How did I miss Yashica ML lenses???


These last few months have been a revelation to me as a Zeiss user - I have found a few lenses that match and sometimes beat my beloved Vario-Sonnars, Distagons, Planars, Sonnars and Apo-Sonnars...

My Yashica 24mm ML is better (sharper edge-to-edge and better contrast) than my Zeiss 25mm (both AE & MM), 100mm f3.5 Macro is as sharp as my Zeiss 100 (though not 1:1), the 28-50 f3.5 is in a class (and niche) of its own and that rarest of lenses, the ML 70-210 f4 is as sharp, evenly illuminated and built to the same quality as my VS 70-210 f3.5 (it only lacks the Zeiss' astonishing macro capability). The ML 50 f2 is one of the sharpest lenses I have used (and so cheap) and the ML 50 1.7 is close on the heels of the 50 1.4 Planar. The 55 2.8 macro is sharper than the Zeiss 60 C-Planar.

Oh yes, my Contax 645's Macro Planar - until now the sharpest macro lens made - has just been bested by a 40 year old M42 Yashinon Tomioka 60mm f2.8 - what a lens! And to think that back in 1977, I refused even to consider Yashica glass: Zeiss 28 f2, 35 1.4, 50 1.4, 85 1.4, 135 f2, 180 2.8, VS 70-210 - that was my standard kit along with 2 RTS' plus the PMD and 250 back so I could shoot gymnastics indoors under artificial light (no flash allowed for obvious reasons!). Fast Zeiss glass, a 5fps motor drive and bulk film in 250 frame cassettes...great days.

Wish I'd used some Yashica glass back then - it would have saved me a fortune, even if only 2 lenses were as fast as the Zeiss primes.


Ho biggles3,

Kyocera offered the Yshical line as a cheap entry level into the Yashica/Contax RTS mount system. So you could start cheap without loosing money when upgrading the body to a Contax or add new lenses from Zeiss.

Yashica lenses are not bad per se, but in general the Zeiss Contax lenses outperforms them in most situations.

If you want to have an excellent analogue camera for your system I would recommend you the Yashica FX Super 2000. I have this one still today with a zeiss 50/1.7MM. This is a kind of cheap Contax S2. Plastic, but all manual, very realiable and second hand around 40 Euro in mint condition.

Best wishes


Happy New Year Dirk,
You are quite right about the little FX-3 Super - it's a very reliable beast. Of course, the FX-3 shutter is well known to early Contax users as it was used in the Preview, before it appeared in the Yashica camera. The very rare Preview II switched to the shutter used by the S2/S2b. I sometimes used to take out my 55 1.2 Planar on the FX-3 Super but with that combination, unlike the S2b, I had to take a variable ND filter because of the limited top shutter speed. I like my ML 55 1.2 but the Zeiss is in a different league altogether but at 6 times the cost, so it should be! Perhaps, of all the Yashica ML lenses, the surprise is the 35mm - I forgot to mention it in my original post; it obliterates its Zeiss cousin in definition and contrast. It is probably the most undervalued ML lens, although I think the word is out as its second-hand prices are rising...

As you say, the Yashica range was designed as a cheap way into the Contax Real Time System but it had so many gems hidden within it - it has taken a while, but at last they're earning recognition for their qualities. And I've just bought a ML zoom I've never tried - the 75-150 f4 and looking on the internet, it seems this is another top performer...