Camera Reviews

Operation Thin the Herd: Yashica Lynx 14e

Down a Zionsville sidewalk

The 1968 Yashica Lynx 14e is a fixed-lens rangefinder camera that packs an incredible lens — 45mm at a whopping f/1.4.

Yashica Lynx 14e

I first shot the Lynx 14e on a road trip with Kodak T-Max 400 inside. The results blew me away. Just look at those creamy tones, that crisp detail! Even four years after making this photo, looking at it still floods my brain with pleasure hormones.

No Smoking

Here’s one more past photo from this camera, which adores being shot inside on fast black-and-white film. This time I used Arista Premium 400 (discontinued; I miss it). I photographed this Auburn Model 654 at the factory museum in Auburn, Indiana. Just look at this excellence. Look. At. It. So good!

654

All is not perfect with my Lynx 14e: it underexposes by a stop. It’s not the end of the world, because I just set exposure a stop lower (say, EI 200 when shooting ISO 400 film) and all is well. But if I keep the camera, I’ll send it for CLA and have the meter calibrated.

Its meter is powered by two PX640 batteries, of the mercury type that has been banned for years. I own no other camera that uses this battery. Fortunately, you can buy alkaline batteries of this size on Amazon for a few dollars. The voltage is slightly different but if you’re shooting negative film it shouldn’t matter.

Since I wanted to see how this lens likes color film, I loaded some Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400. Also, it was the dead of winter and the gray days called for fast film. I started shooting stuff around my house.

Drying dishes

This lens finds whatever’s interesting about the light, and enhances it.

Centerpiece

These images are short on shadow detail. I tried to bring it out in Photoshop but it just wasn’t present.

Graflex

We got a rare day of full sun in early February so I took the Lynx into town to make a few photos. I dropped the camera’s ISO setting another stop for these photos, for two reasons: this film loves to be overexposed, and I wanted a little exposure flexibility as otherwise every shot would have been at 1/500 sec. and f/16.

Brick wall with iron stairs

I’ve never seen Superia X-tra 400 look this good. I got Portra-like color from it.

Florist

Other reviews of this camera have panned how you activate the camera’s meter: you press the amusingly named “Switch” button on the front of the camera. The consensus is that it’s awkward. But I’ve never had any trouble.

Colorful storefronts

What I did have trouble with, on this full-sun day, was reading the red OVER and UNDER indicators in the viewfinder window. They light when exposure is wrong; you adjust aperture and shutter speed until they disappear. They blaze bright in muted or inside light. Direct sunlight washes them out.

Zionsville house

See more photos from this camera in my Yashica Lynx 14e gallery.

When I evaluate a camera, I like to take it on a solid photographic assignment so I have a chance to bond with it. Unfortunately, cold and snowy February is the worst month of an Indiana year for photography. It took me weeks to get through the roll, sneaking in a shot here and there as I could. It didn’t create the best experience with this heavy camera.

Moreover, even after thinning my herd as far as I have, I still own more cameras than I can shoot regularly. It is just a flat shame to own a good camera I seldom or never use. I’m not sure how often I’ll get around to shoothing my Yashica Lynx 14e.

Still, I continue to be bowled over by the sharpness, detail, and tonal range this lens delivers. This camera deserves more of my time.

Verdict: Keep

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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30 thoughts on “Operation Thin the Herd: Yashica Lynx 14e

  1. Nice demo of the image quality this interesting camera can deliver. The two I have owned both offered dim views, but the auto-parallax correction is a real plus for me. I never felt the 1.4 speed of the lens provided a significant advantage over other Lynx models or similar cameras from other makers, but it definitely is sharp and contrasty.

    Like

    • I haven’t tried any of the other Lynxes. Maybe I should someday.

      It is a great joy for me to try old cameras and come upon ones that deliver results that deliver real feelings of satisfaction. For whatever reason, this Lynx 14e is such a camera!

      Like

  2. Chris says:

    I have the 14e but its aperture is broken and fixed wide open. all else seems to work. I meter myself and have found it spot on. Jim on yours, it is the voltage of the alkaline batteries that offset the exposure. My 14 just broke, the leaf shutter is catching then miscatching. I had asked around about repairs and CLA’s on these and was advised to see http://www.markhamaltd.com/

    I imagine he can pretty much fix anything providing there are parts.

    I own an Argus C3 aka the brick that proves great images. I saw the WW2 images shot by Tony Vaccaro. And last but not least the Rollei 35 Singapore edition (not a true rangefinder but a mirrorless zone focusing. I am completely in love w Tessar razor sharpness. My only complaint, SLR tessars and their ilk are requiring second mortgage prices…lol. I do have a bit of RF G.A.S., feeling the need to try the russian leica and/or contax knock offs. Damn u EBAY!!!!

    Like

    • I have another Yashica camera that was overhauled by Mark Hama and it’s a peach. So one day I’ll send this camera off to him as well!

      I’m not convinced that the alkaline battery is responsible for a full stop of misexposure. My experience with other cameras is that alkaline batteries deliver about a third of a stop of misexposure, a negligible amount for negative films. But when I send the camera to Mark he’ll sort that out for me and we’ll find out whether I’m right or wrong!

      While I never bonded with the C3, its lens really does have some lovely characteristics. I especially like the way it renders color on good old Fujicolor 200.

      Like

  3. Wayne S. says:

    Hello Jim
    The images were very nice-the auto was a beauty and I too cannot part with my Lynx 14e and my 14 because of that beautiful lens!The images are so nice and the the bike at 1.4 are so smooth-just a pleasure! I also like the feel of this camera in my hands.
    I like the heft of it( I shot with a Pentax 6×7 for years so I’m kinda used to the size ).
    Thank you,Jim
    Wayne S.

    Like

    • I have to admit, I like the feel of this big camera in my hands too. Surprising as I haven’t always enjoyed the heft and brick-like character of big fixed-lens rangefinders!

      Like

  4. DougD says:

    And it looks like a proper camera too. Very nice appearance and photos.

    Although I was slightly disappointed to see it used a battery, and was not nuclear powered. Love that old Yashica logo!

    Like

  5. TBM3FAN says:

    You actually needed to put this camera in the thin “the herd yes or no” queue in order to make a decision? I would have thought the unique position this camera has among rangefinders and how well this lens renders an image that it would have earned an automatic bye. Or were you just teasing…?

    Like

    • I did. It is a beast, heavy, ungainly. I wanted to test it with color film to see whether the same magic I got on b/w happened. It did! That’s why I’m keeping it.

      Like

  6. Some lovely images, and a great advert for film photography. Just a simple composition like those dishes by your sink looks beautiful here.

    It reminds me, not unsurprisingly, of the kinds of images my Yashica Electro 35 GTN produced with its wonderful 45/1.7 lens. Alas, as great as that lens was, the rest of the camera was bulky, heavy and awkward and overall the cons overcame the pros of that lens.

    Glad to hear the balance is more weighted towards the pros end with your Lynx and you’re keeping it.

    Like

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  8. Nice review, Jim. I have hardly done any meaningful shooting the past month because of the crappy weather here in Ann Arbor. It’s hard not to like a manual Yashica rangefinder, and of course, for every one I have had, there is been some little problem that makes me realize they are 40+ years old, and used a lot and maybe abused before I held them. Still, only being a stop off is easy to deal with. I like the Minister series, but never had any love for the Electro series. The Lynx series are nice, as you note. As I am preparing for a move to NC, I have downsized my stuff just a bit. There are going to be many wonderful new photo ops down there to test the cameras!

    Like

    • Same here, the wx in central Indiana has alternated between super cold and snowy. Not great for photography. I’ve had a roll of film in my Nikon FA for six weeks and I’m only on frame 4. I hope you enjoy your new home in NC and I look forward to seeing photos from there on your blog!

      Like

    • There are so many cameras worth trying! But not all of them are worth buying. I wish there was a way to inexpensively rent an old camera! Anyway, the Lynx 14/14e is a winner. On Facebook when I posted this I got several comments saying that the Lynx 1000/5000 are equally good, just with the slower lenses.

      Liked by 1 person

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