Rangefinders (Fixed Lens) Traveling Yashica

Yashica Lynx-14 Review – A great 45mm f/1.4 lens with a good camera stuck to the back! – By Andy Larner

OK, so full disclosure, I went looking for a rangerfinder thinking I would buy something small, light and discreet as a daily carry that I could slip in my pocket. Something like a Yashica Electro say… As you can see by the title of the review, I didn’t buy one. Being fully mechanical and with an out of this world 45mm, F1.4 leaf shutter lens of the Yashica-Lynx-14 won me over. I mean, look at it…

So the specs are as follows: It has a 45mm, f/1.4 – F16 lens with a maximum shutter speed of 1-1/500, plus Bulb. It has a minimum focussing distance of 0.8m or 2.6 feet. Oh, and it weighs a ton – the Yashica Lynx-14 is around 850 grams, or 2lbs in old money. 

The light meter has an ASA range of 10-800. It’s also the only electronic part of the Yashica Lynx-14 ,which, for me, was a huge selling point. I bought this particular camera knowing the light meter was broken. I want to learn to expose by eye, so this was no issue. With a fully functioning model, you would activate the meter by the button on the front that says ‘switch’. You can check your exposure either by looking at the dial on the top or through the viewfinder which has an ‘Over/Under’ indicator.

So how does the Yashica Lynx-14 feel to shoot? To me it feels like I want it to feel. The film advance is smooth and reassuring and the shutter is quiet but still has a great click to it. The viewfinder is large and bright, with clear parallax framelines and a contrasty focusing patch in the middle – something that Yashica cameras are known for.

However, one problem I have had is that the shutter can be triggered easily since there is no lock. It may be because I’m a digital native and relatively new to film, but all my other film cameras have some guard against this (apart from my 1930’s Zeiss Ikon). After a couple of accidental actuations, I quickly learned to wind before I shoot, rather than winding on after. Unfortunately, this can add a precious second or two if you want to capture a moment.

Ilford XP2 Super pushed to 800. Missing the focus.

 

Focusing on the Yashica Lynx-14 is nice and smooth, but sometimes I’ve found myself thrown by the weird stepless aperture ring which is easily changed by accident. If you do this, you will have to look at the top of the lens to reset, which can get a tad annoying, but is okay once you’ve got used to it. I’m sure there’s a good reason why it’s not stepped but it is odd to start with. Attempting to shoot in very dark environments I’ve also found that I needed to focus on harder edges as the patch can get a little dark for precise focusing on soft subjects.

Some of you may know that the UK has just had an exceptionally hot summer and a 1/1000 setting would have given me a little wiggle room for daylight exposure. Sunny 16 saw me through but a few times it was f/16 or 1/500 all the way! Thankfully the films I had were 200 asa, though I was regularly finding the camera settings maxed out on brightness.

Expired Kodak Gold

Until I bought the Yashica, all my other cameras had 35mm lenses, so the 45mm took a little getting used to. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s a really versatile focal length though. It fits nicely between 35mm and 50mm and works quite nicely portrait lens allowing framing that wouldn’t look quite right with a 35mm lens. But, it’s also not so long in it prevents me from taking wider landscape shots. As you can see from the images, I tend to shoot scenery photos, but this lens allowed me to get more portrait photos, with lovely film bokeh too.

Expired Ilford HP5

The Yashica Lynx-14 lens isn’t perfect for street – it feels slightly too tight to me – but, the viewfinder does allow some extra room to see what’s coming. I’m convinced that – although the frame lines are parallax corrected – you do get slightly more in the shot than they indicate. It’s reliably sharp with a little softness in the edges at 1.4 but that is to be expected!

Shot on the Left bank in Manchester. Ilford XP2 Super.

The Yashica Lynx-14 comes into its own in low light. Because of the light leaf shutter, I’ve found I can shoot reasonably reliably under a 1/60 – and with the extra umph the f/1.4 maximum aperture gives me, I’ve had some shots I’m really pleased with. This camera was made to be versatile – I’ve found I can carry it all day and not have to stop shooting just because the bar I’ve ended up in is too dark. I think the weight actually adds a little stability too, which isn’t such a bad thing at slower shutter speeds. The pic below was taken at f/1.4 and 1/30 Shutter with 200 asa film.

Shot at 1/30 and F1.4 with expired Kodak Gold 200asa

It’s easy to complain about the weight, but the Yashica Lynx-14 is made entirely of metal and that means it is tough. Mine’s been going since the 60’s and the only thing that’s not working is its sole electronic part. It’s a smash ’n’ snap, and it will probably out last me.

Ilford Delta 3200 shot at 1600. Batting cages!

But really, it all comes down to that lens. The Yashica Lynx-14’s 45mm f/1.4 lens renowned for being sharp and it’s fantastic in low light. It’s hard not to wax lyrical about it by attempting to compare it to Leicas and other brands I’ve never shot, but the truth is it’s as good a quality of lens as I’ll ever need… and for under £100 you get a pretty decent 35mm camera attached to it too.

My Instagram – andy_larner

Do you enjoy reading 35mmc?

For as little as $1 a month, you can help support the upkeep of this website. The more people chuck me a small amount of cash each month, the more time I can spend building and improving upon it - simple as that!
Also, finding the adverts annoying? For $2 part of the reward for becomeing a patron is that I make them go away for you...

Either way, want to help out, become a patron of 35mmc here:

Become a Patron!

Alternatively, if you just enjoyed this post, or like the odd post here and there, please feel free to chuck a few pennies in the tip jar via Ko fi here:


Write for 35mmc: read more here, about how you can help build upon this ever growing resource
Subscribe/Follow: click here, to discover all the ways you can follow 35mmc

Advertisement

You Might Also Like

8 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Mark Rutledge
    December 14, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Loved this beast…the first camera I bought with my own money when I had hopes of emulating Cartier-Bresson! Great lens:)

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Tom Perry
    December 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    I hunted for a Lynx 14 for a long time – glad they are as good as I thought they were!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      carter tune
      January 13, 2019 at 5:16 am

      I have two I’m about to list on Ebay.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    220mya
    December 14, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    What is the size of the camera? Is it similar to a Canonet QL17? Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Andy Larner
      December 17, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Hi,

      According to the Canonet Wiki it’s 200grams lighter – Also This article on 35mmc The canonet is pocketable! Which the Lynx is not! I’ve never held a Canonet though, so it’s all just internet checks!

      Cheers,

      Andy

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Bryan
    December 15, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    December 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    That is an amazing lens. Nice work! I really like the portrait of the lady above. Can I recommend you crop off the bright window on the right? You did well with XP2 in the city scene; I will try it again soon. Cheers.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Andy Larner
      December 17, 2018 at 9:18 am

      Thank you that means a lot! I could edit it but I love leaving all the bits in with film it’s just a holiday snap! No galleries calling just yet!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    By using this website you agree to accept our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This

    Thank you for commenting

    ...now share the post with your friends?