Out of the Past---It's the Present

February 18, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Well, it has been a while, since I 'gumptioned' (I know, it's not really a word, but it's how I feel) up the energy to create a blog entry. 

I see that in the interim, I forgot to advertise the 2023 OR 2024 Twpatt Photography 'Head Frames', 'Montana Parks', and 'Photographer's Picks' calendars. 2023 is long gone, but as 2024 (at the date of this post) is only minimally used up, you might still be interested in a calendar at a reduced price of $25.00 plus shipping. I have a few 'Head Frames' calendars and a single 'Photographer's Picks' calendar still in stock. Follow this link (https://twpattphotos.com/f468944881) to check them out.

In my supply of photo gear, I have some vintage lenses (from old Yashica and Pentax film cameras) that have a solidity to them that just says, 'quality'. Internet inquiries reveal that these lenses have followers, many are folks who mount them on modern camera bodies. I decided that I wanted to check out my vintage lenses, so I asked for some PK and M42 to Nikon Z mount adapters for Christmas and stocked up on some lens repair tools/supplies. Because I bought the toys, it makes sense to use them and decided to work on my old Yashica lens. 

The lens is an Auto Yashinon 1:2, f=5cm (50mm -- back in the day, lens lengths were in centimeters), prime lens for a Yashica Penta camera. This lens was announced in 1961 and I got my copy in about 1970. After 1974, I went on to other cameras and the Yashica became just part of my stash. During the last 50 years, the focus ring became stiff making the lens impossible to focus. So, I took it apart, cleaned the helicoids, and restored its ability to  focus. 

After repairing the Yashica lens, I was excited to mount it on my Nikon Z8 body and go photographing. A fun thing about using these lenses on a mirrorless camera is that what you see in the viewfinder is what the camera sensor sees through the lens. For example, scene viewed at f16 and the correct shutter speed looks just like it will when captured. You can set the aperture at f16 and change the shutter speed until you like what you see and your in-camera histogram works. Focus highlighting allows the photographer to see where the focus is-- at the chosen aperture.

Our first 'Vintage' view is: 'Sunny Winter Walk' taken from Butte's Missoula Avenue Ball fields. We are looking south along one of Butte's many walking trails and can see Timber Butte (upper center) and the Highlands Mountains on the horizon. It was a clear, sunny day with temperatures in the upper 20's and the lower 30's. The raw image from the camera required my normal processing work flow. The trickiest things were to keep the snow white and to lessen the 'normal' blue haze that seems to shroud most distant objects. I am happy how it came out.  

Sunny Winter WalkSunny Winter WalkThe Highlands Mountains and Timber Butte from the Missoula Avenue Ballfields. Butte, Montana. February 10, 2023.

Our second 'Vintage' view is: 'Senior Citizen' taken at the Belmont Head Frame and Hoist House. The Belmont operated from 1900 to 1956 making it pretty senior, and the Hoist House has been renovated into a Senior Citizen Center. The image has a clean, crisp feel and I like how the reflections in the entryway glass are portrayed. The sun, just out of the photo behind the Hoist House roof, caused some red/green fringing between the blue sky and the mostly black Head Frame. Similar compositions with the sun in the top of the photo, produced multiple many-colored flares throughout the image's center. I expected flaring when shooting into the sun as the Yashica has minimal, if any, coatings to minimize internal reflections. 

Senior CitizenSenior CitizenThe Belmont Mine Head Frame and Hoist House (now a Senior Citizen Center). Butte, Montana, February 10, 2024.

Unfortunately, I forgot that, unlike modern lenses that report aperture, vintage lenses do not. So, I cannot report the aperture (and shutter speeds?) for these photos. However, I found that landscape images (focused at infinity) shot at f5.6 or larger were sharp in the center, but noticeably soft around the edges. Images shot at apertures smaller than f5.6 were sharp throughout. It is likely that I shot these images at f8 or f16 at an appropriate shutter speed. The ISO was 64. I will make sure to capture the capture information when I use this lens again.

I enjoyed repairing the lens and look forward to using it more. As a vintage lens with minimal (and dated) coatings, it definitely likes to flare when shooting up-light. So, like anything else, the Yashica is not a lens for all purposes, but under the right conditions it can do a fine job.

Thomas Patton


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