Review of Auto Yashinon-DX 50mm/1.7 m42-lens

Old Yashinon-lenses are not often mentioned in discussions about which M42 SLR-lenses to get. Well, not as often as Takumars and Carl Zeiss anyway. I think this might be bacause they are underrated, or maybe just not as common. Many might associate them with the Contax/Yashica-mount of later Yashica lenses. But there are some great stuff for your M42 camera or adapter if you’ll take a look…

The purchase
I bought a Yashica J-7 here in Sweden with this lens on it. It is the camera I reviewed on YashicaForum and entered in EpicEdits $50-dollar camera challenge. Both the camera and lens are in great shape, no marks and great lenses. It has yellowed a bit but I haven’t noticed any impact on my images.

Yashinon-DX 50mm f1.7 m42

Yashinon-DX 50mm f1.7 m42

The lens
It’s quit an odd construction, with inner tube alu-metal and focusrings in black plastic. The aperturering is very thin, but has big notches so you can easily turn it any way. It has a manual/auto-switch, that works on old Yashica M42-cameras. The switch is under the lens and hard to use while looking through the lens – so it’s not usable as a shortcut to stopping down the aperture as you can do on some other lenses with such a switch.

Side of Yashinon-lens

Side of Yashinon-lens

This normal lens it’s avarage sized, maybe large, for a 50mm. It takes 52mm filters, which is good because it’s the same filtersize as my Yashica MLs, Helios and Canon EF.

Mount of Yashinon-DX 50mm/1.7

Mount of Yashinon-DX 50mm/1.7

The lens has thorium in it, the radioactive substance that makes many old lenses turn yellow. If you get a yellowed one you can put it in the sun for a few weeks and the tint will go away. The radioactivity is not much to worry about, remember this are lenses constructed to be close to negative film in analogue cameras.

Glass of this Yashinon normal lens

Glass of this Yashinon normal lens

I should use this lens more then I do, because every time I get some great shots! Good soft bokeh, sharp where I want it to be, saturated colours. I feel it suitable for nordic blue dark november for some reason.

Mounted on Canon EOS 350D:

Bumblebee with m42-lens Yashinon-DX 50/1.7

Bumblebee with m42-lens Yashinon-DX 50/1.7

Yashinon Spider

Yashinon Spider



Leaf with bokeh

Leaf with bokeh

Swedish blue november woods

Swedish blue november woods

Mounted on Yashica J-7 with Tri-X 400:

Stockholm old town on Tri-X

Stockholm old town on Tri-X

Old town chair on Tri-X

Old town chair on Tri-X

+ Lovely bokeh and colours
+ Sharp
+ Big notches on aperturering, so you get a grip eventhough it’s thin and close to camera
+ Fast
+ Good buildquality
(+ On some Yashica SLRs the auto-function works)

– The yellowing by thorium
– Single coating (although I don’t really think that’s a big con)
– No easy “aperture-open-button”
– Actually, I can’t think of that many cons – it’s a great lens.

A thread on Yashinon-lenses
My review of the Yashica J-7 with this lens
Full roll of Tri-X film with J-7 and this lens

21 Responses in “Review of Auto Yashinon-DX 50mm/1.7 m42-lens”

  1. Susanne says:

    Didn’t I lend this lens to you? ;o)))

  2. Susanne says:

    I’m pretty sure I did. ;o)))

  3. Mattias says:

    No no no ;)

    There are a few f1.4 on american ebay. I’m tempted to get one of those myself…

  4. Susanne says:

    Oh, I can understand that… imagine the bokeh! ;o)

  5. it’s a very good lens, and i am very surprises better than the takumar, more sharper than the takumar, and i have confirmed my test on two different takumar 1.4. I think you can correct the yellow color, (same problem than takumar) with a UV lamp,

    you must place the lens face a UV lamp

  6. Bob Miller says:

    This web page has data that shows the Yashinon DX 50mm/1.7 lens to have only background level radiation, which would not account for your “yellowing”.

    Is it possible that your lens has a yellowish factory coating but renders colors accurately?

    The above page does show a higher radiation level in the later Yashinon DS 50mm/1.7 and some others

  7. Mattias says:

    Aha, so it’s only the lenses with higher values that has yellowing.

  8. Wow! is actually wonderful sharing. Bless you a any!

  9. sverre helgesen says:

    Hi Mattias – tjena Stockholmar’n!

    I bought a Weist SL-35 TTL SLR from our local church charity-shop in Gotta-borg the other week. It says Japan on the back and is heavy-enough for it to be the rebadged Yashica I think it is.

    It came with an Auto Yashinon DX-1.7 50mm in pristine condition. Was impressed with the apparent finish and quality of the camera, but the stop-down cum lightmeter lever didn’t work. The lens didn’t screw-on enough for the red-line to be vertical on the housing, so the pin for the stop-down wasn’t aligned properly. So I tried it on my Praktica MTL-5B. Same thing, the red-line still didn’t line up – but suddenly the stop-down and lightmeter worked! Very smoothly. So the Yashinon stays on the Praktica.

    Ironic; the Weist works perfectly with a Pentacon lens on it!

    Both use mercury batteries for the lightmeters, I have 2 still working well, so it was a surprise to find the Weist PREFERS an SR44! Using my Gossen Profisix SBC lightmeter as a reference the SR-powered Weist is only 1 to a half stop under-exposed. Both the Praktika and Weist using mercury batteries are way off, the Practica not liking the SR44 at all, either. Obviously needs to be recalibrated.

    But, a pensioner, I’ve had the time to run a colour-film through both cameras. People laugh at Pentacons as being cheap rubbish, but I’ve always been fond of them, they’ve taken many a good photo at motocross meets in all weathers, as well as the odd piccie when I was an active glider-pilot. Looking at the prints the Yashinon is looking interesting. Do I detect a slightly-better sharpness, mmm?

    I’m quietly confident the 400sek I paid for the Weist (and I thought that was a bit high for an unknown brand camera, but as the money goes to a good cause I paid-up) was well-worth the money, JUST for the lens.

    I’ll have to try and source some Tri-X or Ilford b/w film and troll the backstreets, take a trip on the ferry to Denmark …and find out.

  10. Bob says:

    This lens works great on my Pentax K100d, but, oddly enough, when I’ve tried it on my Spotmatic and SF1n, the shutter sticks, and in order to release it fully I have to unscrew the lens slightly. I love the lens for its rich color and sharpness, but am wary of using it on my film cameras because of this stickiness. Has anybody else had that problem?

  11. paul says:

    Hi Bob,

    When at infinity, the rear element is so close to the film plane that the Spotmatic mirror hits the lens and stays there.
    Works ok at less than 5 meter.
    Apparently, old Yashica SLR’s have a shorter mirror, or else they retract it slightly on the way up.

  12. Bob says:

    Thanks, Paul. I figured it must be something like that. I’ll just shoot at shorter distances when using my film cameras. It’s a great lens!

  13. says:

    Can I use this lens with Nikon d5100 camera body? Does anyone know what kind of adapter should I use?

    • Ivan says:

      did you found how to use Yashinon-DX 50mm/1.7 m42-lens with Nikon D 5100. I have this lens (my grandfather gave me his yashica with lens mounted on it) and now I want to know how can I combine it with Nikon D 5100.
      Thank you in advance for your answer. Best regards

  14. MADfly says:

    Hi there, can u help me pls? Can I use lens Yashinon-DX electric zoom 8-48mm/1.8 with my Canon 550D? It’s from Yashica Super-60 video camera.

  15. Kenji says:

    This is a fantastic 50mm lens. Color and bokeh are superb. Your photos are great. You have put this old lens in good use.

  16. Esther says:

    Good article. I’m facing many of these issues as well..

  17. Geezer G says:

    I purchased a Yashica J-7 from a Goodwill store online and it came with this lens. The camera is in need of a good CLA, but the lens is perfect. So far, I’ve tried it on a Yashica TL Super, all of my M42 Pentax cameras (S, SP, SPII, SP-F), a Mamiya/Sekor 1000DTL, a Russian Prinzflex 500, a Chinon CX, and a Ricoh Singlex TLS with no mirror problems. It’s living on a Practika LTL right now. OK, I’m an M42-aholoc. LOL!

    I’ve been shooting Nikon’s professionally starting with a used F in 1968, but IMHO, the M42 lenses have a lot more character and personality than the newer lenses.

    Great post, great responses! Thanks for sharing!

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