Yashica Timeline

  1. The Company, Prior to Cameras

    December, 1949

    Yashima Seiki Co., LTD is formed by Yoshimasa Ushiyama and located in Suwa Lakeside City, Nagano Japan, approximately 107 miles / 173 km W-NW of Tokyo. With an initial investment of $566, and 8 total employees, the company begins manufacturing component parts for electric clocks.

  2. The First Non-Yashica Camera

    June, 1953

    Expanding beyond their manufacturing of clock components into photographic hardware will bring about a name change to "Yashima Optical Industry Company Ltd.". This is followed by the release of the company's first 'Yashima' branded camera - A medium format TLR, named the PigeonFlex. The camera was made for and marketed by Endō Photographic Supplies, to be sold in their camera stores.

  3. The Birth of Yashica Cameras

    October, 1954

    Yashica released their own branded Yashicaflex A series of TLR's. These were exported for resale, and introduced the Yashica brand of cameras worldwide.

  4. Yashica in the U.S.A.

    August, 1957

    The company establishes a new entity as "Yashica, Inc." in the borough of Queens in New York City, to form it's exclusive US service and sales management company.

  5. 8MM Movie Cameras

    September, 1957

    Yashica introduced the world's first turreted 8mm movie camera as the dual lens 8T-2 model. As a low cost camera with an advanced versatility over it's rivals, it ushers in the amateur movie making boom. The 8T-2 was soon followed by the 8-E III with a further advanced 3-lens turret system.

  6. Their First 35mm Rangefinder

    April, 1958

    The first Yashica rangefinder camera in the 35mm film cartridge format is released. With it's clean lines and uncluttered controls, it's simply named the Yashica 35.

  7. Yashica... the Company

    September, 1958

    A name change to Yashica Co. Ltd is made, as the company continues to grow in size and product scope. Yashica's workforce hits a new high, with 1,982 worldwide employees.

  8. The 35mm Pentamatic SLR

    November, 1958

    The 35mm camera line expands with the production of the Pentamatic as Yashica's first Single Lens Reflex camera, and is introduced with a modest line of interchangable lenses. This roughly coincides with the acquisition and merger with the Tokyo-based Nicca Camera Co., LTD.

  9. Yashica... International

    September, 1959

    The company establishes "Yashica International Corporation" to manage the ever-increasing number of overseas branches, and their expanding worldwide dealer network.

  10. The Pentamatic II

    August, 1960

    The Pentamatic II goes into production, but is only sold in Japan. It is dropped from production in January of 1961, with less than 6,000 units made.

  11. Zunow Acquired - Pentamatic S is born

    January, 1961

    Yashica acquired the assets of Zunow Optical Industry Co. Ltd., after it's bankruptcy. This includes all of their optical products and designs, their 35mm still camera line, along with the 8mm cine/movie line of cameras and lenses. The Pentamatic S SLR model begins production.

  12. Yashica in Europe

    August, 1961

    "Yashica Europe GmbH" is established in Hamburg Germany to oversee the European sales and service operations for Yashica's growing line of products.

  13. Pentamatics Replaced by the Penta J

    (Late) 1961

    After a lifetime production run of an estimated 30,000 units, all of the Pentamatic models cease production and are replaced by the Penta J series of cameras. The proprietary bayonet mount of the Pentamatic is retired in favor of the 'Universal' M42 Screw Mount used on the Penta J's, which now includes an expanded lineup of new lenses.

  14. The First Electro 35

    December, 1965

    The worlds first electronic camera is introduced, and the Yashica Electro 35 rangefinder family is born. They go on to sell over 3 Million cameras in their first 10 years, with a lifetime production total of 8 Million units.

  15. Tomioka Acquired

    (?), 1968

    Yashica acquires it's long-time primary lens and lens glass supplier, Tomioka Optical. They are later absorbed into the Kyocera-owned company, as Kyocera Optical, and were the only surviving division after Yashica's demise in 2005.

  16. TL Electro X Introduction

    September, 1968

    The first Yashica TL Electro X camera enters the market. It's the World's first 35mm SLR with solid-state electronic exposure metering, and also features a vertical traveling and metal-bladed "Square EE" focal plane shutter, made by Copal.

  17. Yashica Teams Up With Zeiss

    (?), 1973

    Reminiscent of the parternship between Leitz and Minolta with their Leica CL Project, Yashica begins their collaboration with Germany's Carl Zeiss AG, which would soon produce camera bodies incorporating a new 'C/Y' CONTAX/Yashica bayonet Mount. These will be released under both the Yashica and CONTAX brand names.

    This will also lead to the introduction of a line of premium lenses produced under the "Zeiss T*" designation, and will all feature a newly developed Anti-Reflective (AR) coating. Alongside the Zeiss lenses, Yashica will produce their own branded lenses paired with the common lens mount.

  18. The CONTAX RTS is Born

    September, 1974

    Yashica introduces the CONTAX RTS camera at Photokina in Cologne, Germany. The new flagship body becomes the base platform for mounting the new line of Carl Zeiss T* lenses. The modernized body is designed by the F. Alexander Porsche Group, and incorporates the worlds first electro-magnetic shutter actuation system. It will support a large number of advanced accessories aimed squarely at the professional photographers market, and will become Yashica's first 'System Camera'.

    Rumblings turn to news stories, as the NY Times soon announces allegations of mismanagement and irregularities in the balance sheet. Plant closings and consolidations begin, and employment levels were slated to be cut from 2,246 to about 1,300.

  19. Yashica Fx-1 and Yashica C/Y Lenses

    June, 1975

    The FX-1 Yashica body follows the RTS as the first Yashica branded camera body that shares the C/Y mount from the CONTAX and Zeiss lines. This also marks the introduction of Yashica branded lenses in the same mount under the DSB series (Single Coated), the ML series (Multi-Layered Coatings), and followed by the uncoated YUS lens series, which target US buyers as lower cost alternatives.

  20. FX Line Expands - FR Introduced

    June, 1976

    The Yashica FX-2 body follows the FX-1 to further expand the FX lineup, and a new FR body type is introduced as a close cousin to the CONTAX RTS. The FR offers a similar feature set, and uses several Yashica-branded interchangeable accessories from the RTS series.

  21. The FR Line Expands

    April, 1977

    The Yashica FR line is further expanded to include the FR-I and FR-II. The FR-I expands on the original FR, while the FR-II removes the manual exposure features to operate in auto-programming modes only.

  22. More FX Models

    October, 1979

    The FX line is extended again, with the addition of the FX-3. It is considered an entry level model that features non-automatic exposures modes only, and a mechanical shutter mechanism that lowers it's cost and simplifies it's operation with a basic feature set.

    The FX-3 will see updated models later appear as the FX-3 Super, with it's integrated body grip and new viewfinder 'ready light' for an attached flash, ending with the FX-3 Super 2000 with its increased top shutter speed of 1/2000. The FX-3 Super was only available with an all-black finish, but was soon available in chrome as the FX-7 Super.

  23. Autofocus SLR's at Photokina

    October, 1982

    Yashica shows two new auto focusing C/Y mount SLR prototypes behind closed doors at Photokina to select members of the press. Both models were based around the new Honeywell TCL focus-analyzing module to perceive the correct focus point. The Yashica branded FX-A model offered manual confirmation to alert the user when focus was achieved, while the CONTAX branded 137AF took it a step further to use the modified 137 MD's internal advance motor to power a post and gear driven focusing unit in modified Zeiss T* lenses.

    The Yashica FX-A's would only see a limited production of approximately 1000 units and were only distributed outside of Japan, while the CONTAX 137AF never went beyond the single prototype model briefly shown during the six days of Photokina. Zeiss management wasn't happy with the design or direction of the project, and pulled the plug on current development in using it's brands or components.

  24. Kyocera - New Ownership

    October, 1983

    Earlier financial troubles persist, and Yashica is acquired and merges with the Kyocera Corporation. Kyocera was started in 1959, in Kyoto, and was primarily a ceramics manufacturer. The contention is that Kyocera steps in to keep Yashica out of bankruptcy and to keep the company going at the behest of the Japanese government. Beyond 1983, all the Yashica camera and accessory brands - including the premium CONTAX and Zeiss lines - will continue to be marketed by Kyocera.

  25. New Cameras Under Kyocera

    March, 1985

    A new series of products were produced for both camera brands. They include the more compact Yashica FX-103 and Contax 159MM models. These are the first SLRs to use TTL flash, and both featured 3 fully programmed exposure modes.

    A new "MM" series of Carl Zeiss T* lenses were also introduced to make full use of the 'Multi-Mode' programming features incorporated into the newest CONTAX manual focus bodies produced from this point forward.

  26. Yashica / CONTAX Enter the AF Market

    February, 1986

    Increased competition in technologies forced Yashica to enter the Autofocus arena for both brand's SLR offerings, and will also include a number of budget-priced and premium point-and-shoot AF models beginning with the Yashica L AF and L AF-D. Market pressure and a bleeding balance sheet leads to a move of some production lines from Japan to Hong Kong.

    Many more Auto Focus models will follow, but the Yashica/Kyocera AF SLR's and the Contax N series will be the last full-frame 35mm SLR cameras produced by Yashica as a result of this shifting market space.

  27. Year of the 'Samurai'

    February, 1988

    The Yashica Samurai X3.0 is introduced, as the first 35mm SLR designed in a vertical orientation. It's a 'point-and-shoot' styled half-frame camera, and available in both left and right handed versions. It comes in red, green, and gold trimmed models, as well as basic black. A future variation will use 35mm APS film cartridges, as the Samurai 4000ix.

  28. Medium Format for CONTAX

    February, 1999

    The quality results seen by professional photographers with their use of the premium CONTAX and Zeiss gear brought about by the RTS series of System cameras, translates into a steady stream of requests for Yashica to bring out a medium format camera. Users get their wish, with the February 1999 release of the CONTAX 645 120/220 film family in Japan, and internationally in April.

    It builds upon the successes and inovations from the 35mm format, with a ceramic vacuum film back, in-lens AF-MF switching on a new line of motorized Zeiss T lenses, spot or center-weighted TTL metering, and a motorized transport to advance the film at 1.6 frames per second. A belated bonus for pros was the number of digital backs available from several providers to keep the 645 relavent over it's lifetime by expanding it beyond it's film heritage.

  29. The End of Yashica

    Apr. 12th, 2005

    Kyocera announces that it will immediately halt production on all CONTAX and Yashica branded 35mm products, and would later halt production and pending shipments of all CONTAX 645 cameras, lenses, and accessories by the end of the year. Manufacturer and factory authorized Yashica, CONTAX, and Kyocera photographic repairs, parts sales, and all other support programs are slated to end by 2015.

    Contrary to the announcement's declared closings, a few camera models find their way into the market under all 3 brands after 2005. They appear with no fanfare, and in some cases, are only available in limited markets.