos, these lenses are the earliest in our collection.

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By serial number the left lens was built in October 1959 and it was the 92nd lens made. The right lens was built in December 1959 and by then Tomioka had built 1,630 lenses for Yashica.

No.  59 = 1959   10 = October  0092 = 92nd made

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No.  59 = 1959  12 = December  1630 = 1,630th made  

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Here’s our lens matched up to an advertisement in ‘Popular Photography’ magazine from the June 1960 issue. The lens in the ad is No. 59100581 which decodes to – October 1959, lens number 581 in the sequential production run. So in October, Tomioka had made nearly 600 lenses and by December they were up to 1,630 made. Certainly possible that they were averaging nearly 600 lenses per month in late 1959.

It’s a good find for us as the early serial numbers were just a guess on our part as to how they decoded. Having two lenses made before 1960 helped firm up our speculation. Lenses made in 1960 drop the month code in favor of a model number or code. A typical 1960 lens would have a serial number of:  No. 605xxxxx which would be 60 = 1960  5 = model code  xxxxx = production sequence number.

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Serial number No. 60515001 decodes to 60 = 1960  5 = model code  15001 = 15,001 made since production began in October 1959.

If you’re a collector of Pentamatics or are just interested in Yashica cameras in general, this is important info. We know, total nerd stuff!

Thanks for your visit.

Chris

Our ヤシカ Pentamatic Family…

We were finally able to get the Pentamatics together for a photoshoot. These cameras range from a March 1960 build date to January of 1961. The lenses are made by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo for Yashica. The lower left camera has both the Super Yashinon-R name and Yashica Tominon (kinda rare). The other three are Auto Yashinons, f/ 1.8, 5.5cm normal lenses that were supplied with the first Pentamatics.

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Yashica’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.

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No changes were made to the original Pentamatic ’35’ through its production run. Small (slight) changes were made with the introduction of the Pentamatic II which made its way to dealer’s shelves in the Fall of 1960. The Pentamatic II was never strongly advertised – as late as 1962, large camera dealers were still advertising the original Pentamatic.

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1958 Kodak Kodachrome film in our 1961 Pentamatic.

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The January 1961 Pentamatic from Arizona is getting (already completed) a ‘new’ baseplate to replace the engraved one (with Arizona driver’s license number). The first owner purchased it in June of 1962 and promptly engraved his DL number. Oh well… that was the norm back then. We’ve seen  cameras with Social Security numbers  engraved!

Please check out our more detailed posts about this uncommon camera from Yashica.

Thanks so much for the visit! C & C

Standard Lens for the Pentamatic II

The only difference we can tell between the original Yashica Pentamatic ’35’ and the Pentamatic II (which came out in August 1960), is the standard lens that came with the camera body.

The original Pentamatic came with the Auto-Yashinon, f/1.8, 5.5cm semi (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). The f/1.8 lens was made for Yashica by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo. New evidence uncovered by us (Oct 2017) indicates that the f/1.7 lens was made by Zunow Optical. It’s a beautiful lens and weighs a ton and is rather rare today at under 6,000 lenses made. It has 10 aperture blades.

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Update July 2017 – The Pentamatic II was only for sale in the Japanese home market and for only a short time (Aug 1960 to Jan 1961). Less than 6,000 cameras were made and of course about the same amount of these lenses. No English language sales brochures have been found that mention or feature the Pentamatic II. No advertisements either in English language newspapers or magazines.

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The Auto Yashinon f/ 1.7, 5.8cm lens mounted on a later model Pentamatic S.

If you find a sales brochure or advertisement in English that features the Yashica Pentamatic II, please bring it to our attention. Thanks!

Chris & Carol