Yashica Pentamatic 35mm camera review

This is a review of a Yashica Pentamatic which was the first Yashica 35mm slr to have the ability to change lenses.

These pictures can also be viewed full screen here.

My Camera

I bought this camera from David, a reader of the blog, who also gave me a Ricoh Singlex TLS. He mentioned in our communications that he was selling a Yashica Pentamatic and would I be interested in buying it. I did a bit of research and discovered that it’s an interesting camera and so purchased it from him.

David was quite clear that there is a slight fault with the unit because the mirror will occasionally stick in the ‘up’ position after the shutter has fired. This seems to happen only on the speeds below 1/4 sec and is also at the moment very intermittent. When I first received the camera it would happen almost every time the shutter was fired at one of those speeds, but now, after a bit of use, it’s down to about one in ten operations.

There is also a bit of a rattle inside the camera so I wonder if it’s related to the mirror sticking problem, although normally if anything important is loose the affect is obvious all the time.

In physical condition the camera is pretty much perfect. There is a small blemish on the top cover underneath the film wind arm and there is a patch of dirt inside the viewfinder which I may clean away but otherwise the camera is ready to go.

Yashica Pentamatic Description

The Pentamatic, made by Yashica in about 1959, has the feel of a quality camera about it. The shutter sounds like a really well made machine and the film advance has the feel of real gears winding rather than some flimsy piece of tinplate being tensioned.

The most novel feature of the camera is the off centre flash holder which also has the rewind crank embedded in it. This is reminiscent of the Voigtlander Vito where the rewind crank pops up, and uses a similar arrangement. There is a lever on the back panel which can be switched to ‘R’ (rewind presumably) which makes the rewind crank spring up from the centre of the flash holder. The rewind handle can then be hinged up and the film rewound back into its canister.

If the lever on the back is moved further to the ‘O’ position (open), the rewind crank can be lifted higher and the back of the camera opens to remove/replace the film. Once the film is removed and a new film fitted the lever on the back is swung back to ‘A’ (Action/Automatic? who knows) and the rewind crank pushed down and the back locked closed.

Other nice touches with the camera are the film speed reminder on the back film door which can be set to remind the photographer of both the film speed and the type of film loaded, either black & white or colour.  The inner dial is set so the red mark is pointing up if it’s colour film or the black mark pointing up if it’s black & white. Then the outer ring is used to align the film speed with the appropriate marker. There is also a reminder for the number of exposures loaded in the camera which is fitted to the film advance lever. This can be set to anything between 20 and 40 to cover all film lengths available at the time.

The frame counter doesn’t automatically reset when the film door is opened, but there is a thumb wheel next to the film advance which allows it to be set by hand.

The lens has an automatic aperture which closes when the frame is exposed and then remains closed until the shutter is cocked for the next exposure. So the normal way the camera would be used would be to advance the film so the lens is at full aperture, take a light reading and set the shutter speed & aperture, focus and then press the shutter release. At the point the frame is exposed the aperture stops down to the set value and the camera will be ready for the next picture once the film is wound on again.

The lens is a coated lens with a sort of yellow tint, and has a 6 blade aperture which has stops from f/1.8 to f/16. The mount is a bayonet mount which was unique to Yashica and isn’t the same mount that they used on later cameras.

The shutter release is fitted on the front of the camera rather than on the top plate and this is common with cameras of this age. Lots of Praktica models had this arrangement and some Miranda, Petri etc. The shutter button is threaded for a cable release.

Yashica Pentamatic Specs

  • Yashica Pentamatic 35mm slr camera
  • Fully mechanical camera with no battery or light metering
  • Horizontal cloth focal plane shutter
  • 1 sec to 1/1000 sec + B and flash sync
  • X & FP flash sync sockets
  • Off centre flash socket
  • Rewind crank embedded into flash socket
  • Ground glass / Fresnel circle focusing screen
  • Film type / film speed reminder
  • Count up exposure counter
  • No of exposures loaded reminder
  • Tripod bush
  • Front mounted shutter release
  • Yashica bayonet mount lens
  • 55mm f/1.8 Yashinon lens
  • Body Ser No: 106010486
  • Lens Ser No: 60510293
  • Camera handbook here

 

 

4 Comments

  • Hello Simon… Nice looking Pentamatic you have there… glad to hear that the mirror is behaving better… it is one of the weaknesses of the design. One or two small points that you may find interesting… the first Pentamatics were in fact built in December 1959 but Yashica proceeded slowly with the production as this was their first 35mm SLR. By March of 1960, the factory in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture was gearing up to reach a monthly goal of around 1,200 for the remainder of the year. The first hints of the Pentamatic were in March 1960 and some were released by late April and early May. June sees the first advertisement in Modern Photography and Yashica calls it the Pentamatic ’35’.
    By the way, your camera was built in October 1960 and it was the 10,486th unit made since December 1959.
    Regards, Chris

    Reply

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