Yamato Pax

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Yamato Pax

The Pax, also named Pax I and Pax 35, is the first 35mm camera made by Yamato Koki Kogyo. Earlier models seemed to have been borrowed from other manufacturers and were in Bolta format. There were two additional identical models, the gold-plated Pax Golden View and the Super Dan 35.

Yamato used the Pax for several other models, but they were not direct descendants of this model. Yamato also sold the Pax cameras under various names; see the table on Yamato’s page for more.

My camera is marked <EP>, meaning it was sold through the American Post Exchange – PX stores in post-war Japan. The Pax logo hints at that, with a capital P and X and a lowercase a, resembling the PX logo of the stores.

Leica was a well-respected brand since its inception in the 1930s. As such, manufacturers worldwide produced copies with varied success levels. Japanese makers made Leica clones shortly after the original introduction; most are still sought after.

This camera was Yamato’s take on the Leica style. It was a half-heart experiment, for lack of another term. At first glance, the camera resembles a Leica, but that is where it ends.

The body is smaller, so it looks as if it is still in a growing phase. The controls are on the lens barrel, using a leaf shutter rather than the focal plane on the Leica. I could be wrong, but all the Leica clones that use a focal plane shutters feature a full-size body.

The settings are self-explanatory; no manual is needed, and no batteries are required either. There are two windows at the back, one for the coupled rangefinder, which is too small to be practical. The other is a plain viewer, still tiny. This translates to three front panes: the round is the rangefinder, and the square is the viewer.

The top has the standard-size winder despite the camera’s tiny body. The winder does not cock the shutter. A rewind release hides next to it. The trigger has no thread for a remote release. To rewind, pull up the rewind button.

The focusing dial is mounted flash on the body, assisted by an ample finger rest and governed by two pins at both ends of the travel. Two Pax I cameras mentioned online had this ring stuck in place; mine is stuck, too. I will have to do a deep surgery later.

The next ring is the aperture setting, and the ring in front is the shutter speeds, typical at the time B, 1-200.

The winder does not cock the shutter. For that use the lever on top between the two dials. A synch port is at 5 o’clock at the front of the lens barrel.

The back comes off. The bottom has two machined disks that support the camera on a flat surface; one is threaded for mounting. A disk in the middle marked O & L easily turns and releases the back.

More on Yamato. and model list.

Camdex list number 10554
Brand Yamato
Model Pax I
Manual Butkus
Value Pax I
Pax Golden View
Super Dan 35
Format 35mm
Introduced 1952
AKA Pax 35
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price
Type Leica type RF
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 450 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 630 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range N/A
Kit lens 3.5/45
Lens make Luminar
Filter size 30mm slide on
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Trigger On top
Shutter make YKK-D
Light meter None
Winder Knob
Shutter cocking Lever on lens barrel
Lock No
Speeds B, 10-200
Mirror N/A
Viewer Rangefinder / viewfinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync M
Sync speed
Timer No
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See camerlog.com
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