Yashica Pentamatic II – The Phantom

A new Pentamatic joins the family – this one was made in September of 1960.

DSCF7800

Seldom seen in the wild, Yashica’s “Phantom” camera – the P2

The Pentamatic II was fitted with a limited production lens made by Zunow Optical – a 5.8cm f1.7 Auto Yashinon with 10 aperture blades. It’s a massive camera with a ton (1,028 grams) of brass and glass.

It’s a distinctive design – very modern but classic at the same time. A clean pentaprism without the cold shoe mounted on it – in fact, the cold shoe (accessory shoe) is mounted on the camera’s left shoulder just above the hidden rewind knob.

DSCF7802

The serial number (NO. 96000944) indicates the “when” of this camera. The “9” is for September and the next digits, “60” is for 1960. The last 5 digits are the sequence number or production number. This one is the 944th made since production began in August 1960.

DSCF7806

A rather unique lens for its time – I feel that the lens was made by Zunow Optical for Yashica and was only produced in an extremely limited number for the short run of the Pentamatic II (about 6 months). This is one of Yashica’s hardest cameras to acquire – there may only be less than 500 of these (if that much) left in the wild.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris

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

Simple Answer – Yes

DSCF6330

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.

DSCF6323

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 –

DSCF6345

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).

DSCF6328

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.

DSCF6349

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

600x450-2015111900010

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

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.

DSCF6247

DSCF6248

DSCF6251

Much more detail about this Pentamatic coming soon.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9000W

Chris

Japanese Pentamatic II Brochure

Sales brochure from early 1961. Rather rare (here in the US and I’m sure everywhere now) sales brochure for the Yashica Pentamatic II. It appears now, after much research and blind luck, that the Pentamatic II was for sale only in Japan and only for a few months. Studies of the body serial numbers and of the serial numbers of the exclusive lens for the Pentamatic II (many thanks to my friend Paul Sokk of http://www.yashicatlr.com fame) confirms this finding.

DSCF5863

The Japanese market sales brochure from February 1961. Also pictured is the Pentamatic S from our collection.

It’s still a mystery to us as to why the Pentamatic II never made it to markets outside of Japan and why it was only available for a short time before the model S was released. Short of being able to interview a former member of Yashica’s marketing team, we may never know. We’re still searching for a Yashica sales brochure in English with the Pentamatic II featured. Obviously we’re also interested in sales brochure from any country outside of Japan for proof. Do you have one? We’d love to see anything – even an ad would be nice.

Many thanks!

Chris & Carol