Yashica 55mm f/2.8 ML Macro Lens Review

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 21, 2019
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Yashica ML 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review

The Yashica 55mm f/2.8 ML macro lens is well constructed, sharp, and has little distortion. Compared to other vintage macro lenses, the only standout feature is that it is expensive.

A 27mm extension tube is needed for 1:1 magnification. However, 90-105mm macro lenses are a better choice for 1:1 because they have larger working distances.

Design & Build Quality

The front element is recessed into the lens. All of the element move together. Magnification is accomplished through extension. On its own the lens will do 1:2 magnification. A 27mm extension tube is needed for 1:1 magnification.

Using the extension ring will mean the lens is no longer able to focus at infinity. This was common for macro lenses made in the 1960's and 1970's.The one upside is that the lighter weight makes the lens easy to reverse.

Other than the rubber on the focus ring, the entire lens is made from metal. All of the text on the lens has been engraved and then painted.

There are only full stops on the aperture ring. The machined grip on the ring makes it easy to grab and turn. Every stop has a firm click to hold the ring in place.

The focus ring has 270 degrees of travel. It is smooth and easy to focus with.

Nothing on the lens is loose or has any play. I am impressed with the build quality of the lens and how well is has held up.

Focus Ring, Aperture Ring, and Focus Distance Scale.

Usage & Working Distance

Nothing about the lens was annoying or performed poorly. For a lens that is likely more than 40 years old, the focus ring still felt good. The aperture ring was also good.

I do not own a C/Y extension tube, so I was not able to use the lens at 1:1 magnification. Using an extension tube would also remove the ability to focus to infinity.

I use 50-60mm macro lenses as closeup lenses and for copy work. For 1:1 I would use a 90-105mm macro lens. As a copy lens it has a flat field of view with little distortion.

Macro Lens Rear Element and Yashica C/Y Lens Mount

Test Shot Sharpness Comparison

  • f/2.8 - Surprisingly good in the center. The corners are soft with a small amount of chromatic aberration.
  • f/4 - Sharper in the center. Less falloff towards the corners. Corners are still soft with a hint of chromatic aberration.
  • f/5.6 - Sharp in the center. Chromatic aberration is gone. Only the outer edges of the cornes are soft.
  • f/8 - Sharp over almost the entire frame. There is soft softness in the edges of the corners.
  • f/11 - Sharp over the entire frame.
  • f/16 & f/22 - Diffraction is present and causes the entire image to be soft.
Sample Image Corner Crop f/2.8
100% Corner Crop at f/2.8.
Test Image Corner Crop f/8
100% Corner Crop at f/8.
Sample 1:2 Magnification Center Crop
100% Crop, 1:2 Magnification at f/5.6.

Used prices on eBay

I checked the eBay sold listings on March 2nd, 2019. For the previous 3 months, only 2 copies of the lens sold. One sold for $45, and the other for $105. Three were currently listed for sale for just over $100.

A 27mm extension tube will cost $20-$40. You'll likely have to buy a set of tubes. The extension tubes are uncommon, so there might not be any available when you look for one.

Buy on eBay (affiliate link)

Comparable Lenses

Conclusion

The Vivitar (Komine) 55mm f/2.8 has more usable stops and is less expensive. Having to track down an extension tube greatly increases the cost. You should only buy this lens if you are planning to shoot film or are a collector.

Lens Specifications

ManufactureYashica
Made inJapan
Year Released19??
Original Price$119.95*
Elements Groups? ele. ? gr.
Focal Length55mm
Aperturef/2.8-22
# Aperture Blades6
Aperture ControlManual
Focus TypeManual
Hard Infinity StopYes
Magnification1:2
Minimum Focus Distancecm (”)
Working Distance???
Filter Threads52mm
Weight300g (10.6oz)
Dimensions⌀61mm x 75mm (2.4" x 3")

Note: The $119.95 price came from the 1985 Competitive Camera Corp Catalogue No. 24. The lens was available before then.

Accessories

A 27mm extension tube is needed for 1:1 magnification.

The front element is recessed far enough into the lens that a lens hood will not be needed.

Lens Versions

There are no other versions of this lens that I am aware of.

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