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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  • natums says:

    I love my ML f/1.9 also. Have you compared it to the ML 50mm f/1.7?

    It is supposed to be measurably sharper on the wider aperture and can be had pretty cheap. I got one coming my way any day now and I’m excited to compare it.

  • admin says:

    I have most ML fifties including 2.0, 1.9, 1.7 and 1.4. Of those, I like the 1.4 version the most, followed by the slower 2.0 and 1.9 counterparts (because of their character and drawing). The 1.7 version might be sharper, but it does not have the bokeh “swirls”, and that was what I was after.

  • pierrerios says:

    What do you think about yashica 55mm 1.2?

  • admin says:

    Don’t have one (too expensive). Supposed to be a really nice one. http://forum.mflenses.com/viewtopic.php?t=25793&view=next


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