Follow Us

© 2016 Piston Photography All Rights Reserved

The only cure for G.A.S? Radiation!

A little Thorium can't hurt?

So I have found myself with a pretty serious case of G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

Pretty much anyone who is technically minded will go through this and will hunt to find a bargain to increase their collection of gear, be it camera equipment, video games, workshop tools, etc…

I found myself looking at a wonderful mirror lens whilst at Heathrow Airport a while back and couldn’t justify why on earth I would need a 500mm lens. Leaving the store empty handed this filled me with the urge to go gear hunting. I didn’t care what I bought it just had to be something new to me, high quality and at a great price… how hard can it be?!

After frantic searching and scouting for deals I saw it, a 1970’s Yashica Yashinon-DX 50mm f/1.4 lens in pristine condition, and at a price I couldn’t believe. I was so close to coming out the other end of G.A.S with no cost to my wallet, but alas fate would see me spend on a new piece of kit I just had to own. The condition appears to be good for the age of the lens and the price is well beneath market value, which leads me to wonder what is lurking beneath its metal housing.

The Yashinon-DX was one of many legacy lenses where different coatings and materials were used to try and get the edge on competitors with improved contrast and sharpness, and with a pretty interesting side effect, they were radioactive! This is due to the glass elements containing Thorium, a naturally occurring and common metal, amusingly named after the Norse god of thunder Thor.

Whilst the lens is harmless in normal use it still measures in at 1359 nSv/h, meaning ingesting or surgically grafting it to your eyeball would be bad idea.

One of the side effects, but also a characteristic of lenses from this era, is that it will slowly yellow over time. This yellowing can easily be cured with UV light but some people appreciate the added warmth it can bring if left to tarnish.

So here I am, waiting, waiting for my new lens to arrive with bated breath… it’s almost as if it’s Christmas!