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1953: Pax Golden View

In 1952, Yamoto Koki Kogyo in Tokyo launched the Pax 35, a 35mm coupled rangefinder camera that looked and handled a lot like a Leica, except that it was only about two-thirds the size. Today, it’s a neat little camera that is fairly easy to find. Rarer, and a lot more desirable, is this deluxe version launched the following year.


Where the original Pax has black leatherette covering, the Golden View has red or green; where the original body and lens barrel has chrome metal fittings, the Golden View boasts yellow metal plating that looks convincingly like gold. Both cameras have similar specifications.


The Pax Golden View

A rangefinder window sits beside the viewfinder and is coupled to the Luminor Anastigmat lens which focuses from 3 feet to infinity. Its apertures run f/3.5-f/16. Like a Leica, the lens is focused by a small rotating arm that protrudes from the side; unlike a Leica, the lens is fixed and cannot be interchanged. The shutter, with speeds of 1/10-1/300 second, needs to be tensioned by a lever at the top of the lens before firing. Film wind is by a knob, and loading, via a removable back, is a lot easier than with a base-load Leica.


Throughout the 1950s, the Yamoto company continued to improve on the original Pax. Just as the first cameras resembled smaller versions of Leica screw lens cameras, so later models, made up to 1958, took on the look of Leica’s M series that had been introduced in 1954. They were all good cameras, but none of the later cameras ever matched the luxury look of the Golden View.


Inside the gold version of the Pax.

The original model of the camera

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