Bodies & Lenses

Contents

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Bodies

Start Marks & Film Counters
Film Path
Dimensions

Model Classifications
Trim Changes - 66 Models

Feature & Trim Changes Timeline
Locking Levers
Locking Knobs
Focusing Hoods & Logos (Finder Marks)
Film Winding Knobs
Focusing Knobs (Knob Wind Models)
Spool Knobs (Spool Supports)
Accessory Shoes
Control Wheels (Dial Knobs)
Text Between Lenses
Red Windows (Film Windows)
Coloured 66 Cameras

Lenses

66 Models
44Models
Are all Yashinon Lenses 4 Element Tessar Types?

Bokeh
Shutters

Apertures
5 and 10 Bladed Apertures
Copal MXV vs SV

Filter Mounts

Plain Mounts
Bay 1 Mounts
Yashica E

Flash Sync (WARNING!)
Crank Wind (WARNING!)
Fresnel Lens Focusing Screens
Internal Light Baffles

Bodies

Evidence is that the development of the Yashica TLR range is one of evolution rather than revolution. The Yashica TLRs have aluminium die cast bodies. Observation of photos and examination of my own cameras suggests that there are really only two basic body style castings for 66 cameras (ignoring any changes required purely by the introduction of the crank wind mechanism of the Mat) between the Yashima made Pigeonflex of 1953 and the last Yashica Mat-124G of 1986 and even these changes were cosmetic. The Pigeonflex, Yashima Flex and first of the Yashica Flexes/ Yashicaflexes had short hinge plates or “strap holders” in Yashica speak and a different front panel design surrounding the focusing lens board panel. The full width strap holders and new front panel were introduced probably early in 1955 and basically remained unchanged.

Photographic confirmation of the close link to Rolleicord design and the dominant Pigeonflex DNA throughout the Yashica range can be found in Design Heritage.

The Yashica 66 assembly diagrams (“assembling charts”) for models from the Yashica A onward (only available from this model on) confirm that the basic carcasses and most parts changed little over time or between models, except for the added complications of crank wind. Below are assembly diagrams for the the Yashica A and D bodies and the Yashica-Mat and Yashica Mat-124G bodies. There is not much difference within each of the knob wind and crank wind categories and it is obvious how the crank wind developed from the knob wind:

(Assembling charts courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

(Click on images to view full size)

Hoods and their mechanisms, apart from the lack of the sports finder on the Pigeonflex, appear near identical across the range, except for minor trim details, as do backs, except for minor pressure plate details; red window or not and the loss of the two screws around 1960. Lenses and shutters are fitted in their own assembly which is separately attached to the focusing panel. Changes here don’t affect the rest of the body.

The first three cameras below represent the period 1953 to 1955. The second three represent the period 1956 to 1966. The two Yashicaflex cameras are both “S” models, the first with the early style body, the second with the later style. The Yashica D is from approximately 1965, however, the first version was released in 1958. The Yashica Mat-EM is from near the end of that model run.

(Pigeonflex & Yashimaflex images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

The 44 models (44A and 44LM assembling charts below) followed similar design parameters to their bigger and older siblings. The carcass of the 44 (not shown) is very similar to the 44A but the 44LM carcass underwent considerable detail redesign, including the way the back fitted to the body.

(Assembling charts courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

(Click on images to view full size)

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Start Marks & Film Counters

This section covers all models. The Yashica 24 and later cameras have a slightly different arrangement with start mark positioning. More details are in the Yashica 24, Yashica 12 & Yashica Mat-124 entry in “66 Models”.

Models with red windows do not make use of camera start marks - they simply make use of the numbers printed on the film backing. Models with auto-stop winding and a film counter need to correctly position the film before the back is closed, hence the need for a start mark. The early pre-War Rolleiflex and Rolleicord models used a red window on the bottom for this, a system later revived by the Yashica 44 and other Japanese 4x4 TLRs - see below. The need for any start positioning was eliminated by the fully automatic system on the Rolleiflex “Automat” model first introduced in 1937 but the Rolleicord models received a simpler system, I'm not sure when but it is in the user manual for the Rolleicord III model introduced in 1950. This uses two red dots low down either side of the main chamber to position the start marks on 120 roll film.

In 1954, the Yashica Flex S introduced a similar system for Yashima 66 models using cast triangles instead of dots. Initially, the Yashima system was simpler and the counter had to be manually reset to the start position with the counter reset button. This is also the system commonly found on Yashica 44 and most Yashica 44LM examples. However, around early 1957, the reset button on 66 models was replaced by a rod that was pushed down by the back and effectively tripped the reset automatically, somewhat similar to the Rolleicord system. The primary start mark in all models with the marks is a cast triangle located at each side of the film path, except in late Mat-124s and all 124Gs and 124Bs which only have a left side mark. In models before the Yashica 24, the cast triangles are at the mid-point of the back of the camera, in the 24 and later models, low down:

Yashica Flex S left image and centre with film counter and reset button. Right image is of Yashica 24 with low set red triangle primary mark for 220 film (120 mark in the film chamber). Note protruding rod, far right bottom corner, which performs the reset function when the back is closed. The actual frame counting is done by a toothed wheel on a spring loaded shaft in the film take up chamber.

Once start marks appeared, they were present in all bodies, including in cameras with red windows. That is because cameras with either type of film advance used the same carcass. In models which didn't make use of the start mark, the triangles were left black, otherwise they were painted red to make them visible and indicate that they were active.

The 44 models are a little different. The Yashica 44 has a start mark which is inactive and left black. Its red window is used to set the first frame but then the process is automatic as with 66 models with film counter. The Yashica 44A is a fully manual camera without film counter that operates like a Yashica A. It also has an inactive start mark because it inherited this from the Yashica 44 (the carcass is the same). All export Yashica 44LMs appear to operate the same way as the Yashica 44 but at least some Japanese domestic market 44LMs do not have a red window and have the start marks painted red. They also don't have a manual counter reset button. I believe that the reason for the red window on the Yashica 44 and export 44LM models was related to problems with the way 127 films were marked at the time making them unsuitable for using with the provided start marks. See also 44 Models.

The really interesting thing about start marks is that they first appeared in the Yashica Flex B which uses a red window and hence, doesn't need them. The Pigeonflex didn't have them, I have seen only one internal photo of a Yashima Flex but it didn't have them, a fact also confirmed for his example by Tom Heckhaus. None of the first three models needed them or used them so why does the Yashica Flex B have the marks? The first model to need a start mark was the Yashica Flex S. The evidence is that the Yashica Flex B was still in production when the Yashica Flex S was released so perhaps both cameras inherited the revised body casting at the same time? The problem is that at least three of the Bs are early examples. It is also possible that Yashima knew that they were going to release a more advanced model and prepared for it. The third possibility is that the Yashica Flex B and Yashica Flex S coexisted for a far longer period than many have believed and may have been released at the same time (discussed further in 66 Models and elsewhere).

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Film Path

On 66 models, film is loaded into the bottom chamber, after which it turns 90 degrees before being exposed and pulled up into the top film chamber by either knob directly connected to the film spool or by gears on crank wind models.

On 44 models, film is loaded into the top chamber so that it travels flat down past the exposure chamber before turning 90 degrees towards the lower film chamber. This reduces possible problems with film flatness at the time of exposure. Unlike the knob wind 66 models, the winding knob on the basic 44A connects to the bottom spool via gears (as does the winding knob on the 44LM but this has more in common with the crank on the Yashica 44).

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Dimensions

Comparing Yashica dimensions and weights is not an easy task. Details are rarely quoted in brochures and ads and even then, it is hard to know what Yashica is measuring, e.g., the Yashica 24 brochure quotes 79 x 146 x 104 mm and 1,100 grams whilst the Yashica Mat-124G brochure quotes 102 x 148 x 101 mm and 1080 grams. The minor overall weight loss is no doubt due to the increased use of plastic even though there were additions to offset too, like the metal light baffles. However, the dimensions look like they belong to two entirely different items.

The following table shows approximate typical dimensions and weights of both 66 and 44 series cameras. It is a guide only and makes no pretence at being accurate.

Series
Height to Top of Hood
Hood Size
Width Across Back
Body Only Depth
Typical Depth incl. Lens
Weight
66
145 mm
70x70 mm
77 mm
72mm
100mm
900 - 1,100 g
44
125 mm
55x55 mm
64 mm
58mm
80mm
680 - 710 g
44LM
125 mm
55x55 mm
68.5 mm
58mm
82mm
820g


The basic core body dimensions of each series is constant, except for the following qualifications:

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Model Classifications

Where the name is on the nameplate, it is easy e.g. “Yashima Flex”, “Yashica D” and “Yashica-Mat” (with its various flavours).  However, there are at least 11 Yashicaflexes plus variations and the only clues to model are feature sets. The Yashicaflex C is an exception in that it has both a unique hood logo and “Model C” inside near the feed spool at the bottom (only found on examples with the early style focusing knob). Care needs to be taken as sometimes both shutters and lenses can change in a model run e.g. the shutter on the Yashicaflex S changed from NKS-FB to Copal, the lenses on Yashica Ds and 635s changed from Yashikor to Yashinon.

Having said that, lenses, shutters, winding method and exposure meters are the main determinants of model type. The Yashica Flex S of 1954 is famous for being the first Japanese camera fitted with a built in (uncoupled) exposure meter. It also introduced Bay 1 filter mounts and auto-stop winding with a film counter (initially with reset button, then full auto from mid Yashica C & LM model runs) to Yashicaflex cameras. Subsequent fully featured premium cameras had the Bay 1 mounts and film counter. Budget models, culminating in the long running Yashica A, retained both the plain filter mounts and the rear red window for frame counting. To make things more interesting, there were in-between models with a mix of these features.

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Trim Changes – 66 Models

(for 44 models, see individual model entries)

There was a constant change of relatively minor trim details. In the mid 50s, these “improvements” usually appeared across the model range at a similar time without being saved up for a new model e.g. many models started with a “bent strap” locking lever but later received the more substantial “moulded” type (there was an earlier type introduced by the Pigeonflex and a later basic variant seen on Yashicaflex A, A-II, Rookie and Yashica A models). This change occurred with the very late Yashicaflex S model, middle of the Yashica LM run and very early Mat. The Yashica LM had the accessory shoe move from low set to high position, hood redesign, locking lever redesign, change from semi to fully auto film counter reset, new style spool knobs and move of serial number to the nameplate light meter flap all at different times in the model run.

Feature & Trim Change Timeline

This table and the Yashica TLRs & Specs Table in the “Models & Specs” section together provide a multi-dimensional view of the Yashica model hierarchy and spread at any given time. (Note, this table does not include the Yashicaflex AS-I or Yashicaflex AS-III as not enough is known about their features and trim.)

(Click on table for full screen view)

Notes

The introduction of the new style body with the long strap holders probably occurred in the first half of 1955. A photo of a Yashicaflex A-I or A-II, still with short strap holders, appears on the cover of the influential Japanese magazine Shashin Kōgyō (Photographic Industry) No. 34 of April 1955 (see Camera-wiki.org). It is believed that the Yashicaflex C was released in September 1955. It was the first model without the earlier body version.

I have referred to “premium” and “budget” models. Some models such as Yashicaflex AS-II and A2 are middle of the road with some features from each category. The dark blue cells represent the models that were in production at the time that a change was introduced but to put this into perspective, the change in spool knobs, for example, occurred at the very end of the Yashicaflex S model run and at the very beginning of the Yashica A. In between models were affected at different points in their model runs.

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Locking Levers

The change from “bent strap” to “moulded” locking levers in 1957 was a simple but key event that helps with dating cameras from that period. However, there are other subtleties as well, mainly affecting earlier models.

What is a “locking lever”? It is the strap on the camera base that moves in and out to secure the hinged back to the front panel of the camera. On the early cameras, it was two piece with a hinge in the middle and on later cameras, it was one piece. In assembling charts, Yashica called it “locking lever” up to and including the Yashica Mat-LM/EM and “locking arm” after that. In user manuals, they also referred to “back cover locking bar” (Yashica 24) and "back cover latch" (Yashica Mat-124G).

The linear in-out movement is caused by the transfer of rotational motion from the central, circular mechanism which incorporates the tripod socket. In other sections, I have already called this the “locking knob” even though on early models it is more of a lever itself and it is a term that as far as I am aware, Yashica never used. In assembling charts (commencing with the Yashica D), the knob is simply called the “eccentric ring”. In the Yashica D user manual, Yashica asks you to turn the “tripod socket” to lock or unlock the back. The Yashica Mat-124G user manual refers to the “back cover locking ring”.

Rollei-like Pigeonflex locking lever shown closed and open.

Except for knob trim, these continued unchanged on the Yashima Flex, Yashica Flex B and on the new budget Yashicaflex A-I and A-II models until the cable shutter release was replaced on the Yashicaflex A series by the press button release on the later, long strap holder bodies.

Illustrated below is what I mean by “bent strap” locking lever and “moulded” type (introduced in 1957), for want of better descriptions. These levers were fitted to all higher and mid spec models from the late Yashicaflex S forward but also to some lower spec models.

(See “Locking Knobs” below for larger images.)

The bent strap first appeared on the Yashicaflex S and Yashicaflex AS-II models but initially, the bent strap was used with the Pigeonflex locking mechanism in a hybrid arrangement – see far left (Yashicaflex S Copal shutter version shown with two ring knob). Later cameras are identical to the later Yashicaflex S and early Yashica LM second and third from the left. The right hand cameras with moulded levers are a Yashica Mat-LM and EM but this style already appeared on the last of the Yashicaflex S cameras.

The moulded levers changed to black on the Yashica Mat-124G and Mat-124B.

With the replacement of the Pigeonflex style locking lever on later Yashicaflex A-I and A-II production, they, the first of the Yashicaflex Cs and the subsequent Yashica A and Rookie models, received the new locking mechanism and knob but the bent strap which acted as a steadying foot was replaced by a marginally simpler, hook-like arrangement seen here on a late Yashicaflex A-II.

This carried through to the end of Yashica A production in the late 1960s.

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Locking Knobs

Whilst the early flat lever remained the same until replaced by the “bent strap” or Yashicaflex A/ Yashica A type, the knob detail and arrow graphics did change. The Pigeonflex started with two rings. From at least near the beginning of Yashima Flex examples, the knob had four thin equally spaced rings. This carried over into the early Yashica Flex B. Later Yashica Flex B cameras had two thinner outer rings and a thicker inner ring. The three ring version carried over to the very first of the Yashicaflex A-I and A-II examples and also appears in the Yashicaflex A user manual. First the four and then three ring knobs are found on early Yashica Flex S examples with NKS-FB shutters before the new two ring style appeared with the Copal shutter. The four ring knobs on the Yashima Flex (2nd from left 1st row below) and Yashica Flex B (not shown) have an arrow with the three little strokes for tail feather like the earlier Pigeonflex and Yashima Flex but the first four ring Yashica Flex S (2nd from left 2nd row below) has an outline of a long double sided feather. The three ring Yashica Flex S knob has an arrow with single, long feather like later cameras with the new two ring knob style (on the Yashicaflex S and A series, first in outline, then filled in).

(Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 12 courtesy of Tom Heckhaus, image 10 courtesy of Göran Årelind)

The locking knobs above are, left to right:

1st row:
Pigeonflex; Yashimaflex; Yashica Flex B (first found with four rings and then three)
2nd row:
Yashicaflex A-II Y.S.K. shutter (although quite early, it already has the new two ring style but there are earlier A-I and A-II examples, including the A-I, or more likely A-II, in the user manual, with three rings); Yashica Flex S NKS-FB shutter 1st type; Yashica Flex S NKS-FB shutter 2nd type
3rd row:
Yashicaflex S Copal shutter early body; Yashicaflex S Copal shutter late body; Yashicaflex A-II late type (same as A-I late, Yashicaflex C early and Yashica Rookie and Yashica A)
4th row:
Yashica A without “Made in Japan”; Yashica Mat-EM; Yashica 635 with black plastic knob from Yashica Mat-124G

There were fewer changes to the new style locking knob (images 8 to 12 above). Of course the leatherette insert changed to match the camera covering's colour and texture. Although originally without text, “Made in Japan” was soon added during Yashicaflex S production (my fairly late example with serial number 71513, shown above, has it already as does my Yashicaflex A-II with highest serial number in the database, 214617). However, there was a period, or periods, in about 1957 to 1958 or 1959 when “Made in Japan” was again absent from the knobs. With the Yashica A, it seemed to coincide with the period that either “Made in Japan” or “Japan” was engraved in the accessory shoe. With the Yashica-Mat, it was there for the 75 mm Lumaxar lens versions which had a blank cover plate under the crank. The versions with 80 mm Lumaxars and all later ones with Yashinons had a cover plate with “Made in Japan” so at first, “Made in Japan” disappeared from the locking knob but it returned just before prefixed serial numbers were introduced. Although this seemed to affect all models, I am not aware of “Made in Japan” appearing elsewhere on the camera apart from the Yashica A and Yashica-Mat. The Yashica C example below has it in the film feed chamber but I don't know if it also appeared on its locking knob or not (most Yashica Cs, but not all, do have it on the locking knob) or how widespread the practice was or which models were affected:

(Detail from larger web image)

Initially, “Made in Japan”, was engraved and the letters filled in with black but on later chrome knobs, like the Yashica Mat-EM above, it looks stamped or some such coarser process. With the introduction of the Yashica Mat-124G in 1970, the locking knob on cameras remaining in production changed to black and material of the outer ring changed from metal to plastic. The last four of five Yashica Ds have “Hong Kong” instead of “Made in Japan”:

(Image courtesy of Leigh Harris)

The fifth camera, the last in the series, has a Hong Kong serial number prefix but the locking knob simply has “Japan” with the engraving filled in with white paint. There is also a meterless Yashica Mat-124G called the Yashica Mat-124B which was assembled in Brazil. This has “Brasil” in white on what looks like a metallic ring insert (see the appropriate entry in “66 Models”).

(Image courtesy of Sandu Baciu)

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Focusing Hoods & Logos (Finder Marks)

Logo Styles

What Yashica call “finder mark” in their assembling charts, I call “hood logo”. Some of the logos also appear on cases and other items and the term itself is also confusing, at least to me. This, plus a couple of others further down, are my few conscious departures from Yashica practice. Below are all the different hood logos that appeared on Yashica TLRs (nameplates are somewhat representative of the various styles but there are other variations, even amongst the same model - refer to the relevant entries in 66 Models):

1954-1956
1956-1958
1959-1986

(Fourth image top row courtesy of Jean-Marie Bussiere, all other images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Apart from models without logos (e.g. Yashicaflex A-II, second from left top row), four basic styles were used from Yashima Flex to Mat-124G. I refer to these as the “stylised Y”, the “Yashicaflex C oval” (short lived but now known to be found on the Yashica Hi-Mec also), the “narrow Y” and the “wide Y”. The first style logo was in place from the 1953 Yashima Flex through to the last of the Yashicaflexes and on the Yashica-Mat and Yashica 635 until around 1959. The outer silver square on the hood of the Yashica LM and other earlier camera models in production at the time disappeared in the early part of its model run (probably early 1957). Coloured cameras received the “narrow Y” first (see below). The fourth style logo was first introduced in 1965 (the last of the 44LMs may have been the first to receive it, then the new Yashica 24 and the Yashica D, 635 and Mat from the beginning of 1966).

The introduction of the “narrow Y”, and the similar style serif font associated with Hollywood westerns and “WANTED” posters for the name between lenses, was a continuation of the US marketing campaign which had commenced with ads and brochures in 1956.

Logo Variations

There were variations in logo colour and size. The first logo had a minor variation around early 1955 when the outer ring became more prominent (Yashica LM, 1st from left, middle row). The logo itself is a black stylised “Y” on a black triangle on a black background, the graphics outlined in silver. In 1957, the colour of the triangle was changed to white and the thick enamel changed to paint on a textured background. This affected all models in production at the time plus the new Mat received a gold “Y” in place of black to signify its superior status.

The Yashicaflex C oval is silver with red writing. On the Yashica Hi-Mec, it has black writing. The Hi-Mec turned into the Yashica LM and the logo reverted to the stylised “Y”.

The first narrow “Y” was on a gold background and was used only in 1958 to 1959 on models offering colours other than, or in addition to, black. It appears from my database that whilst the coloured versions of the Yashica A and D were in production, very few black versions, i.e., with black leatherette, were available. The gold logo version does appear on both grey and black Yashica B and Auto examples and the one late black Yashica D from towards the end of the colour era. Other models only available in black such as the Yashica-Mat, Yashicaflex B (new model) and Yashica 635 retained their earlier logos. Although these cameras may have been considered more serious, it may simply have been the case that the gold logo was introduced to work better with light coloured leatherette. The logo soon changed to a blue background on both coloured and black cameras including the Yashica-Mat and Yashica 635, except for the Yashica Auto with its gold logo and the Yashicaflex B (new model) and Yashica C and LM with their earlier logos which may have all ended their production runs by this time. Earlier Yashica Mat-EMs from 1964 had a unique silver background before all cameras still in production in 1965 changed to the “wide Y” (half of the Yashica EMs in my database have the earlier type and half the later type).

The earliest Yashica 44A and 44LM examples also had the gold background logos before changing to blue. It was probably at about the same time that the last of the earlier Yashica 44 models also received the blue background focusing hood logos, their first of any type.

There were some minor finish variations of the “wide Y” logo as well. Some have a background reminiscent of the Yashica Mat-EM, Yashica 24, Yashica 12 and Yashica Mat-124 covering including the logos on my late Yashica 44LM and my Yashica D, the first with “wide Y” logo. The last of the Yashica Ds, 635s and Yashica-Mats, as well as the Yashica Mat-124G, have a background pattern mimicking traditional leatherette. The earlier logos are generally shiny silver in tone but my Yashica D looks distinctly unshiny and warmer in tone. Some of the other first Ds with this logo also look warmer but photos are not a good way to judge this. Although my camera is in good cosmetic condition, there may be something else going on. The Yashica Mat-124G has a gold version.

Hood Assemblies - General

Below are some rear views of hoods. The change from three reinforcing panels to two and the splitting of parallel bars occurred at the same time as the silver squares on the front changed from two to one (early 1957 or thereabouts):

(First pair of images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Yashima Pigeonflex on left with no bars on the rear of the focusing hood, standard with the earlier “Yashima Seiki Co., Ltd.” on the nameplate and the first half of cameras with “Yashima Kōgaku Seiki Co., Ltd.” The second hood with short, black parallel bars belongs to a Yashima Kōgaku Seiki Pigeonflex but there is only a couple of these. Note that unlike the earlier type , there is no hood rest bar. There is at least one late example without parallel bars that doesn't have the hood rest as well as two of the last Pigeonflexes which add a small silver knob to provide a finger grip for raising the focusing hood:

(Image courtesy of Sandu Baciu)

The reinforcing on the rear panels on all Pigeonflex types is almost identical to the early Yashica LM next to it (third hood from the left) except that there is no cut-out for the sports finder. The fact that the square shape was there in the right place - was that planning for the future, or copying a model with cut-out already, or perhaps just coincidence? Although the first third of Yashima Flex examples in my database are quite different to anything else, see below, the later Yashima Flex cameras already looked identical to the Yashica LM including the continuous parallel bars. Late Yashica Mat-EM shown on right but the split bars and two panel reinforcement on the rear of the hood can be already found on late Yashica Cs and LMs and all Yashica-Mats and Yashica Ds for example. In about 1968, the parallel bars and silver hood rest bar changed to black on all models still in production.

Hood Assemblies - Yashima Flex

There are two earlier variations of the Yashima Flex with Pigeonflex-like focusing hood still. The first Yashima Flexes, with NKS shutter still but with sports finder and hood logo already (three found), are unique. These have a split top bar and continuous bottom bar on the rear of the hood. There is also a fourth camera with these bars where the full shutter name is not visible. The rear of two raised hoods are completely visible and these also have a completely different blind, or rear panel (left pair of photos below), which resembles the Rollei style and the complete assembly, including the silver bars, looks very similar to the Shinano Pigeonflex Model IA (middle pair of photos). Coincidence? Of the other two examples, on one the blind is not visible and on the second, there is only a dark top view with the hint of a long curve below the finder window. The first camera (end pair of photos) with NKS-TB shutter received the later style blind based on the earlier Yashima Pigeonflex but it also has the short bars of the Pigeonflex (its not a Pigeonflex hood because it has a sports finder) before the next camera introduces the pair of long parallel bars which became standard . Incidentally, unlike the Pigeonflex above, the bars are silver because they have had their face rather coarsely filed by either Yashima, or somebody unknown.

(Image 1 detail from larger web image, images 2, 4 and 5 courtesy Sandu Baciu, images 3 and 6 courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Hood Assemblies - Focusing Magnifiers

This is the magnifier from the first Pigeonflexes with magnifier release towards the rear of the hood:

(Detail from larger web image)

The later Pigeonflex type below has a magnifier release towards the front of the hood. Next to it is the type found on Yashima Flexes and all focusing hoods with the two, long unbroken parallel bars (Yashica Flex B shown) followed by the final type introduced with the revised hood assembly in 1957 (Yashica-Mat, approx 1958, shown):

Another view of the second Pigeonflex type:

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Film Winding Knobs

Film winding knobs are relatively simple affairs. On the Yashima/ Yashica made TLRs, they are characterised by a film type and/or film speed reminder function which is set by turning the dial, with the aid of two pins for grip, to the reference mark. The style of reminder scale developed over time and variations appeared at much the same time across all models. In around 1958, the film winding knobs on “Yashica” named models changed to a half silver, sometimes referred to as white, (for DIN scale), half black (for ASA scale) face with complimentary text colour. Late Yashicaflexes perhaps didn't change because they had no need of the dual DIN/ASA scales for the domestic Japanese market. Earlier scales were very similar in appearance to each other with film type or film speed displayed on what I will call “flags”, usually on a black background.

First Models

The Pigeonflex debuted with 6 film type reminders in white flags on a black background. It remained unchanged on the Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B except that the knurling on the film winding knob was finer on the later models, Yashica Flex B shown. The chrome centre of the knob secures the knob to the shaft and also retains the rotating reminder flags. The Pigeonflex knob is discoloured from age.

(Click on image for larger size)
(Second image courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Premium Models with Auto-stop Function

The Yashicaflex S had a film counter and auto-stop function so it received a film release button in the centre of the knob. Initially, it had a hybrid arrangement with 6 inner, flatter, flags with the same type of film reminder as before but now also an outer ASA film speed scale. The first style release button was a slightly different profile with a black inner dress ring (identified by Sandu Baciu). The shape changed and the black ring disappeared with the first Copal shutter version. Later Yashicaflex S and other models received a simplified knob face with ASA film speed reminder only in 8 silver flags with speeds 10, 16, 25, 32, 50, 100 and 200 (plus “ASA”) with 10, 16 and 32 in red type. Very shortly after, the number of flags increased to 9 with the addition of ASA 80. Speeds 10 to 32 are now all in red type. There was also a very minor simplification of the flag graphics. The last type has the dual DIN/ASA scales.

Here they all are:

(Click on image for larger size)
(First and third images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

There are five Yashica C and eight Yashica LM cameras in my database with 10 flags each. These cameras have film speed reminder scales in the German DIN scale used in Europe and focus scales in metres whilst all the rest of the cameras in the respective model series have feet scales with film speed reminders in ASA. This suggests that these two were export only models - USA for feet focusing scales and Europe for metres. Four Yashicaflex AS-II cameras with a metre focus scale also have the 10 flag DIN film speed reminder. These are mixed in with examples of this model with ASA reminders and both metre and feet focusing scales suggesting that this model was intended for both the domestic market and export. The 10 flag DIN scales are from the same period that 9 flag ASA reminder scales were in use.

(Detail is from larger image on the web)

Budget Models

The budget models were different. There were two basic categories. The Yashicaflex A-II had film counter and auto-stop function so it needed a release button in the centre like the premium models but in place of the flags was a ring of black leatherette on early cameras. However, amongst the earliest examples with Y.S.K. shutter, there are four with a circular metal plate with two black rings instead of the leatherette. The centre button looks like the earliest Yashica Flex S type whilst the one with the leatherette ring looks like the later Yashica Flex S type. The last iteration of the Yashicaflex A-II with press button shutter received the fully featured film winding knob from the Yashicaflex S, Yashicaflex AS-II and by then, Yashicaflex C.

(Click on image for larger size)
(Left image courtesy of Sandu Baciu, right image courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

The early Yashicaflex A-I had a plain black leatherette, full diameter insert in place of the chrome centre and flags of the first models. With red window instead of counter and auto-stop film winding, it didn't need a release button in the centre. The most recent Yashicaflex A-I cameras received the outer flags of the premium models but with a black leatherette disc in the centre in place of the chrome button or the earlier cover plate. This arrangement continued with the Yashica A with both its 9 flag and black and white film winding knobs (seen here in light grey leatherette instead of black). The Rookie was unique with both a black leatherette centre and a plain leatherette outer ring separated by a chrome trim ring (Yashicaflex A-I/ Yashica A knob with flags replaced by leatherette).

(Click on image for larger size)
(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

As with the Yashicaflex AS-II and Yashica C and LM, there are also four early Yashica As with a 10 flag DIN film speed reminder scale (and metric focus scale) almost certainly destined for European export.

(Click on image for larger size)
(Image courtesy of Göran Årelind)

With the exception of the earlyish Yashicaflex A-I, almost the first half of its Molforeflex clone and the very early examples of the Yashicaflex A-II and the AS-II example in the user manual, all models have knurling on the outside half of the film winding knob only (see photos of other models below in “Focusing Knobs”). These first Yashicaflex A series cameras also have coarser knurling on their knobs than e.g., the Yashica Flex B & S models. The early Yashicaflex A-I, with the full leatherette covering, has full width knurling with a centre groove and the other two add the centre release button in a style which continued for some time but the inside knurling disappeared very quickly. This style of knob is reminiscent of later Rolleicord II models.

(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Other Variations

Whereas other models have silver flags on a black background, what may be a late version of the Yashicaflex A-III and the Yashicaflex A2, both with leatherette centres, and the Yashicaflex A (new model) with release button centre, have white flags on a white background with the outline of the flags in black and red. What might be a late Yashicaflex A-III, with missing leatherette centre, and Yashicaflex A (new model) shown:

(Image on left courtesy of Sandu Baciu, on right, detail from seller's image of Leigh Harris’ camera)

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Focusing Knobs (Knob Wind Models)

Although the knurling on the Pigeonflex was coarser, the Pigeonflex, Yashima Flex, Yashica Flex B and Yashica Flex S with NKS-FB shutter had similar focusing knobs that I have found with metre scales only. The fixed aperture scale for depth of field (DoF) became more vertical, or flatter, with the advent of the Yashicaflex S with Copal shutter. From this point, scales could either be in metres or feet. A new style knob and aperture scale arrived in early 1956. This changed to dual metre/feet scales in around 1959.

(Second image from left courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Shown here are Pigeonflex, Yashima Flex, early Yashicaflex S with Copal shutter and more vertical DoF aperture scale backplate, late Yashicaflex S and Yashica D with dual scales from about 1965. The early Yashicaflex A series knobs are similar to the Yashicaflex S with Copal shutter but with coarser knurling (see photos in previous section).

The black plastic end caps all appear to be the same size. Generally, the early style knobs above, and also on the Yashicaflex A series, had the same end caps except for the early Yashicaflex C which already introduced the end cap seen on the two later type focusing knobs above. The Yashica Rookie and Yashica A received their own unique style. This also appears on the Japanese market Yashicaflex A (new model) marketed in Japan as the Yashica A but not on its export twin, the Yashica B.

(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

Early Yashicaflex C and Yashica A end caps.

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Spool Knobs (Spool Supports)

First called “film spool locking springs” in user manuals with first the “film” dropped and then the Yashica 24 introduced the name “spool locking knob”. The Yashica description in “assembling charts” is “spool support”.

Early spool knobs were full width and the backing plates were fixed with 3 screws. First the screws disappeared (middle photo, the backing plate now screws in), then very shortly after (probably less than 12 months) the knobs changed to an edge ridge design in 1956. The examples below also highlight the difference between early (first photo) and late body castings. (Note - the 3 screws also still appeared in the first of the later bodies)

(Second image courtesy of Göran Årelind)

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Accessory Shoes

The Yashima Pigeonflex and the Yashicaflex S and Yashicaflex AS-II (and presumably AS-I) with exposure meters are the only knob wind models without an accessory shoe. The first crank wind model to get one was the Yashica 44 but not until about a third of the way into production. The first 66 crank wind model was the Yashica 24.

(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

From left to right. Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B. These are very similar aluminium extrusions with two screws at the front and the third is a post which acts as a stop. The Yashica Flex B has a black insert. The third one is from a very early Yashicaflex A-II with Y.S.K. shutter (A-I would be the same). This is formed from plated sheet metal with a bent tab stop and is the harbinger of most subsequent types. The screw spacing seems similar to the earlier types and it is sometimes found on Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B examples, perhaps as a replacement for some reason? Very soon after, the screw spacing changed to the next type (early Yashicaflex A-II with Copal shutter shown but the same for all models in production). Probably in late 1956, the number of screws increased to four on all models and is already very similar to the final black version on the Yashica Mat-124G.

The sixth example is unique to both the Yashica D and Yashica E. It appears to only be secured by the single post screw. In fact, the shoe is another alloy extrusion with cover plate over the two forward screws. Unlike the plain types, there is a flat spring in each groove to positively grip the flash, or other accessory. The first Yashica Ds had focusing scales in metres and started with the four screw type common to other models but when feet scaled models arrived, these and export versions generally from 1958, or 1959, to well after 1965 (by which stage, dual focusing scales were universal) used the the more complex, although perhaps more consumer focused, variety. After that, all Yashica D accessory shoes were the four screw type. Japanese market Yashica Ds continued with the four screw type from the beginning for much longer and perhaps throughout.

Most Yashica 24s have 4 screws with the same size heads. The bottom right screw also secures the front of the strap holder plate and must be a problem because they are relatively frequently found with various larger headed screws. The factory moved to the larger screw, with the appropriate countersink size, near the end of Yashica 24 production and just after the beginning of Yashica 12 production (production overlapped). This continued with the Yashica Mat-124.

The Yashica Mat-124G and very late Yashica D and 635 examples (1970 or later) use Phillips head screws. The Yashica Mat-124G also reverted to the smaller size for the strap holder screw.

Other variations include the first coloured Yashica As with very briefly “Made in Japan” and then “Japan” in the accessory shoe until just before all black examples returned. Correspondent Richard Mean has drawn my attention to the fact that “Made in Japan” appears in the shoe of his son's very early Yashica 635. The previous 635 in my database has it as well - these are the fourth and fifth cameras but unfortunately, I don't know about the first three. “Japan” also appeared on early Yashica 44As. When an accessory shoe first appeared on the Yashica 44, it was a unique removable type that fitted into a slot behind the nameplate. The Yashica 44LM has an unusual short shoe which reverts to three screws. Examples of 44 types can be found on the 44 Models page.

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Control Wheels (Dial Knobs)

Most user manuals refer to “control wheel” although, later manuals starting with the Yashica 12 refer to “control dial”. However, the Yashica description in all “assembling charts” is “dial knob”.

(Except for the dull and shiny plain silver wheels, images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

The double gold rings are found only on the first 1957 Yashica-Mats with Lumaxar lenses (both 75mm and 80mm). The black leatherette disc is only found on the Yashicaflex AS (new model). The black leatherette ring insert appeared on Mats whilst Lumaxar 80s were still in production. These were also the first type of control wheel on the Yashicaflex B (new model), Yashica 635 and the Yashica D but on the Yashica D, the inserts matched the camera leatherette, i.e., black, grey or cream. Next were the black radials found on Yashica-Mats, Yashica Autos, early Yashica Mat-LMs and Yashica Ds from about 1959 (except Japanese market Yashica Ds where the inserts continued until the next type). I have found only one Yashica 635 with the black radials and that dates from when the name between the lenses changed to the block style, the same as on the Yashica-Mat and Yashica D but unlike those two, subsequent cameras reverted to the black ring. The first black radials found on Yashica Ds have red centres with a white ring (only found on coloured cameras). I have not found any on other models. The dull or dome shaped silver wheels appeared in 1960 and the shiny wheels in about 1965. The silver with the black and white rings was standard on the Yashica 24, Yashica 12 and Yashica Mat-124 and the all black belong to the all black Yashica Mat-124G.

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Text Between Lenses


(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

The first model with a cover plate over the shutter assembly was the Yashica Flex S in 1954. Initially it had the shutter name “NKS-FB” and then a plain “Yashica” when the Copal shutter was introduced at the end of 1954 or early 1955. The Yashicaflex C of 1955 introduced the red “Yashica” in an oval. This also appeared on the Yashica Hi-Mec. The black version of the Yashicaflex C oval was introduced by the Yashica C and LM in 1956 but it was 1957 before the last examples of the Yashicaflex C and Yashicaflex S (still with the plain name up to this point) changed to the black oval name. This appeared on all subsequent models until the change to the block style “Yashica” in 1958. This carried trough to the end on the Yashica-Mat and knob wind models. The last type shown is found on the Yashica 24 and 12 and Yashica Mat-124. The Yashica Mat-124G has no text between the lenses.

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Red Windows (Film Windows)

The correct Yashica description is “film window”.

Models that do not have auto-stop film winding and a film counter are fitted on the back with a red window with sliding metal cover. The film is advanced manually until the number of the next frame appears in the window. It is important to immediately slide the cover closed again to stop light affecting the film over time. Red windows were originally designed for orthochromatic (red insensitive) B&W film but by the mid-fifties, panchromatic emulsions (sensitive to the full spectrum) became popular and of course, colour film is also red sensitive.

Below are the three types of red windows found on Yashima/ Yashica models.

(Image on right, courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

The window (in closed position) on the left belongs to a Yashima made Pigeonflex. It retained this style on the Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B. The 1954 Yashicaflex A-I introduced the style in the second image which was used on all but one of the 66 models with red windows until the end of Yashica A production in the late '60s. The similarly styled, but horizontal, third window belongs to a Yashica Rookie which was designed to use 120 film in either 6 cm x 6 cm format or 6 cm x 4.5 cm format (120 film is marked with frame numbers for both formats).

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Coloured 66 Cameras

Some cameras were available in coloured leatherette and/or metal work for a brief period between 1958 and 1960. These camera models are Yashica A, B, D and Auto. There are also coloured Yashica A examples without hood logos which evidence suggests are called Yashica AIII in the domestic Japanese market but are otherwise identical to the Yashica A. Light grey leatherette and black metal work is the most common and is the only combination found for the coloured Yashica B and Auto examples. So far, that is also the case for the Yashica A but it is possible that it may match the AIII palette. Both the Yashica AIII and D are also found with light grey leatherette and grey metal work (rare) and warm grey leatherette and brown metal work (extremely rare). Recently, Leigh Harris found a light brown with dark cream leatherette Yashica D on a UK website. That colour would equate to “Golden Brown” in the Yashica 44 advertised colour palette whereas the dark brown of the Yashica A and D is probably called “Burgundy”.

Model
Colours Found
Metal 
Leatherette
Yashica A black black
black  grey
Yashica AIII Burgundy warm grey
black  grey
grey  grey
Yashica B black black
black grey
Yashica D grey  grey
Golden Brown dark cream
Burgundy warm grey
black black
black grey
Yashica Auto black grey
black black

 

Leatherette colours are difficult to discriminate in photos. Leigh Harris has several cameras with grey leatherette and also a Yashica AIII and Yashica 44 with dark brown metal work. In regard to the leatherette colour on the dark brown cameras, Leigh advises that “it is definitely not beige, but a 'warm grey' is the best way I can describe it, and the difference is really only noticeable when the cameras are side by side” (with the grey cameras).

(Image courtesy of Leigh Harris)

Black metalwork Yashica A with grey leatherette and Burgundy Yashica AIII with warm grey leatherette.

(Image courtesy of Leigh Harris)

Matched pair, Burgundy Yashica AIII and Yashica 44 together.

I have found no black versions of the Yashica A and only two black Yashica Ds in the period that colour versions were being produced. There is one early black Yashica D with early hood logo like the Yashica 635 and a later black one with the gold logo normally found on coloured examples. It seems that both black and grey versions of the Yashica B and Auto were produced at the same time in roughly equal numbers. They and the single Yashica D are the only black cameras found with the narrow “Y” on gold background hood logo (black cameras without a colour choice retained the earlier style logo until all models moved to the blue logo).

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Lenses

The difference between the assumed number of elements in the taking lens and what I believe is the actual number should become clear as you read on.

Lenses
Focal Length
Assumed No. of Taking
Lens
Elements

Probable No. of Taking
Lens
Elements
Viewing Lens Aperture
Models Fitted To:
Tri-Lausar
80 mm
3
3
f/3.5
First models, Yashica Flex S
Heliotar
80 mm
3
3
f/3.5
Yashicaflex S, Yashica Hi-Mec
Yashimar
80 mm
3
3
f/3.5
Flexes, Rookie, Yashica A
Yashikor
80 mm
3
3
f/3.5
Flexes, knob wind Yashicas
Lumaxar
75 mm
4
4
f/3.2
Yashica-Mat
Lumaxar
80 mm
4
4
f/3.2
Yashica-Mat
Yashinon
80 mm
4
4
f/3.2, 2.8
Crank models, late D & 635
Yashinon
80 mm
4
3
f/3.5
Yashica Auto, E
Yashikor
60 mm
3
3
f/3.5
44, 44A
Yashinon
60 mm
4
3
f/3.5
44LM
Yashinon
60 mm
4
?
f/2.8
Auto 44

Note 1: All taking lens apertures are f/3.5 except on the Yashica Auto 44 which is claimed by Sugiyama to be f/2.8.
Note 2: I believe that all viewing lenses have 3 elements (explained further below).

The lens name appears on the front retaining/dress ring with focal length, aperture and serial number (not applicable for some models from 1964 on - Yashica E, viewing lenses and late Yashica Mat 124-G and 124-B). The Tri-Lausar naming schema varied over time:

Pigeonflex (early): “Tomioka Opt. Co. Tri-Lausar”
Pigeonflex (late): “Tomioka Tri-Lausar”
Yashima Flex: “Tomioka Tri-Lausar”
Yashica Flex Model B (early): “Tomioka Tri-Lausar”
Yashica Flex Model B (late): “Tri-Lausar”
Yashica Flex Model S (early): “Tomioka Tri-Lausar”

To me, this is another hint that the early Models B and S are from the same period.

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66 Models

As far as it is known, all triplet lenses (3 elements in 3 groups, more correctly known as Cooke Triplet lenses after the inventor) were sourced from the initially independent Japanese lens manufacturer Tomioka (founded in 1924 as Tomioka Optical Laboratory but according to Wikipedia, in the early Yashima/Yashica period called Tomioka Optical and Machine Manufacturing Co., Ltd and according to Camera-wiki.org, called Tomioka Optical Instruments Manufacturing Facility but note the name on the first 1953 Pigeonflex above), later to be absorbed by Yashica (1968) and renamed Tomioka Optical Co., Ltd. in 1969 before becoming Kyocera Optec Co., Ltd in 1991 (Camera-wiki.org).

Triplets

From the outset, both taking and viewing lenses were simply called “Tri-Lausar”, the earlier lenses being preceded by the Tomioka name in several forms as noted at the top of the Lenses section. Similar spec Tri-Lausar branded lenses were used by a number of other TLR makers as well but usually, the taking lens was named “Tri-Lausar Anastigmat” and the the viewing lens, “Tri-Lausar Viewer”. Whether these were the same as on the Yashima models is not known. The Tri-Lausars were followed by the Yashica specific Heliotar, Yashimar and Yashikor. All, including viewing lenses, were 80 mm f/3.5 lenses. The Yashikor was certainly reputed to be an improvement over its predecessors but the real differences are unknown. These could be related to coatings, some tweaking of the lens formula or change in the glass. Some differences could simply be branding. The Yashimars, although of a similar design, were undoubtedly offered as budget alternatives from the outset and may have been cheaper to make/procure for some reason, e.g. more basic coatings. Following the Pigeonflex, Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B, the Yashica Flex S started with Tri-Lausars and went to Heliotars followed by Yashikors for subsequent top spec models. The Yashicaflex A series started with Yashimars and these remained into the early Yashica A model run before they too were replaced by Yashikors.

It has to be remembered that many of the cameras fitted with Tri-Lausars and Yashimars were basic cameras that have been unloved by subsequent owners. Given poor storage, some will no doubt be troubled by fungus, haze and other ailments. People looking for a cheap entry into medium format are likely to be harsh critics without sympathy for circumstances. I have seen decent photos on Japanese sites taken with all the triplets.

From Tri-Lausar on the Pigeonflex to the first Yashikor was around three years. Tomioka had many customers for various formats and in the beginning, Yashima would have been a small time player. Before computers, it took years to compute, develop and perfect new lens designs and even then they were usually based on what had gone before. Unless Tomioka had new designs sitting in the wings ready to go, I wouldn’t expect big variations in design or performance. Tougodo continued to use Tri-Lausar branded lenses on its various brands of TLR. If better Tomioka triplets were available, it is reasonable to expect that maybe one of the more advanced models may have been so endowed.

Tessar Type Taking Lenses

A new 4 element 3 group Tessar design with cemented rear pair was introduced with the first Yashica-Mat in 1957. This was an f/3.5 75 mm lens called Lumaxar and only a little later in the same year, was replaced by 80 mm version (timing confirmed by 1957 Japanese brochure). There was a name change to Yashinon in 1958. The main advantage over the best of the triplet lenses was greater edge sharpness, particularly when used wide open. The level of improvement is no more and no less than expected when moving from a competent 3 element standard design to a competent 4 element standard design - there is nothing magical or mysterious. Nevertheless, the sourcing of the Lumaxar lenses is controversial.

There are two distinct views with references. There are also many “experts” expressing “facts” but really just falling into one camp or the other. There have long been rumours of the Lumaxars being sourced from Germany before Tomioka took over the production and called them Yashinons. The only reputable claim I am aware of in support of this proposition is, according to net sources (including Camera-wiki.org), by Mark Hama, the renowned Yashica technician who actually worked in the Nagano, Japan factory. On the other hand, “The Evolution of the Japanese Camera” by Condax and others (NY 1984) claims that all Lumaxars were made by Tomioka and that the change of name to Yashinon was caused by a conflict with a similar registered name in the UK when Yashica was allowed to commence exports.

A little research reveals that Tomioka's first lens, launched in 1932, was a 4 element Tessar type called Lausar (Camera-wiki.org). In 35 mm guise, it appeared before the War in a Leitz Elmar-like collapsible mount and as a fixed mount on a number of post-War 35 mm cameras. It was also available in larger sizes and as enlarger lenses. There are certainly Lausars which appeared on at least some early post-War 6x6 Elmoflex TLR cameras before Elmo standardised on Olympus Zuiko lenses. These Lausars were f/3.5 75 mm, just like the first Lumaxars. The 3 element Tri-Lausar was introduced by Tomioka in the austere post-War period to fill the needs of the budget level mass market. When Yashica began looking for something better, why not use the available higher spec Lausar? Why go to Germany for the same design (Tessar)? It has to be considered that Yashica based its success on outstanding value, not quality at any price. However, remember also that the opposing view is put by a credible and reputable source and therefore the best thing to do is to keep an open mind. A 1957 US ad states that “Yashica management searched far and wide for lenses befitting this masterpiece of camera engineering.” Is that marketing speak, or did they really go beyond Tomioka? Choosing what seems like the more logical answer does not necessarily make it correct. Incidentally, I have attempted to do the obvious thing and write to Mark Hama but have received no response.

Not a Tessar

The Japanese site TLR66.com seems to suggest that the Yashinon lenses on the Yashica Auto and Yashica E (both with lower spec f/3.5 viewing lenses) were rebadged triplets and so does Japanese Wikipedia regarding the Yashica Auto. Note, “Yashinon” is a brand name, not a formula like “Tessar” and the 35 mm range encompassed many different varieties and formulas under the “Yashinon” brand. There are also 35 mm “Yashikor” lenses in M42 screw mount and the telephoto versions, if not all, will certainly have more than 3 elements. Several sources quote the 1961 35 mm Flash-O-Set and its 1962 successor as having 40 mm, “3 element Yashinon lenses”. These cameras are the 35 mm equivalents and technological ancestors of the Yashica E. Also like the Yashica E, neither camera has lens serial numbers. In “Are all Yashinon Lenses 4 Element Tessar Types?” below, I believe that tests confirm that the Yashica Auto and E lenses lenses are triplets.

Lumaxar and Yashinon Viewing Lenses

The viewing Lumaxars are all f/3.2 as are the earlier Yashinons except the viewing Yashinons on the Yashica Auto and Yashica E which are, unusually and uniquely, f/3.5. The very last viewing Yashinons, including those where Yashinons were fitted to Yashica Ds and 635s from the late 1960s, are f/2.8.

I believe that all viewing lenses are three element triplets, and believe that is confirmed by tests in “Are all Yashinon Lenses 4 Element Tessar Types?” below.

In true TLRS, the viewing and taking lenses are optically matched. In practice, that only means that they have the same matched focal length and viewing lenses have to be of reasonable quality to give an undistorted representation of what the taking lens is seeing. Googling will bring up a number of cross sections of Rolleiflexes showing triplet viewing lenses with 4 element Tessar type or more complex taking lenses. My understanding of Franke & Heidecke models is limited but I believe that most of the viewing lenses including the Heidosmat lenses fitted to recent Rolleiflexes are triplets. (There were some exceptions, including intriguingly, the amateur focused automated Rollei Magic models). Yashima confused matters with using the same name for viewing and taking lenses. They did start with “View-Lumaxar”and “View-Yashinon” but then dropped the “View-”. It would be almost unbelievable to think that Yashima would opt for a higher specification than a more refined and expensive brand that it was seeking to provide an economy alternative to.

Below left is part of a page from a Japanese brochure from 1957 (see Brochures page). The fact that the f/3.2 viewing lens is a triplet is 100% clear (note, the camera shown is an early type with Copal MX shutter and 75 mm lenses whereas the description says 80 mm and other Yashica-Mat photos in the brochure are a mix with both 75 mm and early 80 mm lens types). On the right is a schematic that appears in a number of Yashica brochures from around 1964. The large third group in the taking lens is likely to be the cemented pair of a Tessar, although it is not shown that way. Note that the focus knob gives the impression of being on the far side and that there appears to be a Yashica Mat-LM or EM exposure meter. Either way, the viewing and taking lenses are different.

Several brochures refer to the “4 element lenses” of the Yashica-Mat. That is either poetic license or, the copywriters didn't know any better.

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44 Models

Lenses are f/3.5 60 mm Yashikors on the Yashica 44 and 44A and Yashinon on the 44LM. The mythical Auto 44 is reputed to have an f/2.8 lens.

Yashica 44LM

So far, I have assumed that the lenses are of the same construction as their longer counterparts but now I doubt that for the 44LM, see “Are all Yashinon Lenses 4 Element Tessar Types?” below. These cameras are well engineered, and it has to be said, pretty, but they were built to a price in a competitive market and the Yashica 44 was already considered expensive.

Lending weight to the idea of a 60 mm Yashinon triplet, Camera-wiki.org has details of the 1959 Yashica Future 127 prototype camera which is said to have a 3 element 60 mm “Yashinon” lens (the reference quoted is respected Japanese magazine Shashin Kōgyō). (See also Not a Tessar)

Yashica Auto 44

The only confirmed photo is in Sugiyama's book. The brief description states, “Yashinon - f2.8, 60mm”. I had always assumed that this referred to the viewing lens and the photo seems to confirm that the viewing lens is indeed f/2.8. However, I had ignored the obvious and that is that Sugiyama always quotes the taking lens aperture! Unfortunately, the aperture cannot be discerned on the taking lens, however, it is clearly special in that there is a lot more text than on other lenses including the Yashinons on the 44LM. The word “Yashica” is clearly visible (the only instance on a TLR lens that I am aware of) and I think that “Yashinon” is still there too.

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Are all Yashinon Lenses 4 Element Tessar Types?

Without dismantling a lens, I believe that it is possible to demonstrate that Lumaxar/Yashinon viewing lenses and the Yashinon taking lenses on the Yashica Auto, Yashica E and Yashica 44LM are triplets. Note, that a 3 element “Yashinon” does not automatically mean “Yashikor”. If a Yashikor is different to a Heliotar and if that is different to a Tri-Lausar, then a 3 element Yashinon may be an improvement on a Yashikor. Or it may be simply a branding exercise.

The genesis of my investigations was that at least two websites claim that some 60 mm Yashikors have 4 lens elements, something I couldn't believe but thought that I might be able to test. The argument on the websites is based on the number of reflections that can be seen, 2 for each element so that 3 elements would display 6 reflections and a 4 element lens would display 8 reflections. The test was conducted on the taking lens with aperture wide open and shutter open on bulb. I tested a very early Yashica 44 with Yashikor lenses, a Yashica 44A with Yashikor lenses, a late Yashica 44LM with Yashinon lenses and as a control, a Yashica 24 with Yashinon lenses. I followed the procedures as I understood them. In each case, I could only find 6 reflections! That is simply because the test does work but 4 element Tessar types have a cemented rear pair still offering only 2 glass to air surfaces, not 4 so the reflections are the same as for 3 element lenses. Or so I thought.

The prolific Rick Oleson (http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/tessar.pdf) will tell you that it is possible to see a faint extra single reflection from the cemented surfaces (that would make a total of 7, not 8) because there is a change in refractive index at that point (the reason for 2 cemented elements instead of a single one) but that the only way to see the reflection is to isolate the rear pair by removing the group from the camera or, second best, by leaving the shutter closed and looking from the rear of the camera. On the Yashica 24 with its bigger lenses, using fluorescent tube, halogen spot and incandescent light sources alternatively, I was fairly certain that I could see the third reflection but there was also interference from light reflecting from the aperture and/or shutter blades so that was still a little bit inconclusive. I was fairly confident that the Yashica 44 with Yashikors only had 2 reflections. The Yashica 44LM was a dilemma, for a moment I thought that I really could see 3 reflections but I couldn't subsequently reproduce that scenario.

Now I have been contacted by Brian Hayes who noted that his late Yashica D with Yashinon lenses produces 7 reflections for the taking lens and 6 for the viewing lens. Brian's technique is this:

“Regarding the lens reflections, a Tessar type lens will give 7 reflections, just as you mention.  One will indeed be very faint (presumably the cemented interface).  However, it’s very easy to see the differences between a Cooke triplet and a Tessar – the Tessar will have one very large reflection and 6 small ones (one very faint), while the triplet will have six small ones, all located easily.  The technique I have found to work well is to leave the back closed, open up the aperture and shutter, and point the camera at a small point light source about 10 feet away.  A closet light bulb works fine for this.  You will quickly see that a Yashica 44, for example, shows the exact same pattern in each lens.  The D model I have shows a pattern that is obviously different and requires a bit of fiddling with the orientation to get the large reflection to show up.”

It was time for another attempt.

My Test Procedure: I set each test camera to f/3.5 and Bulb. In daylight, in a dim windowless corner, I stood under a halogen down-light with me looking down at the front of the lenses which were pointed up to the light source. The focusing hood was left closed to provide a black background for the reflections.

My Procedural Test Results: With 3 element Yashikor lenses, the reflections in the viewing and taking lenses were identical. There was a stack of 3 similar reflections, another stack of 2 similar reflections plus one brighter reflection. With 4 element Yashinon lenses, the reflections in the viewing lens were the same as with the Yashikor, both in appearance and the fact that only 6 reflections could be found. However, as predicted by Brian, there were two differences with the 80 mm Yashinon taking lenses. The second stack of 2 reflections was joined by a very, very faint (maybe small is a better description) third reflection but most noticeably, the single brighter reflection was much bigger than its counterpart in the viewing lens. This was by far the most striking difference.

My Camera Test Results: The Yashikor taking and viewing lenses on a Yashica 44 and Yashica 44A tested identically with 6 reflections as expected from their specs. Note that his does not disprove the claims of the two sites regarding “4 element Yashikor” lenses - their claim was only “some” not “all”, but in light of what follows, the claim is exceedingly unlikely to be correct. Surprisingly, the Yashinons on the Yashica 44LM also produced near identical reflections in both each lens and to the pattern of the other two. The results suggest that all the 60mm lenses are triplets, although not necessarily that they are identical to the Yashikors. The 80 mm Yashica D Yashikors performed as expected, i.e., the pattern of 6 reflections were near identical in each lens and very similar to the pattern in both types of 60 mm lens. A Yashica-Mat with 80 mm Lumaxars and a Yashica 24 with 80 mm were also tested. These both produced near identical results to each other with the viewing and taking lens patterns differing as described above, i.e., the taking lens had a a very faint/small 7th reflection and the bright reflection was quite noticeably bigger. Therefore the 80mm Lumaxar and Yashinon viewing lenses behave as expected for a 3 element lens and the respective taking lenses behave as predicted for a 4 element Tessar type.

Photographic Results: I repeated some of the tests and attempted to photograph the results. It is difficult to to get full sets of both viewing and taking lens reflections in the frame at the same time. The spurious smaller reflections, generally towards the edges, are from another downlight in the room that I was trying to photograph in:

Yashica 44LM 60 mm Yashikors

Yashica D 80 mm Yashikors

Yashica-Mat 80 mm Lumaxars

Yashica 24 80 mm Yashinons

The unwanted reflections probably leave some doubt so I re-shot the Yashica 44LM, Yashica 24 and added the Yashica 44A. In order to compare like with like, I have left both sets in:

Yashica 44A 60 mm Yashikors

Yashica 44LM 60 mm Yashikors

Yashica 24 80 mm Yashinons (angle 1)

Yashica 24 80 mm Yashinons (angle 2)

Note that the elongated reflection in the Yashica 24 viewing lens shots directly above is from the rear edge of the lens assembly (clear from other full resolution shots).

Yashica Auto: Contributor Leigh Harris has performed the test on a Yashica Auto and has found a similar pattern to the Yashikor triplets.

Yashica E: Correspondent Tony Waterhouse, who has been collecting and repairing Yashica TLRs for 10 years, has dismantled and overhauled his Yashica E and has confirmed that the lenses are indeed 3 element triplet types. The Yashica E presents a difficulty for testing in that it doesn't have a Bulb setting. Being a little more expert in reflections now and armed with Tony's information, I decided to attempt Rick Oleson's method again. This time, I could easily find 3 reflections for the Yashica 24 rear group (which confirms my rather more tentative first attempt noted above) but only 2 for the Yashica E (not originally tested with Rick's method).

Putting 3 Element Yashinon Taking Lenses into Context

The Yashica Auto and Yashica 44LM were released in 1959 and the Yashica E in 1964. Apart from the budget model Yashica 44A, these were the last new models where a 4 element lens was not an automatic decision from a price point perspective and a 3 element lens was a sensible option for Yashica. In other words, the Yashica Auto with crank wind was a similar price to the Yashica D with Yashikor lenses and two thirds the price of an otherwise similar Yashica-Mat, the Yashica 44LM was a similar price to the Yashica 44 with Yashikors but added an exposure meter and other refinements and the Yashica E was designed for the novice whilst at the time, the enthusiast level Yashica D and 635 had to make do with Yashikors. So why would Yashica fit a 4 element lens to any of these and indeed, how could it afford to at a time when TLRs were already struggling against the 35 mm onslaught? It was also a time when the “Yashinon” name was being used for all manner of 35 mm designs and it could be argued that Yashinon had just become a brand name for all Yashica lenses. Once the marketeers get involved, anything goes.

A circa 1964 brochure that I have downloaded from the net advertises the Yashica-Mat with “Yashinon 80 mm 4-element coated, color corrected lenses” and states that “the Yashica Mat-LM is exactly the same in all features, but includes a built-in uncoupled exposure meter”. The Yashica E is simply advertised with “matched Yashinon 80 mm f/3.5 lenses, color corrected and hard coated”. The Yashica 44LM uses the same description except substitutes 60 mm. The Yashica A, D, 635 and 44A use the same descriptions as the Yashica E and 44LM except with “Yashikor” substituted for “Yashinon”. I have seen no advertising material which claims that the Yashica E or Yashica 44LM have 4 element lenses (and no advertising material at all for the Yashica Auto).

Why doesn't this get mentioned on other sites? As noted, at least two Japanese sites have picked up on it. They probably know a thing or two and don't have to rely on Google translations. Yashinons were first released as 4 element Tessars and I think that with clever marketing, assumptions have been made and repeated ever since.

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Bokeh

Bokeh is a complete subject in itself and to a large extent it is very subjective and depends on what is pleasing to the individual. I don't intend to discuss it other than to mention certain features of Yashica TLR models that affect it one way or another. I might add that I have seen few complaints with regard to Yashica TLR bokeh but neither have I seen raving praise. I take that to mean that the bokeh can generally be considered pleasant but not something to die for.

Sometimes bokeh is taken to mean how the out of focus highlights are rendered, largely determined by the shape of the lens aperture which in turn is affected by the number of aperture blades. For example, some Yashica models have 5 bladed apertures, which can result in pentagonal shaped out of focus highlights, and others have 10 blades which result in more circular highlight rendering. The following section on shutters has more detail. It should be noted however, that shooting wide open when the out of focus highlights have the greatest impact (at the shallowest depth of field), the aperture blades are withdrawn from the light path and the aperture is effectively circular. Also, both 5 and 10 bladed apertures in Yashica TLRs have curved blades, although as the aperture size decreases, the pentagon formed by the 5 blades becomes more accentuated.

Most definitions of bokeh are more complex but in some respects, also more subtle. As well as highlight rendering, whether the bokeh is pleasing or not can be affected by the particular foreground and background detail, lighting and colour. The traditional Japanese appreciation of bokeh is also very much related to tonal gradation. Apparent sharpness and resolution of a lens do not necessarily contribute positively to bokeh, in fact in some circumstances, they can be detrimental. It also depends on the priorities of the lens designer.

One form of bokeh which seems to be sought by some for some subjects is often called “swirly bokeh”. The reality is that this effect is the by-product of less than perfectly corrected lenses. It is commonly found in triplet type lenses but not in Tessar type. Therefore if swirly bokeh is important, avoid Lumaxar and Yashinon lenses.

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Shutters

As lenses with leaf shutters form a discreet unit with the shutter fitted between lens elements, it is often said that “x lens is in a y shutter”, e.g., “Yashikor lens in a Copal MX shutter”. In Yashica TLRs with triplet lenses, the shutter is between the second and third (inner-most) lens element. With the Tessar types it is between the second and third element also, the third and fourth elements being a cemented pair or group.

At different times, Yashima/ Yashica used different models from (or branded) NKS, Y.S.K., Copal, Citizen and Seikosha. The last three companies are relatively well known and Copal is particularly highly regarded and continues to manufacture shutters today. Copal shutters were first used by Yashima at the end of 1954 and exclusively in models released from 1958 on. NKS shutters, said to be a copy of a Prontor II, were made by Nippon Kōsokki Kōgyō, maker of Taron cameras (Camera-wiki.org). Until Tom Heckhaus sent me a picture of his early Yashicaflex A-II, I was blissfully unaware of the Y.S.K. brand. More examples have come to light and it is now clear that it was also used on the first Yashicaflex A-I examples. The only other camera that it has been seen on is the Semi Renky made by Rengō Kōki. Examples and the little that I have found out can be found in the “Yashicaflex A-II” entry on the 66 Models page.

Note that depending on the shutter, aperture scales can be upside down compared to others (e.g. early and basic Copal compared to NKS, Y.S.K. and even Copal MXV on late Yashicaflex A2 examples) and speed and aperture scales can be reversed (Copal compared to NKS-FB on Yashica Flex S).

Available shutter speed ranges depend on the shutter type fitted to particular models and are covered in “Models & Specs”. Some models have click stops for speed, others don't but there are no "in-between speeds", the speed set is the closest marking. There was a change in the speed progression from the “old” range which with Copal shutters includes 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/300, or 1/250 plus 1/500 (the basic A series cameras, Rookie and Yashica B had a more limited range, first 1/10 to 1/200, then 1/25 to 1/300, all based on the old scale) to the “modern” range which substitutes 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500. Across the model range, this started occurring from 1958. The first Yashica-Mats, Yashica 635s and Ds still had the earlier range. The first Yashica 44s released in 1958 already had the new speeds. I have two earlyish Yashica D user manuals and these show the new speeds already but correspondent Jim Hurtle notes that his long owned Yashica D, D 1020xxx, still has the old speeds. I date this camera to early 1961. The first Yashica Mat-LM user manual from 1959 shows the old speeds but my MTL 2011357 has the new speeds (early 1962). Note that the Yashica A (and later Yashica 44A) with its more basic Copal shutter and limited speeds starting at 1/25, did not change.

The Yashica E has a unique single speed (1/60 sec) shutter which I know very little about.

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Apertures

The shutter assembly also contains the aperture mechanism which is located behind the shutter blades, except in the Yashica E, and therefore can only be viewed from the rear of the lens or with the shutter open on bulb. The maximum aperture of the taking lens is determined by the lens design but with common leaf shutter arrangements, the narrower apertures (bigger numbers) are determined by the shutter design. All shutters on Yashica TLRs have apertures marked with the “modern” progression f/3.5, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 and f/22. Copal SV shutters on 66 Models add f/32. Note that the apertures are continually variable and there are no click stops so that the markings are nominal only.

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5 and 10 Bladed Apertures

The one variation with apertures is whether they have 5 or 10 blades. In either case, the blades are curved. All the early Yashica TLRs have 10 blades regardless of shutter make or type. All models fitted with Copal SV shutters have apertures with 5 blades. These include the Yashica 44 and Yashica 44LM introduced in 1958 and 1959 respectively and the following cameras introduced from 1965 on; Yashica 24, Yashica 12, Yashica Mat-124 and Yashica Mat-124G and 124B. The Yashica E also has a 5 bladed aperture. Earlier Yashica TLRs fitted with Copal MXV shutters definitely have 10 blades. These certainly include Yashica-Mats, Yashica Ds and Yashica 635s made until at least the mid-1960s and all Yashica Mat-LMs and EMs. There are suggestions that the more recent Yashica production of models with Copal MXV shutters, including all those fitted with f/2.8 Yashinon viewing lenses and some still with f/3.2 Yashinon and f/3.5 Yashikor lenses, also have apertures with 5 blades. Photographs of Yashica Ds seem to confirm that. Contributor Leigh Harris has confirmed that his late Yashica-Mat with f/2.8 viewing lens has a 5 bladed aperture and I have photos of two others.

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Copal MXV vs SV

That raises some interesting questions given the apparent similarities between the MXV and SV shutters, the main difference being the number of aperture blades. Did Yashica move to the simpler design as a cost-cutting measure without changing the shutter name on the camera? That way, new faceplates were not required and manuals, brochures and other advertising material did not have to be updated. The Copal SV was probably designed as a cheaper version of the MXV from the outset. The MXV first appeared on the Yashica-Mat in 1957. The SV first appeared on the Yashica 44 in 1958 but wasn't used on 66 models until the Yashica 24 in 1965. An example of the different positioning of the two shutters is the 1958 Beauty Super II 35 mm rangefinder camera. It was available with a f/1.9 lens and Copal MXV shutter or, in cheaper f/2 and f/2.8 versions with Copal SV shutter (camera-wiki.org). Of course, in 1965, the issue may simply have been the availability of f/32 on the SV. Leigh Harris has confirmed that the 5 bladed aperture on his late Yashica-Mat is still f/22.

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Filter Mounts

The type/size of mount fitted to each model is identified in the table at the top of their respective entries on the 66 Models and 44 Models pages.

Plain Mounts

The filter mounts on the original models and most of the budget Yashicaflex A series models plus Yashica Rookie and A were plain push-on 32 mm types. The Yashicaflex A2, Yashicaflex A (new model) and Yashica B have plain filter mounts but with a trim plate over the shutter like Bay 1 models. These three have plain 36 mm push-on mounts. The Yashica 44A has smaller 28.5 mm plain mounts.

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Bay 1 Mounts

Starting with the Yashica Flex model S, top spec and most mid-spec models were fitted with Rolleiflex Bayonet 1 type mounts (there are also sizes 2 and 3 for larger Rollei glass) commonly referred to as Bay 1 and also known as B30 or 30 mm bayonet. These have both inside and outside bayonets and are aligned the same way top and bottom on 66 models but the bottom taking lens bayonets are rotated 180 degrees on 44 models. There are three spring loaded pins (two visible in both left and right photos below) located near the internal bayonet slot to positively locate with the indentation on the bayonet tab of the mounted accessory.

There is also a single fixed pin, visible to the left of the bottom spring pin in the two photos below to provide a positive stop once the accessory has been rotated clockwise. Yashica Bay 1 lens hoods make use of the external bayonets. The hoods have a spring loaded washer to provide positive securing grip so the action is to push and turn and there is also some sort of positive stop, although I'm not quite sure how that works. There is more about Bay 1 mounts and their issues in Accessories.

There is also an interesting anomaly. The photo of the Bay 1 mount on the left belongs to the first Yashica Flex model S with Copal shutter in my database. The internal pin alignment seems to be the same as Franke & Heidecke models and the same as earlier Yashica Flex model S examples with NKS shutter, late Yashicaflex model S examples with the new long strap holder body style and all other Yashica models with Bay 1 mounts and probably all Bay 1 mounts by other makers. However, my example of the Yashica Flex model S still with early body but new style graphics already, serial number 30769, only some 500 cameras later than the left example, has a different pin alignment. Instead of the pins being aligned to the left of the top slot, they are aligned to the to the right. The only other example I have been able to find is the next camera in the database, 308xx, so it was certainly a short-lived experiment.

Normally, you mount the accessory and twist clockwise approximately 90 degrees. With the different alignment, the twist is still clockwise to lock but the rotation is only the width of the tab, maybe approximately 30 degrees. Perhaps Yashica was trying to improve on the Rollei design but whilst it doesn't matter with some accessories, it does render the parallax correction of the Yashica close-up sets useless. It is possible to use the hinged metal hoods (not original to this model) but they have to be rotated anti-clockwise.

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Yashica E

The Yashica E is unique with a 52 mm screw-in filter thread around the outside of the selenium cell. Unlike for all other models, there is no provision for fitting accessories to the viewing lens.

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Flash Sync (WARNING!)

It used to be the case that flash sync sockets were not standardised until the world slowly adopted the German Prontor-Compur type, hence “PC” socket. The Pigeonflex and Yashima Flex used the ASA type with spring loaded pin in the centre and positive bayonet coupling. This is most commonly found on US made cameras and is sometimes called the “Kodak ASA” type. Both the Yashica Flex B and Yashica Flex S started with the ASA socket before changing over to the PC type early in their production runs. In the oldest English language Yashica Flex S brochure found, Yashima refers to “Standard ASA connector”. In early Yashicaflex A series literature, Yashima refers to both “German type” and “European type”.

(Images courtesy of Tom Heckhaus)

ASA type on side of Yashima Flex, PC type on side of Yashica Flex B and PC type on Yashica D. Left below is an ASA type bayonet plug on a Minicam Synchron Junior flashgun and on the right, a Minicam PC plug (modern types usually have a 90 degree type plug):

Early examples have the sync low down on the spool knob side. From late 1955 or early 1956, the sync on 66 models moved to the front on the right hand side of the focusing panel when looking at the camera, near the top corner for most models (top left for the early Yashica E) and near the bottom corner for the Yashicaflex A series (A-I, A-II, AS-I and AS-II), MolfoReflex, Yashica Rookie, Yashica A and the rare late version of the Yashica E.

Generally, on the various Yashica TLR models, shutter sync is commonly referred to “X” or “M/X” where the “X” means electronic flash (Xenon) and the flash fires at the peak of the shutter opening and “M” means long duration flash bulbs which require the burn to start 20 to 25 milliseconds before the shutter is fully open (sync is usually set at 20 milliseconds). Shutters with combined “M/X” capability have a sliding lever to change flash settings from one to the other. The features sheet that came with my earliest Yashica Flex S explains that the NKS-FB shutter has synchronisation for “F Class” (I believe that the later version with Copal shutter was “X” sync). F Class are short duration flash bulbs requiring a 5 milliseconds delay (information based on Wikipedia). Note that no sync speed is quoted. Cameras earlier than the Yashica Flex S may have also been “F” sync, maybe the “FB” in the NKS-FB shutter is a clue, but may also have been “M” sync (more likely for NKS and NKS-TB shutters) so I have generally referred to them as having a sync socket without quoting the type.

The manual for the Yashicaflex AS states that its early Copal shutter is fitted with “X” type sync and that any European type flash bulbs can be used at sync speeds to 1/100 sec. Some other manuals quote that “M” class bulbs can be used at any speed, “Short Peak” bulbs (F Class) can be used on X sync at either 1/50 sec or 1/60 sec (depending on shutter progression) and “Medium Peak” bulbs can be used on X sync at either 1/25 sec or 1/30 sec. The Yashica Mat-124G manual explains that electronic flash and “M” class bulbs can be used at any speed but “F Class” bulbs are limited to 1/30 sec. or slower. The late Yashica D manual with “66” on the cover is similar. If in doubt, read the relevant manual but later cameras with X sync should be OK at any speed with electronic flash. Flash bulbs are trickier.

Even though Copal shutters have a lock-out to prevent using the self-timer on the “M” sync setting, this often either seems to fail or photographers are cleverer than Copal engineers. DO NOT USE “M” SYNC TOGETHER WITH THE SELF-TIMER see also the “Ownership” section.

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Crank Wind (WARNING!)

Crank wind Yashicas have a reputation for jamming caused by the frame spacing and shutter interlock. The warning below to not operate the crank with an empty take-up spool should be taken very seriously:

(Crop of scan of reverse of “Supplementary Instructions for use of 120 Roll Films in Yashica 24 Camera” provided by correspondent Alan Williams. This was with the user manual of his father's Yashica 24.)

This danger is not so well known as the self-timer issue and I will repeat it in the “Ownership” section.

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Fresnel Lens Focusing Screens

Fresnel lens focusing screens are flat plastic screens with raised concentric ridges (prisms) which together act as a lens to concentrate bright, even light across the focusing screen. These fit under the glass in the viewfinder. Without the fresnel screen, there is very noticeable light fall-off from centre to edge. It is a very real benefit for a user camera.

Apart from the view through the viewfinder, the other tell tale signs for identifying the existence of a screen is a distinct plain circular area in the middle without the rings (ground glass screens are usually uniformly plain) and looking through the viewing lens back towards the focusing screen, the rings are clearly visible. Earlier screens seem to be finer.

Yashica brochures confirm that they are fitted to the crank wind models, Yashica 635, Yashica D, Yashica E, Yashica 44, Yashica 44A and Yashica 44LM. The brochures also confirm that the screen is not fitted to the Yashica A.

There are claims that the Yashica C, LM and B also have one. I can confirm that my early Yashica LM (Yashica C with meter) does and photos of the other two also seem to confirm that.

Information on the net suggests that of the Yashicaflex models, only the Yashicaflex B (new model) has the screen. I can confirm that the Yashicaflex AS (new model) does indeed have one. Photos seem to suggest that the Yashicaflex A (new model) also does, which makes sense as with a different nameplate, it is the Yashica B.

I have also checked the earlier Yashicaflex Model S, A series and Model C cameras, including a late Yashicaflex Model S and can confirm that these are definitely not fitted with the fresnel focusing screen. Earlier cameras will definitely not have one.

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Internal Light Baffles

It is commonly thought that the Yashica Mat-124G is the only model fitted with internal light baffling to cut light reflections and help reduce flare:

(Detail of 124G from larger web image)

Of the more recent, post-1960 66 cameras, that is correct. However, both the Yashicaflex AS (new model) with Citizen MXV shutter (shown below left) and close relative, the Yashicaflex B (new model) with Copal MXV shutter, (Japanese domestic market forerunners of the Yashica D) were all fitted with more complex triple baffles than the later version in the Yashica Mat-124G. The Yashica Mat-124G version may in fact have first appeared on the Yashica D (explained further below)! Also, the Yashica 44LM has vestigial versions top and bottom but not on the sides - the light path in there doesn't allow much space (bottom baffle shown in right image).

Left, Yashicaflex AS (new model). Right Yashica 44LM.

It seems that at least some of the early Yashica-Mats were fitted with the same baffles as the two Yashicaflexes. This is what I have found so far (obviously only visible in photos where the camera backs are open):

To put that into context, the related findings are:

Below are parts of Japanese ads in a brochure from about 1958 for the Yashica-Mat on the left and Yashicaflex B (new model) on the right, both showing baffles in their photos:

(Document images courtesy of Leigh Harris)

The Yashicaflex A (new model) is also shown with baffles fitted but the examples I have seen are missing this feature and I believe that the ad simply re-uses the photo of the rear of the Yashicaflex B (new model). Tellingly, both ads above have arrows pointing to the baffles but there is no arrow on the Yashicaflex A (new model) ad.

Whilst an early Japanese ad confirms the availability of the Yashica 635 in Japan, I have not yet found any with metre focusing scales and/or with baffles. The 1958 Japanese brochure also shows the 635 with back open but unfortunately, with the 35 mm pressure plate fitted and obscuring the interior view. Unusually for the domestic market, the focus knob is in feet so perhaps metre scales and baffles are unlikely to have featured.

The Yashica D is interesting. It was released some 12 months after the Yashica-Mat. I have clear photos of two early ones with brown metalwork (serial numbers not visible on one and early lens number on the other) from Japanese sites and they have the same baffles as the Yashicaflexes and Yashica-Mat. Contributor Sandu Baciu has a third one with serial number 3812xxxx:

(Image courtesy of Sandu Baciu)

Two grey cameras which are probably a little more recent, with one sourced from Europe, have the more abbreviated baffles that look very similar to those fitted to the Yashica Mat-124G 10 years later. One of the grey cameras is owned by contributor, Leigh Harris. All five have metre focusing scales.

In summary, the first implementation of baffles for 66 models looks like an early Japanese domestic market feature for models with control wheels from around mid-1957 to perhaps 1960 for the Yashica D and somewhat earlier for the Yashica-Mat (due to the lack of domestic examples in my database, whether there were any or not), although with combined DIN/ASA film speed reminder scales, some Yashica-Mats and Yashica Ds with metre focusing scales were probably exported to Europe. It should be noted that whilst the common denominator is the metre focusing scale, it seems that the small number of Yashicaflex Bs (new model) with feet scales also have the baffles. However, the evidence suggests that these cameras were not intended for export (see “Yashicaflex B”).

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