I got this little gem a couple of years ago and have recently picked it up again.This scale focus 35mm relatively compact camera looks strikingly like Haking’s Halina Super 35X and one can guess who influenced who. But how does this early 60’s compact measure up ?
It is dinky when you compare to the likes of 1960 rivals cameras like the Fujica 35 Automagic or 35 Auto-M but is more dated in styling looking clearly like a 50’s camera. It was made by Yamato Kōki Kōgyō, one of several Japanese manufacturers who confusingly used the Yamato name. This company vanished within years of the Pal Jr being made.
Worth noting a Box Camera was also called Pal Jr was made in the US by Metropolitan Industries in the 1930’s.
Yamato Pal Jr Specs
- Lens: Anastigmat 45mm 1:3.5
- Focus: Scale
- Metering: None
- Aperture : f/3.5-16
- Shutter: 1/25-1/300 + B*
- EV (100) : ~8.5- ~16.3 ¹
- Filter-Thread: none
* 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 & 1/300 ¹ approx as non standard shutter speed
So what you get is a scale focus compact with Manual non metered exposure. You set exposure by shutter and aperture rings around the lens. The camera shows its 50’s roots with shutter speeds based around 1/100 (funnily goes 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and then leaps to 1/300 1½ stops faster than 1/100). The camera is self cocking but you have to set the film count to zero. The whole back detaches again a 50’s feature. A handy film speed reminder sits up top and there is a cable release thread point. The camera has PC sync and a cold shoe for flash.
The problem for this camera was not only was it dated stylistically but within a short space of time technologically. Even by the late 50’s coupled metering was starting to appear with things like the Fujica 35 Automagic and was derigeur for Japanese compacts by the mid 60’s. But let us leave that aside as it doesn’t really matter to the vintage camera collector.
Nice camera in use. Couple of practical issues however. The 1½ stops change between 1/100 and 1/300 is a a wee bit of a pain. Another issue is that mines doesn’t really like films longer than 24 exp and starts to tear and jump. I’ve had the same with later BelOMO Vilia & Siluet Elektro and the same solution works for all. If you gently every so often wind off the tension on the film canister side by turning the rewind knob the other way. The action of the individual rings on mines are smooth and both feet and metres are given but unlike the Super 35X there is no Depth of Field Scale.
And oddly shot wise it is like the Halina. Mines has a Luminor Anastigmat lens but others had other lens labels like Yamaron or Color Luna. The anastigmat lens has the same foibles as it does with the Halina. Better at near distances than long and the edge of the film plan tends to blur but not as bad as the do with the Halina. The lens is a bit soft too even at narrower apertures (scarily think the Super 35X might be just sharper). That said at even f/3.5 shots are useable as you can see from my mirror selfie.
Quirky small shooter from 1960 but really is from a few years earlier. Not the sharpest camera you’ll ever hold nor the worst. If retro styling manual shooting fun is your game, might be worth a look.
Why Buy ?
- Retro styling
Why not ?
- Not the best lens
- Odd shutter speeds
What I Paid & current eBay Pricing
- Paid £5 + £2.50 P&P camera only
- Only 2 listed as selling under Pax Jr 99p & £4.99 with cases
- Ilford Sportsman – Late 50’s British (Ahem.. German made) Rival
- Halina Super 35X – Odd similar..can’t think why
- Fujica 35 Automagic – late 50’s metered – shape of things to come
- Pax Jr page at camera-wiki.org
- Pax Jr on Sylvain Halgand’s site (French)
- Another Review on John Margetts blog