Review: Yashica 28-85mm f/3,5-4,5 ML

Yashica 28-85 ML

One of the best “bang for the bucks” out there.

Its strongest point is the colour rendition, tipically Zeiss despite the Yashica lineage.

The first weakest point is the relatively vast amount of flare when shot in backlight (otherwise it would have scored a full 4 stars).

Its second weakness is that the macro focus range starts at an odd distance – 1.7 meters! -, and because the focus is splitted between the normal manual focus ring and the macro one, that makes difficult to take pictures at typical reportage distances.

A solution is to focus near or at the minimum distance with the primary focus ring and then to use the macro one to follow the subjects. However this is more of a nuisance than a deal breaker.

Overall a great performer, pretty sharp at both ends, that you may buy used for the price of a Contax metal hood alone: 60 euro more or less.

At this price definitely a “must have”.

Rating: ★★★½☆ on Canon 5D Mark II

UPDATE: quite surprisingly this lens performs quite a lot better on the – supposedly more demanding – A7r sensor than it did on the Canon 5D Mark II. Go figure…

Rating: ★★★★½ on Sony A7r

Review: Contax Distagon 25mm f/2,8

Contax Distagon 25mm f/2,8

Not one of the best Zeiss lenses, but a solid performer anyway.

His strongest point is the colour rendition, tipically Zeiss.


100% crops. Left center, right borders (on Canon 5D Mark II):


On the other side, resolution wise, it is not better that a Canon 24mm f/2,8, especially at the borders.

Good if you have other Zeiss optics, just for colour consistency, or if you prefer to focus manually.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Review: Fuji GS 645

Today I wish to talk about one of the best, if not THE best, cameras I ever used.

I’m speaking about the Fuji GS 645, a 4,5×6 medium format rangefinder camera that will fit in your pocket.

And without having to sacrify anything. This camera has one of the sharpest lenses ever and a classic center weighted exposure meter with LEDs into the finder.

And I swear, I’m not throwing away superlatives just for fun, it is really that amazing!

fuji gs645

With one toy like this one in your pocket and some films in the other you may go shooting for a day, from reportage to landscape photography.

One of my favourite setups for landscape is this camera screwed on top of the tripod Рclosed to protect the lens and the really delicate bellows -,  and the tripod itself on my shoulder, carried like a shotgun.

This way I’m always ready to shoot; without the lazyness of picking the camera or the lens into the bag I just put down the tripod, frame and shoot, move on.

If you find one of this cameras take a look at the bellows: the original Fuji ones are really prone to develop little holes that you may see blasting a flashlight or a lamp inside the bellows, obviously with the back open, in a dark room.

I have changed mine with an home made variant, much stronger even if a little too thick; and, by the way, the plexiglass in front of the finder is not the original aspect of the camera, but the black plastic mask that cover this zone broke and I have had replaced it this way.

If you don’t need the extreme compactness of this model you may avoid the bellows problems and you may choose one of the other models of the same line, if you want up to 6×9; whatever you choose they are all excellent.

Rating: ★★★★★ optics

Rating: ★★★½☆ mechanics

Review: Minolta 55mm f/1,7 Rokkor-PF MC

It focuses smooth as butter after over 30 years of use.

And it is one of the sharpest lens I ever used. Period.

Unfortunately it will mount, because of the short focal plane/flange distance, only on the Minolta manual cameras, or, with an adapter, on the Olympus and Sony Nex mirrorless.

I’ve adapted it on a M42/Sony Nex ring on the Nex 3; now it works like a charm even if, given the weight of the lens compared to the tiny camera, the combo is a bit front heavy.

To mount this no-rare jewel on a Nikon or Canon camera you will need an adapter ring with an optic element inside, that almost certainly will degrade the unbelievable superb sharpness exhibited by the lens alone.

Rating: ★★★★½

Review: Pentax 40mm f/2,8 M Pancake

My sample came well beaten up, with the filter ring bented and the focus ring locked.

I repaired it by myself with a couple of hammer blows.

Now it works like a charm.

Unbelievably small and compact for a SLR lens it is, like every almost other normal lens, a wonderful performer. Even if, for compactness sake, it lose something compared to other normals.

pentax 40 pancake

Your mileage may vary, but I find the 40mm focal lens almost perfect. It is wide enough, and long enough, that you may go everywere with just one lens on the camera, for casual shooting, and cover pretty every photographic opportunity you may find during your rounds. Really a one lens band!

Rating: ★★★★☆ on film

Rating: ★★★½☆ on digital (full frame and Dx)