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Review: Yashica Lynx 14e
Old 11-19-2005   #1
bmattock
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Review: Yashica Lynx 14e

The Yashica Lynx 14 & 14e are sister cameras to the Lynx 5000 & 5000e. In both cases, the 'e' designates a shift to an onboard integrated circuit (proudly displayed as "IC" on the 14e) involved in the light metering. Otherwise, the 'e' cameras are functionally equivalent to their non-e brethren.

The 14 & 14e have achieved distinction in that they have a huge, fast, f/1.4 lens (45mm focal length). For a fixed-lens rangefinder, this is pretty unusual. In fact, the only other fixed-lens rangefinder I know of is the very rare Mamiya/Sekor Super Deluxe (50mm f/1.5). The Lynx 14e is a huge camera, pictures can be seen here:

http://www.cameraquest.com/yashlynx.htm

and here:

http://www.yashica-guy.com/document/chrono2.html

and here:

http://www.photoethnography.com/Clas...html~mainFrame

Physical specs:

Fixed-lens rangefinder, Yashinon-DX multi-coated 45mm f/1.4 lens (7 elements in 5 groups, said to be 'optimized for available-light shooting', and I think the lens design is a planar style). F-stops: 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 (no click stops). Manual shutter speeds only (Copal leaf shutter): B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500. Cold shoe, PC socket, X or M synch at all shutter speeds. Like most leaf-shutter rangefinders, speed and aperture controls are on the lens barrel. Fortunately, no crazy LVS nonsense. Metering OTL on right side of camera, ASA 10 to 800. Uses two PX640 batteries (replacements available). Silver body, lower half covered in black leatherette. Meter actived by momentary-press switch on lower right front of camera body. Viewfinder is parallax-corrected and framelines are self-adjusting as you focus.

Cons:

This lens is prone to flare. I noticed it in both my Lynx 14's, and this 14e has it as well, but not to the same extreme. Lens hood required under most circumstances. However, keep in mind that the rangefinder window is directly over the lens - so most rubber 'toilet plunger' hoods won't work unless you cut a hole in them where the rangefinder window looks out. I have ordered a vintage metal hood of the appropriate size (58mm) and I will let you know if that blocks the window or not.

It has also been my experience that the shutter for this model is often frozen or sticky. I have three of these boogers, two (the 14's) had frozen shutters, one (this 14e) was perfect.

Also, the Lynx series has, to my mind, an excellent viewfinder, but one prone to internal build up of what appears to be outgassing plastics. They get dim and they flare crazily, and if you look through them from the front, they look like they are streaked with oil or something like that.

The camera is also no lightweight. Very heavy, something like two pounds.

Pros:

First and foremost, the lens. I can't tell you how great this lens is. I put it right next to my Canon FD primes, not as good as my Pentax SMC primes, but not that far off, either. Better than any other fixed-lens rangefinder I have, excepting perhaps the Minolta Hi-Matic 9. Beats the Canonet like a drum, and enough better than the Yashica Electro GSN that you can see it in good scans. I'll attempt to show you with a couple of scans.

Second, the shutter - when it works, that is. Reasonably quiet. Flash sync at all speeds, for those who want it. Leaf shutters are like that. This one is in the middle of the pack for me - not the quietest, but really not bad. No "Yashica clunk" on wind-on, either.

The viewfinder and the rangefinder are top-notch. Very clear, easily the best of my 'old' fixed-lens rangefinders, excepting perhaps the Minolta Hi-Matic 9.

The shutter and viewfinder problems are fortunately not that bad, either. My latest camera came not needing any work, but both the previous cameras did. The front element removes easily by removing the beauty ring on the front of the lens, and the shutter can usually be freed up with the old lighter-fluid and q-tip method (outdoors please, observing all safety precautions). G-man told me how to remove the top of the camera, and that's good, because the viewfinder cleans right up easily - so easily that it is easy to overclean - don't touch the little diagonal mirrors, folks. Bad mojo. Just clean clear glass that faces the front or back of the camera. Takes but a moment and then you put the top on again. One caveat is the wires for the PC sync terminal are delicate and not long enough, so you could break them when removing the top if you're not careful. G-man has the details, this is just from memory - but he saved my bacon. He's the dude.

ANYWAY...I like this camera. You can probably tell. It's a solid hunkahunka burnin' love, no lightweight, but sweet, man. And if you hadda, you could clunk some serious heads with this thing in a never-ready case and swung by the strap. Much heavier than the Electro GSN. And these things, though somewhat rare, seem to go for next to nothing on eBoy. I didn't even mean to buy this latest one - I'm broke! But it was sitting there with NO BIDS with a minute to go - I could not stand it. I tossed in the minimum - it wasn't much, I assure you. Cost more to mail it.

I'm going to post a series of photos I took today with this:

Wilson Reservoir: 1/250, f16. Exhibits lens flare - you should be able to see this in the center of the photo. Otherwise very sharp and color saturated - this was that $1 a roll Walgreens C41 they had on sale recently (Agfa).

Park Bench: 1/500 f2. I could not find anything in deep enough shade to use f1.4, but this is close. Bench was about 6 feet away, I focused on the bolt heads nearest the camera on the bench back - so focus is dead on. Sharp on focus, reasonable bokeh (I like it, anyway) and not much light falloff towards the edges of the frame - but some, no doubt. Remember, no lens hood on this, so no vignetting either. This would be normal light falloff on an open aperture with a planar type design. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Paul Bunyon giving Nazi Salute: Weird. Anyway, 1/125 f8. You can again see some flar right in the center of his chest, but not too bad. I guess a lens hood would take care of that. Hope so, anyway.

Paul Bunyon's hand and telephone wire: This is a full-size crop of the hand. Note sharp detail - and this would be DOF effect, I was not focused on hand.

Anyway, that's my report. Hope you enjoy it - it was fun to do, and I like this Lynx 14e a lot. I may go out one night and give it a night-time workout with some Delta 3200 or something, see how it does with that.

One thing I'd love to do to this camera - paint it black. All this chrome - not very stealthy!

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Last edited by bmattock : 09-25-2007 at 06:07.
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Old 11-19-2005   #2
raid
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I regret selling my Lynx14 for $50 a few years ago.
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Old 11-19-2005   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid amin
I regret selling my Lynx14 for $50 a few years ago.
Well, you got a good price for it! You can always buy another. Here's a tip - search auctions for "Yashica IC". The "Lynx" label often comes unglued and falls off. Makes it easy to find 'em for less than ten bucks, and no one even bids.

YMMV, but I've had good luck with unsticking the shutter and cleaning the viewfinder window, so that helps.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
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Old 11-19-2005   #4
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it is one of my prize cameras. i call it cyclops because that lens is huge, which means that i do not take it out of the house often. Luke
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Old 11-19-2005   #5
jan normandale
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I think you guys should work out more often ;-) I've got a couple of these beauties. Weigh less than a good framing hammer. :-D
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Old 11-19-2005   #6
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Why is such a camera so inexpensive? With such a fast (and escellent) lens it should be more expensive. I recall its quiet shutter.
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Old 11-19-2005   #7
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Thanks for the IC tip - I just bid on one with that listing. One other bid - perhaps another RFF member?
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Old 11-19-2005   #8
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I am not bidding on anything. Good luck. There are several 1.4 models offered.
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Old 11-20-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid amin
Why is such a camera so inexpensive? With such a fast (and escellent) lens it should be more expensive. I recall its quiet shutter.
I suspect that it is because a) It is big and chrome-plated, b) The viewfinder is frequently dingy and dim, and c) It is not uncommon for the shutter to be frozen in this model. Nobody realizes that this is one of the few fixed-lens rangefinders that is actually pretty easy to work on and that those problems are generally easily fixed.

I think that often enough, it comes down to what a person sees when they pick the camera up and hold it up to their eye. I note that the Canonet, the Yashica Electro GSN, and the Olympus RC are all well-known for having nice viewfinders even after all these years - without having been maintained. Just a guess, though.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
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Old 11-20-2005   #10
lynn
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Bill, your reviews are always a pleasure to read, thank you!
(and that Wilson Reservoir image, especially, is beautiful...)
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Old 11-20-2005   #11
kzim56
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Slightly off topic. I have a Lynx 5000. I love the build, the size and the viewfinder. But for some reason I just can't get a sharp picture out of it. It will focus. The image just isn't crisp. Anyway, its been a big disappointment for me. Any ideas?

Karl
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Old 11-20-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kzim56
Slightly off topic. I have a Lynx 5000. I love the build, the size and the viewfinder. But for some reason I just can't get a sharp picture out of it. It will focus. The image just isn't crisp. Anyway, its been a big disappointment for me. Any ideas?

Karl
Karl,

I'd hate to venture a guess without knowing more about the problem. Assuming that the aperture and shutter were working well, I'd check the lens (set aperture to 2.8, shutter speed to B, open camera back and shine a light through it) to see if you have any fungus, dirt, scratches, etc. The 5000, is, I believe a Tessar-design lens, and should be capable of very sharp images. I have a 5000, and mine is sharp. However, I will tell you that as my tastes have changed over time, I have found that I really don't prefer the 'look' of a tessar sometimes, and I'm not sure why.

Can you tell me more about the problem? Is it that things are not in focus where you are setting focus? How about stopped down to f8 or f11 and shooting at infinity focus? How are you determining 'sharp' - compared to what? Are you looking at prints, scanned negs, etc?

Let me know more about the situation and I'll try to help if I can.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
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Old 11-20-2005   #13
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Thanks Bill,

When I compare scanned negatives from the lynx to those from my GSN, FSU's, etc. they just look soft. I have a suspicion that the shutter speeds are off...too fast. That caused the first few rolls to be underexposed. I shot a roll of tri-x the other day and adjusted the shutter speeds accordingly. Results seemed better but still a bit soft. In the next week or two I plan to shoot some color print film in good daylight conditions. The lens is clear. In fact the camera is almost like new. Perhaps I just need to get to know it better. I've heard great things about Mark Hama who fixes Yashica's here in the Atlanta area. Maybe I'll have him look at it. Thanks for your concern!!
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Old 03-02-2010   #14
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sounds good to me
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Old 03-04-2010   #15
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What an old thread!
I'm not expert in lenses, though I think 5000 has Planar-type lens. It has got 6elements in 4 groups, maybe anyone knows if Tessars go beyond 4 (or 5) elements?
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Old 03-04-2010   #16
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Nice! I'm always delighted when I see an old thread resurrected. There is so much forgotten information in the archives.
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Old 03-28-2010   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
...however, I will tell you that as my tastes have changed over time, I have found that I really don't prefer the 'look' of a tessar sometimes, and I'm not sure why,

best regards,

Bill Mattocks
Bill,

as always you've maid interesting observation: for some reason I've developed love over the time to original Tessar design lenses. Here is the typical example shot with Contax Tessar at f/4.0 (direct negative scan and no manipulation of any kind):



p.s.: btw, where did you go? You're kind of missed on rangefinderforum.com
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Old 03-29-2010   #18
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Great thread Bill !
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Old 03-29-2010   #19
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I had some haze inside the lens of both my GTN and my Lynx 14E. A thorough cleaning by a tech did the trick.
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Old 06-13-2012   #20
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Whst is current market vakuein 2012 for the 1.4 model?
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Old 06-13-2012   #21
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I picked up a Yashica Lynx 14e on the big auction site for about $50 about 6 months or so ago. Showed up fully functional, great cosmetic condition, and more contrasty rangefinder patch than either of my two Mark Hama CLA'd copies. I'm planning to sell those two and keep this one. Maybe I got lucky?
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Old 09-08-2012   #22
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My Lynx 14E has a stuck shutter. I paid $79 for it.
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Old 11-29-2012   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
My Lynx 14E has a stuck shutter. I paid $79 for it.
Hi... I just got mine and the shutter was stuck as well... I came upon this thread and followed some of what the OP had to say about unsticking the shutter, only i used no lighter fluid. I took the "beauty" (lol) ring off and the front element by having two small screw drivers in those small holes and went counter clockwise. With that off, shutter is right there. I Put it in B, advanced, and held the shutter open while I very gently tinkered with shutter leaves with a very small screw driver ... After a few times of twiddling with leaves it just opened up and resumed working in all speeds. Please do your leaf shutter tinkering VERY GENTLY... I don't know if it's gonna work with yours but you got nothing to lose and it's fairly simple.
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