The Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 can be a great vintage lens to use on your mirrorless camera.
Come see if it’s a good choice for you in this review.
What if you could buy a real classic, vintage lens to use with your mirrorless camera and not need to get an adapter for it?
You may or not know but, for the most part, most vintage lenses you use on your digital camera will need one. Every vintage lens I’d bought and used up to until now has.
But that was before I got the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7.
This lens is different, and the novelty in not needing an adapter was one of the things that attracted me to it. Now I’ve used it for a bit, I can tell you everything else I’ve learned about it too.
Important things such as all of this:
What camera is the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 from?
The Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 lens is from an old rangefinder camera known as the Yashica Electro 35.
Produced from 1966 to 1977, the line of cameras saw periodic upgrades through its lifespan. Some were merely cosmetic while some, such as the addition of a hot shoe, were actually useful.
The different suffixes on each model relate to the years they were produced and can tell you the upgrades the cameras had received at that point.
If you have the camera or the lens, or have your eye on one that you might buy, this information can help you figure out which era it’s from.
Whether it’s black or chrome is one big clue, and whether it says ‘Color-Yashinon’ or just ‘Yashinon’ on the front of the lens is another.
‘Color’ was added as a marketing ploy when colour film was becoming more widely available and makes no difference to the performance of the camera or lens.
It can, however, tell you if you have the first version. I had the choice of ‘Color’ or no ‘Color’ when I bought mine. As you can see in the pictures, I went for the older one.
|Yashica Electro 35||1966 - 1968||Chrome||no ‘Color’ on lens|
|Yashica Electro 35 G||1968 – 1970||Chrome||-|
|Yashica Electro 35 GT||1969 – 1973||Black||-|
|Yashica Electro 35 GS||1970 – 1973||Chrome||-|
|Yashica Electro 35 GTN||1973 – 1977||Black||with hot shoe|
|Yashica Electro 35 GSN||1973 – 1977||Chrome||with hot shoe|
Why doesn’t my Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 need an adapter?
When you buy vintage lenses to fit onto your digital camera body, you’re most likely buying ones that were designed to be interchangeable.
That’s not the case with the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7.
The Yashica Electro 35 was a fixed lens camera, and the lens was never meant to be removed. This means there’s no mounting system that allows you to simply take it off and put it back on.
In short, there’s nothing there – in the traditional sense – for an adapter to adapt.
The lenses are made available by people who remove them from the old Yashica Electro 35 cameras and permanently convert the back end to fit onto whatever camera you have.
As well as adding the relevant attachment mechanism, this should also include ensuring the correct focal length is maintained.
A quick search on eBay is showing me plenty of Yashinon 45mm lenses modded for Sony E-mount, with a couple for Fuji X-mount too. Because I use a Sony mirrorless, I bought the former.
You can see the fixed E-mount adapter on the lens below. It includes that centimetre or so of flange, the bit to the right with no numbers, to maintain the proper focal length.
Build quality and size of the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7
For a lens this old, the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 I picked up still feels great to use.
The chrome-coloured body is gorgeous too. Probably the best-looking vintage lens I’ve bought and used so far.
The aperture and focus rings still operate very smoothly, with the former clicking nicely into each f-stop. As you can see in the picture, it is all full stops too, from 1.7 up to 16.
All in, it just feels like a very well-made lens. Solid and like it will last forever.
It’s a good size too.
Even with the added flange to maintain focal length, it’s still smaller than the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 is with the adapter that lens needs.
Image quality of the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7
The image quality of the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 is everything I’d expect from a lens of this age.
By that I mean, it’s good. Really good.
No gear would stay in circulation for so long if it wasn’t very good, which is one reason I like using vintage lenses; you kinda know most things you’ll buy will give you good results.
This has proved to be the case for me with this 45mm Yashinon. Monochrome shots have good contrast and colour shots have good… colour.
They’re all sharp too, if you nail the focus and don’t shoot wide open. That’s recommended on all lenses though, not just vintage ones.
Maybe I’m easily pleased. Maybe I accept the results vintage lenses give me for what they are, rather than wishing they were sharper in the corners or whatever.
I hope that’s the case because I think it’s the right attitude to have when using classic lenses. You don’t buy them to be comparing shots at 100x magnification, do you? I don’t.
I prefer looking at real world test shots, like these here (some of which have been edited with my Vintage Film presets).
Street photography with the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7
The biggest challenge I had shooting street photography with the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 was with the focal length; especially when using it with the APS-C sensor of the Sony mirrorless really makes it a 67.5mm.
It isn’t that doing street photography with such a focal length is new to me. After all, I’ve shot a lot with the aforementioned Super-Takumar 55mm.
However, most of my recent shooting has been with the 28mm Super-Takumar, and I’d gotten very used to the kind of shots I can get with that length.
I’m a big believer in adapting your shots to match the lens you have at the time though, rather than bemoaning what you can’t shoot – and you can certainly shoot street scenes with the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7.
You just have to stand back a bit, which means finding scenes with nothing between you and your subjects (unless you want there to be).
There’s nothing stopping you from doing great street photography with this lens other than yourself. The lens does it what was designed to do, and does it very well.
The results I’ve gotten when shooting layers is a good example of how a narrower field of view alters the feeling of your street photography.
Whereas the 28mm Takumar meant I could put together a whole scene with both width and depth, the 45mm Yashinon is giving me less room to work with.
As well as the reduced width, longer focal lengths also appear to flatten the space between subjects. Add these factors together and the result is a more claustrophobic feeling to the shots.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
Should you buy a Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7?
Whether the 45mm length of the Yashinon is too long for your street photography, especially if you have a sensor crop factor to consider too, is up to you.
At the time of writing, I still prefer using a wider lens – the 28mm – for my street photography.
I’m just used to 28mm right now. I’m comfortable finding shots with it. It’s easier to come home with more keepers with it.
But this just makes me want to shoot more with the 45mm Yashinon.
It’s good to change things up and get out of that comfort zone, to challenge ourselves to get used to a longer focal length again, and to come home with plenty of keepers with this too.
The Yashinon’s build and image quality are both great, so any failings are really on the photographer, a.k.a. me and you.
It’s really all about learning and growing. I’ll know when it’s time to sell the Yashinon on because I’ll be comfortable using it. As comfortable again with the 45mm focal length as I am now with the 28mm.
That just means getting more practice in, so I guess it’s fortunate the Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7 is such a nice lens to shoot with.
I wouldn’t discourage you from buying one yourself, and from picking up a Sony mirrorless from Amazon to use it with either. Or even going straight to the source and getting an original Yashica Electro instead.
The major pros for me are the build and image quality, the novelty in using a lens that was never designed to be removed from its original camera, and the way it’s (currently) taking me out of my 28mm comfort zone.
Think about whether you’ll benefit from letting it do the same to you. 🙂
All sample images taken with Yashica Yashinon-DX 45mm f1.7
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