Updated: Mar 24
Today we're going to be talking about an underrated M42 lens that costs practically nothing, & that lens is the Yashica Yashinon-DS 50mm F1.4
When people talk about the fast '50s, they're usually talking about Takumar's & Carl Zeiss which are fantastic lenses, without a doubt, but they're also usually ridiculously priced.
The Yashica is a thing of beauty, it looks nice, it has a decent focus throw and has a nice but subtle click to the aperture ring. It's a little on the hefty side weighing in at 298g, but it isn't unbearable.
Yes, there's no multicoating and yes if you're shooting in direct sunlight without a hood, you'll get wild flares, but this isn't a deal-breaker for me, I quite like some flare depending on how it's managed. I think it adds some, well, flare to the overall look (Pun intended)
Wide-open at 1.4, this lens is centre sharp but drops off softly in the corners, the Bokah from this lens is also wonderful and soft.
Just look at this image that was taken with this lens wide open at F1.4 and shot in direct sunlight and come to your own decision
(Do you see what I mean when I refer to wild flares wide open?)
Yes, this lens isn't going to give you the same sharpness as say a modern Canon EF 50mm F1.4, but if you use vintage lenses, you know full well that that isn't the reason that we use them in today's modern world. We use them because of the character that they hold and the colour rendering, and well just because we enjoy vintage lenses.
However now we've talked about how it handles images wide open, let's talk about how it handles images when stopped down slightly and you're not shooting into direct sunlight as this is a completely different ball game and the colours are absolutely mesmerizing!
Just look at this image, if my memory serves me correctly, this was stopped down to F4 or F5.6
The colours just pop and jump out at you, and that bokeh is something of beauty.
Everyone in the vintage lens world is always talking about the Helios 44-2 for its Bokeh (If somehow you don't know about the Helios, it swirls the background to give what people call "the dream look") personally I'm not a fan and I'd take the bokeh that the Yashica produces over the swirled helios any day of the week
This lens comes in an M42 mount and overall I love it. All of the test shots you see above were shot with the lens adapted to a Canon EOS 1Ds Mkii Full Frame camera. There are also 0 issues with mirror clearance, which is always nice.
The focus ring is massive and really nice to use. Perfect for focus pulls! The aperture ring is a little close to the camera at the back of the lens, but you soon get used to it. It nicely clicks into each different f/stop, which is great.
The image is quite soft wide open but in a beautiful way. But gets more contrasty the more you stop down. The bokeh is beautiful too, and shooting in low light is an absolute dream, you can keep your ISO very low and get a lovely noise-free image.
I highly recommend this lens
The price is also a massive bonus when it comes to the deciding factor about purchasing this lens.
You can purchase this lens from our site for less than £81 which in my opinion is fantastic for such a fast lens with such character.