Yashima Sales Brochure… 1956

In just 3 short years, Yashima beat the odds and became a Japanese camera company that lasted long enough to produce multiple models. In the case of this sales brochure from 1956 – the Yashica Flex B, A and Yashica-Mat twin-lens reflex cameras.

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Well designed sales brochure from the little company that became Yashica.

Not that we’ve seen a ton of sales brochures from other Japanese camera manufacturers from this era, but we think this was rather provocative for the mid 1950s (at least in the US we would think). This brochure was intended for the home market and the culture of Japan is a tad less uptight about things like this.

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Lovely model on the back cover of the brochure.

The first page inside the brochure in packed with information not typically found in a brochure. Yashima was, in our opinion, marketing itself beyond what such a young company would normally look like. These series of Yashica Flex Photography books were excellent creations that went far beyond a simple owner’s guide.

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You’ve got the year (1956), two examples of the Yashica Flex Photography books and some prices of the cameras.

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Last inside page of the brochure depicting Yashima’s new modern factory in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Yashima was a very proud company and they were eager to show how much they grew since 1953.

Thanks so much for your visit. The goal of our blog is to stimulate discussion and further the knowledge of all things Yashima-Yashica. Please share your comments with us… we’d be happy to read them. One final thought, we share our brochures with others and ask that you do not copy or post our images into your blog or post without permission. Thanks!

Chris & Carol

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1954… Yashica Flex Model S

When Yashima started making twin-lens reflex cameras in a small factory along the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, they were but one of hundreds of “start-ups” entering the already crowded Japanese camera manufacturing business. Many would fail – and fail quickly they did. But little Yashima, with two brothers from Nagano at the helm, managed to take a big step – to make a second and then third camera.

The first was the Pigeonflex (great name but how do you grow with a name like that), then came the Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B. In 1954 (late) they built the now famous Yashica Flex Model S. The first TLR in the world with an attached exposure meter! Yep, in the world! None of the already established players had produced one like that. The meter was supplied by Sekonic and screwed to the side of the body and hidden light sensors under the name flap sent electricity to the meter. Bingo. Meter and camera merged! 1954

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Cropped scan from a rather rare (in the US) Yashima sales flyer for the Yashica Flex Model S. It’s one of the earliest pamphlets around for this camera.

The light sensing cells were built-in under the flap that was the nameplate. You would open the flap and the maximum amount of light would strike the cells and send an electrical signal to the meter  (#1 above). You then used # 2, 3, 4, and 5 to “compute” your exposure settings. Simple except that you needed the eyesight of an eagle to actually see the numbers on the scale. It it was real sunny out, you didn’t need to lift the flap to get an accurate reading – there were 12 holes in the flap that would let in enough light to set the exposure.

In a testament to the designers, many of these early exposure meters still function even after 6 decades of use. But, many have fail too mostly caused by a failure of the wire to meter connection. The cells are fine (no batteries, sun powered).

As always we appreciate your visit. We’re glad to share some of our collection of early sales material and of course to chat up our Yashima-Yashicas. In the spirit of fair play, we ask that you do not copy or post our images in your blog or post without our permission. Thanks.

Chris & Carol

Super Rare Yashica Flex S Brochure… 1954

We’ve recently acquired a super rare (here in the US) Yashima sales flyer (pamphlet) that covers one of Yashima’s most advanced cameras at the time. The Yashica Flex S was the first TLR with an attached exposure meter in the world! The meter was made and supplied by Sekonic. And if you had great eyesight and were good with sliding scales, you could actually set the proper aperture and shutter speed for your film. Cool! Yashima-Yashica was the first to do it! One of our Yashica Flex S models has a working exposure meter even after six decades! Double cool!

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From 1954.

The next scan is the reverse side of the flyer and featured a contest!

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Out of 3,200 entrants these ladies were chosen to vie for the title of “Miss Yashima”. All you had to do was vote at your favorite trading company (camera store). We chose Miss Kimiko Yamaguchi (front left) as our Miss Yashima.

We hope you enjoyed these glimpses into Yashima-Yashica’s past. We like that we can share them. In the spirit of all things fair, we ask that you do not copy them or use them in another blog or post without asking for permission first.

Many thanks for your visit! Chris & Carol

A little Fujicolor to brighten our day!

I’ve always been a fan of Kodak film. Living in the United States it was hard to find anything else to buy at the corner stores – even in New York. Every now and again I’d pick up a roll of Fujifilm and was always impressed with the results.  I’ve always liked the little green boxes too… they catch my eye.

While our main collecting focus has been Yashima-Yashica cameras and gear, there’s always been a little offshoot into the world of Fuji. Partly because we lived in Japan – Yokohama to be exact, and Fujifilm was more available and there were labs nearby to process the film. Kodak processing was via handy but slow mail back to Palo Alto, California if I remember correctly.

So on this end of the week Friday, we thought a little Fujicolor was in order.

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We’re thinking of a color. Can you guess?

The 12 exposure Fujicolor 100 rolls are all expired (2010) but they usually produce good results if you treat them like they’re ASA50. The Acros 100 is a fresh roll and you can’t beat it for good looking black and white prints. The little XP100 is our go to all weather camera. It has a bright screen (for the beach) and is great in the surf for some wave pics. 1080p video and stereo sound too.

We’ve added a nice Fujica ST701 and Fujipet to our collection but I think were done. Oh, I almost forgot – my primary digital camera is a Fujifilm FinePix S9900W so that’s another Fuji. Oh and I bought my daughter a Fujifilm XP too. Okay, but that’s it. No more Fuji Photo Film Company cameras for us die hard Yashica fans. Well except for a nice Fujicaflex TLR, and the Fuji Photo GS6x9 sure looks great. I’d better stop now!

Thanks for your visit! Comments and likes are always appreciated.

Chris & Carol

Nicca 3-F… Nicca Camera Co., Ltd. & Yashica

What connection could this attractive 35 mm rangefinder camera have with Yashica? And why on earth is it in a blog about the Yashica Pentamatic???

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Nicca 3-F from early 1957 (maybe late 1956). Obviously, it is one of many Leica copy cameras that were built during the 1950s and beyond.

First a little bit about Nicca. Nicca was one of the literally hundreds of camera manufacturers in Japan during the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Production appears to have been, on average, anywhere from just a few hundred units per year to nearly 5,000 per year by 1958. Nicca made what many consider to be one of the better Leica copy cameras. The fit and finish of this particular 3-F are extraordinary. After six decades of use, the camera still functions perfectly and the finish is beautiful. Of note, the leatherette is some of the finest we’ve seen from this period. It is still tight and complete and is a joy to hold this camera.

To keep things in perspective, it is a rather simple camera… focal plane shutter, highest speed 1/500th of a second, no built-in exposure meter, no mirror, no self-timer and a straightforward film advance knob vice single stroke lever (later model did add the lever). Simple but executed well.

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The business side of the 3-F. Traditional layout of the controls… this was Nicca’s last model with the knob film advance (they did produce this model with a film advance lever in late 1957).

Where’s the connection with Yashica? In May 1958, Yashima (pre-Yashica) purchased the Nicca Camera Company which by some accounts was struggling and near bankruptcy. We’ve yet to find proof of the bankruptcy part of this narrative but we will continue to pursue it. Yashima, soon to be Yashica, wanted access to Nicca’s technology, design and small camera manufacturing abilities as Yashima lacked experience in 35 mm camera production. We’re sure there was some desire to acquire Nicca’s focal plane shutter technology as Yashima for the most part only made TLRs (just released an 8 mm movie camera and the Yashica 35). Nicca produced two more models(?) under its own name before Yashica released the Nicca-Yashica YF in 1959. Yashica quickly stopped making rangefinder cameras with interchangeable lenses by 1960. We have always found it to be a bit odd but rangefinders with interchangeable lenses were quickly being pushed aside by 35 mm SLRs for all angles… including Yashica with its Pentamatic ’35’.

What’s the relationship with the Pentamatic? The Pentamatic was more than likely designed in the early part of 1959 and may have been originally a Nicca design (more of that later). Distribution of the Pentamatic occurred in the spring of 1960 with a widescale release and advertising by June 1960 (in the US). The Pentamatic was Yashica’s first 35 mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. If featured a focal plane shutter with a top speed of 1/1000th of a second. Nicca’s knowledge was directly used in the Pentamatic.

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Exposure counter and film reminder dial.

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Close-up of the slow speed knob.

It appears that when Yashima purchased Nicca in 1958, there wasn’t an immediate transfer of the company’s assets to Yashima. Instead, Nicca Camera Company became Taiho Optics (or Optical) a subsidiary or new company of the Nicca-Yashica amalgamation. Mr. Ushiyama, founder, and president of Yashica received council that it was not in Yashica’s best interest to proceed with the merger (as the decision to acquire Nicca was made in haste). Instead, Taiho Optics would go on to produce some of its own lenses and lend support and design experience (and personnel) to Yashica. Why? Yashica wanted to build a 35 mm SLR and Nicca was an important stepping stone on that path.

Thanks for your visit… please feel free to leave comments.

Chris & Carol

Yashima-Yashica Rookie

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Yashica-A in gray leatherette on left from 1959. The Yashica Rookie (on right) was a Japanese domestic market only model introduced in early 1956. In Japanese brochures and on the outer shipping box, the Rookie is also known as the Yashicaflex Rookie or simply the Yashicaflex Model R.

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The Yashica A and the Rookie share many of the same features and specs. The Copal shutters were the same and the Tomioka Optical made lenses were also the same in the beginning. Later models of the A (including this one) upgraded to a slightly different lens configuration.

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These outer shipping boxes are roughly from the same period. The Rookie is from mid 1956 while the A box is from early 1957 (or so). There are slight differences in the two boxes… the Rookie box is bigger but weighs less than the A box.

Yashima Flex… the First!

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An original advertisement for the new Yashima Flex camera from 1954. 

Yashima’s first twin-lens reflex film camera. More correctly, the first camera of any type to carry the Yashima name. Built in 1954 by the good folks at Yashima Kogaku Seiki Co., Ltd. at their factory in Nagano Prefecture. Prior to this camera, Yashima produced a model called the Pigeonflex which at least gave them some great ideas on how to present the camera that would eventually carry the company name. The camera, the presentation box and the leather case all show great attention to detail and a solid foundation that would become the standard for years to come. The sophistication of the first camera would lead to many firsts for both Yashima and the Japanese camera industry as a whole. Yashima would later be called Yashica as that name came to be more recognizable in the crowded marketplace of the 1950s and beyond.

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The beautiful styling of all three elements are clearly seen in this rather rare view of a mid production camera kit. The leather case was more than likely outsourced to a supplier and more than likely the presentation box was too. The lenses came from Tomioka Optical in Tokyo and the shutter was a N.K.S. design and build. After nearly 62 years since this camera left Nagano it still functions as new. The only true signs of age are typical of many older cameras in that the leatherette covering becomes brittle and the glue gives up its bond to the metal. A masterpiece of early Japanese engineering and craftsmanship.

The Fasinating World of Yashica Photography

A short history of one of the most dynamic and innovative camera manufacturers in Japan during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s.

An amazing start-up before there were start-ups! In less than a decade, the Yashica Company of Tokyo, Japan, became a major player in the field of high quality, low-priced photographic equipment and cameras in the international marketplace. Competing against literally hundreds of other newcomers and established camera manufacturers, Yashica rose to market dominance by 1960.

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Back when Yashica was Yashima. Yashica’s second TLR in a long line of twin-lens reflex cameras.