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

Yas inside P1 bro

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.

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Yashica-Mat 120 Film Camera Set – 1960

For those who may have missed this post from two years ago here’s a reblog of it. This is one of the nicest sets we’ve ever come across in all our years of collecting Yashicas.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

dscf3786 Pretty close to the way it looked when it was unboxed back in 1960. This one was part of a short production run of only a handful of cameras. It was for sale at US Military Exchanges (stores) in Japan as it is marked *EP* which meant and exempt purchase. No taxes paid but it could not be purchased or sold on the Japanese domestic market. 

dscf3787 It was Yashica’s first crank film advance TLR and it had auto cocking of the shutter. First released in April 1957.

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The quality of the images taken with a Yashica-Mat are outstanding – Yashica used high quality Yashinon f3.5 80mm lenses made for them by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo.

They are a joy to use and it’s a great camera to get into medium format photography. It produces large 6 x 6 cm negatives or slides.

Thanks for your visit!

Chris and Carol  ^.^

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Yashica-Mat EM

My favorite go-to medium format camera with a built-in exposure meter (EM). This one is from 1964.

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Woodblock print by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

For more about the Yashica-Mat EM please visit one of my previous posts here.

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

Yashima Flex – 1954

Three Yashima Flex twin-lens reflex (TLR) 120 roll film cameras from 1954. This was the first camera to carry the Yashima (Yashica) name.

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For such a young Japanese camera company the Yashima Flex was a well-built TLR. These guys are still capable of producing quality images six decades later.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com for some interesting classic 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 Dental-Eye III… is it worth another look?

I had this camera briefly and just couldn’t get it to produce the quality images I was hoping for so I passed it on. If you’re interested in purchasing one, do your homework first to make sure it’s the right camera for your needs. I bought mine back in November 2010 and it was gone by December. It’s a handsome camera and mine came complete with its original case and all of the accessories. The model III is a Kyocera-Yashica model.

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The Dental-Eye III is a 35mm SLR with a fixed 100mm f4 macro lens with a built-in ring flash at the end of the lens barrel.

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It’s basically a point and shoot automatic exposure camera – so easy to use even a dentist could use it.

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The ring flash is made up of three separate flashes that operate together. I have seen where one or more of the flashes have stopped working. Ask the seller if they have tested it first.

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The databack can imprint date and time info on the film.

They can be had for not a ton of money – on auction sites they’re all over the map price wise. If you’re interested in one, buy the best condition camera that fits in your budget. Did I mention, do your homework first?

(3-21-2019) Reader Kurt Ingham sent me some pics that he took with his Yashica – I’d say he captured some pretty decent images with his (see below).

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GTTBU6RY

Thanks, Kurt for sharing your pics!

This is a direct quote from the instruction manual.

*Please note – “Normal prints obtained at your photo dealer will have the edges cropped slightly narrower than the actual 35mm frame size. To prevent edges of important photographs from being cropped in this way, allow for some extra area around the periphery of the subject when composing in the viewfinder”.

In my experience, all of the prints came back significantly narrower.  Save the hassle when using this camera and do not get the negatives printed from the lab. Scan the negatives and then crop and print.

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

Yashica-Mat 124G Box – 1985

Just a quick post to share with you what Yashica’s last TLR box design looked like. After a long run that lasted from 1953 to 1986, this was the end of the road for Yashica (thanks to new owners the Kyocera Corporation).

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Here is the earliest box in my collection – from 1954

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Back when Yashica was Yashima Kogaku Seiki Co., Ltd.

Kyocera purchased Yashica on a dark day in 1983. This box obviously is from very near the end of the run for the Mat 124G and puts it post-takeover. By serial number, I estimate that my 124G (SN224XXX) puts my camera at being made in 1985.

This is likely the last version of the instruction booklet for the 124G.

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This one is dated 8506 (Jun 1985) 3rd printing. Notice that Yashica is now just a division of Kyocera and they were forced from their longtime head office in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

OK, enough Yashica trivia for one day! Thanks for sticking around! – Chris

BTW, I’ve listed a few more new items in my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – see you there!

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.

New in the Shop – Yashica-Mat 124G

Perfectly operating Yashica-Mat 124G twin-lens reflex (TLR) 6×6 cm medium format film camera. Whew!

The last TLR in a very long line of innovative and quality made cameras by Yashica. The last 124G rolled off the assembly line at the Okaya factory in 1986 (Kyocera was in “control” and was about to kill off the Yashica name. Yashica’s first TLRs? The Pigeonflex and then the Yashima Flex (1953, 1954).

This model’s serial number is 164216 (roughly 1983) and it’s never been offered for sale before. I purchased it directly from the original owner who kept it unused as part of his collection. It’s been thoroughly tested – the light meter is spot on (I’ve installed a new battery), the shutter is accurate at all speeds, the lenses are crystal clear, and the aperture blades are snappy and oil free. I see only the slightest specs of dust on the reflex mirror inside which is typical (even straight from the factory there was dust as the mirror chamber is not sealed). It’s a joy to use and all controls operate as they should – smooth and precise. I’ve installed new light seals after carefully cleaning away the old ones. The CdS meter is built-in and coupled. BTW, these later model 124Gs are built as rugged as any of Yashica’s previous models – you get the benefits of a newer TLR with a fresher CdS meter with gold contacts. You should be able to use this camera with proper care for another 30 years or more!

It’s available for purchase in my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com or you can buy it directly from here by clicking on the PayPal payment button and get free USA shipping!

Vintage 1983 Yashica-Mat 124G Twin-lens Reflex (TLR) Medium Format Camera (120 or 220 Roll Film) Producing 6×6 cm Negatives & Slides

Nearly new Yashica-Mat 124G TLR that's been completely tested and is in 100% fully operational condition. Open the box, load some film and you're a medium format square shooter! I've installed a new battery and new light seals. It comes with the original plastic Yashica lens cap (correct for this model). This camera is perfect for the discriminating collector or an active photographer. They don't come nicer than this well cared for beauty. It will ship FOR FREE within the USA via USPS Priority Mail and I'll mail it worldwide with some exceptions. Please contact me first for a quote. Thanks, Chris

$475.00

The Yashica YE & YF – a definitive history

My good friend Paul Sokk would argue that nothing about the history of Yashica could ever be “definitive”. Yashica no longer exists and its previous owners (Kyocera) could care less about the history of the company that it killed off back in the late 1980s. But that’s where Paul really shines – he’s always researching and searching for that extra crumb of information that leads to the next crumb that eventually leads you to the cake.

The cake, in this case, is the latest addition to his amazing website. Paul deftly guides us through the complicated maze that was Yashica and details its relationship with the Nicca Camera Company and the wonderful Leica copies that were produced during the 1950s. Many of the conclusions that Paul describes are found nowhere else on the web and to his credit, no detail is too small or unimportant to look at.

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The family – Yashica YE, Nicca 3-F, Tower Type-3 (top to bottom)

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The Yashica-Nicca YF (the lens is not the standard lens for this body)

Please stroll on over to Paul’s site (be sure to bookmark it) for everything you ever wanted to know about the early days of the Yashica-Nicca collaboration. Paul quickly puts to rest many bits of intentional and unintentional misinformation that’s been floating around the web about this subject.

Paul’s site can be reached here.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Be sure to visit the “gift shop” before you leave today for some great deals on some vintage cameras and equipment – 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.