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Zeiss V Yashica ML lenses anyone got any info tests etc

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi all,
I would like any information at all about the Yashica ML lenses, particularly how they compare to Zeiss, any particularly good or bad ML lenses and does anyone have any websites or test sites with Yashica ML info?
thanks in advance, Steve.
 

gunteach

Well-Known Member
Steve,

I personally now own and have used the following Yashica lenses quite a bit in the ML/MC line:

Primes:

24/2.8 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/2, 135/2.8 (compact version) and 200/4. I like them all, but LOVE the 24mm. I have no Zeiss equivalent to test it against however.

All of these have been very good when compared to my Zeiss lenses of the same focal length, with the exception being the 50/2, which has, in my opinion, neither the build quality of the Zeiss 50/1.7 or 1.4, nor quite the "pop" of either of the Zeiss normals. Across the board, to my eye, the Zeiss lenses seem to render scenes a little warmer than the Yashicas (red is vibrant), but the Yashicas are perfectly acceptable. Generally from what I have read on Cees DeGroot's pages and others, the 28, 35, 135 (in the latest compact version) and the 200 are their best efforts and my experience would seem to bear this out. Generally, except for color rendition, I have to admit I get pretty much the same results with these four lenses as I do with the Zeiss equivalents. By the way, the 200mm is much smaller and lighter than my Zeiss 200/3.5 Tele-Tessar.

I'd like to say that sharpness-wise there is a huge difference to my eye between them, having paid much more for the Zeiss units, but to me there just isn't in the shots I take. However, I get a much higher percentage of shots that make me smile and sort of get lost in the image from the Zeiss lenses and I really can't put my finger on a qualitative difference except that I simply prefer the colors.

In zooms I have the Yashica 28-85, the 35-70, a 35-105, a 75-150, a 75-200 and an 80-200.

The 28-85 is pretty sharp for a zoom, and running it head to head against my CZ 28-85 I find it to be much smaller and lighter, has only a little more distortion at 28 than the Zeiss unit, and costs $50 used rather than $500. It can flare a bit at the wide angle end as well and is a "cold" lens color-wise compared to the CZ (same shooting session, same light and subjects, same camera body, same film, lenses changed mid-roll in comparison shoots to eliminate variables.) My take on this one is that if you are trying to replace a couple of primes and quality really matters, take the CZ with you and put up with the weight. If you are just in need of a "walking around" zoom lens for a variety of shots in non-challenging light, or think your gear might be at risk in a hostile environment, put the Yashica unit on an inexpensive body and don't worry about it.

I have nothing to compare it to since I don't own the Zeiss equivalent, but the 35-105/3.5 Yashica I have is one neat little lens, emphasis on little. It has a very useful range of focal lengths and my shots with it have all been pretty sharp. I think I paid less than $50 for it on e-bay and have more than gotten my money's worth out of it. I understand that the Zeiss 35-105 is a fantastic lens but is HUGE and is not cheap.

Along the same lines, the little Yashica 35-70 seems like an okay lens and costs almost nothing. In practice however, I always seem to wish that the wide end was just a tad wider. Also this lens does not seem to have quite the build quality of the 35-105, and I have broken two in normal use (aperature problems). Again, I have no Zeiss equivalent to compare it to. I did have a couple of Zeiss 28-70's, which seemed sharper than this particular lens from Yashica and made pictures with colors I really liked. I let them go because I got the 28-85 Zeiss, and the 28-70 is a two-touch and I had no other two-touch zooms. For a light zoom, I probably should have kept one of them!

I've not used the 75-150 much except for informal portraits outdoors. I've always used it wide open and the results are pleasing. I've never gone any bigger than an 8x10 print from this lens.

The 75-200 seems only a so-so piece of glass, and a bit slow at f/4.5 maximum aperature. I've had a few of these and they didn't seem as sharp as the CZ 80-200 zoom. It's not really any smaller than the Yashica 80-200 which at f/4 provides a little brighter focusing. I like the 80-200 Yashica in that it gives very similar results to my CZ 80-200 f/4, again with the exception of what I perceive to be warmer tones in color shots featuring oranges, reds, and white skin. It's also a $50 lens on e-bay.

One thing you should keep in mind is that there have been several versions of some of the Yashica ML and MC lenses, normally getting better in later variants. This is addressed on some of the web pages, most of which link off of
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.

I know this is a long post, sort of subjective and maybe not what you wanted, but I hope some of my impressions help. The bottom line is that when I am shooting to produce something I will look at over and over again, and where color matters to me, I will take the Zeiss lenses every time and I am glad I own them. They are a joy to shoot with.

On the other hand, my twelve Yashica lenses listed above all sit in the same cardboard box ready for action. They are what I started with or used to establish which Zeiss focal lengths I really wanted, and all of them collectively cost me less than $500.00. They do their jobs very well, are frequently loaned out to others, take great B&W shots, and are trotted out for shooting high school football games, swim meets, and action pistol matches where flying bodies, flying water, and flying lead could all be a problem. If one of them bites the dust in the line of duty, I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over it. Of course, other's opinions and results may vary.

Tom
 
D

djg

I'm always wondering why in so many lens comparisons and discussions, all people ever mention is sharpness. Obviously it is a most important quality, but to me there's quite a bit more to a lens than corner to corner sharpness, such as color rendition and saturation, contrast, and behaviour under severe backlight conditions.

As you clearly point out, Tom, Zeiss (and Leica) lenses have something that often goes beyond good sharpness and hard to pin down, and it works out to those other qualities.
 

gunteach

Well-Known Member
DJ,

Your comment made me think of something important that I left out of my original post. Across the board, most of the Yashica lenses I own (and the aftermarket lenses as well) seem to be less contrasty than my Zeiss lenses. Thanks for jogging my memory!

You know, I've actually tried to see if my Zeiss preference was just a psychological thing, so I recently had a guy who works for me who is reasonably competent with a camera shoot two test rolls of film for me using a Contax 167MT. All shots were made in the aperature preferred mode with aperature set to produce a hand-holdable shutter speed with ISO 200 film. Beyond that, all he did was focus the camera. The only other variable was that he switched back and forth between my Zeiss and our Yashica lenses. As is our custom as investigators, he logged each shot in his memo book, but did not share with me this information. He shot print film and got standard drug store processing. I went through the two rolls and was able to pick with no errors the shots made with the Zeiss lenses and those made with the Yashica lenses. The difference was NOT sharpness, it was the other factors you noted.

I'm actually scared to take a picture with a Leica lens, or rather scared that I will like the results as well or better than my Zeiss glass and be hooked. That Leica glass is some spendy stuff!
 
D

djg

Unless you're really wealthy, or live and breath photography and can afford them, I don't think Leica glass is worth spending three times more than a Zeiss equivalent. Having said that, I do have the Leica 100mm 2.8 APO Macro and the 21-35mm Asph lenses, and love them. The 100 I got used through the FM forum, and the 21-35 I got for about 33% off new from a German dealer on eBay. They blend nicely with the other Zeiss siblings in my camera bag, next to the EOS 1DsII body
.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Just to answer Steve, as he needs some sites with both Zeiss and Yashica lenses info.
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
I do find the data from this site reliable. It provides good reference to decide which lens you are going to get.

Leica glasses are certainly a welcomed addition to Zeiss collection. One ex&le is the focal length 75mm at f1.4 or f2. This focal length is only covered by Zooms in Zeiss, which means that you don't have f2. With Zeiss 85mm at 1 meter, you will get a head only shot, Zeiss 85 only goes down to 1 meter. If you use Leica 75mm at f2, subject being at 0.9 meter, you get a nice blurr of the background. The perspective at 0.9 m is such that it renders the cheek bigger than the perspective at 1 m. I do find the images from my 75mm having a younger look than those from 85 or 90mm. One ex&le of Zeiss glass which covers 75mm at 0.9m is 35-70, for this lens I only like to use it at f5.6. Focusing with this lens is not easy.

Zeiss is a bit not good enough in low light and for Leica, they are expert. Although I don't own Leica 50mm 1.4 or 35mm 1.4, I know they are much better than Zeiss equivalent. Even the new Zeiss M mount lens 35 f2 is not as good as Leica at f2, I mean the aspheric version.
I do find in general Leica has a superior performance to Zeiss in low light. Perhaps there are exceptions to this rule. I should like to left behind a question for others to answer as I don't know the answer.

How is the performance of Zeiss 55 1.2 at 1.2 or 1.4 compared to Leica ?
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
It is important to consider the differences between the M mount Leica glass as opposed to the R mount optics. In general both perform well in low light, but the M lenses are, in general, superior at certain things. For ex&le the M 35/1.4 ASPH is a ch&ion lens for low light work wide open. Being mounted to a rangefinder M eliminates any mirror vibration and enhances the use of slower shutter speeds in conjunction with wide apertures. End result is better photos in those available lighting situations where an SLR would be 1) harder to focus, and 2 )harder to hold steady.

Each of the different versions of M lenses is coveted for certain characteristics. For ex&le, the newer M 50/1.4 ASPH is a controversial improvement for some Leica lovers. For some, the new lens is harsher in character, with the older version feeling more "buttery". For others the new lens is sharp as it gets and that's their criteria. I have and use the older one which pretty much corresponds to the 50/1.4 R lens I also use. In contrast, the Zeiss N 50/1.4 exhibits horrible Bokeh IMO. I have not used the C/Y 50/1.4 version, so have no opinion on it.

As far as Leica R verses Zeiss SLR equivalents, I'd say the N85/1.4 is superior to the Leica 80/1.4R. The N Bokeh seems nicer by a small margin, but the in-focus areas of the N lens seem sharper ... which contributes to more contrast between the subject and background. On the other hand, the newer Leica R 90/2 APO/ASPH seems superior to both in those same criteria.... and exhibits an even more 3D quality when shot wide open.

A final thought (especially for DJ), Leica glass has gone through interesting configurations over many years. The newer lenses are indeed mondo expensive and one does wonder if they are worth the premium. If you shoot B&W film the reason becomes clearer IMO. The concept of Micro Contrast becomes more apparent with Tri-X for ex&le. The real key is understanding the historical Leica lenses and the characteristics of rendering beautiful images that are most pleasing to the eye, but are some 30 years old or older. The old SL vintage R 50/2 is an unequaled
optic for it's particular way of rendering light. It can be had for under $500. and murders newer versions and most other 50mm from anyone at any time. Same for the under-appreciated 35/2.8R of the same era. These lenses would be cost prohibitive if they tried to duplicate the look and feel of them today. Both work on the 1DsMKII DJ. Another ex&le is the Canon 50/1.4 which is a decent lens, but mounted to the 1DsMKII is out performed by the Leica R 50/1.4 which costs about $200. more used. It's a $200. well spent.

Still, to this day, my biggest lament has been that Contax/Zeiss never produced a 35/1.4 in the N mount. This is my mainstay focal length, and to have it missing from the N kit is a real shame.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
It is important to consider the differences between the M mount Leica glass as opposed to the R mount optics. In general both perform well in low light, but the M lenses are, in general, superior at certain things. For ex&le the M 35/1.4 ASPH is a ch&ion lens for low light work wide open. Being mounted to a rangefinder M eliminates any mirror vibration and enhances the use of slower shutter speeds in conjunction with wide apertures. End result is better photos in those available lighting situations where an SLR would be 1) harder to focus, and 2 )harder to hold steady.

Each of the different versions of M lenses is coveted for certain characteristics. For ex&le, the newer M 50/1.4 ASPH is a controversial improvement for some Leica lovers. For some, the new lens is harsher in character, with the older version feeling more "buttery". For others the new lens is sharp as it gets and that's their criteria. I have and use the older one which pretty much corresponds to the 50/1.4 R lens I also use. In contrast, the Zeiss N 50/1.4 exhibits horrible Bokeh IMO. I have not used the C/Y 50/1.4 version, so have no opinion on it.

As far as Leica R verses Zeiss SLR equivalents, I'd say the N85/1.4 is superior to the Leica 80/1.4R. The N Bokeh seems nicer by a small margin, but the in-focus areas of the N lens seem sharper ... which contributes to more contrast between the subject and background. On the other hand, the newer Leica R 90/2 APO/ASPH seems superior to both in those same criteria.... and exhibits an even more 3D quality when shot wide open.

A final thought (especially for DJ), Leica glass has gone through interesting configurations over many years. The newer lenses are indeed mondo expensive and one does wonder if they are worth the premium. If you shoot B&W film the reason becomes clearer IMO. The concept of Micro Contrast becomes more apparent with Tri-X for ex&le. The real key is understanding the historical Leica lenses and the characteristics of rendering beautiful images that are most pleasing to the eye, but are some 30 years old or older. The old SL vintage R 50/2 is an unequaled
optic for it's particular way of rendering light. It can be had for under $500. and murders newer versions and most other 50mm from anyone at any time. Same for the under-appreciated 35/2.8R of the same era. These lenses would be cost prohibitive if they tried to duplicate the look and feel of them today. Both work on the 1DsMKII DJ. Another ex&le is the Canon 50/1.4 which is a decent lens, but mounted to the 1DsMKII is out performed by the Leica R 50/1.4 which costs about $200. more used. It's a $200. well spent.

Still, to this day, my biggest lament has been that Contax/Zeiss never produced a 35/1.4 in the N mount. This is my mainstay focal length, and to have it missing from the N kit is a real shame.
 
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