Taken with a Yashica TL Electro-X and Yashinon-DX 21mm f/3.3 lens at f/5.6 at 1/60 second. Image by acclaimed professional photographer Takeji Iwamiya. Titled “Solarization”.
As you can see in the above scan, as late as late 1973 Yashica was still marketing their 21mm lens alongside the newer and certainly more modern 20mm ultra-wide lens. The 21mm is a retrofocus lens meaning that the mirror on a 35mm SLR would have to be in the up position as the rear element of the lens was just millimeters away from the film plane. A separate matching viewfinder would need to be mounted on the accessory shoe in order to frame your image. Fortunately an ultra-wide lens usually has such a wide view that parallax error would only be a factor at extreme close-up imaging.
Do to the relative scarcity of the 21mm lens, prices are much higher than one would expect to pay for a ultra-wide lens of a more modern design. If you find the lens in excellent physical and optical condition with its matching viewfinder and original lens case, expect to see asking prices generally north of $500 USD. If you’re lucky, you may get a good one with no issues at around half that price. I give this lens set a Chase Factor of 8 (CF-8) for the reasons stated above. I certainly don’t need it in my collection but it would be a nice to have.
Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan
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