Yashica ML 50/1.9
For some time, I was trying to find a ‘perfect’ fast normal lens. Goal: it has to provide that characteristic ‘swirly’ bokeh that Biotar, Helios-44, Helios-77 and other Planar-type lenses have.
#1 This kind of bokeh (Yashica ML 50/1.9 at f/1.9):
However, I didn’t want the dramatic decrease of resolution towards the edges, and required much better coatings so that I could shoot into the light.
#2 Wide open, contra light. See the flare?
#3 I wanted this kind of contrast; f/4
Out of many, many 50-55mm lenses that I tried, Yashica was the closest bet. I respect sheer resolution provided by Takumar 55/2, adore rendering and coatings of SMC Takumar 50/1.4, and still use Helios-44 and 77 for occasional portraits. Volna-9 and Industar-61 have their own strengths, but they’re too slow at ‘just’ 2.8. Yashicas seemed to be the only lenses that were more or less modern and still having that ‘swirly’ look.
#4, 5 Wide open
First, I tried Yashica DSB 50/1.9 in C/Y mount. It’s OK, but its coatings leave much to be desired (I couldn’t use it as an all-purpose walkabout lens). Then, I tried an even older DS 50/1.9 in M42 mount, and it was even worse: weaker coatings, weird colors, fast resolution falloff towards the edges. I didn’t want another Helios-44 in Japanese disguise.
So finally I received this Yashica ML 50/1.9 in mint condition. Despite of what’s said about the lens, it’s a very good (even if not the best) performer. Stopped down to f/4, it’s almost as sharp as my better lenses, and by f/8 it’s Tak-sharp.
#6 Tak sharp f/8
Wide open, however, while acceptably sharp, it’s no competition to my Takumar 55/2. Coatings are very good already, maintaining good contrast in contra light just fine, but not keeping up with side flares. In this respect, no comparison to SMC Takumar 50/1.4. Resolution is relatively even across the frame – and that’s on a 21MP full-frame body. CA and purple fringing are non-existent.
#7 Sheer resolution f/5.6
Its weaker point is vignetting wide-open and at 2.8. It goes away by f/4.
#8 Vignetting – wide open (I know, I know, no one shoots landscapes wide open, but…)
Am I satisfied with what I found? Well, I guess a Zeiss normal lens would be much better, but for $20 I paid for it I can just as well shut up and use the thing.
#9, 10 Sunset colors f/5.6
#11 The end
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