Yamato Pal Jr/Pax Jr Review : One foot in the 50’s and another the 60’s

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 ?

Yamato Pal Jr
Yamato Pal Jr 35mm Japanese camera from 1960

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.

'Atta Girl
Kingsmoor 2013. Yamato Pal Jr with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 400

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.

Moffat Post Office
Moffat Post Office, 2014. Yamato Pal Jr with Kodak Ektar (100 ISO)

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.

Using this week's delivery
Selfie sho, 2013. Yamato Pal Jr with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 400 taken at f/3.5 with 1/50

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.

Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle, 2014. Yamato Pal Jr with Kodak Ektar (100 ISO). Note soft at distance

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.

Painting III
2013. Yamato Pal Jr with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 400 taken at f/4 with 1/50sec

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 ?

  • Compact
  • 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

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One thought on “Yamato Pal Jr/Pax Jr Review : One foot in the 50’s and another the 60’s”

  1. Hey
    I just picked up one of these ( Pal Jnr) from ebay for £4.99 and it’s in excellent condition, I have just got back into Film as I used to do all my own Developing and Printing way back in the day when I had a Darkroom. I have found a few articles on the net about this camera but there is not much else. The first photo you posted looks pretty stunning and the colors look nice a vivid, I have just bought a load of film ( Black and White) and will be trying mine out over the coming months.
    Thanks for posting this up

    regards

    Chris

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