Japan: YASHICA: 1960-1994:

Yashima Precision Works was founded in 1945. Their first cameras were TLRs, Twin eyed Lens Reflex cameras. They changed name to Yashicas in 1957. Their first PP SLR, the Pentamatic, was introduced in 1959 and market ready from 1960.  It had a proprietary lens mount. Smaller producers with their special mounts found it difficult to grow as the market was dominated by the big ones. The answer for many of them was to adopt the Praktica/Pentax M42 mount, giving access to an ocean of lenses. So, Yashica too followed that path for their coming SLRs. After the small but influential Zunow Optical Industry went bankrupt around 1960, Yashica acquired the assets and could improve their lenses with Zunow technology, highly praised during the 50's. In fact, it was close partner Tomioka Optical Works that produced the lenses for Yashica, and in 1968 Yashica took over Tomioka. During the 60s Yashica was building a name as quality camera and lens producerer. Most of all, they developed a position within electronics. This led to the TL Electro X in 1968, a heavy but popular camera that was produced till 1974.

In 1972/73, Yashica started a cooperation with West-German Carl Zeiss company, and in 1975 they introduced the Contax RTS. It was a success, especially as Yashica also was given the possibility of using and developing Carl Zeiss optics for Contax and Yashica cameras. In 1983 the ceramic producer Kyocera took over Yashica/Contax and went on producing both brands. But during the 80s, sales were falling and Kyocera stopped producing Yashica PP SLRs in 1994. Kyocera/Contax would go on for another 11 years.

1960: Pentamatic:

Yashicas first PP SLR, the Pentamatic, presented 1i 1959, for sale from 1960. S/n: 66004691.
A foldable rewind crank inside the flash socket.

1966: Yashica TL-Super :

The TL-Super from 1966 was Yashicas first TTL camera, and became quite popular. S/N: 8727351.
Auto Yashinon DX 50/1,7 lens. A dent on the outer ring. Sn. 5719275.
A clean and simple layout with everything where you expect to find it.

1972: Yashica TL-Electro:

Yashica was the first camera with electronic light metering. A CdS meter (average) gave impulses via transistor circuit cards to red lamps in the viewer showing over/under exposure. This is a TL Electro for 1972, the simplified edition of the popular TL Electro-X from 1968. Sn. 70301376.
Auto Yashinon DS 50/1,9.
Just like the TL-Super of 1966.

1975: Contax RTS:

As West German brands, one after the other, had to give in in the battle against the Japanese wave, some looked to the east for production. The former giant Zeiss Ikon produced their last PP SLR camera in 1972. But they didn't quite give up. They admitted that if you cannot beat them, join them.
So, Zeiss went eastwards, all the way to Japan to cooperate. They chose Yashica as partner. 

From 1975, a new Contax was born, the RTS produced by Yashica. Lenses wore the name of Zeiss, Yashinon or Yashica, depending on the price tag.

Yashica also made other Contaxes than the RTS, the flagship. 

In 1983, Yashica was taken over by Kyocera. That was just before autofocus SLRs entered the scene, and Contax/Yashica did not manage to stand out among the few SLR camera producers still alive. But good quality cameras were still produced, including RTS II and III, diiferent versions of 137, 139, 159 and 167-models. Then ST, S2, S2b, RX with focus assistance, AX (1996, AF, but not successful), Aria and lastly the RX II in 2002. Contax never made it into the digital era, and Kyocera stopped camera production in 2005.

This Contax RTS II Quartz was introduced in 1982, seven years after the first RTS. The exterior wasn't changed much. A few details only. Some of the improvements inside were: quartz timing, horisontal titanium-foil shutter curtain, 97% viewfinder (up from 92% on the RTS I) Sn. 177457.
As Yashica shared the same mount as Carl Zeiss, lenses could be mixed. Here a Yashica ML 50/1,7.
Shutter time dial to the left. Unusual. ISO settings to the right, where shutter times usually are found. But lay out was close to the trendsetting Asahi Pentax of 1975!
RTS II of 1982.

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26.06 | 23:01

The Spotmatic II was produced from 72 till 76. Spotmatic F from 1973 had s.n. 46xxxxx. Sn 51xxxxx may date to 74-75. No Pentax sn lists are available.

26.06 | 16:40

I heva a SP II sn 5117678. Do you know when it was made? Year? Thanks

28.03 | 10:32

Thank you for the comment!

27.03 | 21:31

Great article. Lots of good information. Thank you.

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