Mods & DIY

3D Printed Yashica T4 lens conversion

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Earlier on in the year I went through the process of sending a lens to Bellamy at Japan Camera Hunter to be converted by MS-Optical in Japan. I chose the Nikon L35AF as a donor camera and for my £400 odd I got a M-Mount, rangefinder coupled lens with focus and aperture controls. The end result is a great quality bit of kit… But for £400 you’d hope so!

Whilst I am very happy with my converted lens (short of me forgetting to ask for it in Leica thread mount – that was a head slap moment, I can tell you), it did make me wonder what level of conversion could be achieved on a very small budget. I started down the road of converting a lens with a little help from a friend of mine who has access to a lathe. That project is taking quite a while due to his varying access to said lathe, so in the meanwhile I started chatting to a few other people about further options.

At some point in proceedings Raymond Yee – who was in the early stages of setting up website ‘lost lens caps‘ – got in touch. He’d been experimenting with a 3D printed body cap style lens conversions, primarily with the lens from the Yashica T4. The Yashica lens was the second choice to the Nikon for me, so since I had one on hand that I was happy to donor he send me his 3D printed adapter.

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I shan’t go into the details of how to extract the lens from the Yashica as Ray covers that on his site here. It is pretty easy though. Once extracted it was just a case of mounting the sealed lens unit into the back of Ray’s adapter – in my case with a load of blutak.

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Alongside the adapter Ray also sent me a aperture to play with. Ray says its around f/8, though it looks a little larger to me. Quite cleverly the aperture just slots and rotates into place.

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Of course, despite these adapters being M-Mount, there’s no way of focusing them on a M-Mount camera. As such they are perhaps more ideally used with an helicoid M-mount adapter and some sort of compact system camera. My work cameras are Sony A7 series cameras, and since I like to mount my M-mount lenses on them once in a while I already have such a bit of kit to hand.

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Using it on the Sony A7s there is some quite pronounced vignetting both with and without the aperture in place. Without this is just part of the character of the lens I think, and with its possibly due to the thickness of the aperture itself. But to be fair, I’m not one to grumble about such things. Otherwise, the quality of the results is fairly impressive given the relative cost of the conversion.

Day with a modded Yashica T4 lens

The biggest issue is with sharpness falloff toward the edges of the frame. If you look at the left edge of this frame you will see the fall of is even more severe than on the right – this indicates to me that the lens isn’t mounted quite parallel to the sensor… Which is probably the fault of the use of blutak as much as anything else… 

Day with a modded Yashica T4 lens

This issue is of course much less obvious where the subject isn’t as noticeably parallel. In the photos like the one of the flowers above, and the following images, it’s still possible to see the issue, but is less problematic to the end result.

Day with a modded Yashica T4 lens

Day with a modded Yashica T4 lens

Day with a modded Yashica T4 lens

It’s fair to say, shots using my digital camera aren’t exactly perfect. That being said, I’m sure with some greater care the lens could be mounted flat, and as I say, depending on subject matter, it might be less of an issue anyway. Where the subject is centre frame, the quality of the lens really shines through. I really couldn’t be happier with the above photo of Connie.  

Of course, not being a big user of my Sony system cameras recreationally, my main interest was really in what could be achieved using the adapted lens directly on one of my m-mount cameras.

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As mentioned, there’s no way to focus this lens when it’s mounted directly on a M-mount camera. Thankfully of course it came with an aperture plate so I was able to stop down the lens to increase depth of field. Combine this with the fact that I have one of Ray’s earlier prototypes that’s set to focus at about 5m, with the aperture in place I have a lens that’s fixed pretty much at its hyper-focal distance.

Yashica T4 lens adapted to Leica M

Yashica T4 lens adapted to Leica M

Yashica T4 lens adapted to Leica M

As you can see, the results are quite pleasing. The vignetting remains, but as does the inherent qualities in the little Zeiss lens. Of course, this is far from the ideal conversion for an M-mount film camera, but if you have a broken Yashica T4 and lack the budget or inclination to send it for an all singing all dancing MS conversion, this strikes me as pretty much the most obvious alternative.

If you would like to get your hands on one of these adapters, or just find out a bit more, head on over to Ray’s fledgling website Lostlenscaps.com

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Max
    June 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Well, this looks amazing.

  • Reply
    Alex Hakimi
    June 6, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Great piece Hamish. I think you’ve inspired me to begin liberating lenses from broken compacts.

    I wouldn’t mind shooting a lens at a fixed focus distance, 3.7 meters @ f/8 would be my personal sweet spot. It would, however, be the icing on the cake to adapt a lens that incorporated manual focusing. This got me thinking about potential compact cameras with such a capability. The XA/XA2 lens has a unique internal focusing mechanism with an external manual focus lever. I wonder the difficulty I’d be up against in converting said lens to M-mount with the standard focusing mechanism.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 7, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Excellent!
      You should try and do the mods, and report back! Do me a post about it!! 😉

  • Reply
    Dean
    June 8, 2016 at 12:38 am

    The Minox 35 and Contax T (but not T2 or T3) are perfect cameras to extract lenses from and adapt to the latest Mirrorless camera offerings. I recently wrote an article about this on Sonyalpharumors, it’s a blast to convert and use these lenses for relatively little $.

    • Reply
      Alex Hakimi
      June 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion Dean. Do you have a write-up on the details of the conversion process?

  • Reply
    Vitor Hugo
    June 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Anyone has ever tried this method with a Big Mini lens?
    I have one that’s dead and would love to adapt this lens to a X-T1.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 8, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      It’s harder because of the internal shutter/aperture – have a go, you have nothing to lose if the camera is dead

  • Reply
    dominic
    June 12, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    hamish:
    the link left above: http://lostlenscaps.com/defaultsite takes me nowhere…is it correct?
    i would like to know more about this, or to get in contact with raymond yee, but there is nothing about him online.
    d

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 21, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Just take out the “defaultsite” bit – thats cashed from before the site went live I think

    • Reply
      dominic
      July 7, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      http://lostlenscaps.com
      still nothing. but all good!
      thanks hamish!

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        July 7, 2016 at 6:13 pm

        You probably need to flush your DNS cashe – search google, there are plenty of guides. You’ll probably want to reset your router and clear your browser cashe at the same time. After doing all that, you should be able to see the website like everyone else can

        • Reply
          ehpem
          January 20, 2017 at 3:21 am

          I’m having same problem with that link, and flushing the cache doesn’t help, nor does using different browsers, cant get there on my phone either.

          • Hamish Gill
            January 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm

            No idea … I can get to it…
            Will you email me a screen grab?

  • Reply
    Ken Hindle-May
    June 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Is the Yashica T2’s lens the same as the T4/5? I bought one to test and sell on only to find that, upon trying to load a second test roll, it had developed some kind of electrical gremlin and now rewinds the leader back in instead of winding on. If it is the same lens then I might have to look at converting it either directly to Fuji X-mount, or to Pentax-K or Canon FD which I could either shoot on my SLRs or adapt to Fuji.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 15, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      No, I don’t think so – though thats not to say it won’t be convertible in the same way. It’s a tessar still, so the aperture/shutter will be behine the lens unit in the same way as it is on the t4/5

  • Reply
    David Marx
    June 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Hey Hamish,

    i bought a broken T4 and own a A7, so i’ll give it a try. Where can i find the 3D model?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Follow the link to lostlenscaps.com and speak to Ray 🙂

  • Reply
    Aaron Reichow
    June 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve been using a similar lens on my A7 – the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar-type from the Nikon L35AF. I didn’t build a body with a 3D printer, but instead attached the lens and helicoid as extracted on an E mount body cap. Check out my flickr tag l35af ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/diogenic/tags/l35af ) to see what it looks like on my NEX with an earlier attempt (C-mount adapter and electrical tape) and a few photos from the lens taken with the A7.

    I intend to finish the job at some point with a Leica M helicoid adapter and a 3D printed lensboard to get them together.

    Lots of punchy colors, vignetting, low contrast, and pretty flare prone. The latter three might be helped a lot with a better adaption – the E mount body cap is grey and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were light leaks. A slight hood or at least a filter ring lip also couldn’t hurt.

    A lovely, tiny lens for E mount. 😀

    • Reply
      Aaron Reichow
      June 30, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      I can’t edit, so replying to myself…

      Ah! I didn’t see that you had an L35AF conversion done by MS Optical. Very cool! I wonder where I could get one of those little aperture modules? The L35AF doesn’t have a dedicated aperture – as far as I could tell, the leaf shutter also functioned as the aperture. I’ve used a small plastic washer attached with tape from the inside of the body cap that gives me about f/5.6, but I’d love something less hacky.

  • Reply
    Gianni Dal Mas
    July 13, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Hi Hamish!
    Great post! I’ve read the entire 35MMC site after I landed on your Yashica T5 review… this conversion will be really worth a try when my T5 will die… one day…

    I bought one last year just before a trip to Bolivia where I shoot it along with my M2 and 35mm Summaron 2.8…. Well, reviewing the films (XP2 and TRI-X), for each and every shot taken with both cameras and lenses, I ended up choosing the one taken with the T4!!!
    The Zeiss 3.5/35mm really has that special bite and pop, the T4 had me hooked after the first roll.

    But now, I fear electronics will fail some day, so I’d like to ask you (a part from the kind of conversion explained in this post and the one from MS-Optical), which lens do you think is the equivalent in M or Screw mount (or even SLR!)? I’m not looking for the kind of perfection a Leica 35mm f2 ASPH can give, but the special “je ne sais quoi” coming from that little Zeiss Tessar.

    Thank you so much for sharing your passion!
    Gianni

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 13, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      Equivalent, I’m not sure – but if you want “je ne sais quoi” I’d definitely point you toward the zeiss 35mm 2.8 zm c-biogon!

      • Reply
        Gianni Dal Mas
        July 13, 2016 at 11:29 pm

        Thank you for the reply and the C-Biogon recommendation!

        About the “entire site”, you’re right, I didn’t read 1/2 million words! I guess I needed to exaggerate it in order to describe how easily I could read 20+ articles (mainly from the advanced compact, p&s and fixed lens rangefinders sections): you really offer amazing content in this site.

        And, if I have to apology for all the mistakes on my first comment, I need to test myself if I actually have the T4 or the T5 😀 Since I took it out of the box, I put black tape all over it… Now I need to search into the xbay purchase history 😀

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 13, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      “I’ve read the entire 35MMC site”

      I feel the need to test you now you’ve said that 😉
      You know, there’s just short of 1/2 million words on this website so far!

    • Reply
      Alex Hakimi
      July 13, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Gianni – my two primary lenses are the 35/2.8 Summaron and the 35/2.8 ZM Biogon C. Both fantastic, however, each with readily distinguishable qualities. The Summaron doesn’t have the clinical sharpness or high contrast of a modern lens. But!, it makes up for it with a really interesting character that puts it somewhere between modern and vintage (a look I personally love). The Zeiss has a LOT of contrast and is ridiculously sharp from f/2.8. Sometimes these are qualities I want (low ISO color film for example).

      In general, I prefer the Summaron for B&W and the Biogon for color, and this is how I use them 80% of the time. I recently shot a roll of Velva 100F with the Summaron and the result was surprisingly good. Mixing and matching lenses and films can be a really fun, interesting, and expensive approach photography. Unless you simply dislike the Summaron look, I strong recommend owning both for the reasons above. – Best!

      • Reply
        Gianni Dal Mas
        July 13, 2016 at 11:55 pm

        Thanks Alex! Your explanation makes really sense: I have to admit that I love the Summaron for B&W portraits at close range… while the Yashica performs wonderful with the Kodak Ektar 100 (I don’t mind the strong vignette :D).

        I definitely will try the C-Biogon and, if it really outperforms the T4 (I’m not making any money with photography) then I’ll need to find the cash for it!

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