Yashinon-DX 500 mm f/8 Reflex - more obsession

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. I’ve told the story before ( http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00RaKy ).
    I’m sort of like Annie in Oklahoma at least when it comes to catadioptric lenses!:

    I'm just a guy who cain't say 'No'
    I'm in a terrible fix!
    I always say 'Come on, let's go'
    just when I oughta say 'Nix.'​

    previous efforts....:|\
  2. Yashinon-DX 500mm f/8 Reflex
    Kadlubek Objektiv-katalog Nr. YSH0390
    M42 mount
    865g, ~13.5cm long
    6 elements (4 lenses, 2 mirrors) in 5 groups
    4m minimum focus
    S/N 52002**

    One previous Photo.net post at

    A friend has further been cleaning out his accumulation of ‘stuff’ and he offered me some more photographic items. The most interesting of the lot is this Yashica Yashinon-DX 500mm f/8 Reflex. As with some other gear in his storage, this one was in good shape, but had a slight touch of fungus (shown below).

    Here is the lens itself.

  3. This picture shows the set of filters it came with.

    I’m pretty sure that the Yashica 500, like so many of its peers, is designed to have a filter in the optical path. On this one, omitting it would leave a hole in the side, although not into the lens proper, of course.

    In order to mount this lens on at least some cameras, it is necessary to take out the filter, mount, and then re-insert the filter which can hit the projecting fronts on many prisms.
  4. This image shows the few filaments of fungus, but there doesn’t seem to have been any real compromise of the optical quality of the lens. I’ll have to see if some UV will stop the spread.
  5. I didn’t try to do anything with this in the way of art. I am presenting merely my normal run of “end of my driveway" shots. These were handheld, but at ISO 2500.
    The first is the top of the Eiffel of Carbondale, the Polyspheroid Water Tower.
    If you look closely you’ll note about a quarter of an inch of snow in these.

  6. Here is a 100% crop from that image:
  7. Looking the other way down the street, snow on roof:
  8. Canon EOS 50D (APS-C) camera with an M42>EOS adapter at ISO 2500, 1/1500 sec

    100% crop of house
  9. Just at a quick glance, notwithstanding the fungus, this lens does look to be among the very best 500-600mm catadioptric lenses that I have. Certainly that has often been claimed for it.

    This is just a quick-and-dirty report, however, no pretense of control of the key variables is made.

    As the weather improves, sometime in a month or so, what I will try (no promises right now) to do is get out with my heavy duty tripod, and shoot all of my catadioptrics and other longer lenses at these same subjects or others and compare them under controlled conditions.

  10. Nice to see some snow on your tower, something that we never see here....don't even have a polyspheroid tower!
    You would imagine that the Yashinon would be well made, as are most of their lenses. You have also made me realize that I don't have a single cat lens, none, nada....hmmm.
  11. Well, JDM, I suppose if one must have an obsession, the compulsive collecting of catadioptric lens is a reasonably harmless example. I've occasionally seen this lens advertised down here, but I hadn't realised that it had a reputation for such high quality. But then, most of the Yashinon DX series of lenses were better than average. It will be interesting to see your comparisons.
  12. That initial water tower photo certainly looks promising. This question has little to do with this specific lens, I suppose, but what is your success or keeper rate with cats? Playing with the odd (some VERY odd) mirror lens I've been satisfied with my results a few times, but the vast majority have been misfocused. That said, prior results were using a DSLR sans live view. Perhaps I'll have more "luck" with mirrorless and magnification.
    Incidentally, of the various catadioptric lenses I've tried, I have been most satisfied with the latest model Nikkor 500/8, the one with the orange markings. Thanks for posting this, and I'm looking forward to your planned side-by-side comparisons.
  13. As yet no Soligors, I'm afraid.
    Not the least of problems with all of these is the razor-thin depth of field, which can make focusing for even the youngest, clearest eyes difficult. This obviously can affect comparisons from one lens to another.
    One of my favorites, up to now, is the Sigma 600mm f/8 Reflex
    and another is the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8
    The worst one, the one that started me on my path to find a better one, was the Quantaray 500mm f/8.
    The most interesting was the Maksutov MTO
  14. It's amazing what a couple of mirrors can do to shorten the length of this lens. A true telephoto.
  15. I've got a plastic 500mmF/8 (samyang)? I think the shortness of the barrell contributes to the success and steadiness of hand-held 500mm shots. The "smoke ring" bokeh is sure weird, though.
  16. Interesting thread JDM! I used an MTO way back in the sixties after buying it from a camera store in Sydney Australia. There are a couple shots in the Canon FTb part of my gallery on PN that you might find interesting. They were shot at Bondi beach during a surf competition on a day of heavy surf. Seem to remember they were shot on Ektachrome.
    I tried it with a doubler an got decent results, will post some when I find them in the archives. Unfortunately the MTO was sold when I switched to Leica RF in the late sixties. Should have kept the Canon. Ah the decisions of youth, my copy was amazingly sharp. Fortunately after that I hung on to cameras and lenses rather than part with them.
    My present mirror lens is a 3.5" Questar (1400mm f/11). I've tried it with Visoflex and Tri-X and was not happy with the results compared to the Canon, perhaps focus issues.
    Since then I've tried the Questar with a D300 and limited testing showed this had promise. Again problems, ISO 3200 and high shutter speed helped capture sharper images but I wasn't comfortable hanging such a large camera on the astro mount. The lens tilted at the sky unless a heavy counterweight was wrapped around the lens barrel. The Questar covers an APS-C sensor, but just. The next experiment will be done using a D3200 and truly solid tripod. Picked up an antique video tripod made in the USA by Majestic, what a monster, it must have been used with big double reel 35mm cameras. I live close to a wildlife preserve so looking forward to better weather to try the rig out. Oh! did I mention that it will focus down to about 8 feet giving a long distance microscope effect. They make versions for science use that focus on this feature. ;-)
    Questars are on the pricey side, but USA made and still available. After seeing the ads in Scientific American I'd always wanted one. One day a local camera shop was selling a used one and the price was right. http://www.company7.com/questar/pricing.html
  17. I see it's OK to post a digital image if it was shot through a unique old lens. Fusion photography or digital hot rodding ???
    Here's one through the Questar using the optional solar filter. Transit of Venus across the Sun in 2012, next time this happens will be in December 2117. The little black spots are sun spots, not sensor dust.
  18. Unlike some other, unnamed forums, we have freedom here, within reason. Some call it license or even profligacy!
    The report emphasis on CMC is definitely on the lens, and most of us accept that as reasonable.
    Nice Venus transit, by the way.
  19. After some difficult searching, I finally found a rather coarse copy of a Yashica manual on their DX (M42) lenses (At Butkus pdf: http://www.cameramanuals.org/yashica_pdf/yashica_dx_lenses.pdf ) which gave a lens diagram for this version of the 500mm Reflex:
    You all know how much I like a good lens diagram :)
  20. Nice results, JDM. I've heard of this lens, but never seen any photos from it until now. Having a mirror lens in M42 lends itself to adaption to other mounts very easily, only exceeded by the T-mount system and maybe Tamron's Adaptall mirror optics. Looks to be a great performer, btw. Optical design of mirror lenses is very similar to the Questar that Glenn posted a Venus transit photo as well as numerous other catadiotic telescopes.
  21. As an aside, a story from the 1978-09 issue of Modern Photography indicated that the then-new Spiratone 500 Minitel was from the Yashica Tomioka subsidiary.
    No wonder the Spiratone seemed good, although my sample doesn't seem to be quite as good as the Yashinon-DX version. If I get to my side-by-side, more-controlled test, we shall see, I hope.
  22. I remember that article, JDM. I had forgotten. I probably have that issue somewhere in my house. Spiratone had a knack for obtaining high quality optics to sell under their name at a bargain price. Thanks.

Share This Page