Yashica Lynx 14e

For years, my short list of must-have cameras has included either the 1965 Yashica Lynx 14 or its integrated-circuit-driven younger brother, the 1968 Lynx 14e. None of the other big fixed-lens rangefinder cameras I own have these cameras’ enormous namesake f/1.4 lens, which is fabled for its sharpness as well as its low-light capability.

These cameras usually go for way bigger bucks than I like to spend, so I patiently scanned the auctions for several years looking for a bargain. I usually have good luck buying that way, but not this time. I ended up with both a 14 and a 14e with stuck shutters, weak light meters, and various other minor ills. My hamfisted repair attempts resulted in the 14 being even more broken than before.

Yashica Lynx 14e

Reader Derek Wong offered to make my two Lynx 14s into one working one, and repair another of my cameras, in exchange for me sending him a bunch of cameras I won’t shoot again and have run out of room to store. It was a great trade. Not only did Derek get the 14e working, but he replaced the light seals and gave it a solid clean, lube, and adjustment. When I got it back, it looked and felt like new.

The enormous 14e weighs a whopping two pounds and stands taller and wider than my Nikon F2 SLR. It feels extremely well built, and all of its controls work smoothly but lack that silky feel you get with pro equipment. A 45mm f/1.4 Yashinon-DX lens dominates the front-heavy 14e. It has seven elements in five groups. Its Copal SVE leaf shutter operates from 1 to 1/500 sec. I thought I’d wish for 1/1000 sec, but even shooting indoors I never needed it.

Yashica Lynx 14e

Two odd-duck PX640 mercury batteries power the meter. Fortunately, Amazon sells alkaline cells of the same size, and they work well enough. The meter’s CdS cell is on the camera body next to the Yashica logo, so if you shoot with filters you need to adjust exposure manually to compensate. The 14e takes 58mm filters and accessories. I gather that this lens is prone to flare, but who has a 58mm lens hood lying around?

By the way, if you like big fixed-lens rangefinder cameras like this one, also check out my reviews of the Yashica MG-1, Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Konica Auto S2, and Minolta Hi-Matic 7. Or if your a Yashica fan I’ve also reviewed two TLRs, the Yashica-D and the Yashica-12.

Inconveniently, most of the camera’s controls are on the lens barrel, and one control doesn’t feel different enough from another to choose them by feel. I kept twisting the aperture ring when I meant to focus. But because aperture is stepless along its f/1.4-f/16 range, I couldn’t just click it back to where I had it. I always had to reset exposure from scratch.

Strangely, you activate the light meter by pressing the “Switch” button on the camera’s face. My fingers always fumbled to find it, and it’s hard to hold in while you adjust aperture and shutter speed. While you do that, the words OVER and UNDER appear in the viewfinder. When they disappear, you have a good exposure. I checked my 14e against my iPhone’s light-meter app and found that my 14e underexposes by one stop, so I compensated by setting the camera’s ISO one stop lower.

You might think I’m about to pan this camera. You would be wrong. Because oh my gosh look look look at these results!

Toy truck

The Lynx 14e was born to take photographs inside in available light. It just killed every time. And you can cut yourself on these images they’re so sharp! These photos are on Kodak T-Max 400.

Prince Albert in a can

The Lynx 14e did all right outside, too, but to look their best all of those shots needed a little tweaking in Photoshop.

Elephant ears

Once adjusted, clarity, detail, and tonality turned out good, but not better than on any of my other fixed-lens rangefinder cameras.

Windmill

Truly, this camera’s killer use is indoor available-light work. Look at this creamy shot from Stockton Mill, an 1850s grist mill in northeastern Indiana. The light play is just outstanding.

No Smoking

This wagon was made in my hometown, South Bend, as it says on a part of its back panel that didn’t make it into the photo. I shot it because the light on the barrels was good.

Barrels in a wagon

This lens does have a flaw: barrel distortion. You can really see it in this shot, but it’s evident in some of the others, too.

Entryway

But as long as you’re not shooting something with obvious, edge-to-edge horizontal lines, you might not notice the effect. Here’s a shot of the Houck Iron Bridge in Delphi. The barrel distortion is barely noticeable.

The Houck Iron Bridge

To see more from this camera, check out my Yashica Lynx 14e gallery.

One other quibble: the Lynx 14e’s viewfinder adjusts automatically for parallax, but I found that my close-up shots are not as centered in the frame as I composed them. I cropped them back to right in Photoshop.

I almost gave up on my broken Lynx 14 and 14e. I’m so glad I took Derek up on his repair offer! The Lynx 14e’s usability challenges are worth grappling with again just to get to know this wonderful lens better. I just ordered a bunch more black-and-white film, and I’m sure some of it will make its way into my Lynx 14e.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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Comments

45 responses to “Yashica Lynx 14e”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Very nice illustrations of the extraordinary capabilities of that big Yashinon lens. I was discouraged from using the camera because of its size and weight as well as a dim rf spot in mine, but I keep thinking that I should have tried harder whenever I look at the resolution of those images.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I forgot to mention the dim rangefinder patch in mine, too. But with a little squinting and patience it was still usable, so I pressed on. I put another roll of b/w in it and took it along on a trip to Auburn to see the Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs on display in the museum up there. That film’s at the processor’s now.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Bringing an old camera back to life is one thing. Coaxing great images from it is another, and you’ve done both! Rather than sitting dusty on a shelf or suffering an even more undignified death, this old gal has been rescued and now resides in the hands of a very capable photographer.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      (blush) Gawrsh!

  3. Carole Grey Avatar
    Carole Grey

    Dang! Black & white photos in the quality of a Hitchcock film. Kudos!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Seriously? Wow!

  4. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    I think you’ve convinced me that I need one :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I assure you, you do!

  5. Steve Miller Avatar
    Steve Miller

    Sometimes the world looks better in black-and-white, don’t you think?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! And T-Max 400 is seldom a poor choice.

  6. billeccles Avatar
    billeccles

    Those barrels look plenty undistorted to me. Dunno’ what you’re talking about.

    :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ba dump bump (tshhhhhh)

  7. dehk Avatar

    Looks like your copy looks better than mine.

    “my 14e was underexposing by one stop, so I compensated by setting the camera’s ISO one stop lower.” “next time I shoot the 14e, I’ll set ISO a shade higher so I underexpose slightly. Maybe that will help.” Wait a minute :D

    Yeah, my biggest disappointment was also the somewhat dim range finder patch, but hey I guess its something to get used to. Not everything is as bright as my leica range finder patch, but then I don’t have a 1.4 lens for it either.

    I am glad you like it , hope to the the RC soon.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, I need to underexpose by just a shade, not by one full stop!! Maybe 1/3 of a stop, or 1/4.

      The RC test roll is done; off to the processor with it soon.

      And thanks for resuscitating this camera!

  8. ltinuviel Avatar

    Lovely camera, wonderful shots! :) I love retro cameras :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! I love retro cameras too – I have about 100 here!

      1. ltinuviel Avatar

        Wow! So many! :)) Good for you!

  9. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Drool! Drool! I got to get one of these. That 1.4 lens is a dream you realy have produced some wonderfull photos with it.
    All I can muster is my Yashica Electro GTN with a 1.7 lens.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      No doubt, this is one sweet lens. The Electro is a fine camera too, however, and nothing to sneeze at!

  10. pesoto74 Avatar

    Looks like your wait for a working Lynx paid off. Yashica sure was a under-rated camera and lens maker.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re right – Yashica didn’t get all the credit it was due. I’ve yet to own a Yashica that didn’t yield great results.

  11. Wes C Avatar
    Wes C

    Hey Jim, I really enjoyed reading your take on the Lynx 14e! I don’t own this model, but I do have a soft spot for the Yashica Lynx series cameras. My first 35mm was a Lynx 5000 that was purchased with allowance money from a high school buddy about 35 years ago. Even back then I knew that it was a great-performing camera as I was consistently getting better results than my friends who were using much more expensive and modern slr’s. I think it’s pretty common that the vintage Lynx’s are needing service to operate properly, so it’s nice that you were able to get your’s repaired. I recently revisited the Lynx 5000 and got excellent results; it is an enjoyable camera to use and it is one that I will use again.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Wes! I used to have a 5000 in which someone left a corroded battery. I decided not to mess with it, and I gave it away. Maybe I should have messed with it instead!

  12. tina Avatar

    The lens on the camera laying down looked like a set of stacking rings to me. :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Of course it does! :-)

  13. nobbyknipst Avatar

    Reblogged this on nobbyknipst.

  14. Charlie R. Clark Avatar
    Charlie R. Clark

    GREETINGS Jim! Great article on the Yashica Lynx 14 – what a GREAT Camera! Mine was the third camera I bought new just after high school. First was some Kodak rangefinder camera that I didn’t like. Second was a Yashica J-5 SLR with no-nave 135mm (I think!) and 35 mm lenses; I enjoyed using the J-5! THEN while in college (I worked at Whirlpool making washing machines during the summer!) I bought a Lynx 14 – that was the old days a very fast lens and Tri-X film and I could shoot anywhere! I bulk loaded 35mm film and built a darkroom in my parents basement and took lots of photos of my girlfriend and for the college yearbook. I really enjoyed that camera, it was jewel back in the old days! After college and teaching high school for a year, I got drafted into the army and funny thing – the company with the contract to produce our basic training yearbook used Lynx 14’s to take all the activity pictures! Unlike lots of stuff from the old days, I still have my Lynx 14 hanging on the wall in the basement. Looks in good shape but needs repair!! Thanks A Lot for the memories – HAVE A GREAT DAY!
    Charlie Clark cclark14cc@aol.com

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Charlie, thanks for writing and for sharing your enthusiasm for this wonderful machine! You’re making me want to dust mine off and shoot it again. Just look at what that lens can do!!

  15. Ida Avatar
    Ida

    I have a lynx 1c 14 for sale if anyone has interest.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      eBay is your best bet.

  16. kevi Avatar
    kevi

    Great post on a great machine! Love the way you showed off the lens with the indoor shots, and the photos in the mill. I’ve pulled the trigger and purchased a fine-looking specimen from ebay, so looking forward to adding a fixed rangefinder to my collection of SLRs.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I hope you enjoy it!! Its lens does such wonderful work.

  17. Julio Avatar
    Julio

    Very nice blog, Wonderful pictures. I am currently starting a restoration job in this exactly model. Yashica has been a underlooked brand but always deliveries what claims.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The 14 is wonderful! Mine’s a keeper.

  18. Tom Miller Avatar
    Tom Miller

    I saw a Lynx14 recently on Letgo for a cheap price. It appeared to have lived in a dusty closet! It would definitely need light seals. The idea that it canbe used without a battery to me would be the advantage.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It takes an odd battery, not the kind you can get at Walgreens when you need one. So yes, full manual mode is an advantage!

  19. Lyle MIller Avatar
    Lyle MIller

    Hey, Jim, great article on the 14e. I just took out the lens on mine and got the stuck leaf shutter reworking from watching how a guy did it on YouTube. My folks gave me this camera new in 1968 when I went off to college in Oklahoma. I used it in every kind of light. Gave it to my younger brother to learn how to shoot in the late 70s, and he joined my graphic design studio for a few years. Then we gave it to our dad to use on his fishing trips. Now it’s back in my hands as brother and dad are gone on to our Maker. Every time I pick it up I think of my family, the 60’s and art school, the 70’s and travels, and the many Kodachrome slides of those days. Think I’ll shoot it again now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Lyle, what great family memories you have around this camera. I do hope you’ll keep shooting it!

  20. Chris Avatar

    I have the 14 and 14e. My 14e aperture broken on wide open 1.4. everything else works. I used as is and images excellent for shallow depth. Anyone w any yashica camera in disrepair should Google Mark Hama.
    My 14 fully working except hard to toggle ISO slider. Both of these beasts are fully functional without battery. I meter w phone. You can’t do this w GSN. I also note that shutter on 14 is tinny spring sounding where the 14e has a tighter shutter click to it. I had thought maybe just mine but had bought another 14 that had same sound but lens was fubar so was returned. Great for sunny 16 street w zone focus.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sounds like you have really solid experience with this camera!

  21. […] Lynx 14 Review 35mmc – Yashica Lynx 14: A Great Lens with a Good Camera stuck on the Back. Down the Road – Yashica Lynx 14e Review Photoethnography.com Classic Camera DB – Yashica Lynx 14 Cameraquest – Yashica Lynx […]

  22. […] of this era, also check out my reviews of the Yashica MG-1 (here), the Yashica Lynx 14e (here), the Konica Auto S2 (here), the Minolta Hi-Matic 7 (here), the Canon Canonet QL17 G-III (here), […]

  23. Andy Bennett Avatar
    Andy Bennett

    Hello Jim, I too have one of these and I love it too. Im just writing to tell you I do have a lens hood for this beastie its not big or wide but it does encroach into the view finder window. The bottom left hand corner is guess work. Being I live in the UK a lot of days are overcast in the South West so Ive only used the hood once.
    The only gripe I have with it is by the end of the day your neck tells me about the weight of the camera..:-) Would nt be without mine.
    One last thing it does have an elder brother a lynx 1000. Not sure the 1000 top speed is really what it says, and it only has 1.8 lens, but it does weigh a bit less, which my neck thanks me for when I take it out for a day.
    Love your site, thanks for the in-site on the cameras.
    Kind regards, Andy B.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Andy! These are big and heavy to be sure, but the lens is sublime.

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